The Sabbats ~ The Autumn Equinox, Mabon
I was reading up on Maybon and ran into this and while reading decided I had to share it with you all.
Mabon, pronounced May-bon, MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon, or MAH-bawn, is the Fall Equinox, named after the Celtic God of the same name. This lesser Sabbat is known, not only by the name of Mabon, but also that of Harvest Home, Winter Finding and Alban Elved plus various other names, such as The Second Harvest Festival, the Festival of Dionysus, Harvest of First Fruits, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from this Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter’s Night, which is the Norse New Year. The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honour The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees.
The word “equinox” is derived from Latin term “æquinoctium” which, in turn, came from “æquus” (equal), and “nox” (night). It refers to the phenomenon that occurs but twice a year, a day and night of equal proportion, each being twelve hours in duration.
The seasons of the year are as a result of the 23.5º tilt of the earth’s axis. The earth rotates like a gyroscope, and points in a fixed direction towards a point in space close to the North Star. Yet because the earth also revolves around the sun, the northern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than the southern hemisphere for half of the year. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. As we know, the sun is at its highest point at the time of the Summer Solstice (about June 21st) and lowest at the Winter Solstice (around December 21st in the northern hemisphere. The halfway points between these two events are known as the equinoxes.
Mabon is the solar festival that marks the Autumn Equinox – the transition from the light half to the dark half of the year. The autumn quarter of the year runs from Lammas/Lughnasadh (the time of the orthodox harvest festival) to Samhain (Halloween), so Mabon marks the mid-point of autumn. By the time of Mabon, the earth is displaying unmistakable signs of the journey to winter – the nights are rapidly drawing in, leaves are beginning to turn autumnal shades, and birds are preparing for migration.
Mabon is the time of harvesting apples, blackberries, grapes and hops, as the arable crops have now all been gathered and celebrated at Lammas, the first of the harvest festivals. Mabon recognizes the completion of the grain harvest that began during Lammas and it is an occasion of great joy and sorrow – a time of change and transition. We are at this time symbolically between the worlds as we mourn that which is passing; long days, a warm and fruitful earth, and bountiful harvests. This is a time of realization that the Wheel of the Year has again turned and will continue to turn towards, that time is an entity of cyclical nature – there is no end but only new beginnings; births, deaths and re-births.
So although Mabon is a celebration of successful harvests and the bounty mother-earth has provided, it is also an acknowledgement of and preparation for the winter to come. This is a time when folk traditionally measured their success by the food and provisions they had managed to harvest to see them through the long winter months – success meant a comfortable winter season, whereas a less fruitful bounty boded of severe hardship.
Hence Mabon is a time of preparation for winter survival, a fact that is apparent throughout the natural world. It is at this time that the squirrels begin to gather and store their winter food, lairs are being lined with autumn leaves and we begin to see the first of the ducks and geese starting their long winter journeys.
Survival is very much the key word for Mabon. The rutting stags of autumn display this sentiment most fiercely as they battle for the hind harems. They begin in early September for a six-week battle period, at the end of which the victor will claim the harem as his right, with the unsuccessful fighters ostracized to the edge of the herd.
Mabon is also known as the Feast of Avalon and the festival of the Wine Harvest. Avalon is the mystical burial site of the Celts, and literally means the “land of apples” in Celtic lore. In addition, the festival is also named after the Welsh God Mabon. Mabon means the “great son”. In Celtic mythology Mabon was the son of Modron the Mother Goddess, kidnapped at three days old by the Lord of the Underworld who wanted to stop his light shining on the Earth. Mabon escaped (or according to other Arthurian legend was rescued by King Arthur) and returned the light to the world. Thus the link to the equinox in the folklore of Mabon (a story of the battle between light and dark) is highly evident as this event marks the start of autumn, but is also the perfect balance of day and night.
The God Mabon is also representative of the circle of life in the sense that he epitomizes the innocence of youth, the strength of survival and the wisdom gained throughout life. Perhaps then, this link with the life cycle explains another guise of Mabon – King of the Otherworld and the God of Darkness.
The legend of Mabon coincides with other Gods such as the Welsh God Gwyn Ap Nuad, meaning, “white son of darkness”. He is seen as the God of war and death, the patron God of fallen warriors. Again, this is a representation or connection to the mythical land of Avalon.
