Mabon: Celebrating the Wiccan Autumn Equinox

by JoHarrington

Day and night are of equal length, and the harvest moon sees the last crops in. A new phase of repose begins, as the wind carries the winter chill.

Shine on! Shine on Harvest Moon!

No, really, please keep shining brightly; because we are working very late to get our crops in before they spoil! (Perhaps we did dally a little too much at Lammas...)

There's a real sense of urgency, as the trees redden and their leaves begin to fall. No denying now that winter chill in the air. It's not here yet, but it's close enough to chase the warmth from the wind.

The dark days are coming and we have to be ready. But there's a moment to take one last lingering look at the light. So beautiful those leaves, in the last seconds of their lives.

What is the Wiccan Mabon?

An introduction to one of the Eight Sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.

More commonly known as Autumn Equinox, this Sabbat is celebrated according to what is happening in the stars.

It occurs when day and night are the same length. We have the same number of hours and minutes in both.

The Earth tilts on its axis, during its orbit around the sun. For six months, half of the planet is leaning away; and for the rest, it's leaning towards.

Naturally, there comes a moment when the shift takes place. The Earth is poised in balance, caught on the mid-point of its tilting away or towards the sun.

Known collectively as the equinoxes, this only happens twice in any given year. The other being at Ostara. The Fall Equinox is generally between September 21st and 24th.

In 2013, it occurs on September 22nd, at 20.44 GMT.  This is the date on which Wiccans will be celebrating Mabon.

Of course, the fall equinox has a profound effect upon the natural world of our planet. With less sun able to shine upon our hemisphere, the weather becomes more chill. The plants begin to wither and wilting leaves cover the ground.

Whatever crops are gathered now have to sustain us through the frozen winter months.  Or at least they did before supermarkets, and wax-covered preserved food aped the fresh bounty of summer all year round.

Another theme of Mabon then is Thanksgiving. A joyous homage to the fertile soil, which gave us so much food. It's a festival which marks the completion of the harvest.

It's also a time of acknowledging with friendship and respect the community around us. They brought the harvest in; and they will support us during the dark months to come.

For ourselves, it's the signal to begin winding down from the great burst of energy, which propelled us through summer. We're entering a time of reflection and repose.  But first, a party.

Do you celebrate a festival at this time of year?

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Learn More About Autumn Equinox

Fellow Wizzley author Ragtimelil has written an introduction to the Autumn Equinox; and how it is marked in other religions.
There is a spring equinox and a fall equinox every year. What is an autumnal equinox and what does it mean for people around the world?

Who is Mabon ap Modron?

He is a Welsh deity, whose name became attached to the Wiccan Autumn Equinox in the 1970s. Not all Wiccans have accepted the name for the entire Sabbat.

Dig out your ancient Welsh legend books (*pauses for you to actually go and get some*), and you will note a recurring figure.

Mabon ap Modron is everywhere. He's riding with King Arthur. He's the only man able to hunt the monstrous boar, Twrch Trwyth.

He's a great bard; a brilliant hunter; a beautiful man to behold. He's a shadowy knight of the round table; and he stains the grass bright red with blood. He is one of Arthur's wisest advisors.

The old Celtic kingdom of Rheged was referred to as 'Land of Mabon' by the legendary poet, Taliesin.

And Mabon is known to the birds and animals, particularly the practically immortal Salmon of Lyn Llyw.  It was the latter who was able to lead Culhwch, on his distinctly Druidic journey to find and rescue the imprisoned man himself.

In short, it doesn't take a genius to work out that Mabon ap Modron was originally a God. The Welsh would know this at a glance, without even learning the stories.  His name translates into English as 'Son of the Mother'. 

(Actually, in modern Welsh, it would be more like Meibion ap Madron - son of the intoxicating one.)

We have encountered the Divine Son, who encapsulates all that was ideal about early Celtic masculinity. His Mother isn't unknown either. She appears as one of the earliest forms of the Mother Goddess amongst the Brythonic Celts.

So why is this Welsh deity attached to the Wiccan Autumn Equinox?  In truth, he wasn't until around 1970.  That's when the controversial American historian Aidan Kelly plonked them together.

I'm Wiccan. I'm Welsh. I'm an historian. I could make a case, but it would be in general nature god + imprisonment = death of nature terms only.

