As summer draws to close we celebrate the 2nd harvest festival of the year-Mabon which falls between the 20th and 22nd of September.
Mabon is the Modern name for Autumn Equinox the opposite of Ostara when light and dark is in balance before tipping over. A time for reflection and gratitude. As the Harvest season begins to come to a close we look back on our achievements; the seeds we planted in the spring physically and spiritually. Where we have ‘reaped what we have sown’. Have you achieved what you set out to? What could have been done better? Now is a time for completion, reflection and preparation. The name Mabon actually comes from Welsh mythology. Mabon is the son of Mother Earth, the child of light.
It is also (like all harvest festivals) when we must prepare for winter. Like spring cleaning, Mabon is also a good time to ready your home and mind, releasing what will not serve you through the Cauldron time of winter, working hard now so you can rest in waiting of the fresh spring. We share the bounty available to us and cast off what we don’t need being sure to leave plenty for others.
We see this around us in the berries and nuts now ready to gather and store (one word JAM!) so we have enough to eat. Yes, we have supermarkets and non seasonal food available all year round. But it wasn’t always so. For our ancestors, failure to put the work in now would mean a very lean winter. The Feast held at Mabon was/is important as it could be the last chance to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. The hard work of pickling, drying and concocting would be done as a group. Many things would have been swapped and shared. The community would come together to give thanks for all we have received during the growing season and prepare ourselves mentally for what is to come.
One pagan tradition which isn’t observed much anymore (maybe if you’re a farmer) is the reaping and celebrating of the last sheaf of the harvest. Believed to have stored the spirit of harvest e.g the Horned God, John Barleycorn, The Green Man. This ritual is to honour the Death part of the life, death, rebirth cycle. It was given many names the mare, neck or kern baby are some. In the Hebrides it is called the Caillech (the hag) as she has come and brought the winter. Offerings and gifts are left to welcome her.
In modern times we see this tradition being shown through the making of a corn or wheat ‘dolly’. where a figure is made by bending, wrapping and dressing a sheaf to bring wealth and fertility to your home and hearth. Often placed upon altars and taken out and given back to the land in spring.
To Make Merry
I find this time very busy, foraging, pickling, storing and cooking. Crumbles are great this time of year if like me the idea of baking a Mabon cake is terrifying. The aim is to celebrate and give thanks for the bounty of Summer. By doing so we honour the sacrifice given so life may be sustained in us and reborn next spring. Many communities still celebrate by holding a Harvest feast. This can be done with friends and family each bringing something to share and something to donate either to charity or as offerings to nature. This can be also be done alone in the form of a sacred funeral (you can find full details of that here)
Some traditional practices are:
- Going for a foraging walk, leaving offerings for the spirits of the greenwood.
- Decorate with Orange, Red and Green ribbons, candles clothing etc
- Bake a cake or bread to share, leaving some outside too.
- Visit an orchard and connect with the Apple tree’s; many villages still hold wassail and make cider to share.
- Meet with friends and have a bonfire, discuss and celebrate all that has been achieved this year and the coming transformation.
- Make birdseed balls to leave out
- Ground yourself under a tree and connect with the spirits of the greenwood
It is a time make all of the things needed to stave off winter bugs like elderberry syrup and fire cider. I like to sort through my clothes, packing away the summer clothes and finding all my cozy jumpers and slipper socks. I give any clothes I no longer need to charity, being a Goth, this time of year is great for me to clear out, Halloween celebrations are just around the corner after all.
I also use this time to actively reflect, journaling and divining where my success and downfalls lie and really focus on all lessons. I clear and redress my altar with nuts, seeds and apples, reds and oranges. I give thanks for all I have been given and ask for nothing at this time. I have work to do. I work now so I can rest and regather later. I cleanse my home and hearth, sweeping and smoke cleansing to clear out old energies.
I usually mull everything from now until February and can be heard shouting “MULL ALL THE THINGS!” often. However it’s still so warm this year. I haven’t felt the need to make anything warm to drink yet. The leaves are just showing a peek of turning and the nights are drawing in so I’ll use this time to forage and graft.
For a more in depth exploration and full rituals and spells you can practice at this time to connect with and honour nature have a look at my Mabon Rituals post.
What traditions do you have in your home? Are there any recipes you particularly enjoy at this time? Hit me up in the comments below.
Merry Mabon! Peace out witches ✌
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Love Kate xxx