Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, and the Wheel of Fortune
What’s a QSR you ask? A Quarterly Spiritual Review!
As I learned in my many years of corporate sales, a QBR stands for Quarterly Business Review.
After the close of each quarter, each salesperson would present an overview of their deals and their projections for the rest of the year. Since most companies operate on an annual fiscal budget (Jan-Jan) the Q3 QBR would be especially important.
I’m reminded of those olden corporate days today because we're about to leave the seasonal quarter of summer this week and welcome fall. In fact, there is so much happening this week, that I’m calling this edition of The Draw our QSP — Quarterly Spiritual Review.
Thursday, September 22nd is the Autumn Equinox, which is really the centerpiece of this QSR.
Early Celts and modern pagans celebrate this time as Mabon. Mabon begins on the 21st and continues until the 29th.
Mabon recognizes the shift in the seasons, the bounty of the harvest season, and the beginning of winter preparations. I’m sharing some fun Mabon celebration ideas to help you get into the harvest spirit.
Thursday, September 22nd is the Autumn Equinox, which is really the centerpiece of Mabon and this QSR. In addition to the Mabon celebration ideas, I am offering my thoughts on the Major Arcana card number X, the Wheel of Fortune.
On Friday the 23rd Libra season begins. We’ll leave Virgo and The Hermit, and enter into Libra’s card, Justice. For all my Libras, you can read my previous post about the Justice card here.
And finally, September’s New Moon in Libra will begin on September 25th at 2:51 pm PT. Since we’ll be entering a new phase on the Wheel of the Year, this New Moon is a splendid opportunity to set your intentions for both the start of fall and the next six months when the Wheel starts over with spring.
How to Celebrate Mabon
Back in my corporate days, every QBR would mean long days in warm, fluorescent-lit conference rooms and PowerPoint presentations. It also meant at least one fancy dinner and some morale-building excursion.
While I’m happy to do without the PowerPoint, your Mabon QSR is a great time to design your vision, gather your squad for a delicious meal, and get outside.
You don’t need to be a modern witch to get some magic from a broomstick. While it’s time for spring cleaning and Ostara in the Southern Hemisphere, here in the North, Mabon is also a good time to sweep out the corners and cobwebs from your home.
Get rid of old magazines, put those short shorts in storage, and finish any projects that have lingered on your table for too long. It’s time to make space for new energy and more time indoors.
In San Francisco, we’re finally enjoying our version of summer, but I can still see the signs of fall’s approach on the ginkgo trees and Japanese maples.
I’m excited that I will get to travel to Massachusetts this weekend and hopefully see some great fall colors. If you’re anywhere near an apple orchard, get to picking! Apples are the Mabon food and decor.
No matter where you live, take a walk in nature and observe the harvest colors. Take some photos, mental or actual, of the natural world outside your door and compare them with what you’ll see in the winter and spring.
Bring the Outside In
By decorating your space with the fall colors of red, orange, and yellow, you’ll feel cozy and calm as the nights begin to lengthen.
If you find acorns, pine cones, apples, or colorful leaves on your nature walk, bring them indoors and adorn your altar, your mantle, or your table’s centerpiece.
If your vista is all urban, you can always take a walk down the aisle of your local supermarket and “harvest” a range of apple varieties, pomegranates, red grapes, and cinnamon. Candles and incense will also help set the mood for the season.
Give Thanks and Feast!
This is really the #1 way to honor the change of the season and the harvest. If you’ve already swept up and decorated, invite your favorite people over and break bread. Make it a pot-luck-style meal and see what your pals enjoy eating, or simply make a reservation and give thanks for not having to do the dishes.
Fundamentally, Mabon is a time to share and express gratitude for those things that make us spiritually wealthy — friends, family, health, and belonging. You can think of a Mabon dinner as a drama and pressure-free Thanksgiving.
The Equinox and The Wheel
Since capitalism is the prevailing religion of our modern era, it makes sense that the markets structure themselves around fiscal quarters, but before there were QBRs, we humans divided the year along four solar quarters — the equinoxes and the solstices.
Wiccans and neo-pagans celebrate these four quarters and their mid-points on a calendar called the Wheel of the Year. Both the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes mark the point on the Wheel of the Year when the length of the day and the night are roughly equal.
I don’t consider myself a Wiccan or neo-pagan, but ever since I began observing the Wheel of the Year, I’ve found the pace of my work and the rhythm of my life to be easier.
If this was a QBR, there would be just a few months before I’d either made my number or not. If your job requires you to live quarter to quarter, you know how stressful trying to close a make-or-break deal is over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.
By attuning myself to the Wheel of the Year, I get to honor the Autumn Equinox as the halfway point of the year, instead of the crunch-time kicking off Q4.