I would conclude that Mabon is so attached because all of the other Sabbats have fancy names, so why not this one too?

Which is pretty much why Mr Kelly invented it.

Should Mabon be Attached to Autumn Equinox in the Wiccan Tradition?

Aidan Kelly thought so; and generations of witches have followed suit.

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Books about Autumn Equinox in the Wiccan Tradition

Buy these books to learn more about the rituals, themes and place of this Sabbat in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.
Autumn Equinox: The Enchantment of MabonCelebrating the Seasons of Life: Belt...Mabon: Celebrating the Autumn Equinox

How Witches Celebrate the Autumn Equinox

It's a harvest festival. The emphasis is on the harvest! This is probably one of the best feasts available in any Wiccan Sabbat.

The rituals for Autumn Equinox (as it was always called in my covens) will center around giving thanks for the harvest.

Many of the covens will be merely repeating the Ostara ceremonies, but from the flip side point of view.

Instead of the ground thawing, it's now beginning to become hard.  Instead of the hedgerows bursting into bloom, they are dying.

Instead of planting seeds in a ritualistic manner, we are placing the grains on the altar.  These may be blessed then, to form the basis of the seeds handed out at Spring Equinox. 

The Lord and Lady are honored too. The Green Man with His leaves turning golden; and the Mother Goddess, who carries in her divine womb the life that will return after the cold, dark months.

If Mabon ap Modron has a place, then it is here. The divine son of the divine mother; the bounty of the present and the hope of the future.

But all of this sounds too dark and morbid for the reality of this Sabbat. The ice and snow have not yet come. There's a slight chill in the wind, but there are still late berries to be picked. Yet the main harvest is in now, and it will see us through. All of our energy had a point, which has most literally come to fruition.

We live and die now by our own labors and merit; and we do so with our people around us. The Autumn Equinox festival gives thanks to them too.  We affirm our co-dependency on those who help feed and keep us sane; and we accept their thanks in return for the same.

This Sabbat is just as much a time of relief, as anything else.  We are going to make it.  We have the bounty to show for ourselves.

At the Wiccan altars therefore expect to see examples of the crops we gathered and the people we love. They are all part of the same natural cycle.

Images from a Mabon Ritual in New York State, USA.

The coven pictured here is Y Gwyr Yn Erbyn Byd. Their ceremony was all to do with nature's bounty and community spirit - great themes for Autumn Equinox!

Happy Mabon Greeting Cards

Buy these cards to present to your Wiccan and Pagan friends this Autumn Equinox.

Autumn Equinox as a Time of Repose

We are entering a new phase in the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Things begin to slow down from here.

There's been much talk, with good reason, about the agricultural basis of Mabon. The crops are in and the warehouses filled.

Yet that harvest may not be in fruit, nuts, berries and grain. This is the 21st century and so many of us live in cities devoid of fields and hedgerows. Our spring and summer energies were directed towards other things - passing exams; meeting deadlines; arts and crafts; traveling; or whatever else occupied our minds. 

Now it is the time for their harvest too.  Or, at least, to pause for a moment and gather in all that happened, so that we may presently take stock.

These were our personal seeds, determined through goals set at Yule; prepared at Imbolc; scattered at Ostara; refined at Beltane; nurtured with such intensity at Litha; then displayed as fully grown crops at Lughnasadh

Now we take stock.  Not to reach any great conclusions for our future (that's so Yule), but to take the time to see what we've achieved.  Nothing can be noted without having all of the facts stark before us.

Mabon delivers us at the cusp of a change in the pace of life. As the days darken under the encroaching night, there's less light to play with.  Outdoors may be too cold for us to linger long there. The summer holidays are all done.

The societal gears are winding down.  The energy being brought closer to home. We begin the process of repose.

Our minds are drifting inevitably towards the winter months.  Today that's likely a vague pondering on what presents to buy for the Midwinter festival; or what parties and gatherings should be arranged for the same.

Yet there is still one Sabbat left.  Probably the biggest one of all.  Samhain (aka All Hallows Eve; Hallowe'en; or plain, old Halloween) is on the horizon.  And it will be huge.

Poor Mabon.  It gets so often overlooked, as people look past it to that!

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Autumn Equinox and Me

I am reaping the harvest of life itself! Growing older, gathering memories and, hopefully, beginning to gain the fruits of my own labors.

