This autumnal festival is now commonly named after the the God of Welsh mythology, Mabon ap Modron. Mabon is the Child of Light and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess, Modron.
In truth, there is little evidence that ‘Mabon’ was celebrated in Celtic countries; the term ‘Mabon’ was applied as recently as the 1970’s. All part of our reconstructed Paganism…
This Sabbat is another point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year, its counterpart being Ostara or the Spring Equinox. Night and day are again of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But we are again on the cusp of transition and from now the year now begins to wane and from this moment darkness begins to defeat the light. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion, the Sun’s power is waning and from now on the nights grow longer and the days are are shorter and cooler. The sap of trees returns back to their roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the fire of autumn, to the flaming reds, oranges and golds. We are returning to the dark from whence we came.
But before we do that, we’re gonna party (again)!
This is the Second Harvest, the Fruit Harvest and the Great Feast of Thanksgiving.
The Goddess is radiant as Harvest Queen and the God finally dies with His gift of pure love with the cutting of the last grain. He will return. As the grain harvest is safely gathered in from Lammas and reaches completion, we enjoy the abundance of fruit and vegetables at this time.
It is time to thank the waning Sun for the wealth of harvest bestowed upon us. It sometimes seems that each Festival requires the making of celebration and the giving of thanks, but this really is so, each turn of the Wheel brings both inner and outer gifts and insights.
So the Autumn Equinox/Mabon is a celebration and also a time of rest after the labour of harvest. In terms of life path it is the moment of reaping what you have sown, time to look at the hopes and aspirations of Imbolc and Ostara and reflect on how they have manifested. It is time to complete projects, to clear out and let go that which is no longer wanted or needed as we prepare for descent, so that the winter can offer a time for reflection and peace. And it is time to plant seeds of new ideas and hopes which will lie dormant but nourished in the dark, until the return of Spring.
Symbols of Mabon
The Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, is a traditional symbol for Mabon. It is a wonderful symbol for the wealth of harvest and is beautifully balanced symbol which is both male (phallic) and female (hollow and receptive).
The apple is the symbol of the Fruit Harvest. The apple figures significantly in many sacred traditions. It is a symbol for life and immortality, for healing, renewal, regeneration and wholeness. It is associated with beauty, long life and restored youth.
The Ogham name for apple is Quert and Quert is the epitome of health and vitality. The apple is at the heart of the Ogham grove and is the source of life.
For Pagans, the apple contains a ‘secret’. Cut an apple width ways and it reveals a pentagram containing seeds. It is a much loved symbol of Paganism. The five points represent the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water with Spirit at the top, and thus also the directions of East, South, West, North and Within.
A circle around the pentagram represents the eternal circle/cycle of life and nature, and of wholeness. In ritual and ceremony the pentacle corresponds to the element of Earth. It has long been believed to be a protection against evil for both the person and the home, worn as an amulet or used to guard entrances to the home through windows and doors. So it has a modern day threefold function: as a mark or sign of being a Pagan, as the element of Earth in ritual, and as a powerful protector.
Colours of Mabon
The Mabon Altar
Your altar should be dressed in the very best produce you can find from field, forest and market, from garden and the wild. Apples, pears, damsons, sloes, rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries, the possibilities are large. If you collect from the wild, be not greedy – always leave plenty of fruit and berries for the birds and wee creatures.
This is a very good time to make an outdoor shrine for the nature spirits in thanks for the bounty they help to provide. Leave one of each flower, fruit and vegetable that you have, as a gift.