To the Druids this celebration is known as “Mea’n Fo’mhair”, and honours the Green Man, the God of the Forest, with libations and offerings to their sacred trees. Wiccans also celebrate the maturing Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for his death and re-birth.
Mabon as a holiday or time of celebration is a period of release and of letting go. It is a time to honour those who have passed and a way of saying goodbye to the summer. The themes of closing, letting go and remembering should be observed; for the year, the harvest and for those we have lost during the year and years past.
Although in the main we view the Harvest season as a celebration of life, it is also a celebration of death. The bounty you gather from your garden and that which is harvested from the fields provides nourishment for you and your loved ones. Yet we must also consider that it is the demise of those plants and vegetables from which we gain our sustenance. Furthermore, it is the fallow period that follows the harvest that allows the earth to regenerate and sustain us anew. Thus Mabon is a celebration of the cycle of life; a holiday for celebrating the bounty of the harvest, the imminent latency of the earth, the remembrance of loved ones passed and all the ways in which they enriched our lives – it is not a time of melancholy, more so of celebration of the circle of life and all that it gives and teaches us.
On a personal level also, the celebration of Mabon reminds us of the need for restful periods. These times allow us to regenerate and learn from the lessons of the year that has passed thus far. Acceptance is the key, for in life things happen, decisions are made, and actions occur as a consequence – we cannot go back and change that which has passed, only accept that which has happened. However we can reap the harvest of wisdom that these incidences, decisions and consequences bring. Our lives are shaped by such things, they make us the multi-faceted people that we are, and Mabon is a wonderful time to give thanks for all the events that have shaped our lives, for all that we perceive as wonderful and all is not, for they are part of the whole which makes each and every one of us unique. Now is the time to look back on the past and forward to the future and to exult in what we are and what we may become, the ways in which our lives have changed in such a short space of time – the leaps and bounds we have made, and the mistakes we have learned from. With contemplation of rebirth and the future return of the abundance of the spring and summer months, take this time to meditate on these aspects of your life, sit back, reassess and take stock.
The relevance of Mabon to the individual is evident, but how does this translate to family life? As we know, Mabon is considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they are from our careers, raising our families, working in our gardens, or just coping with everyday life. If this is the time for us to take the opportunity to look at our lives and reassess where we are going, what we have so far achieved and what it is that we are still seeking, so it can also be for our families. Mabon is a time to consider which aspects of your life you wish to preserve and which you would prefer to discard. This relates incredibility well to family life. Prepare a lovely Mabon meal with your family – the use of seasonal vegetables is perfect, especially from your own garden. Picking blackberries earlier in the day is a lovely traditional past time, and all the more fun for the fruits of your labor – blackberry pie and cream for pudding please! If you are feeling creative, have fun making a lovely centerpiece for the table with your children. An arrangement of autumn leaves, apples and berries is lovely. Sit down together, and during your meal, share tales and happy stories about those you lost during the year. Or share your experiences and chat about the lessons you feel you have learned during this past season. Reflect on your deeds and actions and give thanks for knowledge you were endowed with as a result. You may find upon reflection that your family life has become automated, or stuck in a familiar pattern. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but as the old saying goes, “a change is as good as a rest”. For example, you could perhaps decide to plan a family event once a month, or more often if time and finances allow, as this creates an opportunity to spend some time together, which is something for everyone to look forwards too. You could decide to begin a new phase of development with your younger children – a new challenge. Discuss new hobbies and interests with your older children, or even better, a hobby that could include the whole family such as rambling or bird watching. Mabon is a wonderful time to really appreciate each other, and reminisce about the events of the year so far. A cozy night in together can engender some surprising conversations with your children. Discuss their hopes and fears, ease their troubles, and allow them the space and sense of security to openly talk about the things they regret without judgment. Simply airing these things can be enough to learn from them and banish any residual feelings of negativity and guilt – so good for the soul!
Mabon is also a good time to brooch the subject of death, as we have already mentioned. This sounds morbid I know, but it doesn’t have to be seen this way. Of course it is not suggested that we do not miss our loved ones, but to focus on celebrating their lives, and the wonderful people that they were is such a positive thing to do, a real gift if you can give this to your children. It is a good time to let your children feel their sadness, cry and be comforted, and then share happy memories, and laugh out loud.