Something quite remarkable has happened to me over the past couple of weeks.

If an autumn equinox denotes a shift in a phase of life, then I've managed it with aplomb. I turned 40 recently, which is such a big milestone in a modern life.

There's a photograph of me atop the hill that I'm shortly expected to be over. (Good try, I'll go over the hill in my own good time.)

There's an argument to say that my harvest has been my whole life to date. In which case, it was a bumper crop of cards, presents and the well wishes of family and friends. Thank you all who contributed to that!

However, that hasn't been the seeds that I've been nurturing on this turn of the Wheel of the Year. There were two of them - to travel more and to make my living writing on-line.

I spent my birthday on the Yorkshire Moors, enjoying Haworth with two very good friends. I've also been to many other places in Britain this year.  I have the memories, photographs and Wizzley articles to prove it. 

It's the other side of the country and I've still been back three times. Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre is worth the trip with your family.
Syd Barrett was the founder of Pink Floyd. He famously lost his mind then retreated to his home city of Cambridge. I found some of his haunts.
On April 14th 2012, the 100th anniversary of Titanic striking an iceberg, her home city showed me the human cost.
On March 1st 2012, I visited the capital of Wales for the city-wide party that is St David's Day. It didn't disappoint.

My promise to myself to go wandering actually happened.  I can be pleased with myself for that particular harvest; especially since the seeds of future expeditions have been retained.

There's talk of going to Paris next year, with one of my friends. I'm looking forward to it.

Though significant, this isn't the remarkable thing that happened, nor even where the greatest of my energy has been directed.  That has been in my writing here on Wizzley.

I have worked hard.  No-one can say that I haven't done that.  I have produced 229 articles in just 272 days.  This one will be my 230th, since registering for the site on December 16th 2011.  The other 43 days can be accounted for in traveling and/or researching said articles. They don't just arrive on the page fully formed.

And over the past fortnight, things have finally started to progress.  This week, for the first time, I made sales on them for three consecutive days.  The rows of zeroes had slowly turned into cents; now they look to be heading towards dollars.

My harvest could well be making my living at this game.  My hard work and article seed crops are finally beginning to yield their bounty.

But Autumn Equinox is not only about what you did yourself, but how your community helped you. An astounding example of this also occurred during the past week.

  • Sam explained to me the great benefit to my writing that would be offered by using Market Samurai.
  • I couldn't afford it, but mentioned it to a close friend.
  • On my birthday, the same friend enclosed a note in a card. It said that she would buy the program for me to use.
  • Shortly afterwards, ChefKeem noted on the Wizzley forum that Market Samurai is available (for five days only) at half price.
  • Just about every veteran writer on Wizzley gushed over its greatness.
  • I contacted my friend and she bought the program for me.

And to prove it, here is my affiliation link.  (Please note that purchasing it yourself via that link may result in me getting commission.)   This Autumn Equinox, as I begin using it for the first time, I will be giving profound thanks to all involved.

Autumn Mist by Mike Jones

Autumn Mist

More Articles About the Wiccan Wheel of the Year

Eight Sabbats and 13 moons make up the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. They each carry a spiritual and practical significance.
Beltane is a time of fertility, renewal and fire. It's between the end of darkness and the beginning of light. The veil is very thin.
The height of summer - the longest day - is a time of great celebration, but it also means that the dark days are coming again.
Lughnasadh occurs exactly half a year after Imbolc. What happened to all of those seeds that you planted then?

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Updated: on 03/21/2013, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 06/16/2013

I'm happy that you thought so. Thank you for reading.

Lilysnape on 06/16/2013

A really interesting article.

JoHarrington on 09/16/2012

I'm glad that you're enjoying them.

Have you had a decent harvest yourself this year?

Kate on 09/15/2012

I have just come in from a wonderful day pottering in garden and I have really enjoyed this article. I love this series of articles. Thank you x

JoHarrington on 09/14/2012

Ragtimelil - I'm glad that you think so. And thank you very much for the link back! That's really kind of you. <3

WrapItUp4Me - I'm pleased that you enjoyed it and that it's been informative. :)

wrapitup4me on 09/14/2012

This is fascinating. What an education I am getting from you. Thanks.

Ragtimelil on 09/14/2012

What can I say? Great as always! Now I'm off to update my Autumn article.Thanks!



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