Mabon, the Fall Equinox

The Autumnal Equinox

In September is the Fall Equinox, which has come to be called Mabon by many contemporary Neo-Pagans. Occurring traditionally on September 21st, this is the day when the hours of daylight and nighttime are once again balanced. Calender days from now until the Winter Solstice will slowly get shorter and shorter in their daylight hours. Remember to check with a modern astronomical chart or website to learn the exact day and time of the Equinox.

Agriculturally, this time of year the harvest is now in full swing or even starting to wind down, with late summer and fall fruits, vegetables and grains being gathered up before winter. This is the time of year a lot of canning or preserving of garden foods takes place. Hunting season also starts around this time, and this was when farmers would slaughter animals and preserve meat for the coming months as well.

This holiday is the last of the harvest holidays which began with the summer solstice and continued with Lammas. If you were to think of a secular holiday which matches up with this one, this is really the most like a Pagan Thanksgiving.

Symbols of the season

Harvest vegetables like gourds and squash and autumn flowers are suitable for table centerpieces and altar or hearth displays.
Harvest vegetables like gourds and squash and autumn flowers are suitable for table centerpieces and altar or hearth displays. | Source

Harvest Grains

The fall equinox marks the end of the seasonal harvest of grains and other grass crops.
The fall equinox marks the end of the seasonal harvest of grains and other grass crops. | Source
Smoky and the Feast of Mabon
Smoky and the Feast of Mabon

If you have kids who are learning about the Wheel of the Year and Mabon, this is a cute book which talks about the holiday.

 

The Many Celebrations of the Fall Equinox

Druids know this celebration as “Mea’n Fo’mhair” and honor the Green Man, God of the Forest, and his trees with poured offerings of ciders and wine. Norse pagans celebrate this time as Winter Finding, a time period that runs from the Sabbat until October 15th. This night is known as Winter’s Night and is the Norse New Year. The Wiccan New Year is also approaching at October’s end. It is known the ancient Mayans observed this date as well. At the pyramid at Cihickén Itzá, seven triangles of light fall on the pyramid’s staircase on this date only. In Japan, there is a six-day celebration around the equinox. This holiday is to honor Higan-e, the “other shore” and is based on six “perfections”: giving, observance of the precepts, perseverance, effort, meditation and wisdom.

There is an interesting folk legend involving eggs and the equinoxes. It was believed that since the hours of light and dark were equal, it would be possible to balance an egg on end during these magickal times. Sometimes the rumor specified that the balancing would only occur during the few hours that most closely fell before and after the actual time of the equinox. In reality, occasionally eggs can be balanced on the larger end if the conditions of the fluids inside the egg, the temperature, balancing surface, etc. all come together just right, however this is more specific to the actual egg used, and is regardless of the day of the year.


Corn Braiding and Knotting

Corn dollies can be symbolic, like the one shown above, or they can be realistic and look more like little people.
Corn dollies can be symbolic, like the one shown above, or they can be realistic and look more like little people.

Making Harvest Corn Dollies

At harvest time, many ancient Pagan communities felt that the growing or harvest spirit had to be preserved over the winter. The very last sheaves of wheat or stalks of corn in the fields were felt to be where these energies gathered as the crops were harvested. These last bits harvested where what were used to main a variety of figures known as corn dollies (also spelled corn dollys).

Sometimes these were literal female figurines, often tied from dried corn stalks. A few handfuls folded over each other easily makes a small figure. Other times these were symbolic knots or braids made from dried wheat sheaves, braided while the plant material is still somewhat moist and pliable.


Watching over the fall harvest...

Scarecrows symbolize the fall bounty, being stuffed with straw from the grain harvest, as well as being a protective totem.
Scarecrows symbolize the fall bounty, being stuffed with straw from the grain harvest, as well as being a protective totem. | Source

Mabon Feasting

With the harvest in full swing, and mornings and nights just starting to grow crisper, this is the time of nature's bounty and thanksgiving. Having a large dinner party to mark the equinox and celebrate the abundance of the season is a great way to bring the whole family or your spiritual community together.

Having a potluck meal is perfect for this time of year. Encourage your guests to bring things they grew and made themselves. Dishes that offer up the last of the summer fruit or which offer a first taste of fall fruits should be especially welcome. Making homemade bread in the party home is a great way to set the mood with the fantastic aroma.

Exchanging canned foods is a great way to share your harvest and it allows everyone to diversify their pantry before winter. As part of the dinner activities, set up a produce swap so that everyone can show off and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The different squashes, both edible and decorative, are favorites at this time of year.
The different squashes, both edible and decorative, are favorites at this time of year. | Source

Autumnal Equinox at Stonehenge

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Mabon Messages 9 comments

relache profile image

relache 3 years ago from Seattle, WA Author

If you have access to the materials, they are really fun to make.


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago

Great Article. I really love the wheat braid.


Gemsong profile image

Gemsong 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

Blessed Mabon.


relache profile image

relache 7 years ago from Seattle, WA Author

Which holidays are perceived as harvest festivals can differ with traditions. So, it's clear you and I come from different Neo-Pagan branches.


Bree indigo 7 years ago

Actually, Mabon is the second of Harvest Festival's, Samhain being the third and Lammas the first. Lammas is the beginning of Autumn, thus being the beginning of the Harvest.

Blessed Be.


WhiteOak profile image

WhiteOak 7 years ago from Georgia

I always look forward to Mabon, it brings me that much closer to Halloween/Samhain.


relache profile image

relache 8 years ago from Seattle, WA Author

Many Mabon Blessings to you too, gamergirl! We're picking the last of our summer garden and getting ready to plant the winter crops.


gamergirl profile image

gamergirl 8 years ago from Antioch, TN

Happy Mabon relache!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

Harvest Festivals and other agiculturaly connected celebrations remind us of the importance of Nature and Life's cyle.

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    relache profile image

    Raye (relache)4,003 Followers
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    Raye gardens organically, harvests rainwater, strives to eat locally, and honors the gods from her home in the Pacific Northwest.



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