Mabon (pronounced MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon, or MAH-bawn) marks the Second Harvest, the end of the grain harvest (which begun at Lughnasadh), and rests on the Autumn Equinox. The Equinox mirrors dwindling of life (and eventual progression to rebirth), as well as the struggle for balance; day and night are equal for a single day.
- Celebrated with wine, apples, garlands, gourds and cornucopias.
- With decorations of orange, russet and maroon.
- Honoring the aging Gods and Harvest deities.
Various other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia.
Mabon is a celebration of life and death, and giving of life again, the cycle of the seasons. Mabon is a time to enjoy the fruits of a hard year’s labor, to stock up for the long winter. No matter how you celebrate Mabon, or how it came about, or whatever it’s true name may be, it is important to know that Mabon a time for giving thanks.
At the Autumn Equinox we all take a moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We also give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year’s crops.
During this festival it is appropriate to wear all of your finery and dine and celebrate in a lavish setting. It is the drawing to and of family as we prepare for the winding down of the year at Samhain. It is a time to finish old business as we ready for a period of rest, relaxation, and reflection.
The pagans of antiquity didn’t have the ability to determine astrological positions as we do today. The European peasantry, therefore, celebrated this Sabbat on September 25th; actually, the Celts marked their days from sundown to sundown, so the Mabon celebration actually started on the sundown of our September 24th. Today, with the help of our technology, we can calculate the exact day of the Equinox; the date when the sun enters the sign of Libra, the Balanced Scales, which appropriately fits the Equinox.
The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.
The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter’s Night, which is the Norse New Year.
As a holiday, Mabon represents the time of honoring the dead, visiting burial sites, giving thankfulness for the end of the harvest season and the bounty it provides. These are the themes of closing, letting go and remembering. For the year, the harvest and for those who were lost to land of Avalon during the year.
Decorations and Activities for Mabon
Activities vary with region and tradition, as well as personal preference. Some ideas include making a Sun Wheel or wreath. Also, one could mirror the Celtic tradition of dressing a corn stalk in cloths and burning it in celebration of the harvest and upcoming rebirth.
Simple altar decorations can be obtained by taking a calm “pilgrimage” through your local woods and collecting leaves, acorns, berries, and other things symbolic of nature’s bounty. Some chose to sprinkle Autumn leaves around the house and on the sides of walk ways as decoration, though this may not be convenient if one lives in the city or doesn’t enjoy the cleanup. Alternately, the changing leaves can be dipped in paraffin and put on wax paper. After the leaves dry, they may be placed around the house or in large jars with sigils of protection and/or abundance carved lightly into them.
Additional seeds and grains can be set out as offering to our fellow creatures, and provide a healthy chance for birds to join in the celebrations as well. Symbolic designs can be made out of the sprinklings if one chooses. Those less fortunate should not be omitted from the celebration. Small, meaningless (to you) packages of food and drink gifted to a homeless person will make their day!
To honor the dead, it is traditional to place apples on burial cairns as symbolism of rebirth and gratitude. This represents the promise of the Great Spirits for renewed life (a new incarnation). Furthermore, it is a time to honor the elders, who have devoted so much time and energy to your growth and development. Something special is in order for these gracious people.
Going through your personal gardens with thanks and lovingly harvesting what is ready is also appropriate. Breads may be baked in the shape of the Sun, combining fruits or vegetables and grains, incorporating both of the major aspects of this Harvest. The seeds of various plants are stored through winter for replanting, and therefore, the plant’s rebirth in the Spring. A feast for friends and family always provides a cheerful abundance of energy and thanks.
Although many view the Harvest season as a celebration of life, it is also a celebration of death. The bounty you gather from your garden provides nourishment for you, family and friends. But it is also the death of those plants and vegetables which have been harvested from that garden. Thus Mabon is a celebration of the cycle of life.
This is a Celtic festival of thanksgiving, so what a better way to give thanks than to prepare a meal with the harvest of your garden. Those that indulge in wine can brew a new batch of this home made nectar of the Gods. Those that do not indulge, can brew preserves and jellies from grapes, raspberries and blackberries. Don’t forget an apple pie for dessert.
