Mabon (September 21)

The Autumn equinox usually falls on September 21/22. It is the day when equality prevails (day-night, the Goddess-the God etc.), but in contrast to the Spring equinox which symbolizes strength and new beginnings, this equinox is a time for rest after a period of hard work. Also, the Sun enters the sign of the Libra, which is an obvious symbol of balance.

The restful characteristic of this period is visible in everyday life because this is the time after sowing and gathering all of the fruits of your labor when man can finally afford to put his feet up. But, Winter has not yet begun and the Sun is still with us, but its disappearance will be acknowledged about a week after this festival on Michaelmas (the celebration of the archangel Michael who is associated with fire and light).

Periods of change such as this often bring with them a certain dose of uneasiness and stress (as is common with any change), but don't worry because this will also pass.

If we wre to look at Robert Graves' calendar, we would see that this celebration is on the verge of the month of the Vine and the Ivy month; the only two plants in this calendar that grow spirally (the spiral is a symbol of reincarnation). An important symbol of this month is the swan (or its more domestic variant, the wild duck) who is also a symbol of the immortality of the soul.

While Lammas/Lughnasadh represented the ending of the harvest period, the Autumn equinox represents its actual completion and gratitude for the fruits of our hard work with a strong emphasis on the wish for the land to be equally fruitful next year.

In ancient Greece, this was the time of the Elusinian mysteries (the celebration of Demetre and her daughter Persephone and with them of the grain yield). We don't know much about these traditions since the initiates managed to keep quite a lot of it secret over the ages, but what we do know is that, during the initiation, the initiates were given a single ear of corn with the words: "In silence is the seed of wisdom gained.". I'll leave it to you to figure out its meaning ;)

You can guess that a common decoration for this celebration is corn and wheat (and other wheat-like plants) because of their symbolical meanings which date back all the way to the Elusinian mysteries (as explained in the previous paragraph). Other decorations include pine cones, blackberries (which is an ok replacement for wheat), Autumn flowers and leaves. An excellent ambient can be achieved using myrtle and sage (which is always great for cleansing the circle) for incense and decorating using Autumn colors (brown, red, orange, yellow and indigo).

If you usually eat and drink (take the cakes and wine) after your ritual, a good choice of food would be any sort of grain/cereal or cornbread. A simpler alternative would be an apple (which obviously isn't a type of grain but it is an Autumn fruit). A good idea would be to cover this food with any cloth since this was the tradition back in Elysium when the ear of corn (or its symbol) would be covered before the ritual, and uncovered when necessary.

So, if you plan do write your own ritual for Mabon, I recommend starting from the decorations. For examples, your quarter candles can be in Autumn colors in stead of the usual ones and you can put some pine cones or dried leaves/flowers on your altar and around the circle. If this is a bit too untidy for you, then you can choose a cloth of an appropriate color to cover your altar. In the end, it's the intention that counts. When you do your ritual, keep in mind that you are celebrating Autumn! Show gratitude for the food you have and for the fertility of the land which made this possible. Say goodbye to the Sun until Spring and show respect to the God who will soon (or more precisely on Samhain) leave for the Summerlands where will await to be reborn into yet another cycle. Celebrate the equality of day and night and any other form of equality you can think of or find important. If you believe in the immortality of the soul, now is the time to meditate on this and be thankful for it.

An example of a Mabon altar (not mine
Of course, not everything has to be so serious. A wonderful game which is great for both Mabon and Imbolc (February 2) is the candle game. More people are needed for this but here it goes anyway. The men sit in a circle separated so they can easily touch each others' arms. The women stand outside the circle. The men have to pass a burning candle in the circle and keep it burning while the women (without entering the circle) have to try to blow it out. The woman that succeeds in this has the right to "nip" the man a few times (traditionally, this is done using some sort of twig, rod, wicker or ritual cords, but I would recommend pinchip or something like this). In return, he gives her the Fivefold kiss. The game can then continue if everyone feels like it and if not....then let the real party begin! :D

As a small present, I give you the Celtic tree calendar that I mentioned earlier :)

BIRCH: Beth, December 24 – January 20 
ROWAN: Luis, January 21 – February 17
ASH: Nion, February 18 – March 17
ALDER: Fearn, March 18 – April 14 
WILLOW: Saille, April 15 – May 12
HAWTHORN: Uath, May 13 – June 9 
OAK: Duir, June 10 – July 7
HOLLY: Tinne, July 8 – August 4
HAZEL: Coll, August 5 – September 1
VINE: Muin, September 2 – September 29
IVY: Gort, September 30 – October 27
REED: Ngetal, October 28 – November 24 
ELDER: Ruis, November 25 – December 22

Along with this, I should explain the Ogham alphabet a bit. Namely, this old Druid alphabet was used
for divination and magick. The alphabetical symbols were engraved into wooden sticks which would then be thrown to get a reading. Each letter represents one tree (most often than not, this is the first letter of the Celtic name for that tree as you can see above). The symbols for each tree can be seen in the picture of the wheel.

It is obvious that trees played a big role in the lives of the Druids and it is possible that even the word druid itself came from the Old Celtic word for oak; derwydd or duirwydd.

December 23 doesn't have a corresponding tree because of tradition which states this is that one day in the period of a year and one day.

The other letters of the alphabet can be connected to other types of trees or woody plants (that don't have their own month) or with the Elements. But you can look into this in more detail by yourselves ;)

I hope that this post gave you some new information that you will find useful in your rituals, but also in life in general. Let me know if all went well! :D

Sabbat: Mabon
Date: September 21
Other names: The Autumn equinox
Phase of the God: Withering (the Oak King)
Phase of the
The Crone
Symbolism: The second harvest, mysteries,
saying goodbye to the Sun,
celebrating balance
Glorification of fruit (the love
of the God and the Goddess),
throwing leaves, the candle game
Symbols and
Orange, dark red, yellow, indigo,
brown, pine cones, Autumn
flowers and leaves, corn
Appropriate food: Apples, cornbread, anyting made
of corn or wheat
"Witches' fingers"
Apple pancakes
Dark mother bread with honey
Apple strudel
Myrtle, sage

I wish you a merry Mabon and a successful ritual! :D
Blessed Be! Yours,
Witch's Cat

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