For younger children, the subject of death can be something as simple as watching the leaves fall from the trees. Talk about the changes in colour, and what it signifies. Run about in the fallen leaves, and collect some, a myriad of different shades to take home and make collages with. Discuss the cycle of the year – the flowers blooming, the fruit or seeds budding on the trees, the harvests of fruit and the inevitable of shedding of leaves. Mother Nature gives us all the gentle and beautiful ways we need to discuss the tricky subject of death!
So, this Mabon cut away the chaff, the useless things and situations that are holding up your life. Sit back a take stock of all the progress you have made, and reflect upon how you can spread some of your good fortune around to others. What changes can you make for the better? How can you work to balance any conflict that is around you? Mabon begins with the sign of Libra and it is no coincidence, in this time of natural balance, that Libra’s symbol is a set of scales. It is also time to truly appreciate the special people in your life. These things are your modern day “Harvest.”
The Wheel of the year continues to turn, the nights steadily get longer, the days shorter and the weather cooler still and on the night of Mabon, we know that we accomplished much and the hard work is done. The light from the sun is still golden, warming the earth and ripening the last of the year’s natural bounty. We can look forward to this time of contemplation, of the warmth and comfort of our homes surrounded with people we love. Give thanks!
Date: September 21, 22, 23
Pronunciation: May-bon, or Ma-bon
Type: Lesser Sabbat
Etymology: In Welsh mythology, Mabon (“divine son”) was the son of Modron (“divine mother”).
Other Names: )
Symbolism:Honoring the Solar deities, celebrating the second harvest, preparing for winter, gathering. Thanksgiving for the Earth’s abundance. It is a day of planning, reflection, and the contemplation of mysteries. This is a time of balance, when day and night are equal once again.
Place in the Natural Cycle: Midpoint of Fall. Both the day and night are equal as the sun is at the equator. Most birds have gone south, bears are beginning to get ready for their hibernation, the leaves start to fall, and everything begins to get ready for the period of sleep.
Animals: dogs, wolves, stag, blackbird, owl, salmon and goat.
Altar & House Decor:acrorns, pinecones, fallen leaves, nuts, corn, harvested vegetables, apples, corn dollies, horn of plenty, baskets of fruit and flowers, squashes and pumpkins, grape vines and leaves
Herbs & Plants: yarrow,marigold, sage, walnut leaves and husks, mistletoe, saffron, chamomile, almond leaves, passionflower, frankincense, rose hips, bittersweet, sunflower, wheat, oak leaves, dried apple or apple seeds, vines, ivy, hazel, hops, tobacco, corn, wheat, acorns, pine and cypress cones, all harvest gleanings, autumn leaves
Incense: Cedar, pine, pine, myrrh, frankincense, sage, cinnamon
Oils: Cedar, Myrrh, Oak Moss, Patchouli, Pine, Sage, Sandalwood, Sweetgrass, Grape
Flowers: Last flowers of the year, red flowers, purple flowers
Trees: Cedar, aspen, oak, pine, cypress
Planetary ruler: Venus
Zodiac: 15 degrees of Libra
Moon: Harvest Moon/Wine Moon
Traditional Foods:Bread, berries, apples, potatoes, carrots, harvested vegetables, beans, cornbread, grains, nuts, grapes, corn, nuts, baked squash
Traditional Drinks: Cider, wine, mead.
Stones/Gems: , lapis lazuli, tiger’s eye, citrine, clear quartz, gold
Symbols: Grapes, wine, vines, garland, burial cairns, rattles, Indian corn, sun wheels, apples, gourd, cornucopia/horn of plenty
Gods: Thor, the Green Man.
Element: Earth, Air
Colors: usset, brown, violet, maroon, orange, deep gold
Tarot Card: Judgment and The World
Taboos: Cutting the very last of the harvest.
Magickal Studies: Herbal work, wildcrafting, connecting with the earth, saying “goodnight” to the land
Tools: Sickle, scythe, stang, horn or cup, boline, fruit-gathering basket, harvest tools, scrying Mirror
Spellwork/Rituals: Works including prosperity, abundance, thanksgiving, luck and health, fruit is honored, sprinkling of leaves, prayers and offerings of thanksgiving, celebration of the harvest, sacrifices and offerings, feasting, honoring community and family, renewing oaths
Meditations: Meditations on you personal and spiritual harvest. Appreciate the connection we have with those around us, as well as those who have gone before us.
Balefire: Cedar, aspen, oak, pine, cypress
Personal Adornments:Grape vines, fall colors, garlands and necklaces made of seeds and nuts
Ways to Celebrate
• Plant bulbs for spring.