A main course can consist of meats, most often red meats. But this is just a suggestion. In this day and age of healthy eating, you should prepare a meal that fits your personal lifestyle. However, your side dishes should consist of late summer and early fall vegetables.
During your meal, share tales and happy stories about those you lost during the year. Or share your experiences and review the lessons you feel you have learned during this past season. Reflect on your deeds and actions and give thanks for the gifts you were given.
After your meal, share the chore of cleaning up. This is a way of showing honor and respect to your host and hostess. Think of it as a physical action to show that you understand the interconnection of all life and the desire to respect what you have been given and thanks for receiving those gifts.
During the evening hours you can continue the festival with a formal holiday ritual. There are as many ways and suggestions for conducting such a ceremony as there are people on this planet.
End your evening in private reflection. It is important for anyone practicing a spiritual life to reflect on his or her actions. Record your thoughts, your emotions and your experiences. This is the true value of your book of shadows. And there is no better time to take stock of yourself and your life than during a High Holy Day.
Ritual For Mabon
This Ritual is best performed during the early evening hours, just after Sunset, as this is the time of day which corresponds to the time of year. Sweep area, starting in the North and moving deosil (clockwise or sunwise direction), with your magickal broom to cleanse the Circle area and “sweep away” any lingering negative energies. Lay out the circumference of your Circle with cord, stones, etc., as necessary.
Set up the Quarter candles (North-Green, East-Yellow, South-Red, West-Blue) and/or other items symbolizing the elements at the Four Quarters (use a compass if not permanently marked out). Set up your altar as desired, and face it to the North, covering it with the red altar cloth.
Place all of the items listed below in their proper places upon it. For this ceremony, decorate the altar with the cornucopia filled with harvest items, and whatever else feels right. In addition to your usual tools and props, upon the altar should be:
- Red or Brown Altar Cloth
- Cornucopia filled with Fruits and Vegetables of the Harvest
- A Red Apple
- Bolline or another Sharp Knife (for cutting the Apple)
- Altar Pentacle or a Plate (to cut the apple on)
- A Bell
- A Second Wand decorated with Colored Ribbons (to use in the Demeter/Persephone portion of the ritual)
- A Wicker Basket (to carry the Decorated Wand in)
- Incense – Any of the following either alone or mixed together to make an Autumn Blend: Frankincense, Aloes Wood, Jasmine, Cinnamon, Musk, Cloves, Benzoin, Myrrh, and Sage
When all is set up, take a shower or bath for purification and don your ritual robe or other ritual attire. Be sure to wear your magickal jewelry. Sit quietly and meditate for a little while – to ground and center before beginning the Ritual. When you feel ready to begin, play some quiet peaceful music for the ritual.
Cast a circle in whatever way is familiar to you. After the Circle is cast, begin the Mabon sabbath Ceremony by sitting quietly for a few moments, then say these words aloud in dedication:
“Lady Autumn, Queen of the Harvest,
I have seen You in the setting Sun,
with Your long auburn tresses
blowing in the cool air that surrounds You.
Your crown of golden leaves is jeweled
with amber, amethyst, and rubies.
Your long, flowing purple robe
stretches across the horizon.
In Your hands You hold the ripened fruits.
At Your feet the squirrels gather acorns.
Black crows perch on Your outstretched arms.
All around You the leaves are falling.
You sit upon Your throne and watch the dying fires
of the setting Sun shine forth its final colors in the sky.
The purple and orange lingers and glows
like burning embers.
Then all colors fade into the twilight.
Lady Autumn, You are here at last.
I thank You for Your rewards.
I have worked hard for these gifts.
Lady Autumn, now grant me peace and rest.”
Sit quietly again and reflect on the meaning of the Autumn Season for a little while.
When you are ready, pick up your wand and hold it in your power hand, face the North and with your arms outstretched (kneel or stand) and say:
“The Wheel of the Year turns on and on,
bringing us all to and from each Season,
and from and to another.
What will be is. What was will be.
All time is here and now in this Sacred Space.
I now pause to watch the Wheel turn
and cast this Circle on this blessed eve
to celebrate the Season of Mabon, the Autumnal Equinox –
the time of the Second Harvest.
