Mabon – Fall Equinox

A colorful photograph with red, pink, orange, gold, yellow, and peridot oak leaves fluttering in the afternoon sunlight. In the foreground is a hot range pink circle with white, gold, and red text that reads, The Wheel of the Year Fall Equinox Mabon, the Second Harvest A Six Week Guide to Witch's Thanksgiving

Mabon class: September 19th 2023

Watch the Mabon Class here

Mabon ushers in the high point of the Harvest, and a reminder that The Wheel is always turning.

What is Mabon? For modern Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere, this holiday and season mark the autumnal or fall equinox. It is the point when the sun crosses the celestial equator. On Earth, we experience equal night and day, and from that point forward, the nights grow longer and the days grow shorter. Currently, on the Gregorian calendar this occurs each year somewhere between September 19th and 23rd. Summer is officially over, and Fall has begun.

Pagans around the world have many names for this equinox—Witch’s Thanksgiving, Mabon, Michaelmas, and Haleg Monath are just a few.

Mabon sunset over cornfields
Ripening corn in the waning Sunset.

We have evidence that many ancient civilizations celebrated holidays and feasts around this time. We also know not all classical groups we tend to lump under the term “Pagan” observed a special holiday here. Many include this work in their Lughnasadh celebrations, or saved this symbolism for 6 weeks later, at Samhain (Hallowe’en.) Aidan Kelly, in the 1970s, officially added Mabon (and Ostara, Spring Equinox) to the modern Pagan observance of The Wheel. He named it Mabon, after the youthful Welsh God Mabon Ap Modron.

But the sentiment is nearly the same in most traditions, whether modern or ancient: a celebration of the glorious bounty the Earth and Sun provide as the summer crop season comes to a high point, and a shift from reveling in the heat and abundance of summer to witnessing the shutting-down of Earth as the Northern Hemisphere begins its journey through Winter.

For ancient people, the Mother Goddess was reality.

This is not hyperbole. People genuinely believed they came from Her and went back to Her. Their bodies were made of Her. The food they ate was made of Her. The homes they built, the clothing the wove, the pottery they molded, all from Her body. The harvest festival was for many civilizations a tremendously powerful union with this deity. People lived in the fields as they worked the Harvest, reflected in the Jewish holiday Sukkot. For Pagans, the last stalk of each crop was treasured.

Called “crying the neck,” it was a blessing and a curse to be the one to cut the last standing sheaf of the harvest.

With the corn cut, John Pengelly takes the last sheaf, known as the neck, and presents it to the east, north, west and south. It is called the ‘neck’ because when you hold it up it sometimes bends down in the middle like a hen’s neck. Traditionally the neck is held up to the east first because that is where the sun comes up. (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

During Crying the Neck the master of ceremonies finds the last patch of grain in the field and cuts it with a traditional long handled scythe. He shouts “I ‘ave ‘un! I ‘ave ‘un! I ‘ave ‘un!” Those in attendance then shout, “What ‘ave ‘ee? What ‘ave ‘ee? What ‘ave ‘ee?”, with the reply coming: “A neck! A neck! A neck!” After this, everyone joins in shouting: “Hurrah! Hurrah for the neck! Hurrah!”

Harvesters brought back that stalk and sometimes made it into a “corn dolly” of The Goddess. She was kept in a place of honor in the home, only to be placed in the first furrow cut into the ground the following spring. Placing the corn dolly in the groove carried through all the protection, success, and fecundity from previous harvests.

At Mabon, our vegetation Gods and archetypes who have reigned through Litha and Lughnasadh become sacrificial Gods.

Symbolically or otherwise, those gods and sovereigns are dismembered or burnt. The pieces or ashes are then scattered over or buried in the fields—a way of “planting” the solar-deity energy directly into the ground where it would be needed most in the coming months.

This death and transition symbolism of Mabon is important.

It reflected the apparent death of the Earth as growth cycles shut down, and plant material began to rot. It reflected the imminent death of the Sun. The days are now shorter than the nights, and the Sun rises lower and lower in the sky. For Irish Pagans, Crom Dubh whose name means “The Old Bent One” or “Crouched Darkness,” embodies this spirit of death and transition along with hollow-eyed scarecrows hanging over empty fields in the rust colored sunset.

Still image from Matt Rowe “John Barleycorn Must Die”

John Barleycorn Must Die

There was three men come out of the west
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn should die.
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in,
Throwed clods upon his head.
And these three men made a solemn vow:
John Barleycorn was dead.

Traditional Pagan Round 1600’s

Much of the symbolism of summer is thrust, push, intensity. In my lectures, I often say summer is the push before the baby comes, and the fall equinox is the baby. Of course, participation in this robust set of archetypes is not determined by gender or the ability to create a physical baby. We can all ask ourselves at this time of year; What am I pushing out into the world? What am I about to deliver?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the world’s rivers crest at this time of year, typhoons and hurricanes abound.

