Mabon, the End point of the wheel of the Year, The culmination of the resting of winter, the work of spring and growth of summer, which ends in Harvest and plunges us into the Shadow season – my personal favorite season.
Mabon is the autumnal equinox, one of two points in the year where night and day stand as equals on the edge, before one over-takes the other at the solstices. It is as much a physical, astronomical event as it is a spiritual one. From the moment of the Equinox, the sun rapidly deteriorates until the Winter Solstice and Nature is plunged back into the darkness from whence it came for a long winter’s sleep. The Autumnal Equinox falls between September 20th-24th depending on the year. In 2019, the equinox falls on Monday, September 23rd EST.
The History of Mabon
There is always a lot of speculation and bantering in Pagan forums about the historicity of Mabon, and lo, the word Mabon itself. The people of the British Isles have given thanks at fall harvest festivals since ancient times. Harvest festivals traditionally were held on the Sunday nearest the Harvest Moon. The Greeks marked this as the day Persephone returned to the underworld, and winter set in over the land.
The Autumnal Equinox has been observed and celebrated by most cultures throughout the world, and throughout time. The pre-Celtic peoples who occupied ancient Britain and Ireland built massive stone cairns & other stone structures that are aligned with and illuminated on the equinoxes. Native American tribes in both North and South America also built structures that aligned with the equinox. Clearly throughout history and the world Equinoxes always held spiritual significance.
The word Mabon for the Autumnal Equinox however, is a late add to our neo-pagan lingo, only being applied in the 1970s by Aidan Kelly, who was attempting to name the cross quarter Sabbats with Saxon names to balance out the Celtic namesakes of the Greater Sabbats. However, there wasn’t a suitable saxon name for the Autumnal Equinox so he chose Mabon, which means “Son of the Mother” from Welsh mythology. In the Story of Mabon ap Modron, Mabon is stolen from his mother and imprisoned when he is 3 days old. His release is necessary in order for the hero Culhwch to defeat a King. Because the themes of this tale paralleled that of the Demeter/Persephone myth, Kelly thought Mabon was a good fit.
The Dying God, the Harvest, Sacrifice + Spiritual Lessons of Mabon
We find the Dying God theme throughout almost every religion in history. Osiris, Mithras, Baldr, Quetzalcoatl, Persephone, Attis, Jesus. And this theme reigns supreme during Mabon. All of these deities die for the common good, sacrificed throughout the harvest season according to their own cultures, so their people may continue on-but they are always resurrected, following the familiar pattern of nature, giving up her fruits and dying this time of year so we may be fed, but resurrecting come spring.
A common harvest practice in ancient times was to sacrifice 1/3 of your harvest to the Gods, so they would continue to bless you through the winter and grant you a fruitful harvest next year. Animals or effigies were also often burned or killed to cleanse a community this time of year. Which is why the spiritual theme of letting people, habits or situations go is so present in the autumn.
At Mabon we begin to turn further inward toward rest. Most of the harvest is complete and it is yet again time to give thanks with feast and family. It is a time to realign ourselves with the cycle of the seasons as we prepare to meet the coming darkness. It’s a time to take pause and ground before the arduous shadow work of Samhain begins. Be mindful of yourself- your feelings, your thoughts, ideas, wants, needs, desires and energy. It is another opportunity to look back over the year and evaluate what did and did not work out for us this year. What can you adjust for a better outcome next time? Evaluate your spiritual practice; are you connecting to yourself? The earth? The divine? What can you do to strengthen these connections, to go deeper and become wiser?
Mabon is also a time for REST. Rest after the busy spring and summer season, a time to regenerate after the lessons we learned this year. To accept the things in life that have happened this seasonal cycle, that every decision we made has had an action and consequence and that we cannot change what is, we can only work toward acceptance and move past it.
Mabon Celebrations & Activities
There is no light without dark. Now is the time to honor the coming dark season. Find a warm and cozy place to meditate on balance. Think about what the darkness means and how the lightness is reflected in the darkness. Meditate on the balance of your life and time and how you manage stress.
Creating a focal point for the season is a wonderful way to incorporate Mabon and its spiritual themes into your life. Use yellows, oranges, reds, and browns. Cover your altar with cloths that symbolize the harvest season or go a step further and put brightly colored fallen leaves upon your work surface. Use candles in deep, rich colors -- reds, golds, or other autumn shades are perfect this time of year. We created beautiful Mabon candles in these shades to adorn your altar, you can find them here
Fall is here, and that means the weather is bearable once more. The nights are becoming crisp and cool, and there's a chill in the air. Take your family on a nature walk and enjoy the changing sights and sounds of the outdoors. Listen for geese honking in the sky above you, check the trees for changing in the colors of the leaves, and watch the ground for dropped items like acorns, nuts, and seed pods. Bring your goodies home for your family's altar.
Start by counting your blessings. Literally, count them. Take a piece of paper and cut or tear it into many smaller pieces (large enough to right on). Find a jar or bowl that can hold the physical representation of you blessings. Light a pink or red candle to symbolize the love in your heart. A green candle can also be used to symbolize your heart chakra and the growth you've experienced this past year. White is another acceptable alternative if you have no colored candles. Now, write out each blessing that has entered your life over the past year, one for each piece of paper. After you write each one, add it to the jar or bowl. When you have finished place the jar or bowl somewhere you can see it. Add to it as you think of more blessings that you are grateful for.
Ritual is an excellent way to tune into the season, to balance and vibrate with the energy of Mabon. You can do this alone or with friends. Make sure the focus of your ritual is abundance + gratitude. We put together a Mabon Ritual Set to help you focus and tap into the energies of Mabon, complete with our Mabon Candle, Mabon Perfume, Rutilated Quartz, Moss agate and Mabon incense!Pause, Wild Ones, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Happy Mabon!
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