Celebrating Mabon (the Autumn Equinox) with Children

The harvest is in full swing and the wheel of the year has begun to spiral inwards once again as we move into the slower, quieter, more reflective half of the year.

The equinoxes are a time of balance, of equilibrium, when the length of day and night are equal. In autumn, this balance reflects the time of rest and relaxation that comes after the fruitful action of summer. The equinoxes prepare us for a shift in the Earth’s energy. Mabon is a time to reap the rewards of everything you’ve sown over the summer, as well as preserving some of your bounty for the colder months ahead.

Some people call Mabon “the Witch’s thanksgiving” as it is a time to give thanks for the bounty of the Earth and to share in the harvest as a community.

As always I wanted to share some ideas for celebrating this festival, Mabon (or the autumn equinox), with children to help our families tune into the turning of the wheel and align our lives with the natural rhythms of the seasons.

Make jam.
Jam is traditionally made at this time in order to preserve excess fruits for the winter. Our family makes the simplest chia recipe: 1 cup fruit, 1.5T chia seeds, 0.5T liquid sweetener (we use raw honey or maple syrup). Blend and put in a jar in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes. You can then enjoy it for about a week or freeze for up to 6 months. If freezing, make sure your jar has an inch or so of empty space at the top so the jam has room to expand. This recipe is easily doubled, tripled, etc. depending on the size of your harvest.

Craft a cornucopia.
A traditional symbol of the harvest, there are so many ways to make your own cornucopia to place as the centrepiece of your harvest meal. This version with painted rocks would be fun to create with children. Placing a cornucopia on your altar is thought to attract prosperity.

Make calendula dream bags.
Sew a simple bag out of cloth and fill it with dried calendula petals. Sew the end shut and put under your pillow to promote restful sleep and attract good dreams.

Add items to your nature table or family altar.
Autumn leaves, calendula petals, hawthorn berries, and brown and yellow cloth would all be traditional choices.

Give thanks.
Many cultures have a gratitude tradition that takes place in autumn. It is the time to thank the land for the abundance it gives us (and a wonderful time to talk about where our food comes from and who grows it). A mealtime blessing can be a wonderful way to keep these thoughts at the forefront of our minds once a day, as can instituting a ritual of every family member saying something they were grateful for at the end of the day.

Clean your space.
Giving your home a thorough deep clean is a wonderful way to ready your space for the coming season. Get out wool throws, candles, sheepskins, warm jumpers, and other cold weather essentials that have been in storage. You might want to burn herbs to cleanse the energy of your home. Clapping, essential oil sprays, clapping, and chanting are other wonderful ways to cleanse the energy of a place.

Plant bulbs.
This is the time to plant bulbs that need the cold dormancy of winter to ready themselves to bloom in spring (a good metaphor for all of us, right?) This is also the time of year to start “forcing” bulbs if you’d like them to bloom for Christmas + new year.

Make time to quiet your mind.
Honour the natural balance of this festival by focussing on your own inner balance. Perhaps this will be by experimenting with different meditation techniques or taking a walk in nature.

Host a celebratory feast.
Enjoy the bounty of the harvest by creating a celebratory meal that highlights all of the wonderful produce that’s so plentiful this time of year. 

Make apple cider.

Steep hawthorn vinegar.
Hawthorn is a traditional symbol of of Mabon and the bright red berries of its tree are plentiful this time of year. Making hawthorn infused vinegar is a simple process to do with children and you can then use it in your salad dressings throughout the winter.

Craft a leaf garland.
Simply collect colourful autumn leaves and press them between large books to dry out for a week. Use a needle and thread to carefully thread them onto a garland. Voila! Perfect autumnal decor (thanks to Hannah Bullivant for this idea).

Read books about leaves, gratitude, and autumn.
Many of our favourite autumn books are listed in this post. 

Recite this lovely verse together
Yellow the bracken
Golden the sheaves
Rosy the apples
Crimson the leaves
Mist on the hill sides
Clouds grey and white
Autumn good morning 
Summer good night!

(Eloise has many other lovely autumn verse ideas in this post).

How does your family celebrate the Autumn Equinox? I’d love to hear.

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