Symbolism of Mabon:
This is a gorgeous season. Nature is a blaze of color and everything seems to come into balance. Night and day are again equal. There is a bountiful harvest to be thankful for, yet we must plan for the sparse times ahead. This is a time of generosity and conservation. So, how do you share these values with your children? You can plan Mabon activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Mabon (also Harvest Home, Alban Elfed or Winter Finding) is celebrated at the Autumnal Equinox. This is the second harvest festival of the year, that of fruits and vegetables. Mabon is the Welsh God of all things wild and free. He is also associated with the Sun God whose power dies on this day. Mabon is a Celtic god who was stolen from his mother three days after his birth and locked away till he was a man. His name was Mabon, son of Modron, which translated means “Son, son of the Mother”. Mabon was also known as the Son of Light. He was the god of liberation, harmony, music and unity.
The story has very ancient origins and much of it has been lost. The version which has come down to us tells of, Kyllwch, one of King Arthur’s knights, finding and freeing Mabon as a step toward fulfilling one of the conditions for his betrothal to the fair Olwen. Through the intervention of the Stag, Blackbird, Owl, Eagle and Salmon — the ancient Celtic symbols of wisdom– Mabon is freed from his mysterious captivity and Kyllwch wins Olwen.
The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth. The God goes into the underworld at Mabon. In the Greek religion, Persephone (daughter of Demeter) now returns to the underworld to be with Hades for six months. Demeter, still angry about this choice of Persephone, and trickery by Hades, causes the world to grow cold, plants to die, and darkness (Winter) to descend on the earth.
We also give thanks to the spirit of vegetation for the sacrifice made so that we can live through the winter. The Goddess at this Sabbat is the grandmotherly crone, warm and wise.
The Wheel has turned and for this single day the hours of daylight and darkness are once again equal.
“Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!”
– Night An’Fey, Transformation of Energy
The air is cooler and the harvest of fruits and vegetables means that we are busy canning, pickling, drying and bottling the bounties of orchard and garden.
Life seems to slow down. This is often a time of reflection and re-establishment of routines that may have slipped during the heat of the summer. We pull out the boxes of winter clothing and realize how much our children have grown when clothing that fit them just a few months ago is far too short and tight.
Mabon marks the end of the corn harvest which started with Lughnasadh. It is the time of the apple harvest. For our ancestors, apples were the fruit that sustained them through the winter. Apples themselves and the cider which was pressed from them were an important part of the diet.
All harvest symbols, corn, autumn flowers, red poppies, nuts, grains, leaves, acorns, pine and cypress cones, oak sprigs, wreaths, vine, grapes, cornucopia, horns of plenty, burial cairns, apples, marigolds, harvested crops, wine, gourds.
Orange, Dark Red, Yellow, Indigo, Maroon and Brown.
Modron (Welsh), Bona Dea, Harvest Dieties, Persephone, Demeter/Ceres, Morgan(Welsh- Cornish), Snake Woman (Aboriginal), Epona (Celtic-Gaulish), Pamona (Roman), the Muses (Greek).
Mabon, Modron (Welsh), Sky Father, John Barleycorn , the Wicker-Man, the Corn Man, Thoth (Egyptian), Hermes, Hotei (Japanese), Thor, Dionysus (Roman), Bacchus (Greek) and all wine Deities.
Acorns, pinecones, autumn leaves, pomegranate, statue of the Triple Goddess in her Mother phase. Decorate the table with colorful autumn leaves in a basket. Display the fruits of the harvest – corn, gourds, nuts, grapes, apples – preferably in a cornucopia. Or decorate with wildflowers, acorns, nuts, berries, cocoons, anything that represents the harvest to you. Use ribbons of gold and yellow to bring in the energy of the Sun, and decorate with sprigs of dried yarrow or cinnamon sticks. After ritual, leave any edible decorations (herbs, sunflowers, acorns, corn, and so on) outdoors for the wildlife to enjoy.
Rue, yarrow, rosemary, marigold, sage, walnut leaves and husks, mistletoe, saffron, chamomile, almond leaves, passionflower, frankincense, rose hips, bittersweet, sunflower, wheat, oak leaves, dried apple or apple seeds.
Traditionally a Wiccan would use a boline, white handled ritual knife used for cutting. But really any knife will do as well. You will also need a basket or other similar thing to put the herbs in as you gather them.
In respect you should say a small prayer to the spirit of the plant that you are harvesting. For example, it can be as simple as the following:
Spirit of (name of plant that you are harvesting)
I ask of you to give a part of yourself to me
For aid in my medicine or magick
You should also only take what you need and only take a little from each plant, so that the individual plant does not suffer or die.
Like its sister equinox, halfway across the Wheel of the Year, the Autumn Equinox is a good occasion for a ritual feast. Plan a meal that uses seasonal and symbolic fruits and vegetables. You can serve bread, squash, corn, apples, cider and wine. Make some homemade wine or cordial. Cornbread, wheat products, grains, berries, nuts, grapes, acorns, seeds, dried fruits, beans, squash, roots (ie onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), hops, pomegranates, roast goose or mutton. Traditionally Sabbat festivals begin at sun set on the eve of the Holiday. You can use the daytime hours of this holiday eve to prepare baskets for harvesting the next day. Baking a pumpkin pie (from scratch if possible) is a wonderful way to bring in the fragrance of the holiday season.
Dogs, wolves, stag, blackbird, owl, eagle, birds of prey, salmon & goat, Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaur, Cyclops, Andamans and Gulons.
Pine, sweetgrass, apple blossom, benzoin, myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, sage wood aloes, black pepper, patchouly, cinnamon, clove, oak moss
During Mabon, stones ruled by the Sun will help bring the Sun’s energy to you. Clear quartz, amber, peridot, diamond, gold, citrine, yellow topaz, cat’s-eye, adventurine.
Offerings to land, preparing for cold weather by bringing in harvest, cutting willow wands (Druidic), leaving apples upon burial cairns & graves as a token of honor, walks in forests, gather seed pods & dried plants, fermenting grapes to make wine, picking ripe produce, stalk bundling
Protection, prosperity, security, and self- confidence. Also those of harmony and balance.
Taboos: It was considered unlucky to cut down the very last of the Harvest, and so was also left to stand in the field by some traditions.