Fall Equinox marks the first day of Fall. In the Northern Hemisphere, it lands around September 21st-23rd each year (March 21st-23rd in the Southern Hemisphere). Here at HHH, we celebrate this time of year as Mabon, so named after the Welsh God of Light. Mabon and it’s counterpart Holy Day, Ostara (Spring Equinox), mark the two times of the year where the amount of daylight is equal to the amount of nighttime. Both honor the balance of night and day, light and dark. But, Mabon specifically is a time of giving thanks for and sharing the blessings and abundance we’ve each received in our lives throughout the year.
Fall Equinox has been marked and celebrated by many cultures as the time of harvest. This is the time of year when food is most abundant. Plants are producing delicious fruits and berries to spread their seeds and animal populations are plentiful from the maturity of their spring-born. This is the original and true time of Thanksgiving. The time before that title was corrupted in America by colonization and genocide, which led to the Native American National Day of Mourning in November.
In Ancient Greece, Fall equinox marked the time when the Goddess Persephone returned to the Underworld. Ancient Chinese held their Harvest Moon Festival at the time of the closest full moon to Fall Equinox, called the Harvest Moon. Some Chinese and Vietnamese people today still celebrate this festival with family/friend gatherings, giving thanks, lantern lighting, and mooncakes. Japanese Buddhists celebrate both Fall and Spring Equinox as Higan. This is a holiday where they journey to their hometowns to pay respects to their ancestors. And, people of the British Isles traditionally held their fall harvest festivals on the Sunday nearest the Harvest Moon.
Our Mabon Celebration
Cristophe and I celebrate Mabon by creating a seasonal feast we like to share with friends and family when possible. We focus on dishes made from the plants that naturally grow and produce at this time of year. The meat involved is always humane and seasonally appropriate as well. Of course we also source our food as locally and sustainably as possible, prizing what we can grow/ethically forage ourselves above all else. As we both have done a lot of ancestral work recently, we are also researching dishes from our cultural roots. For example, elderberry syrup, honey meads, and gingerbread from our European Ancestors, and variously cooked sides of corn, beans, and squash from my Native American Ancestors.
Directly planning, preparing, and cooking such a feast is part of the spiritual benefit. Doing so helps us to bond with each other and the gifts of nourishment we are handling. It helps us to properly appreciate all of the love and energy that went into the making of each piece. Most people have lost this bond. This is a large part of why I am so grateful to be able to learn from Cristophe’s ever-growing knowledge about our connection with Nature through food.
Another tradition we include in our celebration is our Thanks Stones. For this, we each collect a stone/rock that calls to us, and take it to a place of Nature. This could be a park or even our own garden. We hold our stone and send all of our gratitude into it by thinking of everything we are thankful for. Then, we place the stone in a safe place amongst the plants. In this way, we are giving the energy of our gratitude back to Nature and supporting a healthy community balance that benefits us all. Of course, we make sure that both collecting the stone and placing it somewhere does not disturb the balance of any ecosystems. Some protected natural areas can be polluted by something as simple as the oil on our skin from a mere touch, so please always be respectful of the places you are visiting.
An extra way to make this tradition even more fun, especially for children, is to decorate the stone first with only biodegradable and environmentally safe materials. For example, you can paint the stone with mud/natural clays/berry juice, or use honey/peanut butter/jam/mud to stick ethically foraged/scavenged natural materials, such as feathers, leaves, or flowers to the stone as well. You can even cut some cool shapes out of the larger fall leaves. Get creative with it! Just remember that the stone is going back to Nature, so make sure whatever you put on the stone is safe for the soil, plants, and animals that will be in contact with it.
May our gratitude reach the heart of Nature. May she know our appreciation and returned love and care for all that she is. Let us reconnect with all that sustains us. Remember and honor all the energy that is gifted to us. Remember that that energy is only borrowed. May we relearn the importance of balance. May we rekindle our Ancestors’ knowledge to nurture the future health of our shared community. Be Blessed.