It’s time for another stop on our journey around the Wheel of the Year, kiddos! Ding, ding, ding! Approaching Mabon! Please watch your step as you’re exiting the car.
Mabon, which occurs on 21 September, is the second of the harvest festivals, which makes sense as it follows the first of the harvest festivals, Lughnasadh (Lammas) which we celebrated last month. (Go here for more information on Lughnasadh.) All of the harvest festivals are celebrations of the reaping of that which was sown in the darker part of the year. They are celebrations of the Sun, of Light, and, on the same token, opportunities for mindful preparation for the coming Darkness. (Of course, how literal this play of Light and Dark is, is dependent upon your geographical location. But, the metaphorical transition can be experienced by anyone who attunes to it.)
Many of the same tools and traditions of celebration apply across the harvest holidays. There are decorations of wheat sheaves, apples, gourds, fallen leaves, pine cones, and the like … as well as any remaining bounty from the harvest (fruits, vegetables, grains) decorating hearths, homes and public spaces. Tables are laden, too, with foods created from that bounty: Breads, soups, casseroles, and simpler servings of in-season fruits and vegetables. Warming libations, such as cider, wine, mead and tea are common to help take the edge off the chill in the air. Fires are also set for this purpose.
Mabon is a very good time to practice a little introspection and reflection. It’s a time to look back over the year and see how your best-laid-plans are coming to fruition, or, in some cases, how they’re dying on the vine. We began this inventory at Lughnasadh, and we continue to make corrections now at Mabon, culling that which isn’t giving us the results we had hoped, reorganizing the bits that might be sort of working, and taking a moment or two to pat ourselves on the back for the good progress we’ve made.
Mabon is a solar holiday – one of the quarter days on the Wheel of the year. It’s also known as the Autumnal Equinox, which is, of course, a day consisting of equal hours of sunlight and darkness. This is the tipping point that ushers us into the dark half of the year. It’s at Mabon that we take our first steps through the veil to that more reserved, introverted, and quiet half of the year. As such, it’s a great time to begin to put into practice some of those things that can support us as we transition to a more yin existence. Meditation, quiet strolls in the woods, journaling, practicing yoga, soaking in a hot tub of salts and aromatherapy oils … you know … things that are cozy and nurturing and self-preserving.
There are many activities associated with Mabon. Food preparation is common, as, especially those who live in agrarian societies, are using and preserving the last fruits of the harvest. Bread-making, soup-making, pie-making, the last of the canning, drying the last of the summer herbs, and the making of wine, beer and mead are all popular ways to celebrate Mabon. Apple dolls are also a common sight on Mabon altars. The apple is a sacred fruit whose seeded midsection so beautifully depicts the sacred symbol known as the pentacle, or 5-pointed star. Apple dolls can be made in the image of the Sun and the Moon, the god and the goddess, or even your Aunt Dixie and Uncle Lou, then decorated with dried berries, nuts, seeds, and grasses. And any sundry and various crafts utilizing the materials provided by Mama Nature at this time are always appropriate.
As for me, I’m planning to make a garland of pine cones with maybe some other embellishments I find out in the woods or in my craft stash. I’m also thinking about making a gratitude garland like this one I found online. (Mabon is often called the pagan Thanksgiving, after all.) I’ll definitely take some time to get out into the woods for a nice, long hike, and get on the mat for some asana practice. I’ll likely do some divination work, either with tarot cards or runes.
All this week, I’ve been taking a personal inventory, and getting my ducks in a row, organizing my current projects and getting prepared for the new projects I’ll be starting for the holiday season. I might even make some of these fancy apple rose tarts or these vegan biscuits if I get a wild hair, and a little extra free time. Most importantly, I will take some time to sit with my gratitude for all the bountiful blessings in my life. You, dear reader, will be among that for which I am grateful.
So, that’s how I’ll be celebrating Mabon. How about you? Do you celebrate the Equinox? What do you do? Feel free to share in the comments. Whatever you’re doing or not doing, I wish for you a holiday filled with gratitude, balance, and bounty.