Mabon is the Pagan name for the celebration of the Autumn Equinox and is celebrated each year on or around September 21. The equinoxes are the two days a year, the Northern and Southern hemispheres receive the same amount of sunlight. Not only that, each receives the same amount of light as they do dark — this is because the earth is tilted at a right angle to the sun, and the sun is directly over the equator. In Latin, the word equinox translates to “equal night.” Its spring counterpart falls around March 21. If you’re in the Northern hemisphere, the days will begin getting shorter after the autumn equinox and the nights will grow longer — in the Southern hemisphere, the reverse is true.
People have celebrated it for millennia, all around the world. In ancient Greece, Oschophoria was a festival held in the fall to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine. In the 1700’s, the Bavarians came up with Oktoberfest, which actually begins in the last week of September, and it was a time of great feasting and merriment, still in existence today. China’s Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the night of the Harvest Moon, and is a festival of honoring family unity
The harvest is a time of thanks, and also a time of balance — after all, there are equal hours of daylight and darkness. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.
The traditional foods and decorations used at Mabon are
• Mid-autumn vegetables, like squashes and gourds
• Apples and anything made from them, such as cider or pies
• Seeds, nuts and seed pods
• Baskets, symbolizing the gathering of crops
• Sickles and scythes
• Grapes, vines, wine
as well of course pumpkins, autumn laves, res and uh, a of course cornucopias and scarecrows. All these items would be perfect to decorate your home or your altar .
Nearly all of the myths and legends popular at this time of the year focus on the themes of life, death, and rebirth. Not much of a surprise, when you consider that this is the time at which the earth begins to die before winter sets in!
Demeter and Her Daughter
Perhaps the best known of all the harvest mythologies is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter was a goddess of grain and of the harvest in ancient Greece. Her daughter, Persephone, caught the eye of Hades, god of the underworld. When Hades abducted Persephone and took her back to the underworld, Demeter’s grief caused the crops on earth to die and go dormant. By the time she finally recovered her daughter, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and so was doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld. These six months are the time when the earth dies, beginning at the time of the autumn equinox.
• Other Names: Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, Second Harvest, Alban Elfed, Witches’ Thanksgiving, and Cornucopia.
• Colors: Brown, Orange, Violet, Maroon, Russet, and Deep Gold
• Symbols: Grapes, Wine, Vines, Garland, Gourds, Burial Cairns, Rattles, Horn of Plenty, Indian Corn and Sun Wheels.
• Ritual Meaning: Celebrating the Second Harvest, Balance, Honoring Aging Deities, Darkness Overtaking the Light and the Celebration of Wine.
• Key Actions: Giving Thanks
• Ritual Oils: Apple Blossom, Hay/Straw, Black Pepper and Patchouli.
• Stones: Yellow Topaz, Carnelian, Sapphire, Yellow Agate, Lapis Lazuli and Amethyst.
• Plants: Vines, Ivy, Hazel, Cedar, Hops and Tobacco.
• Activities: Wine Making and Adorning Graves.
• Taboos: Passing Burial Sites and not Honoring the Dead
• Animals: Dogs, Wolves, Birds of Prey (Especially the Owl and Eagle), Blackbirds, Salmon, Stags and Goats.
• Deities: All Wine Deities (especially Dionysus and Bacchus), Persephone, Modron, Morgan, Snake Woman, Epona, Pamona, Muses, Demeter, Ceres, Thor, Mabon, Thoth, Hermes, Harvest Deities and Aging Deities.
• Foods: Grapes, Acorns, Wheat Bread, Indian Corn, Cornbread, Corn, Root Crops (Onions, Carrots, Potatoes, etc.) Nuts, Dried Fruits, Apples, Beans, and Squash.
• Drinks: Wine, Ale, and Cider
Mythical Creatures: Andaman, Cyclops, Gnomes, Gulon, Minotaur, and the Sphinx
The fields are nearly empty, because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons, and celebrate the second harvest. On or around September 21, for many Pagan and Wiccan traditions it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessing