From the book "Mabon: Celebrating the Autumn Equinox" by Kristin Madden
What is Mabon?
Mabon is a relatively recent term for the neo-pagan festival celebrated on the Autumn Equinox, generally around September 21. This is the second of the three harvest festivals; a cross-quarter day midway between Lughnasadh (Lammas) and Samhain (Halloween).
In many modern Wiccan traditions, this is considered to be a Lesser Sabbat, along with the Vernal Equinox and the solstices that were the only annual celebrations of the early Recreationist Druids.
This is the Pagan Thanksgiving: a time of reflection, sharing balance, and celebration of the bounty of life. While our modern lives may not revolve around an agricultural way of life, this is one of the eight times each year that we consciously attune ourselves to natural cycles.
Mabon is the time to meditate on the fruits of our own labors as well. What have you sown in this year? Are you reaping healthy and constructive fruits or are you paying the price for not nurturing your seeds, or for attempting to plant them in poor soil? This is the time to begin to consider what we want to change and the gardens we plan to sow in the coming year.
This is a time of community and kinship with the land and all creatures. Many modern pagans will volunteer their time at soup kitchens or bless and donated wild animal food as part of their Mabon rites. It is also a time of community with all beings in all worlds. As such, we offer special honor to the dead and our spirit allies during this time.
Myths and Deities
Osiris has been associated with Dionysus (Roman) and Bacchus (Greek). He taught the Egyptian people agriculture and the making of beer and wine, among other things. He is the god of vegetation, who is killed and resurrected by the goddess, in this case his sister and daughter of the earth god, Isis.
Isis, the Great Mother and goddess of magic, beer, life, agriculture, and beauty, she has also been associated with Demeter, for reasons that are obvious after reading the story of Osiris. She has also been identified with Persephone (Greek) and Aphrodite (Roman)
Dumuzi was a vegetation god, ruling over fertility and the Underworld. He was called "the Shepard" and is the patron god of Shepherds and their flocks. Dumuzi is a gate-keeper at the doors of Heaven. His marriage as a human king to Inanna, Queen of Heaven, ensured the fertility of the lands and the people, an association we find in many other cultures. He was chosen to rule over the Underworld for half the year. His time below was during the hot, barren summer and he returned to the earth on the Autumnal Equinox which marked the Sumerian New Year.
Inanna is without question the most important of the Sumerian goddesses. She is the Queen Moon, Queen of the Universe, Mistress of Heaven and Earth. She personified the planet Venus. She presides over love, fertility, grain, the natural world, and war, among a wide variety of other things. Inanna's descent into the Underworld is known throughout literary, psychological, and neo-pagan circles across the world. It is said that the original Dance of the Seven Veils told the story of Inanna's descent, where an article of clothing or jewelry was removed at each of the seven gates, until she arrives completely naked. While Inanna was in the Underworld, all fertility and procreation ceased on Earth. When she returned to life and passed back out through the seven gates, her lover Dumuzi was sent to replace her for half a year to appease her sister Ereshkigal, Goddess of the Underworld. This is similar to the myths of Ishtar/Tammuz (Babylonian)
Freyja presides over love, marriage fertility, and childbirth. She offers protection in battle and peace. She also watches over the dead along with her brother, Freyr. Freyja has been associated with Ishtar and Inanna, not only due to her role as a goddess of both love and war, but because her greatest treasure, the necklace Brisingamen, has been linked to one of the famous pieces of jewelry Inanna had removed at the gates to the Underworld. Brisingamen brings protection and fertility to the world.
Freyr is known as the Harvest God, among his many titles. He rules over the rain and sunshine, which are vital to growth of the land. When Freyr rode his golden boar across the skies, the light penetrated the shade, increasing the bounty of the land. Freyr and Freyja are of the Vanir race of gods, peaceful keepers of gentle rains, mild winds, and fertility.
The most recognizable myth involved in this festival is that of the Mabon, the Child of Light and the son of the Modron, Great Mother. It is from this Welsh myth, found in the tale of Culhwch and Olwen, that the neo-pagan Mabon festival receives its name. Mabon son of Modron was stolen from his mother only three nights after his birth at the beginning of time. Her light disappears as she grieves for her lost child. The autumn equinox begins the seasons of cold and darkness in the northern hemisphere, paralleling the grief of the Modron.