Another River God, Tiberinus, seen here holding a cornucopia, also has Holy Days close to Fall Equinox.

Perhaps these are Mother Earth’s waters breaking as Zhe gives us another year’s Harvest? This is also our moment in the energetic cycle to witness the power of the oceans, seas and rivers around the world. Massive celebrations dedicated to Yemoja happen in September (and also in late Jan or early Feb).

On the note of Mothers, we talked about Mother Mountain in Spring of this year. The cornucopia we see ubiquitously during harvest celebrations is, in fact, related to Zeus’ myth and visit to Mt. Ida while hiding from Cronus. The Corybantes carry him away, using their noise and cacophony to cover up the cries of a baby and head off to Mt Ida, aka Mother Mountain. While there, a nurse-maid-she-goat named Amaltheia helped tend the baby. At some point, one of her horns broke off and would supply food to whoever held it. It became a symbol of abundance for Greeks and Romans as well.

Other Mabon or Fall Equinox traditions

For modern Pagans wanting to observe Mabon, I always recommend walking outside. Just go be with Nature, and witness Her ever-changing cycles, more apparent now than at almost any other time of year.

Eating seasonal fruits and veggies always bring you into alignment with Mabon, the season of Harvest. One of my favorite fall traditions is to collect the last blossoms from squash plants, stuff them, and eat them. It is a genuine Native American delicacy. My mother taught me this, and she learned it from my grandfather’s sister.

If it is at all possible, go to a local community garden or local farm and pick your own fruits and veggies. Witness the abundance first hand. Utilize family recipes or start your own food traditions based on what is in season in your area.

The modern Pagan and Witch must take a moment to give something back to the energy of Water, however it or She presents itself in your life. Clean up up a nearby beach, river, stream, lake, pond. Say a prayer for the waterways of Earth. Attend events like Welcome the Water. I know you’re already politically active and socially aware, so take a moment and call or email your local representative and insist on support for local water protectors, and make some donations, if you have the capacity.

I also love to collect seeds, here in the heart of the Harvest. Seeds are a way to carry wisdom, energy, and blessings from the old cycle into the next. The practice of collecting seeds reminds us that all we harvest this season, whether riches or suffering, helps us create a better tomorrow for our community and ourselves.

Any and all fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers, and nuts that are in season in your part of the world are potent helpers in Mabon season.

Harvest, Rest and Healing After Labor, Purification, Protection, Ancestor Work, Shadow Work

Acorns, Ivy, Grapes, Cypress, Apples, Myrrh, Pomegranates, Eucalyptus

Rose Quartz, Kunzite, Opals, Apophyllite, Granite, Jade, Sapphire, Bloodstone


  • In the name of The Elder, see a vision of result and outcome. What is that vision?
  • How do you find a balance between The Light and The Dark?
  • Finally, see yourself as a balanced being. Write a letter to yourself from that place.

Mabon Season Work

Spinning The Wheel weekly Podcast

Join me for my weekly audio ritual honoring the Season’s astrology, holy days, and lunar work.

Mabon Season 2023 – Sun Enters Libra

We have officially entered Fall or Autumn, and the dark half of the year. Fall is a 3 month season focused on two important pieces of magick: calling in the results or effects of our work on the Wheel so far, and shape-shifting into the Self we inhabit during the cold and dark part of the year. Fall is a season of claiming our capacity to manifest, and the work it takes to stay ethically connected to community while we prepare for the death/rebirth work of Fall and Winter.

In Mabon, we receive a sense of what community needs, and we prepare the environments where we do our Work… read more here!

A colorful square image. Background: a portion of the Justice card depicting a person in a red robe and crown, sitting in a throne with a maroon tapestry behind them. They hold a silver sword in one hand and a golden scale in the other. In the foreground pink and blue text reads Balance, Fairness, and Equity Working with the Justice Card in Mabon Season

Balance, Fairness, and Equity: Working with the Justice Card in Mabon Season

The Fall Equinox is the Fulcrum or balancing point between the Light half and the Dark half of the year. Once we pass this point on the calendar, we’re heading off into an ‘extreme’ end of the year.

But here at Mabon, we teeter at the lip of the descent. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it seems to creep up on you all the same. One day, you’re enjoying a warm sunset under the stars, and a week later, you’re pulling out your coat because you know it will be cold and dark by the time you get off work or school. Finding ourselves in or out of balance happens just as incrementally… read more here.

The Justice Card – Tarot Circle

Tipping The Scales to Please Everyone, Honest!
In The Justice card, we see the archetypes of Truth and Beauty come together. The Justice card is related to the sign Libra and accordingly it wants harmony above everything else.
Harmony, or else. Compromise, but at what cost? How do we choose what is Fair or what is Right? How do we choose between The Laws of Nature and The Laws of Humanity? What is Justice? What is truly just? As we head into Mabon and The Dark Half of The Wheel, we need to get right with our karmic debts. We have to see what we are truly weighing on the scales.
**This class is now available for download for Patrons.** Join and get access here.