Mabon Celebrated on or around September 21 for Northern Hemisphere; March 19 - 22 for Southern Hemipshere.
Lore Researched and Compiled by StormWing
Copyright © 1996 - 2006
Mabon (pronounced MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon or MAH-bawn) or the Autumn Equinox is one of the Lesser Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated around September 23rd, though it can occur as early as the 20th, depending on the timing of the actual Astrological event (check the calendar). The Autumn Equinox, like the Spring Equinox divides day and night equally. However during Autumn, (as opposed to Spring, when the opposite occurs) we begin to see the waning of the Sun more obviously now as the days continue to grow shorter until the Wheel of the Year spins around again to Yule.
The various other names for this Sabbat include the Autumn (or Autumnal) Equinox, the Fall Equinox, the Second Harvest Festival, Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Cornucopia, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), and Alban Elfed (Caledonii, or Druidic - which celebrates the Lord of the Mysteries). The Teutonic name for this period is Winter Finding, which spans from the Equinox itself until Winter Night, on October 15. Winter Night is the Norse New Year.
The symbolism of this Sabbat is that of the Second Harvest, the Mysteries, Equality and Balance - when day and night are equal. Symbols to represent the Mabon Sabbat are such things as grapes, wine, vines, garland, gourds, pine cones, acorns, wheat, dried leaves, burial cairns, rattles, Indian corn, Sun wheels, and horns of plenty. Altar decorations might include autumn leaves, acorns, pine cones, a pomegranate to symbolize Persephones descent into the Underworld, and a small statue or figure to represent the Triple Goddess in Her Mother aspect.
Deities associated with Mabon include all Wine Deities - particularly Dionysus and Bacchus, and Aging Deities. Emphasis might also be placed on the Goddess in Her aspect of the Mother (Demeter is a good example), Persephone (Queen of the Underworld and daughter of Demeter), and Thor (Lord of Thunder in Norse mythology). Some other Autumn Equinox Goddesses include Modron, Morgan, Snake Woman, Epona, Pamona, and the Muses. Some appropriate Gods besides those already mentioned are Mabon, Thoth, Hermes, and Hotei.
At this point in the Wheel of the Year, two appropriate mythological legends are that of Mabon and Modron, and the story of Demeter, Persephone and Hades. The Sabbat is named for Mabon, the Welsh God who symbolized the male fertilizing principle in the Welsh myths. Some mythologists equate him as the male counterpart for Persephone.
The universal story of Mabon and his mother, Modron has been passed down to us from the ancient proto-Celtic oral tradition. Mabon ap Modron, meaning "Great Son of the Great Mother", is the Young Son, Divine Youth, or Son of Light. Just as the September equinox marks a significant time of change, so, too, does the birth of Mabon. Modron, his mother, is the Great Goddess, Guardian of the Otherworld, Protector, and Healer. She is Earth itself.
From the moment of the Autumn Equinox, the Suns strength diminishes, until the moment of the Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun grows stronger and the days once again become longer than the nights. Mabon also disappears, taken at birth when only three nights old (some legends say he was stolen from Modron at the age of three years). Modron cries in sweet sorrow... and although his whereabouts are veiled in mystery, Mabon is eventually freed with the wisdom and memory of the most ancient of living animals - the Blackbird, the Stag, the Owl, the Eagle, and the Salmon (other legends state that King Arthur himself was Mabons rescuer). All along, Mabon has been quite a happy captive, dwelling in Modrons magickal Otherworld - Modrons womb. It is a nurturing and enchanted place, but also one filled with challenges. Only in so powerful a place of renewable strength can Mabon be reborn as his mothers champion, as the Son of Light. Mabons light has been drawn into the Earth, gathering strength and wisdom enough to become a new seed.
According to one Greek myth, Autumn begins when Persephone returns to the Underworld to live with her husband, Hades. This is the tale...
Demeters daughter, known as Kore at this time, was out picking flowers in a meadow when the Earth opened, and the god Hades dragged the girl into the Underworld Kingdom to be his wife. Kores name changed to Persephone when she became the wife of Hades. For nine days Demeter looked everywhere for Kore, to no avail. In despair, she finally consulted the Sun god Helios, who told her that her brother Zeus had given the girl to Hades. Furious to hear the news, Demeter left Olympus and wandered the Earth disguised as an old woman. She finally settled in her temple at Eleusis. She cursed the Earth so it yielded no crops. Zeus became frantic and sent her a message as to why she had done this. She responded by stating to Zeus that there would be no renewing vegetation on Earth until her daughter, Kore, was returned to her.
Zeus sent Hermes into the Underworld for the girl. Hades, not wanting to give up his wife permanently, enticed Persephone to eat pomegranate seeds before she returned to her mother. Upon learning of this trick, Demeter again despaired, until Zeus declared that Persephone-Kore would live with her husband during half of the year, and return to live with her mother during the other half. In gratitude, Demeter lifted her curse on the Earth, thus creating Spring at the time of her great joy of her daughters return; and Fall at her time of great sorrow when her daughter returned to the Underworld to live with her husband, Hades.
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 magick. 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, Solomons seal, and thistles. Incense for the Mabon Sabbat Ritual might include any or all of the following: frankincense, aloes wood, jasmine, cinnamon, musk, cloves, benzoin, 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.
May the Lord and Lady bless you all with lots of prosperity, and a plentiful Second Harvest!