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A Permaculture Autumnal Equinox: Celebrating Mabon, Projects, & Working with the Wheel of the Year

Posts: 3839
Location: yakima valley, central washington, pacific northwest zone 6b
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As a permie, I am continuously trying to become more in line with nature and its cycles.  The autumnal equinox is probably my favorite time in the Wheel of the Year.  This is the time my family celebrates Mabon. Mabon is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow,” both literally and figuratively. The holiday is named after the Welsh God, Mabon, son of Earth Mother goddess Modron.  In our home, it is similar to a Thanksgiving celebration, with more connection to where our abundance of food and resources come from.  

Our celebration lasts up to a week.  During this time we prepare our garden for winter and thank the land for the abundance it has given us in the growing season.  We harvest what is left of our summer gardens, and plant cover crops or any last minute cold weather gardens and anything that needs to over winter.  This year, the spring weather went far beyond what we are used to, delaying our summer gardens maturity.  This left us with an abundance of green tomatoes, and very little in the way of melons, cucumbers, zucchini, and others.  A lot of our annuals did not bear fruit this year, incentivizing us to invest in some season extension of some sort for next year.  The weather and seasons are no longer reliable, so we must find ways to rely on ourselves.  

Luckily, our miniature pumpkins are thriving and should be ready by 3rd harvest, aka samhain, aka halloween.  We did not have space for our jack - o - lanterns this year so we will be going to one of the local spray-free patches.  Which is perfect, because it is our son's first harvest season and we are addicted to the apple cider donuts.


The Feast

For our harvest feast, we use as much of the food as we can from our own gardens.  This year, it will be very little.  Outside of our own yard, we look towards family and friends who have excess yield.  Usually we get eggs, peaches, apples, melons, and other things, depending on the year.  We also get some fresh home grown fruits and vegetables from our local food share.  Just last week, I received sweet peppers and spaghetti squash.  The sweet peppers are being used for a salsa along with all of our tomatoes in various stages of ripeness.  

We are lucky enough to live in an agricultural area with plenty of farm stands and local butchers.  So this week I will be visiting the local butcher for a roast and the farm stand for ingredients for the pie and the sides.  I usually pick huckleberries and have huckleberry pie for each of the feasts left in the year, but there were no berries in one of my spots and the other one was on fire.  Unfortunately, huckleberries are $125/gallon this year, so it looks like we will be having a different pie.  Sometimes it is good to change it up a bit.


The goal for our harvest feast is to source 90-95% of our meal from local producers, with each year more and more being sourced from our gardens.  We invite those who have shared their harvest with us to our feast as well as other close family and friends.  Usually very few join us due to scheduling conflicts (most people don't start taking time off until Thanksgiving, or they are busy hunting) keeping it a very small affair, which I appreciate.  It makes it all the more special.  

Projects and Activities

Even before the birth of our son, we always have enjoyed arts n crafts as well as DIY projects around this time.  The weather has cooled enough that working outside isn't so oppressive and fall is my favorite style.  I tend to generally focus on crafting things that are inspired by Mabon this week.  Those of us who join us for our mabon crafting that don't celebrate pagan traditions don't seem to have any issue with the theme as it is basically a general fall theme.

Usually I select a few things that correspond with Mabon (or fall) to work with.  These are some things I will be working with:

pinecones - generally for crafts/decorations.  However, I also plan on collecting some for my nephews who live in Texas.  They actually pay for pinecones down there,   which to me is absurd.  They came to visit at the beginning of August and the first thing they did was collect a bunch of pinecones for arts n crafts.

  • the colors orange, red, yellow, brown, copper, dark yellow, dark green

  • corn, squash, apples, pumpkins, elderberry, plums

  • yarrow, rosemary, sage, mugwort, rosehips, thyme - either cooking or making natural medicine

  • Sunflowers - We grew a lot of sunflowers this year so we will be harvesting the seeds for next year ad using the stalks to support our spring garden plants

  • deer and elk bones - we go bone picking before the ground freezes.  Usually we combine this with foraging for mushrooms or elderberries.  We call it our berry and bone picking day.

  • This year on the day of the equinox I did some canning of pickles and okra.  Earlier this week I made a roasted rainbow salsa (tomatoes of varying ripeness from our garden & peppers from our local food share).  I think I will finish out the week with some apple butters and start collecting plums for plum wine.  I had a bunch of pureed peaches from last month, but when it came time to make food leather I had to defrost the puree and ultimately ended up making a gigantic mess in my fridge.  Better luck next year.


    For me, Mabon provides a time of reflection and a moment to try to restore balance to my life.  It seems to always come at the perfect time.  This equinox comes after a wild and crazy summer that brought new and exciting challenges.  We have a new addition to the family, I have a new job, and my husband is taking time to work on the home and care for our son - very different than his usual which is work 5 days a week and recover during the other 2.  It is a different dynamic than we are used to but I think it is working well.  We are taking time this week to evaluate what in our lives is creating imbalance and working out plans to resolve them.  Ultimately, I think 2022 is one of the better years I've lived.  

    Here's to family, friends, abundance and balance.  Cheers!
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