Updated: Oct 18, 2021
By Michelle Embree, Spiritual Counselor
Twice a year there is a day when not only do the northern and southern hemispheres experience the same amount of day as they do night but the light and dark share equal time in the skies. This happens because the Sun is positioned directly over the equator once in the Spring and again in Autumn. These have been considered special ceremonious days throughout written history and like many holiday traditions, we find the Equinox has been honored around the globe. Equinox in Latin translates to equal night, which is an exact description of the phenomena itself and still, somehow, wildly poetic.
The Autumnal Equinox is celebrated over a course of days that span from September 20th through September 29th and is sometimes known as Mabon. This term is a reference to the Welsh God who was the son of the Earth Mother Goddess. Interestingly, it is said that Mabon itself was not a Celtic holiday and the use of the term became popular in the 1970s among modern practicing pagans. Undoubtedly there are healthy debates on the subject to be found on the internet if you are the history nerd type, but for our purposes here we will skip right to the celebrating.
Altars to celebrate, enshrine, mourn, manifest, or as a place to simply commune with spirits and ancestors range from intricate and elaborate to simple and functional. An outdoor Mabon altar might be very appealing to those who like to share the joy of the season with neighbors and friends who stop by for hot tea and a chat. This particular altar welcomes our garden tools and the larger objects associated with the Autumn harvest season, so outdoors might be a good choice for some while others will prefer a cozy indoor setting.
The theme for this altar is gratitude for an abundance that is parsed out over time and completely consumed as opposed to the opulence of a feasting celebration which tends to be decadent and somewhat wasteful, Mabon rejoices in the bounty that will carry us through a long winter. Decide where you want to put your altar and do basic cleaning of the space, sweep up or wipe down as needed. If you have Florida Water or some vodka you might want to use a little during your clearing of the area. Next, choose what you want to incorporate into your altar.
Your Mabon altar will be the most satisfying if there is a general equality of pleasure for all the senses. Use your favorite colors as they relate to the season. Oranges, yellows, reds, and browns are favorites this time of year. The use of colorful cloth to cover your altar or several scarves wound through your beautiful objects is a lovely start. If you are a stone lover, pull out your aventurine, carnelian, amber, tiger's eye, citrine, yellow topaz, any stones or metals considered to be ruled by the sun. Gold and copper are also good choices.
If you like to burn candles, choose scents you love in colors that correspond to your chosen palette. Woodsy incense such as pine, sweetgrass, patchouli, or spicy scents like cinnamon and clove are lovely for Mabon but don't shy away from scents like apple cider or pumpkin pie if they give pleasure to your experience. Use a diffuser or potpourri if you prefer.
Incorporate sound by adding chimes or a singing bowl or a bell or a cluster of little bells twined together. You might even enjoy playing atmospheric nature sounds or frequencies through a digital device. If you have a table fountain that sounds beautiful to your ears, incorporate that.
Choose some edible elements too. Apples, pumpkins, corn, squash, and pomegranates make perfect and colorful selections. If you do home canning or fermenting, these deserve a place on your altar so you may admire your work and know that you are prepared for the increasing cold and darkness to come. Hard bread and nuts are appropriate too as is wine or mead or dark beer.
Other materials for your Mabon altar might include pinecones, dried flowers, baskets, dried seeds, and vines. Incorporating cute fairy lights or other sweet excitements is encouraged.
Your Mabon altar should be a sweet pleasure for you to assemble and tend to over the course of the holiday. Not all altars are meant for nibbling, but this one is, so make sure to enjoy your handiwork.
©Copyright 2021, Michelle Embree. This article was reprinted with permission and was originally published on Michelle's blog posted on September 18, 2021.