Why we celebrate Mabon
It is the time of the Autumn Equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty as the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons and celebrate the second harvest. On or around September 21 (or March 21, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere), for many Pagan and Wiccan traditions it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it's bountiful crops or other blessings. It's a time of plenty, of gratitude, and of sharing our abundance with those less fortunate.
Another point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year, its counterpart being Ostara or the Spring Equinox, is how night and day are again of equal length and in perfect equilibrium. Dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But we are again on the cusp of transition, and from now the year begins to wane, and from this moment darkness begins to defeat the light. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion, the Sun's power is waning and henceforth the nights grow longer and the days are are shorter and cooler. The sap of trees return back to their roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the fire of autumn, the flaming reds, oranges and golds. We are returning to the dark from whence we came.
Yet before we do that, we're gonna party (again)! This is the Second Harvest, the Fruit Harvest and the Great Feast of Thanksgiving! The Goddess is radiant as Harvest Queen, and the God finally dies with His gift of pure love with the cutting of the last grain. He will return. As the grain harvest is safely gathered in from Lammas and reaches completion we enjoy the abundance of fruit and vegetables. It is time to thank the waning Sun for the wealth of harvest bestowed upon us. It sometimes seems that each festival requires the making of celebration and the giving of thanks, and this really is so, each turn of the Wheel bringing both inner and outer gifts and insights.
Mabon therefore is a celebration and a time of rest after the labour of harvest. In terms of life path it is the moment of reaping what you have sown, time to look at the hopes and aspirations of Imbolc and Ostara, and reflect on how they have manifested. It is the period to complete projects, to clear out and let go that which is no longer wanted or needed as we prepare for descent, so that the winter can offer a time for reflection and peace. And it is time to plant seeds of new ideas and hopes which will lie dormant yet nourished in the dark until the return of Spring.
Symbols of Mabon
The Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, is a traditional symbol for Mabon. It is a wonderful symbol for the wealth of harvest and is beautifuly balanced symbol which is both male (solid & giving) and female (hollow & receptive).
Ceremonially fill one or more Cornucopias with assorted vegetables, fruit, herbs and nuts for beauty, long life and restored youth.
The apple is significant in many sacred traditions. A symbol for life and immortality, for healing, renewal, regeneration and wholeness, the apple is associated with the Fall Equinox ritual.
Quert, the Ogham name for apple, is the epitome of health and vitality. It is at the heart of the Ogham grove and is the source of life. For Pagans, the apple is a much loved symbolic expression, and it contains a 'secret'. Cutting an apple width ways reveals a pentagram containing seeds. The five points represent thanksgiving for agricultural bounty and/or the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water with Spirit at the top, and thus also the directions of East, South, West, North and Within.
A circle around the pentagram represents the eternal circle/cycle of life and nature, and of wholeness. In ritual and ceremony the pentacle corresponds to the element of Earth. It is believed to be a protection against evil for both the person and the home, worn as an amulet or used to guard entrances to the home through windows and doors.
Colours of Mabon
From green to red, orange, yellow, brown and gold.
The Mabon Altar
Your altar should be dressed in the very best produce you can find from field, forest and market, from garden and the wild. Apples, pears, damsons, sloes, rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries, the possibilities are large. If you collect from the wild, be not greedy - always leave plenty of fruit and berries for the birds and wee creatures.
Make an outdoor shrine for the nature spirits in thanks for the bounty they help to provide. Leave one of each flower, fruit and vegetable that you have, as a gift.
Things To Do
Great Feast of Thanksgiving.
Celebrate with a feast for friends and family using as much fruit & veg, locally grown, as you can.
Go for a walk and collect as much of nature's wild abundance as you can, while respecting the need to leave enough for everyone else including the nature spirits. You will find wild damsons, sloes, rosehips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries and more. Remember the fruit is the carrier of the precious seed.
Clear Out and Complete.
We think of Spring as the time to clear out but now is the perfect time to complete unfinished projects and clear your home of unwanted stuff. Prepare to hibernate!
This is an excellent time to plant tree seeds and shrubs. They have all of winter in the darkness to establish and germinate. Plant bulbs which will hide in the earth until early Spring beckons. Make each one a hope, idea or aspiration for Spring and wait until their little green noses show above ground - to remind you!
Rituals and Ceremonies
Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Mabon. Typically the focus is on either the aspect of the second harvest or the balance between light and dark. After all, this is the time when there is an equal amount of day and night. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.
Some symbols of Mabon include:
Mid-autumn vegetables, like squashes, eggplant, pumpkins, and gourds
Apples and anything made from them, such as cider, pies, applesauce and apple butter, or even dried apples
Seeds, nuts, and seed pods
Baskets, symbolizing the gathering of crops; bushel baskets are easy to find if you live in an agricultural region with a lot of orchards nearby
Sickles, scythes, and other harvesting tools
Grapes, vines, and wine
You can use any of these to decorate your home or your altar at Mabon.
It's good to be thankful for what we've got – it's also valuable to recognize that not everyone is as fortunate. Offer this prayer for abundance in tribute to those who may still be needing. This is a simple prayer of thanksgiving, showing gratitude for all of the blessings you may have in your life right now.
Prayer for Abundance
We have so much before us
and for this we are thankful.
We have so many blessings,
and for this we are thankful.
There are others not so fortunate,
and by this we are humbled.
We shall make an offering in their name
to the gods who watch over us,
that those in need are someday
as blessed as we are this day.
Mabon Balance Prayer
Equal hours of light and darkness
we celebrate the balance of Mabon,
and ask the gods to bless us.
For all that is bad, there is good.
For that which is despair, there is hope.
For the moments of pain, there are moments of love.
For all that falls, there is the chance to rise again.
May we find balance in our lives
as we find it in our hearts.
Prayer to the Dark Mother
Day turns to night,
and life turns to death,
and the Dark Mother teaches us to dance.
Hecate, Demeter, Kali,
Nemesis, Morrighan, Tiamet,
bringers of destruction, you who embody the Crone,
I honor you as the earth goes dark,
and as the world slowly dies.