Mabon is a pagan harvest festival which is celebrated on the Autumnal Equinox each year – around September 21st through September 24th. Also known as Harvest Home, this holiday marks the middle of the harvest cycle – when both the days and nights are of equal length. It is a time to reap what you sow, a time to give thanks to Mother Earth for the bounty she provides and a time to rest after bringing in the crops. It is also the second holiday on the Wheel of the Year, which includes other harvest festivals such as Lammas and Samhain.
History of Mabon
Although there had been a variety of different harvest festivals all over the world and all through time, the Wheel of the Year is somewhat of a modern creation that uses traditional pagan imagery. In the past, pagan traditions have always observed equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days. That’s because they were important for agricultural purposes and were, therefore, important to a society’s survival. However, none of them have used as many as the modern Wheel of the Year. It combines several different sacred times from many different cultures.
The modern Wheel of the Year can be attributed to British Paganism that influenced the eight-armed Wheel. During the mid-twentieth century, several different covens and druid practices began to use the Wheel of the Year for their celebrations. Later on, the Wiccan movement began to exert its influence on the Wheel – which is why many of the names for the various celebrations are from Germanic or Celtic traditions.
In modern pagan cosmology, all things in this life are considered to be on a cyclical trajectory and an endless cycle of birth and death. Things are born, they grow and then they die – only to be once again, reborn. Each point on this wheel has a particular significance according to paganism. On the Wheel of the Year, there are 8 points which represent equinoxes, solstices, or cross-quarter days on the lunar calendar. These points are Yule (December 20th-23rd), Imbolc (February 2nd), Ostara (March 19th-22nd), Beltane (May 1st), Midsummer (June 19th-23rd), Lughnasadh (August 1st), Mabon (September 21st-24th) and Samhain (November 1st).
According to modern pagan tradition, Mabon is named after a Welsh deity. Mabon was considered to be the god of light and the son of the Earth Mother named Modron. However, some historians dispute that Mabon was ever actually worshiped by Celtic countries and believe that it is merely a construction of the modern pagan movement sometime between the 1950s and 1970s.
Mabon Customs & Celebrations
Mabon is often celebrated by the Wiccan community by incorporating the symbols and colors of this harvest holiday into their day. Some of the symbols of Mabon includes horns of plenty, ivy vines, pine cones, gourds, apples, dried seed and pomegranates. Some of the colors associated with this holiday include Orange, brown, gold, maroon and red.
Many Wiccans and other pagan groups choose to have a huge harvest feast on this day using foods symbolic of the holiday. Some of the foods that may be served include apples and pomegranates, potatoes, onions, carrots and squash. These foods may, or may not, depending on tradition, be seasoned or severed with herbs of the god Mabon which includes rose, thistle, honeysuckle, ferns, and acorns.
Many neo-pagans will also build an altar to Mabon on this day. This altar is usually on a table or some other suitable surface and contains many of the symbols and colors of the harvest holiday. It can also be adorned with various farming implements which may include hand trowels, baskets or scythes. Usually, an orange or yellow candle is lit on this altar and then a prayer is offered to the Goddess Mother or Green Man.
Other things to do on Mabon include practicing apple magic, going for long walks in the woods, listening to music and spending time with friends and family. It is also a good day to practice arts and crafts – particularly ones that utilize harvest symbols such as corn, corn silk or acorns.