What Is Mabon?
The Autumnal Equinox, known by most pagan practitioners as Mabon, is the point of time in the cycle of a year that occurs toward the end of September. While many who aren’t pagan know it as the autumn equinox, pagans of all kinds will refer to it as ‘the second harvest’, or by its pagan name of Mabon. To understand the concept of the second harvest, it’s important to know that there are three harvests – Lughnasadh, Mabon and Samhain, held in August, September and October respectively.
Mabon is one of the most exciting times in the pagan Wheel of the Year. It’s not quite cold enough yet to be uncomfortable, but the signs are there that lead us to know that the earth is beginning to slow down even more than we saw at Lughnasadh, instilling in us the knowledge that soon the earth will sleep and regenerate, just as we do every night when we go to bed. The idea of regeneration and rebirth is strong in paganism, and as a result, Mabon is celebrated as one of the festivals where the earth begins to die into the winter only to be reborn again into spring.
To further understand the importance of Mabon and its role in not just our lives, but in the life cycle of our planet, this blog will take you through some of the aspects of this holy Sabbat including how you can celebrate it yourself, rituals to include as well as correspondences to use so you can begin incorporating the magic of this season into your life.
The History Of Mabon
The name ‘Mabon’ is actually derived from Mabon ap Modron, a character in Welsh mythology. Mabon ap Modron was one of the main crusaders in King Arthur’s war band and as a result was a prominent figure throughout much of the books of Welsh lore. Prior to this though, pagan practitioners throughout time – from the earliest to more recent – celebrated Mabon as the second harvest of the season. The harvests correspond with which crops are ready to be taken from the earth, processed and either consumed or preserved for use throughout the winter months. Vegetables and fruits like onions, apples, courgettes, tomatoes and some berries are the types of things that would be harvested at this time, with more root vegetables like beets, pumpkins, gourds and the like harvested near Samhain.
Due to the fact there are many different crops to harvest around this time, ancient people tended to celebrate a form of Thanksgiving around Mabon with communal feasts and rituals or prayers designed to thank the earth gods for the bountiful harvests, creating good relationships with them to help survive the cold winter months ahead. In this sense, Mabon became something of an ancient form of Thanksgiving, and continues to be celebrated as such in a number of Celtic and Germanic nations even today.
Deities Associated With Mabon
There are many deities associated with Mabon, usually specifically harvest or crop-based deities. In many pantheons across the world, deities of this nature exist – whether from very ancient Assyrian or Mesopotamian deities, all the way up to relatively more recent deities from areas such as Celtic or Greek pantheons. That being said, many of these deities are ancient in their own ways and come from various areas around the world. A few of these deities include the following:
Persephone was the beautiful maiden daughter of Demeter, the earth goddess of the ancient Greeks. Hades, lord of the Greek Underworld wanted Persephone as his queen and kidnapped her and took her to his realm. Demeter, so overcome by grief, stopped tending to the earth and it fell into disrepair and death. Meanwhile in the Underworld, Hades managed to trick Persephone into eating some pomegranate seeds, which, unbeknownst to her, was actually food of the Underworld, which tied her to it forever. The rest of the Gods became upset at the state of the earth and intervened in the situation, helping Demeter and Hades come to an agreement over the sharing of Persephone’s company. Half the year would be with Hades, and half the year would be with Demeter. This is what became known as the Greek myth relating to winter and summer.
A personification of the crop barley, John Barleycorn is believed to be tied in with the Anglo-Saxon figure of Beowa, something of a deity that was associated with agriculture and farming. As a result, John Barleycorn became a deity associated with harvests and the harvest season.
Dionysus is the Roman god of festivities, wine, and harvests. Usually depicted as an older god with a beard or a somewhat effeminate younger god, Dionysus promises good times, feasts, frivolity and essentially, a great party. Festivities and celebrations are definitely the name of the game when it comes to Dionysus, so call on him when you want to ensure your feasts and celebrations go off without a hitch.
What Foods Are Associated With Mabon
With the second harvest, many different dishes are made available. Various fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains are foods associated with Mabon. Bake berries and apples into pies or cakes and serve with dishes of grilled carrots, mashed potatoes, corn and other recently harvested goodies. Bake breads with recently harvested grains and add seeds for that extra flavour, texture and bit of nutrition. Wine, ciders and ales are appropriate drinks at this time, and it’s a great way to give thanks an honour the earth by making your own wine or mead.
There are a number of different correspondences that are associated with Mabon, and it’s always a great idea to find your own correspondences that speak to you. Here is a short list of a few correspondences that you can work with to bring the magic of Mabon into your home:
Colours: Yellow, reds, orange, maroon or brown. Any fall or autumn colours
Deities: Sky God, Wickerman, Dionysus, Hermes, Thoth, Morgan, Epona, Demeter, Persephone, Modron, wine and harvest deities.
Herbs: Rue, yarrow, wheat, oak leaves, dried apple seeds, apples, rosemary, mistletoe, sunflower, sage, marigold and more.
Animals: Stag, owls, wolves, eagles, dogs and goats. Horses as well due to their association with farming and harvests
Crystals or stones: Garnet, citrine, amber, yellow topaz, carnelian, peridot and clear quartz
Incense: Myrrh, frankincense, pine, sage, patchouli and black pepper.
Mabon Ritual Ideas
Honor the season with an appropriate Mabon inspired ritual that can be as simple or elaborate as you like:
- Make corn dollies from dried corn husks and place around the home to honor the season. You can bless them in a ritual to help offer protection and prosperity in the coming winter months.
- Make offerings to the earth using the best of your vegetables or herbs.
- Cook a meal of harvest thanks and share with friends.
- Take apples and other offerings to graveyard for ancestor blessings.Prepare for the winter by canning and preserving vegetables and fruits through pickling or making jams.
Mabon is a season of great excitement and joy. The summer’s work is coming to an end and it’s time to begin turning into ourselves to rest and focus on introspection through the month to evaluate what went well and what didn’t. It’s time to begin preparing for winter in your own way, however you and your family need.
If you enjoyed this post about Mabon, stay tuned for our upcoming blog about Samhain, also known as the Witches New Year.