Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrating Autumnal Equinox

Mabon is the second of the three harvest festivals. Lammas celebrates grains, berries, and other early foods. Samhain celebrates the meat harvest of hunting and slaughter time.

Mabon was not an authentic ancient festival either in name or date. The autumn equinox was not celebrated in Celtic countries, while all that is known about Anglo-Saxon customs of that time was that September was known as haleg-monath or 'holy month'. The name Mabon has only been applied to the neopagan festival of the autumn equinox very recently; the term was invented by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious studies project. Previously the festival was simply known as the 'Autumnal Equinox', and many neopagans still refer to it as such.
The name Mabon was chosen to impart a more authentic-sounding "Celtic" feel to the event, since all the other festivals either had names deriving from genuine tradition, or had had names grafted on to them. The use of the name Mabon is much more prevalent in America than Britain, where many neopagans are scornfully dismissive of it as a blatantly inauthentic practice. 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.
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. 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. [source link]

Also called Harvest Home, this holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months.

This time of year also coincides with Michaelmas (Sep 29), which celebrates the Archangel Michael's victory over the Dragon (the devil). For more on that, visit Ayla's neat posts from last year: part one, part two, and the dragon hunt!

  • red, orange, rust, brown, maroon
  • apples, nuts, squash, gourds, pomegranates
  • pinecones
  • vines (grapes, ivy, etc)
  • corn stalks

  • Gratitude for the harvest
  • Gratitude for everything else
  • Balance (the balance between light and dark, also between life and death as plants are giving fruit at the same time they are dying. It is appropriate to recognize all forms of balance at this time.)
  • Harmony
  • Self-reliance 
  • Wisdom 
  • Old age (including the transition from "mother" to "crone/wisewoman," or from midlife into old age)(here is a great site about the crone archetype)

  • Sing songs of thanksgiving and harvest home (see below)
  • Pick apples
  • Dry apples to make little wrinkly 'faces' and then add corn husk bodies to make little harvest people
  • Write down things you are thankful for on little pieces of paper. Read each one aloud, and put it into the fire to let the smoke carry your gratitude heavenward.
  • Make cider, juice, or wine
  • Make applesauce
  • Gather seeds from dying plants to use for next year 
  • Gather nuts
  • Gather herbs and dry them
  • Make grapevine wreaths (or buy grapevine wreaths and decorate them)

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

(You can hear the hymn here.)

  • Have a lavish feast!
  • Apples
  • Apple cider (there is a recipe to make your own here)
  • Apple pie
  • Squash
  • Beans 
  • All vegetables that are in season, including root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and onions
  • Grapes & wine
  • Nuts and nut breads


1 comment:

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