Tomorrow is Mabon -- the fall equinox and one of the eight sabbats, or holidays, in the Neopagan calendar. It's one of the two days each year during which the hours of daylight equal the hours of darkness. So Mabon (along with the spring equinox, which is called Ostara) is about balance. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days have been getting shorter since June, but we've only begun to notice it over the past week or so. From here on out, though, it will become more obvious that we're heading toward the dark half of the year. But for this one day, we can appreciate and celebrate both the dark and the light.
Mabon is also, in practical terms, a harvest holiday. Gardens are almost all played out now: tomato plants are taking on that spindly, overgrown look; the window box full of flowers that looked kind of sparse in May and filled out so nicely in June (assuming you remembered to water it!) is crammed with greenery, most of the blooms spent (or maybe you've already replaced the old plants with mums).
In sum, Mabon is about both balance and the harvest. So Pagan celebrations tend to center on a balanced evaluation of our own personal harvests. We look back at where we were a year ago and how far we've come since then. We think about our accomplishments, and we vow (once again!) to let the bad things in our lives go.
A year ago, I was preparing for my first World Fantasy Convention. The Maidens' War had been out for just a few months -- the paperback was released just before I went to WFC -- and I was excited to be spending a weekend with some Watch friends and with other writers. I got to be on a panel and everything! It was so much fun! And then I came home and went back to my real life, and realized how much more fulfilled I would be if I could go back to writing for a living. It took me awhile to internalize that realization, as it was something of a paradigm shift. But looking back, WFC was really my first step onto the road I'm traveling now. The road switchbacks up a mountain, and I'm only just now entering the foothills. Climbing to the top won't be easy, and it won't be quick. But it will be worth it. I know this because every now and then, at a bend in the road, I get a glimpse of the view.
Blessed Mabon, and may your harvest be bountiful.