The Wheel of the Year: Mabon
Now is the time of the Autumn Equinox, traditionally celebrated as the second harvest festival, or Sabbat of the Fall Feast (midway between Lammas and Samhain). Twin to the Spring Equinox it’s a time of balance again, only now we move from light into darkness on or around September 22. This time is known as the Mother readying herself to become the Goddess of the White. She goes to the Cauldron of Death. It is a time of transformation before we feel the full force of the Father’s reign.
Our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are celebrating Ostara and their Spring Equinox.
This is a time to honor the changing seasons, give thanks for the things we have and celebrate our abundance with a grateful heart. The harvest is completed and fires are lit to keep the night chill away. Families spend time together enjoying the fruit of the desires that were planted during the spring. Now is when we reap the seeds of what what sown during Imbolc and Ostara. This is an auspicious time to finish old business and take time slowing down from business of the past season.
Allow yourself time during this transition into the fall season to pause and reflect on your life.
Astrological Date: Sun at 0º Libra
During the Fall Equinox, we enter a true time of balance as the sun moves into the sign of Libra (approximately September 21st). An intellectual Air element, Libra is refined with the grace of the balance between head and heart. Now we transition into the shorter days and longer nights of the fall season, where we are called to bring our light indoors and tend to hearth and home.
Find this year’s exact date of the Equinox >>HERE<<
Seasonal Focus: Balancing and Harvest
The second of the harvest festivals, we give thanks to the fruits and vegetables of the earth. The land is bursting at the seams in late August and September with many of the traditional foods that will sustain us through the upcoming winter. Our fall table is filled with the bounty of the season and we celebrate with a “Thanksgiving Feast”. The Fall equinox also marks the turning of the Wheel from the light half to the dark half of the year—a time for us to reflect and regain balance in our lives.
- Altar Decorations & Symbols: Fill a cornucopia or basket with items you have harvested (either in the garden or at the farmers market) such as apples, winter squash, dried corn, pumpkins, and herbs. Add autumn leaves or a bouquet of late-blooming flowers and pictures of animals. Pictures of your fur babies to perform a Pet Blessing (Mabon in the God who protects that which is wild and free)
- Animals: Blackbird, Eagle, Owl, Salmon, Stag, Wild Goose, Wolf
- Colors & Candles: Brown, Green, Gold, Maroon, Orange, Purple, Red, Scarlet, Yellow, Violet
- Crystals & Stones: Amber, Citrine, Cat’s Eye, Lapis Lazuli, Sapphire, Yellow Agates
- Foods: Acorns, Apples, Beans, Berries, Breads, Corn, Dried Fruits, Grains, Grapes, Hops, Oats, Nuts, Pomegranates, Root Crops (onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), Seeds, Squash, Wheat Products, Wine, Ale, and Cider
- Goddesses: Modron (Welsh), Bona Dea, Land Mother, Aging and Harvest Deities; The Triple Goddess Mother aspect, Persephone, Demeter/Ceres, Morgan (Welsh – Cornish), Snake Woman (Aboriginal), Epona (Celtic-Gaulish), Pamona (Roman), The Muses (Greek)
- Gods: Mabon ap Modron (Welsh), Sky Father, The Green Man, Wine Gods, Aging Gods, John Barley Corn, the Wicker Man, the Corn Man, Thoth (Egyptian), Hermes, Hotei (Japanese), Thor, Dionysus (Roman), Bacchus (Greek)
- Herbs & Flowers: Bittersweet, Chamomile, Ferns, Marigold, Milkweed, Oak Leaves, Rue, Sage, Thistle, Yarrow
- Incense & Oils: Benzoin, Cinnamon, Myrrh, Pine, Frankincense, Patchouli, Sage
- Mythical Beings: Gnomes, Cyclops, Minotaur, Sphinx, Gulons
- Rituals & Magic: Wine Making, Adorning Graves, gathering dried herbs, plants, seeds, & seed pods, walking in the woods, scattering offerings in harvested fields, offering libations to trees, family Thanksgiving feast, Home and Hearth magic, particularly for placing wards of protection. Prosperity Rituals, Introspection, Past Life Recall, Security, Self-Confidence. Also, those of balance and harmony
- Tools: Cornucopia/Horn of Plenty, Rattles, Sun Wheel
- Trees: Aspen, Cedar, Locust, Maple, Oak, Pine, Walnut
- Element: Water
- Threshold: Evening
- Tarot Card(s): Judgement; The World
Mabon Customs & Celebrations
Fall is the time to celebrate and decorate with wheat, corn, nuts, and harvest items to bring the feeling of the season to the forefront, to awaken the inner mind, to wear all the harvest colors – brown, gold, warm reds, and greens…to feel the rhythms of Earth and her cycles, to seek a balance of the negative and the positive, and to look to the Gods for enlightenment for the coming seasons ahead.
- Restore balance in your home by performing a deep cleaning and clearing out the old to make way for the new
- Host a family Thanksgiving feast with a fresh, seasonal menu
- Write a gratitude list of this year’s blessings
- Make fall nature crafts or art projects
- Visit a local orchard or farm
- Make an outdoor shrine for the nature spirits to give thanks for the bounty they help provide.
- Perform a Pet Blessing: Mabon is the God who protects that which is wild and free – both our human spirits and the animals of the earth. Call on the animal spirits that you care for and wish to bless: your personal pets, neighborhood pets, classroom mascots, and the wild animals in your region.
Mabon Foods & Recipes
Celebrate in the kitchen with seasonal foods that honor the hearth and harvest—bread and grains, autumn veggies like onions, potatoes, pumpkin, and squash, fruits such as apples, grapes, pears, and pomegranates, followed by wine, ale, and cider. It’s a wonderful time of year to take full advantage of the bounty of the season.
I love to explore the recipes that Deborah comes up with over at Vegan Kitchen Magick. Be sure to hop over there for some culinary inspiration! If you are a fan of good old-fashioned cookbooks, Patricia Telesco’s A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook is one of my favorites for sabbat ideas.
Why is this Sabbat called Mabon?
There are many names for the Autumn Equinox: also known as the Second Harvest (falling as it does midway between Lughnasadh and Samhain) Mabon is a fire festival that honors the changing seasons, as the Wheel turns, and we move from the light half of the year into the dark.
The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. Oberon Zell liked the name and published it in Green Egg magazine from which Earth-based spirituality groups quickly adopted the term, and it has resonated with pagans ever since. (You can read Aidan’s own account of this on his Patheos blog). While there is little evidence to suggest that this holiday was celebrated by the Celts, the autumn equinox is one of many harvest festivals celebrated around the world by such distinct cultures such as the Greeks, Bavarians, Native Americans, Chinese, and the Druids who all have their own way of celebrating the bountiful harvest of the season. During Medieval times, Christianized European peasants celebrated the autumn equinox as the Feast of the Archangel Michael.
In addition to the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox being known as the Harvest Moon, the lunar cycle in September is also called the Wine Moon, which is the traditional time for harvesting grapes. Early pagans considered wine and grapevines as sacred to the gods, particularly in Greek culture with the veneration of Dionysus, God of Resurrection. The belief was that grapes and wine were symbols of rebirth and transformation.
In British folklore, Mabon is associated with Herne the Hunter and marks the beginning of deer hunting season in many places. And while there is no record of this season being particularly observed by the Druids of old, modern Druidry (which started in 1717) holds a ceremony known commonly by the Welsh/Brythonic Alban Elfed (pronounced EL-VED), meaning ‘light of the Water to mark the balance of day and night before darkness overtakes the light’.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
My personal Book of Shadows and the traditions of Clan RavenMyst
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