When we manifest with the Moon, we begin at the New Moon, then double our efforts from the First Quarter until the Full Moon, at which point we release our intentions to the Divine until the Second Quarter when it is time to integrate those lessons before the next New Moon.
The Spring Equinox is the New Moon phase on the Wheel of the Year, and the Autumn Equinox is the Full Moon phase.
Since this is a QSR, we get to align our spiritual growth with the cycle of the planet.
The Wheel of Fortune
“Life’s like Vegas. You’re up, You’re down. In the end, the house always wins. Doesn’t mean that you didn’t have fun.” — Billy Crystal in Deconstructing Harry
At the Autumn Equinox we leave Virgo season and The Hermit and enter Libra season, whose card is Justice; but, in the Major Arcana, the Wheel of Fortune card comes between those two. This card is smack-dab in the center of the three lines of the Major Arcana. When we get to our 10’s in the Minor Arcana, we have completed a journey and are ready to expand into the Courts. In the Smith Rider Waite, this card is jam-packed with symbolism. From the four corners with the four cardinal Zodiac signs to the sphinx at the top, and the snake and devil/Anubis astride the circle, there is a lot going on. While the symbolic scholarship of this card is interesting, I’d like to share my personal understanding of this card’s story instead. So long as humans have contemplated their own existence, we’ve come up with metaphors and images to help us make sense of our perceived reality. Circles, spheres, and spirals have shown up all over the world since prehistoric times. I know that my own visualization is not a unique invention, but it was a creative image from my own imagination.
We experience our lives as if we were seated in one bucket on a water wheel. As we ascend, we have the feeling of safety and success.
At a certain point, we reach a pinnacle. If we are wise, we can take an emotional snapshot of that high, but inevitably we experience a come-down.
Though our view from the halfway down point is the same as the halfway up point, we can get anxious for the inevitable dunk underwater.
When it feels like we’re drowning, we can always take comfort that life will go on and we will not stay under water forever.
This image came to me after a particularly long watery dunk. As I reemerged, I was able to recognize that though I’d experienced my life in one bucket, I was in fact the entire wheel. While picking up new experiences I simultaneously dumped old identities.
The water is time and the nature of life. You cannot place your hand in the river in the same place twice because you are not the same and the river has moved.
When we believe that we’re experiencing the totality of our lives through the externalities of life’s ups and downs, we lose sight of our core momentum.
Your spirit’s purpose is not to feel atop the world at all times, nor is it to identify with the lowest points. It is to generate momentum that can create, be it flower, bread, music, technology, math - you name it.
We know that as our daylight hours begin to shorten, our friends below the equator will begin to have shorter nights. The equinox is an invitation to pause, step back, and reflect on what energy we are generating at our core.
For some, this is a ‘wild card’ that represents some mysterious twist of fate. There is nothing wrong or even inaccurate about that interpretation, but I find it to be both incomplete and unhelpful.
When we imagine ourselves tethered to some unknowable destiny, the chaos of life becomes an uncomfortable ride on the edge of the wheel. That experience makes one an outsider to their own life.
If instead, we see that we are indeed all things at once and our core is charged by dynamic change, we can enjoy being in the process of creation in each moment.
“By enjoying the process, you create a dream come true.” -David Bowie
New Moon in Libra
Given that the equinox is all about balance, it makes perfect sense that we are entering Libra season and the card of Justice.
Our New Moon rituals are normally designed to set intentions, but since the Autumn Equinox is also the ‘Full Moon stage’ on the Wheel of the Year, we can release our intentions at the same time.
The New Moon will begin at 2:51 pm PT on September 25th, so you’ll want to schedule this bath ritual sometime between Sunday night and Thursday night.
First, take a cleansing shower. As you soap up, feel that you are washing away the first half on this Wheel of the Year. What has passed is gone and what is ahead is yet to unfold. All that you need is within you already.
Next, step out, dry off and then fill your bathtub with warm water. Keep a towel, a piece of paper, and a pen nearby.
You can add bubbles, powdered milk, Epson salts or essential oils, whatever you like best. Enhance the relaxing vibes with candles and gentle music.
When you’ve got your tub just how you like it, sink in and begin to relax. Feel that there is nothing to do, nowhere else to be. See that like the water wheel, you are both above and below the waterline.
Once you feel settled and relaxed, begin to journal from the tub. Don’t worry if things get a little wet.
Begin to reflect on where you feel you are on your own personal wheel of the year. How have you grown since April? What dream would you like to dream? Can you see yourself enjoying the process of dreaming that dream? Even and especially in this bath right now?
As you review your place on your personal wheel, are there places and times that you have identified with only one bucket? If so, try and see what was happening on the other side, the top and bottom. What have you been making space for and what are you currently carrying?
As you review, remember that you are the protagonist of your own life, you are the hero. If you’ve ever felt that fate was robbing you of your agency, can you try on the belief that that story isn’t true?
Finally, check in with your physical