(Southern Hemisphere: March 21–24)
Alternative Names: Autumn or Fall Equinox, Second Harvest, Harvest Home, Wine Harvest, Fruit Harvest, Witches’ Thanksgiving, Alban Elfid (Celtic)
ALTAR DECORATIONS: Acorns, animal bones, apples, autumn leaves, balance scales, corn, cornucopia (horn of plenty), gourds, grapes and grapevines, pentacles, pine cones, pomegranates, poppies, root vegetables, seeds, sunflowers, wine
ANIMALS: Blackbird, coyote, crow, duck, goat, goose, owl, raven, stag, squirrel, turkey, wolf
CELEBRATIONS: Charity work, feasting, gathering, harvesting
COLORS: Burgundy, burnt orange, dark green, eggplant, brown, gold
DEITIES: Aphrodite/Venus, Dionysus/Bacchus, gods and goddesses of the underworld (Persephone/Kore/Proserpine, Demeter/Ceres, Hekate) (Greco-Roman); Modron and Mabon (Welsh)
FOOD AND DRINK: Apples, ale, beans, bread, cider, corn, duck, goose, grapes, mutton, pumpkin pie, root vegetables, turkey, wine
HERBS, INCENSE, AND OILS: Almond, amber, amyris, apple blossom, aster, benzoin (styrax), chrysanthemum, clove, hops, marigold, milk thistle, myrrh, oakmoss, patchouli, rose hip, rosemary, rue, safflower, saffron, sage, sandalwood, thyme, vetiver, walnut
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS: Cello, dulcimer, guitar, gong, organ, violin
STONES: Amber, amethyst, cat’s eye, citrine, garnet, peridot, ruby, tiger’s eye, yellow topaz
SYMBOLS: Cornucopia, pentagram
THEMES: Balance, gratitude, harvest, introspection, prosperity, reflection, root work, shadow work
TREES: Apple, birch, hazel, oak, pine, rowan
ZODIAC/PLANET: Libra/Venus (Sun at 0 degrees Libra)
Mabon is the modern reconstruction of the ancient Pagan festivals surrounding the Autumn Equinox. As on the Spring Equinox, light and shadow play over the land in equal length, but now the descent into darkness is just around the bend. Autumn leaves stir and the sunlight wanes over the emptying fields as a flurry of activity fills the orchards and pumpkin patches. Hunters spend early mornings in the forest, seeking out deer, turkey, and other woodland creatures for the smokehouse. Root cellars and larders fill with hardy fruits and vegetables as well as the efforts of summer pickling and early fall canning. The second harvest produces a cornucopia of food, making Mabon a holiday of abundance and gratitude when community and family feasts celebrate all we have achieved since spring. In modern-day traditions, we celebrate this “Witches’ Thanksgiving” by honoring the reciprocal relationships we have cultivated with nature, with ourselves, and with one another.
WATER ELEMENT WRITING RITUAL
Make the transition to the Water element by starting an emotional journal.
1 teaspoon dried apple blossoms
1 teaspoon dried jasmine blossoms
1 teaspoon dried mugwort
Mortar and pestle
Incense burner or fireproof bowl
Blank notebook or parchment
The transition from the Fire element of summer to the Water element of fall can feel like a cool dip on a hot day. All the energy that has been wildly dancing under the heat of the sun is now tempered by the cool rains that patter on the fallen leaves. During the equinox, we make the transition from our outer selves to our inner selves; from the strength and confidence that we radiate to others to the emotions we wrestle with under the light of the moon. The Water element is associated with balance, empathy, bonding, intuition, divination, and dreams. Water is healing and nurturing, but it can also drown us in a pool of emotions. By creating a writing ritual for our emotions, we can thrive in the undulating waves of the season.
1) Craft Water Element Incense: Apple blossoms, jasmine, and mugwort all vibrate with watery qualities that assist us in emotional work. With your mortar and pestle, grind these herbs until they form a chunky powder. Label and store in a tin or glass jar in a cool, dry place.
2) Begin your writing ritual: At the end of the day, light a charcoal disc in your fireproof vessel and sprinkle the Water Element Incense on top. Pass the journal through the wafting incense smoke to cleanse and charge it with the emotional energy of the Water element.
3) Sit down with your journal and write the date at the top of the page. Meditate on how you felt during the day. On the first line, centered and in big letters, write the dominant emotion you felt. Perhaps it was sadness or fear; perhaps it was happiness or excitability. Around the word, draw pictures or patterns that symbolize the emotion. For happiness, you might encircle the word in the rays of the sun and draw summer flowers, such as daisies or sunflowers. You could include the rune Wunjô for joy and happiness, the elemental symbol for Fire, or a little bluebird for happiness.
4) Underneath the emotion, write what you believe elicited this emotion. Perhaps it was an event at work, a symptom of neurodivergence, or a lack of sleep the night before. It is okay to not know the exact cause, but thinking about the events surrounding the emotion might help you to discover your own personal triumphs or triggers. It is only important here that you are honest with yourself.
5) How did this emotion look? Did you cry in the bathroom, pace up and down the hall, or smile throughout your entire dinner? All of these help us to form in our mind a visual image of the emotion. Write this down on the next line.
6) Next, assign this emotion an element. Happiness might be Fire, fear might be Water, boredom might be Earth, distraction might be Air—think about the qualities of each element and how they relate to emotions.
7) Now, consider whether this emotion is something you believe needs to be encouraged or tempered. If you want to encourage it, think of ways you can add more of its element to your life. If you want to temper it, think of ways you can combat it with its elemental opposite. For instance, if your emotion was “distraction,” an emotion with an Airy quality, you could use the elemental opposite, Earth, to ground your energy with a hike outside, time in the garden, or a crystal meditation with hematite.
Try this writing ritual each day to help you steer your own ship through the big emotional waves of autumn. It might help for you to think of this exercise as a magickal mood journal.
About the author:
Anjou Kiernan is the hedgewitch and herbal alchemist behind Light of Anjou, a witchery shop and virtual sacred space for magic and mysticism. She has been toiling in potions and occult writing since the age of 16 and has continued her journey in witchcraft on a magically-minded homestead in the rolling hills of mid-Maine. Anjou has been named as one of Refinery29’s “Magical Women You Really Should Be Following on Instagram.” Her writing and photography of unique altars and sacred spaces have attracted a broad audience and customer base on both Instagram (@lightofanjou) and her online witchery shop (lightofanjou.com). She is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Witchcraft and the Book of Altars and Sacred Spaces.
**Excerpted from The Ultimate Guide to the Witch’s Wheel of the Year by Anjou Kiernan, © 2020. Used with permission from Fair Winds Press, and imprint of Quarto Publishing Group. Publishing January 2020, available for preorder now! http://quartokno.ws/WheelOfTheYear. If you’d like another early look at The Ultimate Guide to the Witch’s Wheel of the Year, send proof of purchase to [email protected] to receive a free download of the “Libation to Dionysus” from the Mabon chapter of the book.