Given that stores are already putting twinkle lights on their Christmas displays, it’s easy to forget that there are still a few holidays to celebrate between now and Jesus’ annual birthday spend-fest. “Sure,” some of you no-doubt think, “Halloween is coming.” It is, but the Autumnal Equinox is even sooner–September 23rd. Many Wiccans and other pagans refer to this event as Mabon, and it’s a good one.
Mabon celebrates the harvest, the time when we head out to the fields to collect the bounty of a long summer of growing. But the Autumnal Equinox is more than a celebration of excessive tomatoes and the return of the pumpkin spice latte. For many, Mabon symbolizes our connection to the earth and the seasons, and marks the time when we stock up and prepare for the long winter ahead. Even if you’re not pagan, there are plenty of great ways to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox.
This is a time for pumpkins and other squash, sweet potatoes, and that most delicious of fall foodstuffs: the honeycrisp apple. Go out and get some!
Pagans are often large with clothing-optional events. Please check local laws before cavorting around skyclad (naked). Even in the most Footloose-ish towns, getting your celebratory song and dance on is probably allowed. Cavort with friends, interact with neighbors, or spend some time with local wildlife.
Doing something to improve the lives of others is an excellent way to celebrate any holiday—Mabon in particular. Your Autumnal Equinox could be enhanced by collecting for your local food bank, bringing blankets to a local shelter, volunteering to read to children, or helping your elderly neighbors rake leaves.
Spending time outside is a modern way to mark the Autumnal Equinox, since early celebrants spent plenty of time outside anyway. Read under a tree, watch the sunrise or sunset alone, with a romantic partner, or with your kids. If you can get away from city light pollution and see the night sky—so much the better!
Even many non-drinkers are not opposed to the occasional glass of honey wine. Mead is a Mabon tradition, one that’s inescapable if you hang out with Wiccans. It’s yummy, festive, and has a history that’s older than modern religion. Mead is an alcoholic beverage—so it shouldn’t be consumed by young children or those who abstain.
The most important aspect of any holiday isn’t what you eat or drink. It’s about the people you spend it with and what you do when you’re together. Make your Autumnal Equinox meaningful by putting time aside for the people you love most.
Meditating during Mabon is a popular practice. If that doesn’t mesh with your lifestyle, take a little time out of your day to focus on the things you’re grateful for. If you have a home to call your own, warm clothing that fits, a hot meal or a warm hug to look forward to—thank the universe for what you have. The key is to remember that you and the universe are part of the same constant.
Spending extra time putting your home in order, or just taking a very long bath is a wonderful way to prepare yourself and your dwelling for winter. Part of finding balance in life is to ensure that you aren’t neglecting anything important—like yourself.