Mabon: The Fall Equinox
(Written for Ecclasia)
am I, whom my mother sought and whom heroes and creatures
working together, found and set free. I am the young sun
who rises with the morning and who shines down my light
through the new day. At night I journey in other lands,
leaving my task to my cousin the moon. I am the watcher
at the gates of dawn, whi guides and guards the way of those
who seek the greater Light, who look to the new sun for
inspiration and courage. Now I represent the new year, whose
bright rays reach out to all created things in the still
moment between the old year and the new.
Mabon, also known as Winter Finding, Alban Elfed,
Feast of Avalon, Wine Harvest and finally, the Fall or Autumnal
Equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator on it's apparent
journey southward, and we experience a day and a night that are
of equal duration. The sun enters the sign of Libra, the Balance
(an appropriate symbol of a balanced day and night). This day
was christianized under the name of "Michaelmas," the
feast of the Archangel Michael.
This is the second of the three harvest festivals
of the Pagan year (the first being Lammas, is on August 1st, the
second being Mabon, on September 23rd of this year, and the last,
Samhain on October 31st). Mabon marks the completion of the grain
harvest begun during Lammas. It is also a time to harvest many
fruits, nuts, vegetables, and herbs for the coming winter. As
such it is often known as the Pagan Thanksgiving.
This is the day of the year when the God of Light
is defeated by his twin and alter-ego, the God of Darkness. It
is the time of year when night conquers day. At this time the
"chase of Lugh" ends with the felling of the last shaft
of grain. It is within this last shaft that Lugh has hidden, but
with his death, his sacrifice, we live through his abundance.
It does involve the concept of sacrifice, but one that is symbolic
only. The sacrifice is that of the spirit of vegetation, John
We celebrate the story of Mabon ap Modron, "the
son of the Mother", the Divine Youth, the Son of Light. Mabon
is taken when he is three night's old. His whereabouts are shrouded
in mystery; it is through the wisdom and memory of the most ancient
animals (Blackbird, Stag, Owl, Eagle and Salmon) that we understand
where he is and why. Mabon dwells in his Mother's womb, the Otherworld.
It is a place where one is renewed and regenerated, a place of
new life. So that He may be reborn, the source of Light and Joy,
the champion of His Mother. Just as the Light is being drawn into
the earth accumulating strength and wisdom, to become a new seed,
Mabon has returned to his Mother's womb. For as winter begins,
the earth incubates the tender seeds. Throughout the winter, the
seeds are kept within Her womb so they may be reborn and bring
forth new life.
Gardens and fields are in full bloom and heavy with
nature's bounty. The harvest is upon us and it is time to reap
the rewards of what has come to pass. There is a thankfullness
for this abundance as well as a wish of the living to be in touch
with the dead which comes up at Samhain. Mabon colors are russet,
maroon, orange and all the colors of autumn. Foods consist of
grains, fruits, vegetables and especially corn. Cornbread is traditional
fare, as are beans and baked squash. Symbols are the apple, wine,
vine, guard, cornucopia, burial cairns and garland. Deities for
the Sabbat include Wine Gods (Dionysus and Bacchus), Aging Gods
and Goddesses, Harvest Deities (Demeter Goddess of Grain), Persephone
(Queen of the Underworld and daughter of Demeter), and Thor (Lord
of Thunder in Norse mythology).
This is a time to give thanks to the gods for the
fruits of our labor and our ability to provide for our family
over the coming year. It is also a time to prepare for the new
life and light that eternally begins. We go into the darkness
to gather strength and wisdom. We gather with friends and loved
ones to renew our reserves. We feast on the gifts of the harvest.
We know that sometimes there is sorrow, sometimes joy. We know
that the light will win again, but we must enter the darkness
to get there.
There were three men came out of the West,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn must die.
They let him stand till Midsummer's day,
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John's grown a long, long beard
And so become a man.
They've hired men with scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee,
They've rolled him and tied him by the waist
Serving him most barbarously.
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
And he's brandy in the glass,
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
Proved the strongest man at last.