How We Celebrate Mabon – The Autumn Equinox

Mabon - The Autumn Equinox

Date: September 23, 2023

The summer slips away as hints of color begin to splash across the forest.

Animals are busy gathering winter supplies, and migratory birds are heading south for the winter.

The days begin and end with a chill in the air, as my thoughts turn to apple cider, pumpkin picking, and cozy, candlelit evenings.

The Wheel turns and we arrive at Mabon – The Autumn Equinox.

Themes & Meanings For Mabon

At the autumn equinox, day and night are in balance. After this day, the sun rises later and sets earlier, shortening the hours of daylight and lengthening the dark of night.

Mabon ushers in the so-called “dark half of the year” – which will persist through the Winter Solstice until Ostara – The Spring Equinox breaks the spell six months later.

Mabon is also the second harvest festival on the Wheel of the Year between Lughnasadh (August 1) and Samhain October 31.)

It is sometimes referred to as the “fruit harvest” (vs. the “grain harvest” at Lughnasadh), and Witch’s Thanksgiving.

Modern Druids call the autumn equinox Alban Elfed.

Caramel Apples
Caramel apples are a sweet way to celebrate the fruit harvest at Mabon.

The themes that Tracy and I reflect on during Mabon are:


Mabon is the autumn equinox – a day when the hours of daylight and darkness are in balance. Because of this, I like to reflect on balance in my life.

Since the autumn equinox corresponds to the waning half moon, or last quarter, it has a protective energy that encourages setting boundaries, and clearing space.

Clearing Space

As Mabon occurs in the waning half of the solar cycle, it’s a great time to release and let go of what no longer serves you. This can be physical items and clutter, but also beliefs, old narratives, and other mindset junk that needs to be cleared away.

It is often necessary to release something so that you have room to receive. This can sometimes be painful and cause a sense of emptiness or lack.

However, this is a necessary process. Just as the farmer needs to clear space in their barns and silos to store the harvest over the winter, so too do you need to clear space to receive what you wish to harvest.

Gratitude & Thanksgiving

As the second harvest festival on the Wheel of the Year, Mabon is associated with abundance, gratitude, and giving thanks.

Mabon is sometimes referred to as the Witch’s Thanksgiving.

This is the perfect time of year to host or attend gatherings with friends and family, share a meal of seasonal, local foods, and enjoy the many blessings in your own life.

Apple Pie
It’s not Mabon without a fresh-baked apple pie!

Rest & Self-Care

Autumn begins the busy season for many as summer vacations end, school is in session, preparations for winter are underway, and the holiday season is on the horizon.

But as you prepare to enter a new season, take a cue from nature. Trees are shedding leaves that no longer serve a purpose. Plants are dying back or going dormant. Many animals prepare for hibernation over the cold winter months.

None of this is seen as lazy in the natural world but as a healthy, necessary process in the cycle of life/death/rebirth.

Reflect on the theme of balance this season, but with an emphasis on rest and self-care. Challenge ideas and beliefs that rest is “lazy” or “selfish”. Let nature guide you to what your mind, body, and spirit need to heal and recharge over the coming months.

Mabon Correspondences & Setting Up An Altar

One of the simplest ways to celebrate Mabon is to create an altar that features meaningful elements of the season.

Moon Phase: Mabon corresponds to the Waning Half Moon, a time of balance, setting boundaries, and clearing space to receive.

Colors: My favorite candle colors to use at Mabon include deep reds, maroon, orange, yellow, gold, bronze, copper, and brown.

Crystals & Stones: My go-to Mabon stones include jasper, citrine, tiger’s eye, amber, grape agate, sapphire, lapis lazuli, and topaz.

Black tourmaline, and especially tourmalinated quartz, are my favorite crystals to work with during Mabon as they are grounding and balancing.

Herbs: Sage, cinnamon, mugwort, and clove are my favorite Mabon herbs. Chamomile, yarrow, and hops are also associated with this time of year.

Flowers: Asters, goldenrod, chrysanthemum, marigold, sedum, anemone, sunflower, turtlehead, and helenium are usually in bloom at Mabon.

Scents (Incense/Essential Oils): Cedar, pine, frankincense, clove, cinnamon, sandalwood, apple, nutmeg, pumpkin spice.

Foods: Apple, pear, pumpkin, wheat/grain, bread, grapes, wine, and squashes.

Altar Décor: Dried apples, mini pumpkins, multicolor corn, hay/straw, scarecrows, acorns, colored leaves, late autumn berries, mushrooms, and nuts.

Suggested Mabon Rituals

Here are some simple, quick ideas to help you connect to the season of autumn:

1) Bake (or Buy) Bread

The baking (or eating) of bread is a staple in many pagan festivities. Mabon is no exception.

Bread is one of the best foods to share, and so much symbolism can be baked into any loaf.

Beyond bread, you can bake seasonal foods like cider donuts, apple cinnamon muffins, apple pie, or pumpkin bread.

Yes, gluten-free and box mixes are just fine! Or pick up some of your favorite cider donuts or a loaf of artisan bread at your farmer’s market.

2) Harvest – Go Apple/Pumpkin Picking

Mabon is a harvest festival, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in this aspect of Mabon if you don’t have a large garden.

I absolutely love the farmer’s market this time of year, and I go every weekend to get local apples, apple cider, cider donuts, and just enjoy the autumn ambiance of an autumn farmer’s market bursting with fresh, locally-grown produce.

Additionally, activities like apple picking and pumpkin picking (or buying at the store) are perfect ways to participate in the harvest activities at Mabon.

Less literally, you can reflect on what is ready to harvest in your life right now. What efforts are being rewarded now? How can you reward yourself for all of the hard work you’ve done this past year?

Pumpkin picking is one of our favorite Mabon traditions. We will later carve these pumpkins for our Samhain celebration!

3) Gratitude Meal

Host a gratitude meal at Mabon. Much like a traditional Thanksgiving meal, you can do the same at Mabon.

Whether you lay out a spread of seasonal foods to share with friends and family, or you eat a simple dinner at home, put intention into your meal on this day and eat every bite with gratitude.

4) Prepare For Winter

Mabon may be the beginning of autumn, and one of the most beautiful times of the year, but it also signals that winter is on the way.

Mabon is a good time to refresh protection magick in and around your home, tidy up your altar(s), and take note of the more mundane tasks that need to be done around your home to ensure you stay warm and cozy when the temperatures dip and the snow begins to fall.

5) Mabon Simmer Pot

Craft your own magical brew in a simmer pot that will fill your home with a lovely fall aroma and your magical intentions!

We’ve really gotten into simmer pots lately. Simmer pots are super-easy to do and fill your house with a wonderful (all-natural) aroma of autumn!

Our favorite Mabon simmer pot includes sliced apples, cinnamon sticks, and clove. You can also add some sage and any other ingredients you want.

Let the simmer pot heat up on low (you can use a pot on a stove, or a Crockpot/Instantpot for this.)

You can reuse (reheat) the simmer pot for up to 2 days, and then dump the (cooled!) ingredients into your compost after.

Put intentions into your simmer pot while you add ingredients. Think of this as your magical witches brew to bring balance, positivity, and protection as you enter the new season.

6) Go On A Mushroom Walk

One of our favorite things to do this time of year is to walk in the woods and appreciate the stunning variety of mushrooms.

I always think of mushrooms as a symbol of Mabon, and autumn. They facilitate decomposition and help break down the old so it can nourish the year.

While the trees above show brilliant colors against the autumn sky, mushrooms and fungi are equally as stunning and diverse.