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Autumn Equinox/Mabon

by Angela Wehnert on 09/06/12

This month we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox, which in the northern hemisphere occurs on September 23rd (occasionally the 22nd).

Also called Harvest Home, the Feast of the Ingathering, or Mabon, this holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months.

Mabon is a Wiccan holiday of celebration for the abundance of the harvest; a time meant for us to give thanks through song, dance and feasts. This is a time of balance, when day and night are equal once again; a time of meditation and introspection; a time to slow down the pace of our lives and to relax and recognize our own personal harvests during the year that is fast declining; a time to appreciate the connection we have with those around us, as well as those who have gone before us. It references the sense of community that this harvest festival fosters, for it's through our kinship with those close to us that we endure through the long, dark, cold nights of Winter. The Autumnal Equinox is a time when we prepare our personal harvests, gathering those experiences transpired over the past year(s), bringing them within, making them a part of who we are - allowing them to die, regenerate into wisdom, and be reborn within.

Mythically, this festival celebrates the story of Modron, the Great Goddess of the Earth, and the birth of her Son, Mabon. Mabon is a Welsh name meaning "great son", and refers to the Son of the Great Mother, The Divine Son of Light. According to the mythology, Mabon disappears (or is kidnapped, depending on tradition) three days after his birth - thus, the light goes into hiding and is veiled in mystery in the womb of the Earth, here personified as his mother, the Great Protector and Guardian of the Otherworld. The Otherworld is a place of challenge and a place of nurture, a place where one is renewed and regenerated, a place of new life. Mabon can there be reborn, the Source of Light and Joy, the champion of his Mother. Just as the Light is being drawn into the earth accumulating strength and wisdom, to become a new seed, Mabon has returned to his mother's womb. For as the Winter begins, the earth incubates the tender seeds. Throughout the Winter, the seeds are kept within Her womb so that they may be reborn and bring forth new life.

Beyond Mabon, Michaelmas and Harvest Home, this Sabbat has also been known as the Festival of Dionysus, the Wine Harvest, Harvest of First Fruits, Cornucopia, the Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), and Alban Elfed (Caledonii or Druidic - which celebrates the Lord of the Mysteries). The Teutonic name for this season is Winter Finding, which begins on the Equinox itself and continues until Winter Night, October 15th, which is the Norse New Year. Yet another name is Fogharadh - which is a Gaelic word meaning "hospitality and abundance".

Additional deities associated with Mabon include Dionysus and Bacchus, the Gods of Wine; Demeter, the Goddess of Grain; Persephone, Queen of the Underworld and daughter of Demeter; Thor, Lord of Thunder in Norse mythology; Morgan; Epona; Pamona; the Muses; Thoth, Hermes; and Hotei.

Mabon marks the completion of the grain harvest begun during Lughnasadh. It is a time of great joy and sorrow - a time of great change. We are at this time between the worlds, we mourn that which is passing, joyful for bountiful harvest and the awareness that the Mother will hold the seed of Light in Her womb. This is a time of realization that the Wheel of the Year has turned once more and will continue to turn. For time is circular not linear, there is no end but only new beginnings, the continuance of life eternal.

This is the time for looking back upon the efforts of the past--not just this year, or the last, but also of your lifetime. For in life, events happen, choices are made, and actions generated - we cannot go back and change that which has passed, but we can reap the harvest of wisdom these have brought us. We give thanks for that which has been our lives, for that we perceive as wonderful and that we perceive not to be, for they all are part of the sum of who we are. Look back at this time and be sure to congratulate yourself on all those things you have done well, while, at the same time, being sure to think of things you wish to improve. As with any effort you may put forth there is always work on someone else's part that allowed you to build upon it. Mabon is an excellent time to give thanks to all the time and energy put forth by others to help you. The work done by others not only helps you by making your work easier, it gives you a base to build higher than you could without it.

Mabon has become a celebration of three main themes. These are reflection, grace, and balance. Although these themes are present every day, now is the day that we should give them our full attention.

A feast of plenty on this day, in honor of the God, is traditional. Whereas cornbread was most appropriate at Lammas, wheat bread is best now to coincide with that harvest. Apples are ripening now, and nuts may be ready, as well. Do not forget fruit juices of apple and grape, whether or not fermented. One idea for a ritual gesture, it is to start a tradition of passing a "cup of gratitude" at this feast. To do this a chalice is filled with wine, blessed and passed around the table clockwise. As each person takes it, they speak about what they are thankful for and once they have spoken of all of their blessings, they drink from the cup, or pour a small amount into another cup, and then pass it on to the next person.

Associations for Mabon:

Indian corn, red fruits, autumn flowers, red poppies, hazelnuts, garlands, grains especially wheat stalks, and colorful, fallen leaves, acorns, pine & cypress cones, oak sprigs, pomegranate.

Brown, green, orange, red, deep gold, scarlet, yellow, russet, maroon, all autumn colors, purple, blue violet & indigo

Offerings to land, preparing for cold weather, bringing in harvest, cutting willow wands (Druidic), eating seasonal fruit, leaving apples upon burial cairns & graves as a token of honor, walk wild places & forests, gather seed pods & dried plants, fermenting grapes to make wine,picking ripe produce, stalk bundling; fishing,. on the closest full moon (Harvest Moon) harvesting corps by moonlight.

Pine, sweetgrass, apple blossom, benzoin, myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, sage wood aloes, black pepper, patchouly, cinnamon, clove, oak moss

Cornbread, wheat products, bread, grains, berries, nuts, grapes, acorns, seeds, dried fruits, corn, beans, squash, roots (ie onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), hops, sasssafras, apples, pomegranates, carrots, onions, potatoes, roast goose or mutton, wine, ale, & cider

This is an excellent time to perform spells around the idea of balancing out your life. Remove any guilt, and replace it with love and acceptance.
Here are some ways you and your family can celebrate this day of bounty and abundance.

Comments (1)

1. Amanda said on 12/9/13 - 06:57AM
I know I'm a little late on this post but I really enjoyed this one!! So informative yet concise. I love learning new things like the background information about tradition and all the different cultural viewpoints. Thank you Angela! :)

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