Activities for the Autumn Equinox
Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries and marks the end of the second of three Pagan Harvest Festivals, when the majority of crops have been gathered. It is considered a time of balance, a time of darkness overtaking
light, a time of celebration of the Second Harvest. It is a time to honor the Aging Deities and the Spirit World. The principle key action of Mabon is giving thanks. Pagan activities may include the making of wine and the adorning of graves. A traditional practice is to walk wild places and forests, gathering seed pods and dried plants. Some of these can be used to decorate the home or altar, others saved for future herbal magic. It is considered taboo to pass burial sites and not honor the dead.
The Autumn Equinox is a wonderful time to stop and relax and be happy. While
we may not have toiled the fields from sunrise to sunset every day since Lammas – as our ancestors did – most of us do work hard at what we do. At
this time of year, we should stop and survey the harvest each of us has brought in over the season. For us, like our ancestors, this becomes a time of giving thanks for the success of what we have worked at.
Spellwork for protection, wealth and prosperity, security and spells to bring a feeling of self-confidence are appropriate for Mabon. Since this is a time for balance – you might include spells that will bring into balance and harmony the energies either in a room, home, or situation. Ritual actions might include the praising or honoring of fruit as proof of the love of the Goddess and God, and a ritual sprinkling of Autumn leaves. Depending on when the leaves turn in your area, beautiful multi-colored leaves can be dipped in paraffin, to be used for decoration. Quickly dip the leaves in melted paraffin, and put them on wax paper. When the leaves are dry, you can put them in a huge decorative jar with a sigil of protection carved lightly on some or all of the leaves.
Appropriate colors for this Sabbat are red, orange, deep gold, brown,
russet, maroon and violet. Candle colors might be orange, dark red, yellow,
indigo, or brown. Altar cloths can also be made of material with Fall designs.
Stones to use during Mabon are amethyst and yellow topaz, carnelian, lapis lazuli, sapphire, and yellow agate. River and stream stones gathered over the Summer can be empowered for various purposes.
Animals associated with the Autumn Equinox are dogs, wolves and birds of prey.
Mythical creatures include gnomes, minotaurs, sphinx, cyclopes, andamans and gulons.
Plants associated with Mabon are vines, ivy, hazel, cedar, hops and tobacco. Traditional herbs of the Mabon Sabbat include acorns, asters, Benzoin, ferns, honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, mums, myrrh, oak leaves, passionflower, pine, roses, sage, Solomon’s seal, and thistles.
Incense for the Mabon Sabbat Ritual might include any or all of the following: frankincense, aloes wood, jasmine, cinnamon, musk, cloves, Benison, myrrh, and sage
The foods of Mabon consist of the gleanings of the Second Harvest, so grains, fruit and vegetables predominate, especially corn. Corn bread and cider are traditional fare, as are beans and baked squash. Others foods include wine, grapes, breads, pomegranates, roots (carrots, onions, potatoes, etc.), nuts and apples.
Traditional Harvest Game
This game which is actually a fertility rite, is a boisterous but authentic addition to an Autumnal Equinox Rite. It was prepared by Steve Harrill-Morris.
Ideally there should be equal numbers of men and women. Children enjoy
taking part too. You will need to wear old clothes, and bring something to change into afterwards. Towels are also an essential part of the equipment.
Find a place to represent Home, where there is a low wall or perhaps a large rock which an be used as a table. It is best if this table can be approached under cover from several directions. This place is secret: the men must not be told where it is, for part of the game is trying to find it.
Killing the Bright Lord
A sheaf of corn, decorated with a red ribbon, is taken to a place some distance away from Home, out of sight and hearing. The men go off to Kill the Bright Lord, represented by the sheaf. They carry copious amounts of ale and an old sickle. They set up the sheaf in a cleared space and sing songs like "John
Barleycorn" in the most macho voices they can manage. Forming a ring around the sheaf, each man steps four paces from the center, one for each winter month, and one for luck. The jug of ale is then passed round. Each man must drink before taking a throw at the sheaf. As each one throws the sickle he must say something to the God he intends to slay. This goes on until someone knocks or cuts the sheaf down. The men then split up to attack Home, coming from as many directions as possible. This approach is silent at first, and then wild cries are heard as they reach their objective.
The Cave of the Goddess
The women, meanwhile, are busy preparing the table. This represents the cave of the Goddess to which the slain hero is brought. They lay out a feast, and prepare devious deterrents for the invading men. Buckets of milk and water, and sometimes plates of crazy foam, green slime and soot are added. These delightfully messy ingredients are placed in all kinds of booby traps: buckets, paper plates and so on. (You can see why a change of clothes is required.)
Once the men have launched their attack, it is essential that they are all made as wet as possible-especially the man carrying the sheaf, for he will be the one who has cut it. This part of the game usually ends in a frontal attack, as the men pass the sheaf between themselves like a rugby ball or American football. Everyone sings:
Let us welcome home the fallen
To the Goddess all return
The seed shall fertilize the womb
So that life shall be re-born
The women defend Home with everything they can lay their hands on until one of the men succeeds in placing the now-soaking sheaf on the table. He is designated priest for the remainder of the rite.
