The Fall Equinox, known across the pagan world as Mabon, occurs on September 23rd this year. The point of equality and balance occurs at 12:49 AM MST, and is a pivotal point in the calendar, as it signifies the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. At this moment in time, the earth is neither tilting toward, or away from the sun, and because of that receives an equal amount of sunlight an darkness. Depending on the year, Mabon usually occurs on either the 22nd or the 23rd of September, and it occurs simultaneously across the globe. The date varies because of the difference in our modern Gregorian calendar, which defines a year as 365 days and actual time it actually takes for Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun which is about 365.25 day. Occasionally, due to leap years, Mabon will occur on the 21st, or the 24th. The term equinox originates in combining two words of old Latin; “aequus” which means equal and “nox” which means night.
In the pagan world, Mabon is the date of the Second of the Three Great Annual Harvest Festivals. On this glorious night, our ancestors would gather together and give thanks to their Gods and Goddesses for providing a bountiful harvest. The festivities were always with a twinge of sadness, for everyone gathered, knew that the following morning would be the first day of fall, when the dark half starts to overtake the light half. Having already celebrated the first Harvest Festival, Lughnasadh, where the attention focused on the grain, bread, and beer, we are now ready to celebrate the harvest of the traditional ‘survival’ crops, that would be stored for winter. Potatoes, squash, pumpkins, apples, turnips, carrots, pears, onions, and many other root vegetables, would be essential for a healthy winter diet. In late October, the Third Harvest Festival, is Samhain, or summer’s end, when we’ll celebrate the gathering of the last of the forest herbs, nuts, mushrooms, berries, and of course the slaughtering and preserving of meat and fish.
To celebrate Mabon, is to celebrate food and being thankful. If you are hosting this event, you can have a pot luck, or prepare a meal for your guests (outside, in the circle). Traditional fall foods, wild game, fresh vegetables, beer and ale, corn, pie, and bread, are all good choices to include in the festivities. Don’t forget the plates and utensils.
What You’ll Need For This Mabon Ritual
This ritual is designed for a medium to large sized group and is best done outside around a generous bonfire if conditions in your area are permissible for open fires (check your state burning restrictions websites and always use caution as the wildfire season is not over just yet)
Quarter Candles (yellow, red, blue, green)
Athame or wand
Large White Candle
Large altar generously filled with fall fruit, vegetables, bulbs, seeds, etc.
Prepared Food & Drinks for Sharing
Fire pit or bonfire
Throughout this ritual, any text surrounded by these symbols < > should be considered instructional and not spoken aloud but done in accordance with the directions.
Our Mabon Ritual Begins
Look up above, and down below, across the ground and all around! The darkened night and equal light, the balance weighed, conjured now, this circle made!
<The ritual leader should point their wand/athame in the direction as they speak, having the participants turn and face accordingly>
Turn to the East, for that is the direction of new beginnings. With open hearts and frivolity upon our minds, we see clearly that which has brought us here. As the sun does rise each morning, drenching the land in glorious light and warmth, we cannot be anything other than truly amazed and thankful. On this Second Harvest we express our gratitude for that which we have received and that which shall sustain us in the months ahead. <light yellow candle in the East>
Now, with the thoughts of an awakening resting comfortably upon your minds, turn with me to the South. There, the great lesson of balance will resonate across everything and everyone. Nothing can be imagined without work, time, patience, and knowledge. We combine these skills and with our toils have produced a bountiful harvest, and we see that each bit of energy given in the beginning, has been returned to us in the end. <light red candle in the south>
Look with me now to the West, and see more than just a setting sun and a journey’s end. Alas, it is indeed true that this great harvest is and end of sorts, with a crop being stored, and our tools being laid to rest for the season. Yet, it is only a temporary end, just as the sun crosses the threshold of the horizon each night, we are assured that come morn, it will indeed make itself known once again in the sky. <light blue candle in the west>
The North, the direction of guidance and also darkness, one which reminds us that winter shall soon be upon our doorstep and the elements upon our houses. Yet, we must master our thoughts when darkness is upon our minds. For darkness is not some vast and frigid emptiness. Indeed, it is only shadowing that which we cannot see. When the storms overtake the fields, we shall use the time to look deeper within and put light upon those hidden thoughts. <light green candle in the north>
We look skyward to offer high praises to the Gods and Goddesses of all people’s, all civilizations, and all origins. We offer our most profound and humble thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Mabon truly is one of the most glorious nights of the year, and we are honored to be in your presence as we celebrate. <light White candle on the altar>
Hail! and a hearty welcome to all who gather!
Tonight we gather under the light of the waxing gibbous Harvest Moon to celebrate Mabon, the second of the three great harvest festivals. On this equinox, Night and Day are once again in perfect equilibrium; masculine and feminine energies are in harmony; there is balance with all things. It is a time of thought and understanding. A time of seeing all sides of all things. A time to cast off polarization and partisan behaviors, and just enjoy the festivities with a great openness.
Before we continue, we must take a moment to engage in a musical interlude. Throughout time, music has been a key part of celebrating and ritualistic practice. It was used for raising energy, as a tribute to epic moments, and as a prelude for a coming event, such as we have today. Of all the songs dedicated to Mabon, one stands above the rest. It is by Lisa Thiel, called Mabon (Autumn Equinox). Close your eyes and you’ll be taken back to the lands of your ancestors and the celebrations they enjoyed.
