Mabon is the Autumn Equinox, a time of equilibrium. Day and night are equal, but we are moving towards the dark phase. Whilst the Spring Equinox manifests the equilibrium before action, the Autumnal Equinox represents the repose after action, the time to take satisfaction in the work of the summer and reap its benefits.
Mabon marks the second of the harvest festivals with the fruit being gathered in and the end of the grain harvest; it is a time for thanksgiving and time to prepare for the onset of dark nights and winter chill. We celebrate the abundance of the earth, and make wine from the excess fruit, to preserve the richness of the fruits of the earth to give us joy throughout the year. It is the mating season for deer, and marks the beginning of the hunting season in many places.
The Welsh name Mabon means “great son” and refers to the Son of the Great Mother. This Celtic mythological figure, who has many names and figures in many tales, was identified by the Romans as Mercury or sometimes as Apollo. In Christian Britain he was superseded by St. Michael, to whom churches on many sacred Pagan sites were dedicated, and the Fall Equinox became the Christian feast of Michaelmas.
The God, Lord of the Greenwood in the summer and the Corn King at Lughnasadh now dances his last dance upon the earth as the God of wine, music and dance, leading a wild phantom chase through the forest, heralding confusion and change before making his descent to the underworld to take up his role as Dread Lord of Shadows. The wine will remind us of his power throughout the year. The leaves falling from the trees and rotting into the earth are a reflection of the Horned God’s journey from the Greenwood to the underworld, deep into the womb of the Mother, where He will reside until He begins to emerge with the new green shoots in the spring.
The Autumn Equinox has also been identified as the “assumption of the Crone,” when the dark face of the Goddess assumes the sway over the world which She will hold until the return of the Maiden at Imbolc. Although the harvested grain is associated with the sacrificed God, the last sheaf of the harvest actually tended more often to be personified as female. It was referred to as the Cailleach (Irish Gaelic for “harvest hag,” pronounced “coy-luck,” more or less), or in English as the “maiden,” the “shorn maiden,” the “ivy bride,” or the “wheat girl.”
This Equinox is also associated with the classical myth of Demeter and Persephone. Persephone was abducted by Hades at this time of the year, and September was the time of the Eleusinian mysteries in ancient Greece, during which the initiate was said to have been shown a single ear of grain with the words “In silence is the seed of wisdom gained”.
Mabon is a time to take stock of what we have harvested, marshal our resources for future months, and consider the balance in ourselves, our male to female, dark to light.
Alternate names: Autumn Equinox, Fall Equinox, The Second Harvest,
Druidic name: Aban Elfed, Mea’n Fo’mhair
Christian Equivalent: Michaelmas
Here is a guided meditation honouring Mabon.
Relax your body, breathing quietly. Feel each part of your body letting go. When you are completely relaxed concentrate on your breathing for a few minutes.
Go within your breath.
Here you find yourself in a summer wood. There is a well-used path at your feet. You follow this path, enjoying the calls of the lark and robin. You see a clearing in the trees up ahead. In it you find a meadow full of summer flowers. There is a coolness in the air, a sense of being on the cusp of change. Perhaps the leaves in one or two trees have flared bright yellow or orange.
You notice a young girl picking flowers in the meadow. She is beautiful. She has a garland of summer flowers in her hair. She seems familiar to you.
You realize she is no young girl. She is Persephone, part-time Queen of the Underworld. This is the meadow where Hades first found her and tore her from the bosom of her Mother, the Earth. It is almost time for her to go underground for another winter.
Go to her. She has something to say to you…
From here let the meditation take you where it will. Enjoy!
Check the Mabon Ritual page, Mabon incense blends and Mabon recipe pages for more ideas.