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Feeling the Autumn Magic? Time to Deck Out Your Mabon Altar!

As the Wheel of the Year turns toward Fall and cooler weather, it's time to start thinking about a seasonal update for your personal altar. Mabon is the pagan holiday at the center of this tradition, and it is celebrated on the autumn equinox, which falls on September 22-23 on most years. It is the second of the three great harvest festivals, along with Lughnasa in early August, and Samhain at the end of October.

Mabon Altar

Mabon is a time of balance and equilibrium. For months now, the days have been growing shorter, and on the equinox, we reach the tipping point where daylight and nighttime hours are equal. Because of this, Mabon altar decorations often include elements of light and dark, although fall colors are frequently present as well.

Mabon is also a time of reflection and gratitude. The seeds, either actual or metaphorical, that we planted earlier in the year, have ripened and are ready to harvest. We can pause and take stock of what we have accomplished, and be grateful for our blessings.

One of the most common items found on a pagan altar during the autumn equinox is a cornucopia or horn of plenty. Filled with seasonal fruits, it symbolizes the bounty of the harvest and the gifts provided by the Earth. These fruits not only represent the fertility of the land but also serve as offerings to deities associated with harvest and abundance. Be cautious when choosing foods for your altar. If you are planning on leaving it set up for more than a week or so, you'll want to avoid things like grapes and berries that will degrade rapidly, and stick to foods like mini pumpkins, apples, dried corn, and nuts or acorns.

Candles are another staple on a Mabon altar, often in colors that reflect the changing leaves—orange, red, yellow, and brown. These candles are lit to honor the dwindling sunlight and to invite balance and warmth into one's life. Some practitioners also include a set of black and white candles to symbolize the balance between light and dark, a core theme of the equinox.

Crystals like citrine, carnelian, and tiger's eye can also be found on an autumn equinox altar. These stones are believed to carry energies that align well with the season, such as prosperity, protection, and balance. They are often placed in the center of the altar or around the candles to amplify their energies and intentions.

Lastly, symbols of animals associated with the season, such as stags or crows, may be included. These can be in the form of statues, drawings, or even feathers and antlers. These animals are often linked to various deities and spirits relevant to the autumn equinox and are believed to act as messengers or guides for the season.

Remember that there are no hard and fast rules that must be followed when setting up your altar. It is meant to be uniquely yours. Don't be afraid of including elements that are personally meaningful to you, like pictures or mementos. Practical considerations can play a role too. Plain white candles can always stand in for other colors, and clear crystal quartz is a wonderful “all-purpose” stone if you don't have an extensive collection of crystals to choose from. Found items can also be delightful additions to your Mabon altar. Take a walk, and keep an eye out for feathers, stones, and fall leaves that would complement your display.

In sum, a pagan altar for the autumn equinox is a sacred space that encapsulates the essence of the season. Through carefully chosen items like cornucopias, candles, crystals, and animal symbols, practitioners aim to honor the balance between light and dark, express gratitude for the harvest, and prepare for the coming winter.