Date(s): September 21st - 29th
Symbols: Apple, Cornucopia, harvested fruit and vegetable
Significance: Giving thanks for what we have reaped, and setting new hopes to be achieved in winter and spring.
Deities: Primarily the Dark Mother (the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess)
I'm sure you have felt it in the air by now, but we are approaching Mabon! I thought it'd be a good idea to put a little info here about what Mabon is and how it is traditionally celebrated. History & Celebration
Well, to start, I feel it is important to note that the term "Mabon" started being used for this holiday as recently as the 1970's... this is due to the reconstruction of paganism around this time period. As we all know, paganism has been the victim of the forceful influence of many other religions around the world (and what I mean by that is the "join us or die" mantra many of them have historically had). This "forceful influence" caused most written record of our holidays to be destroyed. But, in the 1970s, "Mabon" was the official name re-given to the September 21st harvest holiday by neopagans. Mabon is the name of a Welsh god. He is the god of light, and the son of the Earth Goddess Modron.
Mabon is the second harvest. It is during the harvest that the God of Harvest dies (only to be reborn again next year) with the cutting of the last grain. We celebrate this through harvest traditionally, but as most of us don't really "harvest" in the traditional sense anymore, we can celebrate in other ways - mainly by planting trees to germinate through the winter, harvesting from local farm shops and giving thanks to nature deities through celebration and thanksgiving.
In terms of spirituality, Mabon is a time of gratefulness and reflection. We think about all the intentions we have sent out into the universe, that have come to fruition. We also think of our new intentions, that we aspire to see come into reality by Imbolc and Ostara. We can represent these aspirations through the planting of trees, or starting of a new project.
How to Celebrate
Decorate your altar in harvest - this doesn't necessarily have to be fresh picked items. Pick up a little pumpkin, some corn, some autumn blossoms. Maybe add in some pine cones, seasonal berries, twigs, etc. Any colors and/or symbols associated with the Autumn Equinox will work on your Altar as well - reds, oranges, dark greens, browns. Think corn dolls, baskets, vines, God's eye (made in autumn colours), nuts. We want to draw in the energy of autumn, the equinox, and the changing of seasons.
In addition, one might decorate their altar with anything that symbolises balance - Mabon is, after all, a celebration of harvest and the Autumn Equinox. A white and black candle. A small scale. A yin-yang symbol.
One could also create a mini food altar - get a basket (another symbol of harvest) and fill it with seasonal foods, both harvested/bought and made. Set it on the table to symbolize the fruits of this years labors.
Which deity you choose to honor during Mabon is up to you - it's a personal choice. For this example, I will use the Dark Mother. She is the crone variant of the Triple Goddess. For me, this would be the crone version of Danu.
Prepare your altar as detailed above, and hold a candle dedicated to your harvest deity.
The land is beginning to die, and the soil grows cold. The fertile womb of the earth has gone barren. As Persephone descended into the Underworld, So the earth continues its descent into night. As Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter, So we mourn the days drawing shorter. The winter will soon be here.
Light the Demeter candle, and say:
In her anger and sorrow, Demeter roamed the earth, And the crops died, and life withered and the soil went dormant. In grief, she traveled looking for her lost child, Leaving darkness behind in her wake. We feel the mother's pain, and our hearts break for her, As she searches for the child she gave birth to. We welcome the darkness, in her honor.
Break open the pomegranate (it's a good idea to have a bowl to catch the drippings), and take out six seeds. Place them on the altar. Say:
Six months of light, and six months of dark. The earth goes to sleep, and later wakes again. O dark mother, we honor you this night, And dance in your shadows. We embrace that which is the darkness, And celebrate the life of the Crone. Blessings to the dark goddess on this night, and every other.
As the wine is replaced upon the altar, hold your arms out in the Goddess position, and take a moment to reflect on the darker aspects of the human experience. Think of all the goddesses who evoke the night, and call out:
Demeter, Inanna, Kali, Tiamet, Hecate, Nemesis, Morrighan. Bringers of destruction and darkness, I embrace you tonight. Without rage, we cannot feel love, Without pain, we cannot feel happiness, Without the night, there is no day, Without death, there is no life. Great goddesses of the night, I thank you.
Take a few moments to meditate on the darker aspects of your own soul. Is there a pain you've been longing to get rid of? Is there anger and frustration that you've been unable to move past? Is there someone who's hurt you, but you haven't told them how you feel? Now is the time to take this energy and turn it to your own purposes. Take any pain inside you, and reverse it so that it becomes a positive experience. If you're not suffering from anything hurtful, count your blessings, and reflect on a time in your life when you weren't so fortunate.
When you are ready, end the ritual.
Ritual thanks to Patti Wiginton of here.