Oh Mabon – are you my favourite sabbat? You with your turning leaves, crisp mornings and cosy jumpers?! (Yes, I ask that about all the festivals on the wheel of the year, but don’t tell Mabon that!) But what is Mabon I hear you ask? Well, let’s find out.

Mabon is otherwise known as the autumn equinox and is one of two days of the year when the dark of the night and the light of the day are in balance. The other one is, as you might have guessed, the spring equinox! Equinox by the way comes from Latin and means ‘equal night’; but the name Mabon was given to this festival fairly recently, and named for the god of Welsh mythology, son of the Earth Mother Goddess.

The Wheel of The Year 

This festival is one of what we witches and pagans call the wheel of the year – the year seen through a cyclical lens rather than a linear one. Reflecting nature’s rhythm of birth, death and re-birth, the wheel of the year is one continuing loop of seasonal changes from dormancy to seed planting, from growing to harvesting and round again to dormancy.

In the Northern Hemisphere, this festival falls on the 21st September and is the second harvest, the harvest of fruit. It is a time for gratitude and thanksgiving as we acknowledge the abundance and ripeness of the earth. Our ancestors would have been gathering all that Mother Earth had to offer at this time of year – fruit yes, but also squashes, corn and nuts, and made preparations for preserving for over the winter. Although light and dark are currently in perfect balance, we are on the cusp of transition, moving from light to dark, yang to yin, growth to dormancy and doing to being. The turning of the wheel of the year is nearing completion and we are entering the waning part of the cycle. Now is the time for slowing down, shifting emphasis from outward achievement to inner reflection, and enjoying a period of rest, contemplation and renewal. 

what is Mabon autumn scene

Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash

Cyclical Living

What is Mabon is a bigger question than just what the word means. It’s a question of where it fits into a cyclical way of living. As we proceed through the cycles of the year and are greeted with the signs of the changing of Mother Nature’s seasons, we are reminded that we are not apart from nature, but rather a part of it. Just like the plant that goes from seed to growth to dormancy, so too do we have cycles that enable us to shine our light outwards or come into hibernation. We cannot always be striving, pushing and reaching, but must sometimes be surrendering, resting and reflecting. You can read more about this cyclical way of living here. 

This sabbat – and all the ones during autumn and winter –  is reflected in the waning cycle of the moon. And just like during that time, Mabon is a great time to release anything from your life that no longer serves your purpose, aligns with your values or crosses your boundaries. Use releasing rituals, shadow work and meditations to reflect and journal about what issues have been continuing to come up for you during the first half of the year, so that you do not drag them with you into the seasons that follow.

Autumn is the time associated with the pre-menstrual phase of women’s sacred cycle and can be a time when the inner voice becomes more critical. So utilise the fact that this is the season to withdraw and give yourself some permission to lean into some serious self care. Take baths with essential oils like lavender, rose and clary sage; carve out time to curl up with a good book, and drink delicious healthy hot drinks like turmeric latte or cacao. If you would like to get a discount on Fairtrade, sustainable cacao, please click here.

Further reading

You can read about other festivals on the wheel of the year here:

What is Lammas?

How to celebrate Beltane

What is the spring equinox?

Imbolc – meaning and origins

What is Samhain?