Today is the Autumn Equinox which I will celebrate with – a day off!
The altar is already decorated with corn dollies, acorns, leaves and a mini cornucopia (the fruits are little and fake because I don’t want the kitties getting into it!) and three special candles that were made for me on the last Mabon by my dear friend Joanna Rowantree. They are special candles for this day, timed with the Equinox and crafted using the appropriate colors and herbs.I will light the candles tonight during the short Mabon ritual I do every year.
I don’t usually have a big feast on Mabon, since it often comes at a time when I have been very busy and need a break. It is not a “Greater” sabbat, but a lesser, so it is acceptable not to have a big hoopla. Plus I enjoy the quiet reflection that comes with the gentle spirit of the day.
That’s not to say there will not be a nice dinner involved! I plan on making a harvest vegetable pie, chock full of fall flavors that I’ll serve with fresh bread and a wild rice pilaf. I do have my favorites for the holidays!
Here is more information about Mabon (I didn’t write this and would give credit to whomever did but could not find it!):
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. 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.
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 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. Natural energies are aligned towards protection, wealth, prosperity, security, and boosting self-confidence. Any spells or rituals centered around balance and harmony are appropriate.
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 despiration, 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.
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. 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.
- Foodstuffs: Grapes, Acorns, Wheat Bread, Goat, Indian Corn, Horn of Plenty, Cornbread, Corn, Root Crops (ie Onions, Carrots, Potatoes, etc.), Nuts, Dried Fruits, Apples, Beans, and Squash.
- Drinks: Wine, Ale, and Cider.
- Colors (for those who work with Candle Magick): Red, Deep Gold, Orange, Brown, Maroon, Violet, Russet, Yellow, and Indigo.
- Animals: Dogs, Wolves, Stag, Birds of Prey (especially the Blackbird, Owl, and Eagle), Salmon, and Goat.
- Mythical Creatures: Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaurs, Cyclops, Andamans, and Gulons.
- Stones: Yellow Topaz, Carnelian, Sapphire, Yellow Agate, Lapis Lazuli, and Amethyst. Also, river or stream stones which have been submerged for the Summer may be used.
- Plants: Vines, Garlands (made of these various plants), Gourds, Pine Cones, Acorns, Wheat, Dried Leaves, Corn, Pomegranate, Ivy, Hazel, Hops, Cedar, and Tobacco.
- Herbs: Myrhh, Thistles, Tobacco, Oak Leaves, Hazel, Mums, Hops, Acorns, Marigold, Roses, Sage, Milkweed, Solomon’s Seal, Asters, Ferns, Honeysuckle, Benzoin, Passionflower, Pine, and Cedar.
- Incense would include: Aloes Wood, Cinnamon, Cloves, Benzoin, Jasmine, Frankincense, Myrrh, and Sage.
- Dieties: All wine Deities (especially Dionysus and Bacchus), the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess, Persephone, Thor, Modron, Morgan, Snake Woman, Epona, Pamona, Muses, Mabon, Thoth, Hermes, Hotei, Harvest Deities, and Aging Deities.