The Autumn Equinox or "Mabon", which falls on the 21st-22nd September this year, is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow". It's that time of year when when night and day stand equal in duration; therefore is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and work on creating balance in your life.
Creating a Mabon or Autumn Equinox themed altar is a great way to connect with the season and it spruces up your decor! I re-decorate my altar 4 times a year to coincide with the seasons. It keeps me in touch with nature, what food is in season (knowledge that so many people don't have anymore) and brings lessons to reflect and grow from.
My altar needs to be well rounded and stimulate all the senses. Sight - colour, images and symbols. Sound - season music or nature sounds (I love relaxing in the evenings by candle light, listening to cricket sounds on summer nights and the sound of a crackling fire in the winter). Smell - incense, oils, herbs and spices. Touch - crystals, crafts and other items you can hold or play with and lastly taste - seasonal food.
Below I have listed some correspondences for the Autumn Equinox to help inspire you in what to add to your own altar, along with some ideas.
Mabon Colour Correspondences
The leaves have begun to change, so reflect the colors of autumn in your altar decorations.
Use yellows, oranges, reds and browns. Cover your altar with cloths that symbolize the harvest season, or go a step further and put brightly colored fallen leaves upon your work surface. Use candles in deep, rich colors -- reds, golds, or other autumn shades are perfect this time of year.
Mabon is the time of the second harvest, and the dying of the fields. Use acorns, Indian corn, wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, grapes ,corn, apples, pine cones , pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, dried leaves , dried flowers, sheaves of wheat and root vegetables on your altar. You could even add some tools of agriculture if you have them - scythes, sickles, and baskets.
Some like to add seasonal animals to their altars, be that bones, taxidermy, images or figurines. Mabon related animals are Blackbird, Butterfly, Dog, Eagle, Hawk, Owl, Pig, Salmon, Snake, Stag, Swallow, Swan, Turkey Vulture and Wolf
Crystals and Gemstones
Crystals and gemstones are always a beautiful addition to your altar. During the Autumn Equinox, stones ruled by the Sun will help bring the Sun's energy to you. Clear quartz, amber, peridot, diamond, gold, citrine, yellow topaz, cat's-eye and adventurine.
Mabon Incense and Essential Oils
Pine, sweetgrass, apple, orange, benzoin, myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, sage, black pepper, patchouli, cinnamon, clove, oak moss. Simply choose 3 scents to make an incense or oil blend, more than 3 and the smell can get too muddled. Apple, orange and cinnamon is one of my personal favourites!
Mabon related herbs, Spices, plants and flowers
Benzoin, rue, yarrow, walnuts, mistletoe, saffron, chamomile, frankincense, oak leaves, ferns, grains, honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, myrrh, passionflower, pine cones, rose hips, sage, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, star anise, ginger Solomon’s Seal, tobacco, thistle and wheat.
IDEA! For my Autumn Altar this year I purchased dried apple and orange slices, small pine cones, cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves and put them into a seal-able sandwich bag with apple, orange, cinnamon, clove, ginger and pine essential oils. I left the bag in a dark place for two weeks so the oils can soak in. I then arranged the items onto an offering place and set it on my altar. It looks and smells wonderful.
Foods To Celebrate Mabon
Breads, ginger bread, grains, seeds, dried fruits and beans, baked squash, nuts, apples, oranges, pomegranates, root vegetables, gourds, cider and wine
Deities Related To Mabon and The Autumn Equinox
Some Pagans have representations of deities on their altar, other don't. All a matter of personal preference. If you would like to however, here are some Mabon related gods and goddesses...
Some Pagans commemorate Persephone's descent into the Underworld at this time, or this observation may be saved for Samhain. Either way, Her mother Demeter or Ceres is often a major focus of worship at this time. There is also the descent of Inanna into the underworld and some Pagans use this time to honor the Dark God/dess or Crone.
Some Pagans believe that the Sun God is defeated and dies at this time (other Pagans observe this at the Summer Solstice instead) and he will be reborn at the Winter Solstice. Others honor The Green Man or The Horned God.
Other deities include Modron, Morgan, Epona, Pamona, Bona Dea, Land Mother and the Muses, Thoth, Thor, Hermes, Sky Father.
Remember, the equinoxes are the two nights of the year when the amount of light and darkness are equal. Decorate your altar to symbolize the aspect of the season. Try a small set of scales, a yin-yang symbol, a white candle and a black one, one side of your altar dark and the other side light, one side masculine and the other feminine -- all are things which represent the concept of balance.
I hope this post gave you enough info so you can put together your beautiful Mabon altar. Remember - you can go big and fancy or small and simple. Your altar should be there to inspire and aid you in your practice, so decorate within you means and needs.