Mabon: The Autumnal Equinox & How to Celebrate
What is Mabon?
In September, the leaves turn beautiful hues of orange, red, and yellow. The fields are harvested by anxious, contented farmers, and we begin our preparations for a long winter. The autumnal equinox is almost here and will bring much joy to our families and lives.
Mabon is the Pagan term for the Autumnal Equinox and is dated September 21st. To put it more simply for those who are not Pagan, this is considered the first official day of Fall. Mabon is the second of three harvest festivals for Pagans and Natural Magicians and is a thoroughly enjoyable holiday, to say the least. Pagans and non-Pagans alike can celebrate Mabon, which is basically the welcoming of the Harvest and saying our last farewells to the Summer sun and long days.
Some of the lore surrounding Mabon dates back thousands of years, to ancient Sumerian and Greek times. Certain Goddesses of the Sumerians and Greeks were thought to go "underground" on Mabon to escape Winter's icy grip. Some of these Goddesses included the Greeks' Persephone and the Sumerians' Inanna. In modern times, neodruids honor the Green Man by offering libations to the forests, while witches and wiccans celebrate the passing of the Mother Goddess into the Crone Goddess and also the preparation of the death and re-birth of the God (source: www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/mabon.htm).
So whether you are a Christian, a non-believer, or a Pagan, let's join hands this first Fall day and celebrate Mabon as our ancient ancestors did.
Simple Ways to Bring Autumn and Mabon Indoors
The most efficient and prettiest way to celebrate Mabon and the coming of the Autumnal Equinox is to bring a little Autumn Equinox indoors. How can you do this? There are many ways of adding a little fall air into your home. You can spend a lot of money on store-bought Mabon decorations from Pagan or crafty websites, or you can make and find your own cheaper Mabon decorations. It is up to you and your budget.
In Ellen Dugan's Cottage Witchery, she states that being a witch or Pagan is not about what you can buy in order to decorate your home elaborately, it's about using things from nature and being creative in your decorating.
Some easy and low-cost ideas for home Mabon decorating include: dried fall leaves and/or acorns (picked from your yard or nearest park) sprinkled about a hearth or shelf, dried corn sheaths or hollow gourds from a local market or craft store. Fall wreaths with symbols of Mabon, such as apples, pumpkins, leaves, etc. Green, brown, and orange candles arranged throughout your home (in safe areas, keep in mind). Fall or Mabon colors added to your linens such as an Autumn colored tablecloth or towels.
Or go ultra simple and add an Autumn or Mabon wallpaper to your laptop or desktop computer. Hang some computer-printed photos of Autumn scenes and Mabon festivals around your home or on shelves in your home. Have fun and think Autumn and Mabon! Check out Martha Stewart's website for cool Autumn Decoration ideas.
Mabon Crafts & Activities
Corn Dolly Instructions:
Take five pieces of straw with heads, and 20 to 30 more stalk stems. Tie the five pieces (with heads) around your dowel, making the tie as close to the wheat heads as possible with the clove hitch knot (see illustration). Bend each stem in a 90 degree angle, so that one head points in each direction. (Think of the north, south, east, and west points on the compass.) This arrangement will leave one extra straw that you'll aim just to your left, assuming you are sitting south of the compass.
Start with the extra "beginner" straw pointed toward you (the one just to the left of the south stem) and bend it up parallel to the dowel. Then bend it to the right over two wheat stems. If you're thinking compass: your first bend will be over the south and east stems.
Now, turn the dowel 90 degrees (a 1/4 turn) clockwise. The east stem will now become the south stem. Take your new south stem and bend it over two more stems. Again, turn the dowel 90 degrees, and repeat the process. It will take five bends to complete the circle, and you'll continue building up circles one on top of the other. It won't be long before you'll reach the end of a stem and run out of straw. Simply join another straw stem into the "run-out" one. To do so, cut the small end of a stem (the end nearest the top) at an angle and then slip this end into the larger, hollow end of the used-up stem. Try to use only one of these for each round around the dowel or it will weaken the spiral.
When you've made the size dolly you want, simply tie off the ends with a brightly colored ribbon or another piece of straw. Add the finishing touch by joining heads into the weave, which will leave you with straw heads at both the top and bottom of your weave (instructions pulled from here).
In addition to making corn dollies and autumn wreaths, bonfires are a great way to celebrate the autumnal equinox and also gathering gourds and pumpkins.
A Mabon Menu
There are many types of foods that scream autumn and mabon, including apples, fall fruits, breads, squash, pumpkins, corn, spices, hams, chicken, and leafy vegetables. My favorite Mabon beverage would without a doubt have to be apple cider. There are tons of easy recipes on the internet, including at marthastewart.com. You can make the apple cider with alcohol or without, it's up to you and your family. Keep in mind that the reason apple cider is so special to Mabon is because the apple is a sacred food to witches, cut it in half horizontally and you'll notice the 5-pointed star displayed by its seeds.
Another quintessential Mabon menu item is a loaf of homemade Mabon bread, as pictured to the right. Create an image of the God or sheaves of wheat on the bread to represent Mabon in all its golden Fall glory.
Cooked squash, kale, and other leafy vegetables are wonderful side dishes to any Mabon menu.
Make this Mabon one to remember, make it your own and celebrate the coming of Autumn like our ancestors did.
© 2011 Nicole Canfield