Mabon is one of the eight solar holidays or sabbats of American Neopaganism. It is celebrated on the autumn equinox, which in the northern hemisphere is circa September 21 and in the southern hemisphere is circa March 21. Also called Harvest Home, this holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas and followed by Samhain.
Mabon was not an authentic ancient festival either in name or date. The autumn equinox was not celebrated in Celtic countries, while all that is known about Anglo-Saxon customs of that time was that September was known as haleg-monath or ‘holy month’.
The name Mabon has only been applied to the neopagan festival of the autumn equinox very recently; the term was invented by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious studies project. (The use of Litha for the Summer Solstice is also attributed to Kelly). Previously, in Gardnerian Wicca the festival was simply known as the ‘Autumnal Equinox’, and many neopagans still refer to it as such, or use alternative titles such as the neo-Druidical Aban Efed, a term invented by Iolo Morgannwg. The name Mabon was chosen to impart a more authentic-sounding “Celtic” feel to the event, since all the other festivals either had names deriving from genuine tradition, or had had names grafted on to them. The Spring Equinox had already been misleadingly termed ‘Ostara’, and so only the Autumn Equinox was left with a technical rather than an evocative title. Accordingly, the name Mabon was given to it, having been drawn (seemingly at random) from Welsh mythology. The use of the name Mabon is much more prevalent in America than Britain, where many neopagans are scornfully dismissive of it as a blatantly inauthentic practice. The increasing number of American Neopagan publications sold in Britain by such publishers as Llewellyn has however resulted in some British neopagans adopting the term.
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. Various other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter’s Night, which is the Norse New Year.
At this festival it is appropriate to wear all of your finery and dine and celebrate in a lavish setting. It is the drawing to and of family as we prepare for the winding down of the year at Samhain. It is a time to finish old business as we ready for a period of rest, relaxation, and reflection. Other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter’s Night, which is the Norse New Year.
Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life. There are those who believe the equinox solar affect produces a reduction in the magnetic field of the Earth, providing easier access to other dimensions beginning around 24 hours before, and ending around 24 hours after the exact Equinox point.
Doorways or thresholds into the mysteries are more easily accessed during equinoxes and when we consciously engage this timing we are taking advantage of the opportunity to further activate our own experience of these sacred timings and what they have to offer us. This is a great time to be on the land, in a power spot that calls to you, whether that is in a forest, near a body of water, on a mountain, in a sacred site or in your back yard. What is important is to create the time and space that supports a direct experience of the mysteries that are ready to reveal themselves to you.
Symbolism of Mabon: Second Harvest, the Mysteries, Equality and Balance. Symbols of Mabon: wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, and horns of plenty. Herbs of Mabon: Acorn, benzoin, ferns, grains, honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, myrrh, passion flower, rose, sage, solomon’s seal, tobacco, thistle, and vegetables. Foods of Mabon: Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Incense of Mabon: Autumn Blend-benzoin, myrrh, and sage. Colors of Mabon: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold. Stones of Mabon: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, and yellow agates. Activities of Mabon: Making wine, gathering dried herbs, plants, seeds and seed pods, walking in the woods, scattering offerings in harvested fields, offering libations to trees, adorning burial sites with leaves, acorns, and pine cones to honor those who have passed over. Spellworkings of Mabon: Protection, prosperity, security, and self-confidence. Also those of harmony and balance. Deities of Mabon: Goddesses: Modron, Morgan, Epona, Persephone, Demeter, Pamona and the Muses. Gods: Thoth, Thor, Hermes, and The Green Man.