Bright Blessings, Witches! I get so excited this time of year. You can smell the change in the air when you walk outside. The weather hints at crisp autumn days and chilly nights. Apple cider and fall feasts make you salivate just thinking about them. Everything breathes magick.
This is how I see Mabon. I follow the Wheel of the Year and have my own set of traditions for every sabbat. But I feel something different for Mabon. It feels like the beginning of my personal year, every year.
WHAT IS MABON?
Another way of saying the Autumn Equinox, Mabon generally happens around September 21st. In the Northern Hemisphere, nights grow longer while the days get shorter, while the opposite holds true in the Southern Hemisphere around March 21st.
Mabon falls as the second of three harvest festivals. The first festival is known as Lughnasadh and the second is Samhain.
Named after the Celtic sun god Mabon, it’s also called the Festival of Dionysus, the Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, and the Harvest of First Fruits. Celebrated around the globe by a myriad of cultures, the Bavarians, Chinese, Druids, Greeks, and Native Americans all have their own traditions and ways of honoring Mabon.
The mythology surrounding Mabon points to the time when the God of Darkness defeated the God of Light. This is why the nights grow longer during this time of year. Another version of mythology comes from Celctic folklore. After the Great Goddess of Earth Modron’s son Mabon was born he was kidnapped for three days. This is what made the light disappear. British folklore tells us that Mabon is connected with Herne the Hunter. This is why it designates the start of deer hunting season in a lot of places.
SYMBOLS OF MABON
Known as the Wine Moon (among other monikers), September’s lunar cycle marks the time for harvesting grapes. Following the monumentalization of Dionysus the god of resurresction, the early Pagans regarded grapevines and wine as sacred. Grapes and wine are considered symbols of rebirth and transformation.
Root vegetables like eggplant, gourds, pumpkin and squash are among the more well-known symbols associated with Mabon. Other popular representations of the sabbat include any byproduct of apples – cider, pie, sauce, etc. Tools used to gather crops and the baskets that hold the bounty are also symbolic of Mabon.
Pomegranates are also a huge symbol for the Mabon sabbat. It symbolizes the fruit of death given to Persephone by Hades.
A huge part of celebrating the sabbats is erecting an altar that reflects the colors, symbols, and themes. Some practitioners, like myself, also like to include pictures or statues of their deity or deities.
Golds, oranges, browns, reds and yellows are the seasonal colors traditionally used for Mabon altar decorating. Apples, acorns, rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, and pears are placed on the altar as representatives of the best produce crops.
You could even set up an outdoor altar in celebration. For this, an altar with three candles, seasonal incense, a wand, bread, and cider or wine as an offering is appropriate for Mabon. Autumnal leaves and twigs could also be used for decoration.
Performing ritual dances around nighttime bonfires and taking in autumn constellations are both magickal ways to celebrate Mabon. Another great way to actively celebrate is apple picking and visits to pumpkin patches. As your baskets fill with the bounty from Mother Nature, you are able to count your blessings and give thanks.
Baking cakes from harvested rice is how Chinese people celebrate this time of year. In China, the moon’s birthday and Mabon are one in the same. By honoring the moon, those who bake the cakes are blessed with abundance.
The celebration of Mabon for modern Druids is related to Alban Elfed as the moment of balance between dark and light.
The Feast of St. Michael, also known as Michaelmas, is celebrated on September 29th in some counties in England. A traditional meal of goose and St. Michael’s bannocks is served on this day.
The Iriquois people come together for what’s known as the Corn Dance. This is to give thanks for the ripening of crops in the fall.
The Yoruba people in Nigeria commemorate the Yam Festival with dancing. These dances are for both the fertility of crops in the coming season and for their ancestors.
For a lot of Pagans and Wiccans, Mabon is the time for giving thanks and to share bounties and blessings with those who are less fortunate.
As I mentioned before, each sabbat is part of the Wheel of the Year. It stems from one of the ancient feast days. It’s a glorious time of year to not only celebrate the turn of the season, but to truly take stock of all of the things we have to be grateful for.
As one who actively participates in each sabbat, I find great comfort and joy for each celebration. They each mark something special. Mabon holds especially true for this, in my opinion.
What about you? How do you practice? Or, if you currently do not participate, do you think you ever will? Let me know in the comments!