Welcome to our collective favourite season, witchy folk! Perhaps that’s a generalization, but the Autumnal vibes are an absolute mood in the spiritual community, and for so many reasons. This season we have two Sabbats to celebrate; the first of those is Mabon, otherwise known as the Autumn Equinox, and the hemispherical counterpart to Ostara, in which we celebrate the Spring Equinox.
Not only is Autumn the season of flavoured lattes and pumpkins, it is the season of the colours of the Earth – oranges and reds and browns, greens and glorious yellows. We have beautiful harvest vegetables and burgeoning berries; a veritable feast of offerings from our beautiful Mother Earth to celebrate.
For Mabon, we focus on the beginning of the end of the harvest season and the descent into wintery darkness. Spiritually, we are reaching the closing-down portion of the year – as the days get shorter and the evenings are longer, we assess the outcomes of our labour (physical, financial, emotional, spiritual) across the past twelve months. Summer is celebration, and Autumn is when we reap what we’ve sown. So, as we draw towards the end of this summertime haze and commence the darkening and hibernation periods, we’re beginning to wind down business and take stock of what we’ve achieved.
Seasonal altars are a great way to focus our attentions and intentions towards that for which we are grateful, and the things that we want to manifest in our lives. Not only does the season dictate our physical activities, it also directs our spiritual lives, and the altar is the witch’s way of centring that energy.
With so much to love and celebrate about Autumn, let’s take a look at some traditional (and not-so-traditional) items to feature on our altars during this time.
The humble apple is a beautiful representation of so much in the craft. For example, when we cut open the apple, we can see our beloved pentagram in the middle, representing the four elements and Spirit. As its own entity, the apple represents life, immortality, beauty, youth and rejuvenation, so grab a shiny apple in any colour and pop it onto your altar to draw to you those beautiful associations.
The cornucopia (or any harvest basket) represents the collection of the fruits of our labour. Fill it with breads, fruits and vegetables, or get creative and stock it with Mabon-related crystals like Amber, Red Jasper and Citrine, and spilling grains and husks of wheat.
Okay, I know this one sounds like it comes out of left field, but hear me out.
Nuts are traditionally associated with Mabon and represent secret treasures hidden within. Choose your nutty altar elements according to your intentions; almonds for abundance, brazil nut for grounding, pine nuts for purification, or pecans for longevity, for example.
Acorns represent rebirth and new life, which is the perfect counter-measure to the energies of Autumn; as physical growth slows and prepares for winter, our spiritual practice can turn to rest and rejuvenation, making ready for the next cycle of planting. Gather acorns in the wilderness or local park, or, if that option is not available to you, fashion one out of craft supplies or even bread dough.
Blooms are not just for Springtime altars. In the Autumn, we can celebrate and feature flowers such as the Marigold (or Calendula) which corresponds with protection and transformation. Goldenrod represents divination; Dahlia dignity. One of my absolute favourites, the bright-blue Cornflower, strengthens our spiritual, magickal and meditative practices, making it perfect for the altar.
We know our deities love their adult beverages, and cider is the perfect Fall-themed brew. Purchase or make your own apple cider – it doesn’t have to be alcoholic. Just boil up some apples with water, cinnamon, sugar and allspice to add that personal touch to your offering.
I didn’t want to just offer you traditional options for your altar this Autumn, so I crowd sourced with my coven and asked for their suggestions of more unusual or left-of-field Autumnal Altar items:
Yes, bones! We’re moving into the time of the year when the veil between our two worlds thins and we are headed towards the spooky season. Whether you use bones in your everyday practice or not, this is a beautiful way to honour your ancestors and the spirits who surround you and your magickal practice.
This is an absolute favourite of mine for altar work, because I work with Hekate, who, of course, is deeply connected with the underworld and the passage between the realms. For this time of the year, pomegranate can be offered on our altars to signify transition and the balance between light and dark; as above, so below.
Another one for the spirits – a scrying mirror or, as some coven-mates cleverly suggested, a re-appropriated picture frame with the glass painted black on the inside (DIY tips are always a hit with me) is a beautiful representation of, quite literally, reflection. Connecting with the spirits and your ancestors, and reflecting on the year gone by. It also doesn’t hurt that mirrors make your altar look bigger and your candles more plentiful…
So now you have all the ideas you need to create a beautiful, meaningful and creative Autumnal Altar. What will you place on yours?
Comments will be approved before showing up.
As the lockdown eases around the world, and we are slowly allowed to get outside more, it has been precious to see the sunshine making an appearance this month. Litha 2020 is promising to be a little more flexible than Beltane, and, while we can’t necessarily do all the things we might like to do to celebrate this Sabbat, we do have the freedom to breathe in the air of Mother Nature and observe the growth and abundance that the Earth provides in the Summer.
There is some difference in precisely when Litha is celebrated, according to different traditions. Astrologically, Litha occurs at the time when the sun is at its highest point, which, in 2020, occurs on the 24th June. However, Litha is traditionally celebrated in many traditions at the midpoint of the Summer (Midsummer), which occurs on June 20th or 21st. As with all things spiritual, there are no hard and fast rules about how you conduct your own practice, so go with what feels right for you.