Mabon – The Second Harvest
To those who do not practice the old ways, the term “Second Harvest” dredges up thoughts of their local food pantry. But to those of us who understand our history, Mabon is a sacred day of celebration, which dates back thousands of years and is the inspiration for the modern day secular holiday of Thanksgiving. Our ancestors followed the sun and the seasons for their survival. Plant grain early in the spring, when the ground was still hard and the nights cold. At the beginning of August, fueled by the warm summer sun, they reaped the grain, taking great care to gather enough seed to replant again the following year. The first bread and freshly brewed beers and ales were shared by all in a wonderful event we call Lughnasadh (some refer to this period as Lammas). In early May, as the grain was just beginning to peek from the topsoil and the land was getting warmer, potatoes, onions, and a host of other root vegetables were planted. These crops had much longer growing periods and would mature right around now.
Simultaneously, while the vegetables were growing, the fruit trees started flowering and tiny apples, pears, and persimmons began to form. As the months passed, the fruit would grow heavier while the row crops began to bulk up. As the summer started to wane, the nights grew chilly; a necessary part of the growing process for sweet fruit and large root vegetables. Finally, as Mabon approached, our ancestors would begin to dig, and pick the bounty of the land, putting some into storage for the winter, and the rest to make wine, spirits, and cider. This great cycle of the wheel has turned for centuries, and we still see it all around us.
In addition to the planted crops. this time was used to gather any remaining berries from the forest. Also feed corn, hay, and straw were gathered for taking care of the animals throughout the winter months. Those who knew the ways of natural medicine would dig the healing roots necessary for fighting off illness and malady during the times of cold. Some of these include dandelion, horseradish, valerian, osha. burdock, and so many more. As their upper portions die, all the energy would recede into the roots, meaning they would be at their peak strength. Everything had a purpose, and each action meaningful. Taking everything collectively, there was a great and wonderous feeling of gratitude throughout the land.
Most of us are not dependent on the land, yet, we do still have a firm connection to it. Whether it be through herbs, our gardens, flowers, or other plants and trees, the connection with the natural world is critical to help us understand true appreciation. Being thankful goes further than just appreciating the gifts of nature. There are people in our lives, who make a big difference. Also there’s our spiritual practices, our family and our friends. So before we go on, I ask you, “What are you thankful for?”
<the ritual leader uses this time to go around the circle and have everyone say something aloud that they are thankful for>
Spiritual Review and Looking Ahead
In closing, and in preparation for our feast, I’ll leave you with this. Although Mabon is a great celebration, it is a reminder that soon winter will be upon us. Our ancestors would use those cold months as a period of rest and recovery from their toils of hard summer work, hunting, and possibly battle. I would remind each of you, to take a few moments, and take stock in your life and this past year.
ask each of you to take stock in your lives and evaluate all that you’ve accomplished this year. Do not get caught in the belief that the fruits of your labor are all that matters. Look within yourself on a spiritual level and review the steps you’ve taken to grow and if you are feeling lapse, what you still need to work on. Winter will soon be upon us once again and now is the time to start another chapter of your life and to clear out and let go that which is no longer wanted or needed. With a clear mind and full bellies from our harvests, we can use the winter for peaceful reflection and planning. And despite the frozen ground and chilling temperatures ahead, we can still plant something; the seeds of new hope.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Energy, balance, and harmony
Such are the ways of the land, and the meaning of Mabon
The great lesson of equality promotes clearer vision
Sharing builds respect and humility
Togetherness forges a bond of lifelong unity
But none compare to that of being thankful
Acknowledging that which is being done for us
Honoring those who do it, even if they are the Gods on high
And allowing the pure emotion to flow like the waters of life
Tonight we are giving thanks for all that we receive
For all the blessings, both great and small
The gift of sunny skies, and gentle rainfall
Warm nights, a cooling breeze, and the whispers of nature
As we partake in the bounty of our own personal harvests
We must remember those who walked these lands before us
And those who will walk them once we are gone
Blessed are we, who keep the ways of the ancestors alive
Thankful are we, who share in one another’s company
On this Mabon night, and all nights every after.
Food & Drinks
<remind your guests to remain in the circle>
Closing our Mabon Circle
Join me once again and turn your gaze to the North. As the celebration comes to a close and the last remnants of summer are softly drifting into the night, we must put the events to heart, understanding that the great wheel continues to turn, with or without us. Just as it always has, and always will. <extinguish green candle in the north>
Now to the West we turn. Indeed the sun has set and the darkness now present, but the vision remains. For we shall rest tonight with full bellies and visions of gratitude swimming through our thoughts. Life teaches us the lessons of survival, but t0getherness teaches us the reasons why surviving is worth it. <extinguish blue candle in the west>
Look once more to the South. Be reminded each time you do, that the best of all things can be found when the universe is in balance. There is giving and in turn receiving. Light shares time with the darkness. Growth gives way to dormancy and rest. And across all things, energy runs through. <extinguish red candle in the south>
At last, we return our gaze to the East, completing the circle. For just as the wheel has shown us time and time again, the circle is endless and without corners. There are neither positions of power, nor those of diminutive status. For here we are all equal. Here we are all valued for our gifts and talents and forgiven for our transgressions and misdeeds. Stay true to this thought as we separate. <extinguish yellow candle in the East>
We have honored the ancient traditions, broken bread, shared stories, and given thanks and gratitude for the bounty of the harvest. And in parting, we must give thanks to the Gods and Goddesses, for without their guidance, none of this is possible. <extinguish White candle on the altar>
For More Rituals, Check Out This Link
- Ritual for November’s Full Beaver Moon – Cutting the Cord Ritual - November 21, 2023
- Ritual for October’s Full Hunter’s Moon – A Night to Remember - October 25, 2023
- Mabon 2023 – When All Things Are In Balance - September 20, 2023