Mabon 21st-29th September
Autumn Equinox//Mabon (Pron. MA-bon)
Stones: Amber, Citrine, Aventurine,
Amethyst, Tigers Eye Colours: Orange, brown, deep green, gold, yellow, violet Sign: Virgo and Libra Tarot Cards: The Hermit and Justice Incense: Frankincense, oak leaves, patchouli, pine and juniper (or garden sage) Also known as 'Harvest Home', this period of the last Harvest was of the most back-breaking and important times in the ancient agricultural calendar. In the U.K, It also meant the last of the late summer sunshine before the days grew shorter and it became increasingly more difficult to grow food. Mabon lands exactly over the week or so of this Last Harvest and in modern Pagan life, is often celebrated as a kind of 'Witchy' and less racially inappropriate Thanksgiving - a feast with loved ones and plenty of apple-based offerings on the altar. In this article, we will take a brief look at some of the older lore surrounding Mabon, as well as some more modern takes on ritual, tradition and spellwork for this interesting festival time. Let's start with the name of the thing. Having waded through one book, text and website after another in search of a logical reasoning behind the name Mabon - it turned out that I could have found an approximation of the answer on Wikipedia...Mabon is the name of a Deity character that appears in the ancient Welsh text - The Mabinogion (circa 12th Century AD) who must go through a series of tasks in order to marry the daughter of a giant (wow). Mabon was also stolen from his mother's (Modron, Guardian of the Otherworld) arms at the tender age of three days old - abducted by darker forces, only to be found in his mother's womb, fully grown, to be born from her again as an adult man (double wow). What does this have to do with Autumn Equinox - I hear you cry? On the one hand, it is an interesting perspective on the seasonal resting period of humans - to be re-born in adulthood once winter has passed; these details also mean that Madron is sometimes seen as a wronged fertility Goddess and so the sorrow of her losing the light of her life can viewed with Autumn in mind. However, the name 'Mabon' was only attributed to this festival in the early 1970's by poet and influential member of the Wiccan community, Aiden A. Kelly- selected as a tale from British mythology that most closely related to the Greek Myth of Demeter, Hades and Persephone. Often, traditional festivals were...disorganised at best, often swapping dates depending on the timing of the harvest, the weather and so on. The Vikings only named either our September or October 'Holy Month' if it gave them a good crop, the other month would just be referred to as 'Month'. One guaranteed feature of these festivities is certain - It is ONE. BIG. PARTY. If you read my previous post about Lammas, you'll be thrilled to hear that what Wales called, 'Yr Wrack' or 'The Bitch' is back. The last sheaf of wheat of the year to be harvested - is the theme of many of these revelries and whether 'The Bitch' brings good luck or bad, seems to vary from county to clan. In some parts of England and Wales, sneaking onto your neighbours farm land to secretly plant the unlucky last sheaf could be dangerous if the young lad you sent over was caught, so great was the superstition. In other parts of England and Scotland, a dolly or poppet would be made from the last sheaf and it would be placed in the heath of the home to grant good fortune to all that lived there. Sometimes a Corn Maiden and a Calleach would be chosen from the village women to honour the last piece of the harvest, often weaving the last few stems into crowns to wear in a parade through the town to bring a good crop the following year. Industrialisation of Britain created strange changes in rural communities and cities that had once relied on agriculture and trade more than machines. It created an odd shift in these old beliefs and customs, taking the loud merriment of the countryside - known as Wakes and Hoppings (named after the hop-like dancing commonly seen at these)- into full blown revels! To give you an idea of what happens when those abundant Harvest vibes get out of hand, documenting 'The Staybridge Wakes' near Manchester, here is a brilliant quote from the newspaper, 'The Voice of the People' 1831: "Those that derive amusement from hurdy-gurdy grinders, cat-gut scrapers; drums and gingerbread; noise and dirt, gin and penny-whistles, beef and pudding, ale and spice cake, broken heads and bloody noses; terminating in empty pockets, headaches, black eyes and comfortable lodgings in the lock-ups may have ample means of gratification." To honour Mabon in more modern times, many practising witches, Pagans and Wiccans keep things simple - usually baking something appley and delicious, but other foods that might scratch the traditional Mabon itch include: turnip, marrow, cauliflower, mushrooms, fish, game, sweet potato, oysters, hedgerow fruits and plenty of hops (yaay beer!). Apples get all the best press because they are bloody great and extremely prolific at this time of year! There is a lovely modern Mabon tradition of splitting an apple with your loved one and eating one half each - so simple and intimate but a tiny ritual of connecting and sharing. Mushroom or potato soups, a solid fruit crumble or something wheat-based are all ideal seasonal foods to make at this time that emulate the harvest as it would have been - to give thanks to the elements for providing enough to eat and for the quality company we get to eat it with. Mabon is also a fire festival, so a small bonfire or the burning of charcoal/paper is recommended if you are able. If not, then include lots of firey or smokey stones on your altar and plenty of reds and oranges to create that heat. It's the dawn of Libra season, so keep the word BALANCE in mind when doing ritual or spell work around this time. The equinox itself (21st-22nd of September) is a time when the length of the day and night are exactly equal, so keep symbols on your altar about equality; something to represent both the sun and moon, masculine and feminine energies, all of the elements. This is a good altar for enjoying the abundance you have and welcoming the prosperity you desire, so plenty of sigils for 'plenty', 'protection' and 'good health' are great additions to keep you going through winter. Paddy Slade shares a lovely little spell to attract abundance in her book 'Natural Magic': " if you wish to always have money in your purse, place three leaves each of blackberry, bergamot and bistort in it." Happy Mabon, everyone! Wishing you plenty of abundance and good cheer for the coming winter months. And whatever you do, do it with APPLES.