A Harvest Feast
The women who scored the first hit becomes the priestess. This couple now hang the sheaf, suitably dowsed with clean water, from a branch. They bless the food and wine or ale and are the first to eat and drink-uttering whatever thanks they think fit. Everyone joins in and you all get down to some serious feasting.
After the feast the sheaf is either taken down and buried or kept until the spring when it should form part of the Imbolc fire. Either way it must eventually return to the Earth. This festival has a serious side, for it is one of balance. It points up the need for balance in the relationship between the two sexes, and their mutual
Mabon Meanings History/Mythology & Other Things
The Wheel of the Year holds several purposes, both theological and practical. Theologically, the story of the Wheel often varies depending on the Tradition. The Wheel gives the accounts of the mythological events that repeat throughout the year as well as a vague "history" of the Gods and Goddesses involved within the pantheon. For the newbies: by "Tradition" we mean "denomination"; for example Wiccan, Celtic, Druid, Native American, etc. On the more practical side, the Wheel trains us to be able to deal with death and
the inevitability of re-birth that follows. Paganism teaches that death, a natural function of the universe, is a part of life; a dramatic change that is the beginning of a new experience, and something to be celebrated at the proper time not feared (not condoning Suicide!) Through the ideas of Heaven and Hell, Christianity teaches a deep fear of death, and this spurs our society’s horror of death. We are always trying to find new and improved ways to beat death, but we will never succeed. It is sad our society portrays death as such a terrifying experience; we would certainly have less emotional pain and suffering in the world if death could be seen as what it is: a transformation, nothing more.
In this section you will find a rendition of the upcoming quarter of the Wheel of the Year. Included will be the mythological lore and some traditional practices for the celebration, along with some ideas for activities and decorations.
Date/Name: September 22, holds the date for the next Sabbat: Mabon (pronounced "MAY-bon") marks the Second Harvest of the Celtic/Pagan
Background Information: Mabon marks the Second Harvest, the end of the grain harvest (which begun at Lughnasadh), and rests on the Autumn Equinox. The Equinox mirrors dwindling of life (and eventual progression to rebirth), as
well as the struggle for balance; day and night are equal for a single day. The pagans of antiquity didn’t have the ability to determine astrological positions as we do today. The European peasantry, therefore, celebrated this Sabbat on September 25th. The Celts marked their days from sundown to sundown, so the Mabon celebration actually started on the sundown of our September 24th.
Today, with the help of our technology, we can calculate the exact day of the Equinox; the date when the sun enters the sign of Libra, the Balanced Scales, which appropriately fits the Equinox. September 25th is a medieval holiday which the Church Christianized under the label of "Michaelmas," a feast in honor of the Archangel Michael. It is thought that the Roman Catholic Church at some point considered assigning the quarter dates to the four Archangels, since they had assigned the cross quarters to the four gospel-writers. Making the Vernel Equinox a holiday called "Gabrielmas" was taken into consideration in honor of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary on Lady Day.
This Sabbat can also be known as: the Second Harvest Festival, Feast of Avalon, Cornucopia, Wine Harvest, the Fall Equinox, Harvest Home, the Autumnal (or Autumn) Equinox, Festival of Dionysus, Alban Elfed (Caledonii, Druidic), Winter Finding (Teutonic), or Equinozio di Autunno (Strega). The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and farmers would harvest their corps by this moonlight as part of the Second Harvest celebration.
Meanings: Mabon is very much like Thanksgiving. Most of the crops have been reaped and abundance is more noticeable than ever! Mabon is the time
when we reap the fruits of our labor and lessons, both crops and experiences. It is a time of joy, to celebrate that which is passing (for why should we mourn the beauty of the year or dwindling sunlight?), looking joyously at the experience the year has shared with us. And it is a time to gaze into the bright future. We are
reminded once again of the cyclic universe; endings are merely new beginnings.
Since it is the time of dying sun, effort is also made to celebrate the dead with joyous remembrance. It is considered taboo to pass a burial site and not honor the dead. Natural energies are aligned towards protection, wealth, prosperity, security, and boosting self-confidence. Any spells or rituals centered around balance and harmony are appropriate.
History/Mythology – Celtic/Welsh: The tale of Mabon ap Modron, the Welsh God, (the "great son of the great mother"), also known as the Son of Light, the Young Son, or Divine Youth, is celebrated. The Equinox is also the birth of Mabon, from his mother Modron, the Guardian of the Outerworld, the Healer, the Protector, the Earth. Mabon was taken after he is a mere three
nights old (some variations of the legend say he is taken after three years). Through the wisdom of the living animals – the Stag, Blackbird, Owl, Eagle and Salmon – Mabon is freed from his mysterious captivity. All the while Mabon had rested within his mother’s womb; a place of nurturing and challenge. With strength and lessons gained within the magical Outerworld (Modron’s womb), Mabon is soon reborn as his mother’s Champion, the Son of Light, wielding
the strength and wisdom acquired during his captivity.
