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Mabon: The Fall Equinox

By Serenity
(Written for Ecclasia)


Mabon 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 Barleycorn.

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.


John Barleycorn

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.


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