this year's autumnal equinox takes place on saturday, september 23rd. not only do the temperatures fall, but also plant life slows down and so do we.
WHAT IS AN EQUINOX?
during an equinox, the sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of earth’s equator line into space. the equinox occurs precisely when the sun’s center passes through this line.
for those in the northern hemisphere, when the sun crosses the equator going from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox. in the southern hemisphere, it’s the reverse.
after the autumnal equinox, days become shorter than nights as the sun continues to rise later and nightfall arrives earlier. this ends with the winter solstice, after which days start to grow longer once again.
the word “equinox” comes from latin aequus, meaning equal and nox meaning night. on the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length.
SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO THE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY?
called mabon, the autumn equinox is when day and night are equal, making it a time of balance, equality and harmony. in ancient times mabon was a celebration of the second harvest (lughnasadh was the first) when farmers gathered hearty foods like gourds, pumpkins, grapes and apples.
modern mabon celebrations are a time to give thanks for the abundance of mother earth - both literally and spiritually. it’s also a good time to reflect on the wheel of the year, recognizing your successes and letting go of the things that did not serve you during the past twelve months.
WHAT CAN I DO TO CELEBRATE?
one of the easiest ways to celebrate mabon is decorating your home for autumn. bring in both fresh and dried flowers and gourds to place throughout your kitchen and other living spaces. if you don’t have access to your own greenery, a visit to the local farmer’s market or even a short walk in the woods can provide plenty of mabon decorations for your home.
for many families mabon falls right at the start of the school year and it can be hard to plan a big celebration, especially if it falls during the mid week. if that’s the case with your family, know that there is nothing wrong with celebrating mabon with a simple family meal at the end of a busy day. you can dress up your table with a bouquet of fresh flowers or some candles.
if you opt to celebrate mabon by yourself, try finding a quiet space outside to mediate and journal before treating yourself to a nice meal. mabon is a great time to release the baggage of the past year and set some new personal goals.
other ways to celebrate the equinox include: have a fire or a picnic, visit your local orchards, clean and cleanse your space, or simply give thanks for the positive abundance that has been bestowed upon you over the past year.