Cernunnos is the god of fertility, animals, and the Underworld. he is our guardian in this world and the Otherworlds. He is the lover and often the son and protector of the Great Mother. In many myths, he is born at the winter solstice and dies at the summer solstice. Yet in many agricultural areas, he is one and the same as the spirit of vegetation that dies with the end of the harvest, often around the autumn equinox. In many neo-pagan artwork and experiences, he is another aspect of the Green Man and of Herne the Hunter.
Ceridwen the barley goddess, is the brewer of the cauldron of wisdom that enlightened Gwion Bach and turned him into the great bard, Taliesin. She is the Autumn Crone, the Nurse of Seeds, and the visionary sibyl. An older form of the Great Mother, Ceridwen is the dark Mother of the Mysteries as well.
Symbols of the Season
Each acorn holds within its small shell all the potential of the great oak tree. This is an ideal symbol of the cycles of life, the seasons, and immortality. The Oak King may be defeated by the Holly King in the winter to come, but he is reborn, replacing the Holly King in the coming spring.
The apple is one of the main symbols of this season and there is a rich folklore surrounding this simple fruit. The well-known story of Johnny Appleseed recounts how the real-life John Chapman planted a great number of seeds throughout Ohio and Indiana.
Like many historical people, early settlers used apples for food and drink, as well as for fun and medicine. Healing superstitions from England include this one from Devonshire: To cure warts, cut an apple in half, rub it on the warts, tie the apple back together and bury it.
Fun Apple Facts:
* Apples are members of the rose family
*Apples float because they are 25% air
*Placing an apple in a bag of potatoes will prevent the potato from sprouting
*Eating raw apples eliminates more than 95% of the bacteria that cause tooth decay
* If an apple contains an even number of seeds, marriage is not far off. If the apple contains an odd number of seeds, marriage is not in the foreseeable future.
* Rub an apple before eating to remove evil spirits that may be hiding inside.
The Corn Mother is a goddess of fertility throughout the world. Corn is associated with the planet Venus and has been called the Giver of Life and Sacred Mother. The first of the Egyptian corn harvest was given to a local deity known as Wapwait. It is used in blessing ceremonies and as an offering to the spirits.
* Pick an ear of corn at random. Count the kernels and divide by twelve to find out how long you'll live.
* An ear of corn in the cradle will protect a baby
* Cornstalks hung over the mirror will bring good luck to the household.
Cornbread is customary for this time of year and it is the perfect addition to a meal of stew. It is also traditional native bread and as such honors the original peoples of several lands. If you can get blue cornmeal, try that in place of the everyday cornmeal we find in all grocery stores. You might also try adding a teaspoon of cinnamon or sage for a distinctive autumn taste.
You will need:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbs baking powder
2 cups cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup general purpose flour
1/3 cup melted butter or bacon fat
Heat oven to 425 degrees
Mix all ingredients together, beat for 30 seconds.
Pour into a round 9-inch greased pan (1 1/2 inch deep). Cut a sun symbol into the center of the bread. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, checking at 10 min to recut sun symbol if necessary.
A Magical Mabon
While some may feel that magick should be avoided during the equinox times, most of us work toward balance, harmony, protection, and prosperity during these periods. The Autumn Equinox is the beginning of the dark half of the year, and as such, it is beneficial to begin turning within during our magick and meditations.
A Protection Bottle
Protection bottles are either kept in a windowsill or buried, either outside the front door or at the four directions around one's home. If you have a young child, a protection bottle in their window or kept under the bed may be just the thing to keep nightmares and bedtime fears at bay.
You will need:
--A clean, clear glass bottle with a cap
--herbs, such as angelica and rosemary
--other items that symbolize protection, such as salt, specific stones, broken glass, etc.
Fill the bottle part of the way with sand. Add the protective herbs or items you have chosen and fill to the top with more sand before sealing the bottle with its cap. As you add each of these items, visualize it keeping negativity away or destroying destructive and fearful energies.
Once it is filled and capped, offer it to the Great Spirit, or God and Goddess. Ask that all the ingredients work together to keep you safe and sound. Thank them for their protection and place it in your windowsill or bury it. If you choose to bury it, carve a pentagram or spiral into the earth above it and ask that the Earth ground and purify all negativity drawn in by this bottle. Be sure to periodically offer water sacred herbs or cornmeal to the earth and the spirits of your land as thanks for their grounding and protection.