A Time to Give Gratitude

Already those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are noticing the daylight hours shortening.

We’re approaching the Autumn Equinox on September 22nd. Not the start of the fall season as many might think, but more accurately a cross-quarter day marking the middle of fall. Such mid-seasons didn’t have the same importance to our ancestors as ends of season, but they still held enough significance for them to be marked with festivities.

The Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon) runs from September 20 – 23. As I point out in my book Sacred Ceremony:

Once again the time of light and dark are in balance…as the sun crosses the equator making this the counterpoint to the Spring Equinox. This time, however, it’s evident that the days are continuing to get shorter and we’re headed for a greater increase in the darkness.

This is the time of year for us to prepare for the decreasing light, and to show gratitude for the harvest the warmer months of the year have given us. This is also a  time to begin storing food for the winter months. It’s at this time of year that I vaguely remember when I was a young boy watching my grandmother making jams and jellies and pickling food. 

But the Autumn Equinox is a time to show gratitude for more than just the food we’ve harvested. It’s time to give thanks for other things in life that we have completed, perhaps personal projects at home we gave ourselves over the summer months, or a work assignment. I often think this is the time of year that would be best to hold a Thanksgiving ceremony, as well as the one at the end of November!

The history of the celebration

So how does the Autumn Equinox get its alternative name, Mabon? In my book, I present several explanations:

In one version, Mabon comes from Queen Mab of the faeries; in another version, Mabon means “son of the mother,” as well as the “Son of Light,” the mother being the Goddess Modron, guardian of the other world. The legend is that Mabon was taken from his mother at only three days old, and for some time dwelt in the Otherworld, invisible for a period of time, even from his mother, only to be reborn at a later time.

Ways you can celebrate Mabon

As a time of gratitude for the abundance of the Full Harvest, one way to mark this time of year is to hold a feast in which all guests bring a dish to share. Either during or after the feast, it’s a good idea to share gratitudes. 

Another way to mark the Autumn Equinox is to display a sample of each of the crops you planted earlier in the year that you’ve now harvested. Bringing them together on your altar makes for an attractive display that shows the fruits of your labors throughout the year, all in one place. And, as I point out in Sacred Ceremony, what you display can contain more than just natural produce:

These ‘fruits’ can be earned diplomas or certificates, projects that have been completed or are near completion, photos of new friends, or of new children or grandchildren, marriage or divorce papers, and any other symbols of completion.

I recommend spending a few minutes in front of your altar meditating, feeling what goes on in your body as you look at all the things you’ve gathered. Hopefully, you’ll feel pride at what you’ve achieved, and can offer up a prayer to the spirit guides to express your gratitude. 

Commemorating the Autumn Equinox really does give you an opportunity to give thanks to what the warmer months of the year have brought to your life. And it gives you a chance to switch focus and look towards what the remainder of the year will bring.

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