We have two important pagan holidays coming up this fall: the Autumnal Equinox, also known as Mabon; and Samhain, also known as Halloween, or All Hallows Eve.
The pagan definitions of these holidays have almost become clique: the autumn equinox celebrates not only a day with equal amounts of darkness and light, but also the final harvest that will see us through the long hard winter months ahead; and Samhain, celebrating not only a night of enhanced spirit activity and ancestral adoration, but also the last of the slaughter of livestock, in order to store our meat for winter. Well, these meanings and their significance were all very well and good back in the day, but in the modern world I’m not going to have to worry about starving to death just because there is a hard winter, and quite frankly, I’d never be able to slaughter anything.
So what is the significance of these holidays to the modern pagan? Why do we still celebrate them, and what do they mean to us?
I think, for one thing, we have some innate deep-seated unspoken need to have our lives punctuated by milestones, whether personal milestones like weddings, graduations, and births; or societal, communal, and spiritual milestones. There’s a strange reassurance that the universe works in an ordered and predictable manner and time table. And maybe this is comforting to us because so much of life is unexpected, unpredictable, played without a script, and undeniably finite.
Long after we are but a memory, there will still be people celebrating these autumnal holidays, punctuating the end of summer, welcoming with open arms the predictable end to the season of light and warmth, and retreating into the dark and comforting confines of winter and the still peace that it will bring. Every season, and every seasonal celebration holds its own kind of magick and adds to our lives in a way that helps us to explore the possibilities, survive the inevitable, and move toward the future.
Named for: “Septum”, meaning ‘seven’
Flower: morning glory
September Moon Magick:
Herbs: lilac, mugwort, marjoram,
Stones: sapphire, bloodstone,
Scents: gardenia, rose, lilac
Colors: brown, yellow-green, amber
Trees: hazel, larch, bay
Deities: Demeter, Ceres, Isis
Astrological Influences for September:
ruled by Mercury, receptive/feminine, mutable/earth
ruled by Venus, projective/masculine, cardinal, air
This day brings equal hours of light and dark, a second celebration of perfect equality. Beyond this day, light will gradually fade as the dark season descends upon the world. At this time of year, the ancient Druids would burn a large human-like wicker figure as part of their celebration. This figure represented the vegetation spirit, and indeed, the heralding of the dark season would bring an end to the growth and flowering of summer.
Modern Pagans may celebrate this holiday with many of the foods connected with this time of year in their area. For us this would include pumpkin pie and apple cider. Decorations may include leaves of autumn hues, sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds.
Herbs: marigold, myrrh, thistles, sage
Altar Flowers/Herbs: asters, mums, pine, ferns, milkweed, honeysuckle
Feast Foods: autumn berries, nuts, roast game, root vegetables, cider, wine, bread
Animals: stags, goats, blackbirds, canines, owls, birds-of-prey
Incense: cedar, myrrh, patchouli, pine, sage, sweet grass, oak moss
Rituals/Spells: drying herbs, gathering late harvest, past life work, harvest moon rituals, making willow wands, harmony spells, protection spells for winter
Some of the above information was taken from my online book: