For our second sabbat edition of Witching Hour, we introduce the much ignored festival of the Autumn Equinox, also known as Mabon or Modron. We know you're all excited for Hallowe'en, but Mabon is the occasion to truly celebrate the arrival of the Fall.
The Autumn Equinox marks the second and last harvest festival of the year, and the most bountious. It usually takes place between September 21st-24th, or when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, and this year it will be on September 23rd. We recognise the approach of Winter through the shorter days and colder weather while the remainder of the crops are gathered and preparations are made for the next few months. In some traditions, the Autumn Equinox is observed for six nights.
A popular story heard around this time is that of Persephone and the Pomegranate Seeds, also known as the Rape of Persephone. It's the Greek tale of Zeus and Demeter's daughter who is taken into the underworld by Hades during which time the grief-stricken Demeter refuses to let the plants grow in her absence. Persephone was eventually brought back, but as Hades had tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds while in the underworld, she was forced to return for the same three months every year following.
The name Mabon is in reference to a character from Welsh mythology, who has a similar tale of being held captive in the underworld. Modron comes from an early Celtic mother goddess figure whose son was named Maponus. Most Wiccans think of the Sun God resting in the underworld at this time.
The Autumn Equinox is kind of like the Wiccan Thanksgiving; a time where we thank the Earth for the abundance it has brought us. That means that feasting - like any other Sabbat - is an important part of the celebrations. The types of food that are typically associated with this time are squash, pumpkin, grapes, apples, corn, pomegranates, berries and nuts. Like Thanksgiving, cornucopias make popular centrepieces for Equinox feasts.
Traditions surrounding the Autumn Equinox are probably fewer than other festivals, and not all Pagans observe this particular Sabbat. However, given society's love of pumpkin spiced lattes and the colours of Autumn leaves, it's definitely one we should all get behind no matter what our religion.
Holly Mosley is a Wiccan witch who has been practising consistently for three years, enjoys monthly meet-ups in the Pagan community and spends her time studying Tarot which she first discovered at the age of 10. She publishes weekly Tarot readings on Female First, alongside her informative Witching Hour series about all things esoteric, and recently set up her own Tarot reading service under the moniker Mistress Wyrd.