Also, (from a variation in legend) the Equinox is the day of the year when the god of light, Lugh, is defeated by the god of darkness, Lugh’s twin and alter-ego, Tanist. The night conquers day. The tales state that the Equinox is the only day which Lugh is vulnerable and the possibility of his defeat exists. Lugh stands on the balance (Autumn Equinox-Libra) with one foot on the goat (Winter Solstice-Capricorn) and the other on the cauldron (Summer Solstice-Cancer). He is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio). Two events occur rapidly with Lugh’s defeat. Tanist, having beaten Lugh, now takes over Lugh’s place both as King of our world and lover to the Goddess Tailltiu. Although Tanist now sits on Lugh’s throne, his official induction does not take place for another six weeks at Samhain, the beginning of Winter, when he becomes the Dark King, the Winter Lord, the Lord of Misrule. He mates with Tailltiu, who conceives, and will give birth nine months later (at the Summer Solstice) to her son, another incarnation of Tanist himself, the Dark
Child. Lugh’s sacrifice represents not only the sun’s dying power, but also the cycle of rebirth, his energy remaining within the corn we have since harvested. An incarnate (of Lugh) corn spirit was thought to specifically reside within the last stalk (or stock), which was traditionally dressed in fine clothes and decorations, or woven into a wicker man-shaped form. This symbolic decoration was then harvested and carried from the field to be burned with rejoicing for the spirits release and Lugh’s upcoming rebirth.
History/Mythology – Greek: In Greek mythology, Autumn begins as Persephone returns to the Underworld to live with Hades, her husband. The myth says that Demeter’s daughter, Kore, had taken a day to pick flowers in a meadow when the Earth opened up, and Hades pulled the girl into the Underworld to become his bride. Kore’s name became Persephone when
she married Hades. For nine straight days, Demeter searched for Kore,
with no success. In misery and desperation, Demeter questioned Helios, the Sun God, who informed her that her brother, Zeus, had given the girl to Hades. Furious, Demeter left Olympus to roam the Earth disguised as an old woman, ending up settled in her temple at Eleusis. Soon after, she cursed the Earth so it would yield no crops. Zues sent her a frantic message inquiring as to why she had prevented growth on the planet. She replied that there would be no regeneration of vegetation on the Earth until her daughter, Kore, was safely
returned. Zeus immediately dispatched Hermes into the Underworld to retrieve the girl. Hades, not wanting to relinquish his bride permanently, convinced Persephone to eat some pomegranate seeds before she returned to her mother, Demeter. Demeter was yet again distraught when she learned of this trickery! Finally, Zeus declared that Kore-Persephone would live with her mother during one half of the year and return to her husband, Hades, during the other half. In thanks, Demeter lifted the curse on the Earth, creating Spring. Every year hence, during her time of greatest sorrow, Demeter renews the curse, as her daughter returns to Hades and the Underworld.
History/Mythology – Wiccan: Day and night are equal and the God prepares to depart and begin the journey back to the strength and development within his mother’s, the Goddess’, womb. Both sad and joyful, the Goddess lovingly awaits her God’s rebirth.
Decorations and Activities: Activities vary with region and tradition, as well as personal preference. One idea is to make a Sun Wheel. Also, one could mirror the Celtic tradition of dressing a corn stalk in cloths and burning it in celebration of the harvest and upcoming rebirth.
Simple altar decorations can be obtained by taking a calm "pilgrimage" through your local woods and collecting leaves, acorns, berries, and other things symbolic of nature’s bounty. Some chose to sprinkle Autumn leaves around the house and on the sides of walk ways as decoration, though this may not be convenient if one lives in the city or doesn’t enjoy the cleanup. Alternately, the
changing leaves can be dipped in paraffin (see above). Going through your personal gardens with thanks and lovingly harvesting what is ready is also appropriate. Breads may be baked in the shape of the Sun, combining fruits or vegetables and grains, incorporating both of the major aspects of this Harvest. The seeds of various plants are stored through winter for replanting, and therefore, the plant’s rebirth in the Spring. A feast for friends and family always provides a cheerful abundance of energy and thanks. Additional seeds and grains can be set out as offering to our fellow creatures, and provide a healthy chance for birds to join in the celebrations as well. Symbolic designs can be made out of the sprinklings if one chooses. Those less fortunate should not be
omitted from the celebration. Small, meaningless (to you) packages of food and drink gifted to a homeless person will make their day!
To honor the dead, it is traditional to place apples on burial cairns as symbolism of rebirth and gratitude. Furthermore, it is a time to honor the elders, who have devoted so much time and energy to your growth and development. Something special is in order for these gracious people.
Found and Posted By Witch of the North.
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