Mabon, The Second Harvest
As the day and night come to rest in equilibrium, the Northern folk bid farewell to the Green Man, the God of the Green Forests and Fields. It is the beginning of fall and rich warm spices have been cultivated for the second harvest festival, Mabon. As the fragrant smells of baking gourds and pies, curing meats and roasting nuts fill our being, we welcome the fall breezes after the harsh summer has worn us weary. Our hard work and labor can be seen and shared in the abundance of the food we have made.
Honoring the Crone Goddess
In Welsh meaning “Great Son”, Mabon is the time when we have completed harvesting our crops and we take refuge in balance and harmony. Autumn equinox, an astronomical event which occurs around August 21st, is celebrated by many European cultures as a time to give thanks to the God for the bounty of the land and to bring in the Dark aspect of the Goddess, the Crone. The inference of Dark does not relate to evil but to the coming dark months of winter and so Fall is associated with this phase of the triple Goddess through embracing deities such as Persephone, Hekate and Morrigan, the triple Goddess in Crone form. From this moment of the September Equinox, the days grow shorter until the moment of the Winter Equinox, Yule, when we celebrate the birth/rebirth of the God and the lengthening of the amount of sun in our days.
Beauty and Harmony
Harmony being the energy of this equinox, it is more subtle and without as much fanfare as the other Celtic sabbats. However, as in all the eight sabbats, a great community feast is the focal point of the celebration. Especially important is the feeding of those who are in need or have been less fortunate in their yields. Communities are busy preparing their harvests by way of drying, curing and pickling. Grains have been continuously stored and the fields are now mostly barren. The orchards are being plucked til empty and trees start showing signs of hibernation. The sheep are sheared and wool will be turned into yarn over the next few months.
The Vivid Colors of Abundance
Altars erected at the Fall Equinox are meant purposefully for thankfulness and reflection. These altars, with their harvest colors: reds, oranges, yellows, purples and browns remind us that winter is on its way. This is the knowing of the cornucopia and the concepts of abundance and giving. Tables for the feast would be set with greatly ornamented handcrafted horns called cornucopias or horns of plenty, weaved from various flowers, vines and straw, and filled with the fruits of the people’s labors, literally. All foods harvested, especially gourds, were lovingly displayed as a way to appreciate all the work done. Along with colorful gourds and fruits, sheaths of wheat, corn stalks, colorful leaves and acorns also adorn the cornucopias.
Ritualistic ceremonies to honor the sacrifice of the herds, the fields and the trees were performed with reverence and care. Such activities as creating besoms, magical brooms meant to protect the household, and circles made from gourds to create a protected space, were traditional practices as well. In Scotland, the last sheaf of the grain was preserved for cutting at the fall sabbat and was to be cut by the youngest female in attendance.
This is the time of year to create wonderful incense to last the year through. Many dried flowers and resins harvested at this time made for wonderfully smelling ritualistic incense. The list of ingredients include Pine, sage, sweetgrass, myrhh, marigold, fern, frankincense, rue, yarrow, rosemary, saffron, chamomile, passionflower, rose hips, bittersweet, sunflower, wheat, oak leaves and dried apples. Surely with all these wonderful ingredients we can fill our homes and adorn our hearths until spring, warming our hearts and reminding us that winter, too, shall pass.
Kim Anderberg, for Kheops International
The Wheel of the Year, by Pauline Camponelli
The Grandmother of Time, Zsuzsanna E. Budapest