In this moment between time,
I come to praise the bountiful aging Goddess
and Her consort, the God of the Harvest.
I wish to give thanks and feel myself
as a part of the relentlessly turning
wheel of life, death, and rebirth.
O Great God of Wine and the Harvest,
who has been known as Mabon, Dionysus, Bacchus, and Thor –
Grant me strength and understanding
throughout this season and always.
O Great Goddess of the Harvest and the Underworld,
who has been known as Demeter, Persephone, Modron, and Morgan –
Teach me the secrets of the Mysteries and the ways of magic.”
Place your wand back in its place on the altar.
Spread your hands out over the Harvest Altar and say these words:
“The time of change is upon us again –
the Equinox comes, the Wheel turns…
The Goddess and the God prepare for
Their journey to the Otherworld,
as the Earth and all of Her children
prepare for the time of quiet and
reflection that lies ahead…
May I use this Autumnal period to
seek for the strength and power within
to assist me on my own quest for
vision, feeling, and peace…
May I see and feel the presence of
the Goddess and the God within,
the Earth begins Her slumber…
Keep me in Your light…”
Lower your arms and sit quietly meditating again for a while.
When you are ready, stand at your altar facing the North and raise your arms in greeting. Say:
“Between the worlds I build this sacred altar.
Outside of time, this rite leads to the ancient way.
Where I may find Demeter of high Olympus
And conjure magic great. Be here, I say.”
Place the decorated wand in the wicker basket and carry it to the North. Say:
“Persephone returns to the Underworld.
Weep not, Earth Mother,
For the Divine Child of love is here.”
Carry the basket to the East; say:
“Persephone returns to the Underworld.
Although the Light is fading,
It shall return to the Earth.”
Take the basket to the South; say:
“Persephone returns to the Underworld.
The cold of winter comes,
But only for a short time.”
Finish by carrying the basket to the West; say:
“Persephone returns to the Underworld.
The Earth shall lie in slumber
Until the Light of this Divine Child
Once more grows in strength and shines full upon us.”
Place the basket on the floor before the altar. Ring the bell three times.
Take your bolline in your power hand and the apple in the other. Say:
“Reveal to me your hidden secrets
That I may come to understand your sacred Mysteries.”
Set the apple on the altar pentacle (or plate) and cut it crosswise (with the bolline) to reveal the pentagram in the core. Contemplate this hidden sacred symbol for several moments. Then say:
“In life is death, in death life.
All must follow the sacred dance into the cauldron,
Time after time, to die and be reborn.
Help me to remember that
Every beginning has an ending
And that every ending has a new beginning.”
Take a bite of the apple.
What is left put outside later to share with the birds.
“Holy Mother, Demeter,
Comfort and protect me in my times of tribulation.
Instruct me into the Mysteries.
You, with your daughter Persephone, have the power
To lead me to new understanding.”
Now is the time for meditation and any spellworkings you may need or desire to end your sabbath celebration. Appropriate Spellwork for Mabon include those for protection, wealth and prosperity, security and spells to bring a feeling of self-confidence. If no spellwork is to be done at this time, then proceed with the Cakes and Ale Ceremony – or whatever is your practice, followed by Releasing the Magic Circle.
Please note this ritual is based on the Northern Hemisphere correspondences of elements and their colors, and directions and so on.
Mabon (May-bawn) is also known as the Feast of Avalon and the festival of the Wine Harvest. To the Celts, Avalon is the mysterious place for the land of the dead. and literally means the “land of apples”. Thus this is a holiday for celebrating the bounty of the harvest and the desire for the living to be reunited with their deceased loved ones.
But the holiday is also named for the Welsh God Mabon. Mabon means the “great son”. He was the son of Modred, kidnapped at the age of 3 and later rescued by King Arthur. His life represents the innocence of youth, the strength of survival and the growing wisdom of the elderly. Perhaps it is this view of the cycle of life that brings Mabon to his most popular role, the King of the Otherworld and the God of Darkness.
His myths overlap with other Gods such as the Welsh God Gwyn Ap Nuad, which means “white son of darkness”. He is seen as the God of war and death, the patron God of fallen warriors. Once again this is a representation or connection to the Land of Avalon.