Autumn is finally here. You can feel it in the air, you can’t deny it. And after what felt like a long and descent summer (what, with the heatwave we have had!) I feel like this change is very welcome. I like to hear the rain at night, feel the cool air on my skin, watch the days grow shorter and hear the leaves rustle gently beneath my feet. I always enjoy autumn, it makes my soul sing, and charges me with some mysterious energy I can’t even describe but I feel it run through my body, empowering me, motivating and inspiring.
Autumn is deeply spiritual and symbolic. On one hand, it may symbolise the end – the end of summer, the withering of leaves, the trees go bare and the world prepares for the winter-long slumber. On the other hand, I feel like autumn is also about new beginnings – as we clear out the space of the old and unnecessary, it gives space to new life and lights a gentle spark inside the heart, a nudge to start anew.
But this is me. I understand that you may feel completely different, and it’s ok. But what I’d like to do today is to offer you an opportunity to fall in love with autumn, bond with the nature and enjoy what it has to offer in this season. After all, our relationship with nature affects our wellbeing. Being in tune with the world around us, with the changing seasons, may offer a lot of benefits from inner peace and balance to better mental health and better health in general. If you would like to learn more about the nature and your wellbeing, you can read my other post before proceeding with this one or right after.
What’s in the Autumn?
In the ancient cultures, such as Irish Celts, autumn was associated with mystery and darkness, which can be clearly seen through the traditional celebrations of Mabon (Autumnal Equinox) and Samhain (Hallow’een). Despite Halloween being later popularised by the Americans, these two holidays were encumbered in mysticism and were celebrated with various rituals and festivals which included making altars, honouring the deities and cleansing homes. While we are not ancient Celts and definitely not pagans or Wiccans, I am going to throw this possibly strange idea at you: let’s embrace this beautiful season by celebrating Autumnal Equinox! I promise there won’t be any witchcraft involved – only some easy ways to create a cosy autumnal mood through activities that can be enjoyed by the entire family and will benefit everyone’s wellbeing.
Autumnal Equinox (Mabon)
The Autumnal Equinox falls on a day between 21 and 24 of September. It varies from year to year, and possibly with geographical location. For Ireland, this year Equinox takes place on 22 September 2021. On Equinox, the day and the night have the same length, each lasting 12 hours, and from the day after the days duration will be shorter and shorter until the Winter Solstice when the day is at its shortest length. In the Celtic culture, Mabon was something like a Thanksgiving, a harvest festival
Although not Irish by birth (and, in fact, born and raised in West Siberia in Russia), I was always fascinated with the Equinoxes due to the fact that the day and night have the same length. From the early age I loved noticing how the days grow shorter or longer, and to this day I watch them with the same fascination. My love for nature and the seasons is indeed infinite, and celebrating them seems like the best way to cultivate that love and fascination further. It definitely makes each season feel more special and almost magical. I hope that I can share this with you.
You can make the celebration of Autumnal Equinox as special as you want. You can do as little as simply decorate your house and make an autumnal meal (similar to Thanksgiving but not as fancy), or you can build your own rituals that will serve as a beautiful tradition for your family. No matter which way you choose, here are some ideas of how to celebrate Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox:
1. Decorate the house
Use candles, fairy lights and fall garlands to decorate the shelves and mantlepiece. You can use some autumn-themed decorations or even real fruits and vegetables (apples, squashes, grapes, chestnuts or pinecones) to decorate the table and other surfaces.
Cleaning your house before decorating it can also be a modern take on the cleansing ritual and getting rid of what you no longer need. If you feel in the mood for mysticism, take it up a notch and burn some incense or vapour essential oils. Cinnamon, apple, sage, frankincense and myrrh are considered the traditional Mabon incenses.
You can also use some stones and crystals when decorating your house to charge it with some positive energy, such as lapis lazuli, yellow agate, amber or amethyst.
As autumn and Autumnal Equinox signify a conclusion of the lighter half of the year, it is high time to give thanks. You can simply write a list of things you’re grateful for, think about it or discuss it at the dinner table with your family. If you have children, it can be a great idea to take rounds and say what you are grateful for.
3. Honour the harvest
Traditionally, Mabon was about celebrating the harvest, hence there are a few foods that are associated with this day. A couple of such examples are bread and apple pie. Nothing will feel as satisfying as making your own bread or pie or crumble to serve at the dinner, especially if you can pick your own apples first.
But even if you do not have time to prepare a dinner from scratch and cannot pick apples, featuring dishes that include bread, pies, apples, squashes, corn, pomegranate, grapes, wine and apple cider is a great way to celebrate Autumnal Equinox. It will sure make your dinner feel special. Check out this Butternut Squash and Apple Soup for a yummy starter idea.
4. Let go
Finally, this day is about letting go of what no longer serves you. This day is great for spending some time on your own to reflect and declutter your mind and soul. Let go of the worries and other things that you no longer want in your life. If these things are not physical items that you can through out, a great ritual would be to write them down on a paper and burn it. Scatter the ashes if you can for the best release, but even if you can’t, don’t fret. The moment you see those words and thoughts burn in flames and turn to ashes, you will feel relieved.
5. Other Family Activities
If you are looking for some extra ideas of how to spend the Autumnal Equinox day, you could go for a nature walk with your kids and collect some autumn leaves, chestnuts and pinecones. When you come home, make craft with your findings. If the weather permits, throw a picnic in a park or forest, or even in your back garden! Go apple picking if you have an orchard nearby or some apple trees in your garden. Otherwise, you could go and pick some wild blackberries – they are quite unmistakeable and very abundant in the northern hemisphere. And if you are into cleaning, then grab a rake and tidy up the fallen leaves. Yes, more leaves will fall soon and you will have to do it all again, but raking leaves is fun – especially if you have children who love jump into those piles and make mess again.
I hope you enjoyed this little post about celebrating Autumnal Equinox. And if you are no stranger to celebrating it already, please drop a comment below and tell us how you celebrate it. The more ideas the better 🙂