Posted 06 September 2011, by Steven Day, The New England Witches Alliance, newenglandwitchesalliance.org
(Note: In 2011, the exact time Mabon (The Autumnal Equinox) occurs is September 23rd at 5:04AM. The Moon will be in Leo.)
The month of September hosts the “Wine Moon” or the lunar cycle when the grapes are harvested and pressed to make wine; a beverage enjoyed by many. Wine and grapevines were considered sacred by early Pagans because Dionysus, a God of resurrection honored them as symbols of rebirth and transformation. Traditionally, the wine represents the God and the bread represents the Goddess.
The full moon that is celebrated closest to the Autumn Equinox in called the “Harvest Moon” since farmers would often harvest most of their crops by the light of the full moon. With the fading sun being seen in the sky the farmers would start to gather their crops in anticipation of the long winter months ahead. During this season farmers would also start slaughtering their herds so that they may have meats during the winter months as well. During early history people lived by the harvest and preparing for winter consumed many of their waking hours.
The Autumn Equinox is celebrated as the day when the God of light Lugh is defeated by the God of darkness (Lughs twin) Tanist. The night conquering the day. The story tells that the Equinox is the only day of the year when Lugh is vulnerable and it is possible to defeat him. Lugh stands on the balance of the Autumn Equinox with one foot on the goat ( the winter solstice) and the other foot on the cauldron (the summer solstice). He is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin and is transformed into an eagle.
Two events transpire at Lugh’s defeat; Tanist takes overs Lugh’s place as the King of our World and lover to Tailltiu. Although Tanist sits on Lugh’s throne, his induction wont be done until six weeks later at Samhain when he becomes the Dark King and mate to Tailltiu who conceives and will give birth nine months later (summer solstice) to her son who is Tanist reincarnated into the Dark child.
Wiccan mythology sees Mabon as the days and nights being equal; when the God prepares his departure back to strength and developement within his mothers womb. Both with sadness and joy the Goddess awaits his birth again in the Spring.
Mabon is the Pagan Thanksgiving. It is a time to celebrate the passing year and give thanks for all that we have been given throughout the year and as well look forward to all the future holds in store.
During the Autumn months the suns rays are dying off and we now start to commemorate the dead with joyous celebrations (It is considered bad luck to pass by a burial ground and not pay our respects to those buried there).
Many choose to do rituals based around balance and harmony at this time because natural energies are aligned towards protection, wealth, prosperity, security and boosting of self confidence.
Now is the time to start decorating your altar with gifts from nature; acorns, berries, leaves and other symbols of the season. You may like to take some of the autumn leaves and dip them in paraffin; after they have dried you can draw sigils of protection into the wax and hang them around the house.
Going through your personal garden and harvesting what is ripe is also appropriate at this time (don’t forget to give thanks). Baking breads in the shape of the sun and combining them with fruits or vegetables of the season incorporate both major aspects of this holiday. The seeds of the various plants are harvested and stored so that they can be used again for planting next season, therefore the rebirth of the plant next Spring. Remaining seeds can be set out for wildlife so that they will have a healthy abundance to start off the winter season.
To honor the dead, traditionally apples are placed on burial sites to symbolize rebirth and gratitude.
Elders are also celebrated during Mabon for all they have taught us and all the energy and devotion they have given to us. Don’t forget to do something extra special for the elders in your life.
Finally, don’t forget those less fortunate than yourself. Small baskets of food can be donated to shelters in your city. What may be small and meaningless to you is another families next meal.