• Collect fallen leaves, acorns, pinecones, twigs & branches, rocks, etc.
• Make wine with grapes.
• Planting bulbs and fruit seeds
• Gather the last remaining of your herbs, and vegetables for the harvest.
• Give offerings to the Deities, the spirits of the land.
• Cutting down logs, buying them, for winter fires.
• Gather seed pods and dried plants.
• Select the best of your vegetables, herbs, fruits, etc. from your harvest and give it back to Mother Earth for thanks.
• Hang dried ears of corn around the home.
• Have a thanksgiving circle, saying thanks toward the elementals.
• In a basket put your harvests, or fallen leaves as a decoration.
• Make grapevine wreaths.
• Save the collected leaves to burn in Yule fire.
• Pick apples and hang in tree.
• Apples are the perfect symbol of the Mabon season. Long connected to wisdom and magic, there are so many wonderful things you can do with an apple. Find an orchard near you, and spend a day with your family. As you pick the apples, give thanks to Pomona goddess of fruit trees. Be sure to only pick what you’re going to use — if you can, gather plenty to take home and preserve for the coming winter months. Take your apples home and use them in rituals, for divination, and for delicious recipes that your family can enjoy all season long.
• Sit down and make a gratitude list Write down things that you are thankful for.
• Tell stories, especially ones of life and death, and the cycles of life.
• Have a potluck feast with a group of friends and loved ones to celebrate the abundance of the season.
• Take a walk in a wild place with your family or circle members; Sing songs and talk about all the things you’ve done over the summer and spend time discussing other things you’ve done together in the last year; gather wild seeds and seed pods to decorate your circle for ritual.
• Create decorations for your front door out of colored leaves, pine cones, nuts, acorns and Indian Corn bundles.
• Make rattles out of empty gourds and sunflower seeds or seeds collected from nature walks. Use the rattles to make music or scare away bad dreams.
• Fill your kitchen with the fruits of the season: pumpkins in all sizes, colourful gourds if you can get them, juicy grapes, baskets of berries and corn. Decorate your door with corn husks. Gather acorns and apples in every colour for your altar.
• Make a corn dolly charm out of the first grain you harvest or acquire. Corn dollies are appropriate altar decorations for any of the 3 harvest sabbats.
• Light candles at dusk … Yellow for health, orange for sharing the harvest, and purple for deepening spiritual awareness.
• Gather the spices of the season and toss out last year’s stale spices during the waning moon, and visualise old habits, obstacles, and outworn desires being cleared from your life. Restock your pantry with fresh cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, whole nutmegs, allspice, curry powder, cumin, chilli powder, cayenne, peppercorns, sea salt. Warming herbs such as dried basil, marjoram, and dill are wonderful for the chill of the coming winter. Rosemary, thyme and sage are traditional must-haves for the months to come.
• Make a dream pillow by stitching two 7” square pieces of fabric together and fill with two cups of some sound sleep, deep dream, better dream-recall herbs such as hops, lavender flowers, rosemary and rose petals.
• Find your balance by sitting or standing quietly with your eyes closed, breathing deeply and be mindful of your body. How does your body feel? Now bring your hands to your heart center and be mindful of whether you still feel balanced. Let this be a gentle reminder to you of the grace, beauty and balance that comes with the autumnal equinox between day and night, light and dark, activity and rest.
• Decorate your home with the colors of the season (reds, oranges, browns and yellows), the symbols of the season, including corn, sheaf’s of wheat, squash and root vegetables, scales a yin-yang symbol, one white candle and one black candle, wine, vines, grapes, apples, pomegranates, God’s eyes, corn dolls, nut shells, baskets, and other similar items.
• Plan a harvest meal giving thanks for all you have been blessed with. Some foods you may want to incorporate are a honey wheat bread, apple butter, stuffed grape leaves, cranberry sauce, pumpkin bread, squash pie, an autumn beef stew loaded with root vegetables, roasted butternut squash soup, warm apple pie, etc.
• Invite prosperity into your life with prosperity candles which you can create with an unscented candle in a harvest color ( yellow, orange, brown), your choice of essential oil (cinnamon, orange or ginger), something to inscribe the candle with ( pencil, stylus, etc), pinch of dried sage, basil or dill. Light the candle and meditate on the flame and allow the candle to burn out on it’s own