|Mabon- September 22
||[Sep. 6th, 2005|03:03 pm]
The Autumnal Equinox, the second of the Harvest Festivals, is the Pagan rite of Thanksgiving, also known as "Harvest Home." It's a Sabbat of celebration for the abundance of the harvest; a time meant for us to give thanks through song, dance, and feasts.
This is a time of balance, when day and night are equal once again. There may be a hint of sadness within us now, an inner sense of fear and trepidation, as the world begins to tilt toward the time of darkness. And so this Sabbat is also a time of meditation and introspection; a time to slow down the pace of our lives and to relax and recognize our own personal harvests during the year that is fast declining. It's also a time to appreciate the connection we have with those around us, as well as those who have gone before us. While the name "Harvest Home" is often ascribed to the fact that the crops are being gathered, it also references the sense of "community" that this harvest festival fosters, for it's through our kinship with those close to us that we endure through the long, dark, cold nights of winter.
Mabon is a Welsh name meaning "great son," and refers to the Son of the Great Mother, The Divine Son of Light. Mythologically this festival celebrates the story of Modron, the Great Goddess of the Earth, and the birth of her son, Mabon. According to the mythology, Mabon disappears (or is kidnapped) three days after his birth (thus, the light goes into hiding). Mabon is veiled in mystery in the womb of the earth, here personified as his mother, the Great Protector and Guardian of the Otherworld. Though his whereabouts are a mystery, it is only here that he can once again renew his strength and gain new wisdom in order to be reborn to the Goddess as the Son of Light. This is accomplished at Yule (Winter Solstice), with the aid of the ancient and wise animals: Stag, Raven, Owl, Eagle and Salmon. One can readily see the connection of this myth to the natural events occuring during this time. It also speaks to us of the Wiccan Mysteries of Life, Death, and Rebirth, and the sacrificial nature of the God.
This season also brings to mind the mythology of Persephone and Demeter. Some groups choose to celebrate the Sabbat by enacting this story in their Sabbat Circles, emphasizing the Mystery contained within the cyclical faces of the ever-constant Goddess.
Other cultures also identified this season with their own mythologies. In ancient Rome, it was a celebration to Mercury or Apollo. Christian Britain replaced the Welsh Mabon with St Michael, to whom churches on many sacred Pagan sites were erected. The Autumnal Equinox became known as the Christian Feast of Michaelmas.
Beyond Michaelmas, Mabon, and Harvest Home, the Sabbat has also been known as the Festival of Dionysus, the Wine Harvest, Harvest of First Fruits, Cornucopia, the Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), and Alban Elfed (Caledonii, or Druidic - which celebrates the Lord of the Mysteries). The Teutonic name for this season is Winter Finding, which begins on the Equinox itself and continues until Winter Night, October 15th, which is the Norse New Year.
Symbols of this Sabbat include grapes and vines, wine, garland, pine cones, acorns, dried leaves, Indian corn, gourds, wheat, rattles (especially those made of gourds), and horns of plenty.
Since Mabon is a celebration of fruits and wine, traditional Pagan activities include fermenting grapes. Apples and vine products are sacred at this season, so apple pie, as well as other apple foods, are common at Sabbat Feasts.
It's also traditional to wander wild places and forests, gathering seed pods, nuts, and dried plants, both for decoration and for possible future magick.
This is the second harvest Sabbat. The Goddess is entering into cronehood, and the dark of the year is beginning, so this is a time often associated with mysterious lore and wisdom.
The altar and circle should be decorated with autumn leaves, gourds, berries, pine and cypress cones, acorns, oak sprigs and other fruits of the season. New willow staves and wands were traditionally consecrated or empowered on this day, so if you've just recently cut one, you might want to bring it into the circle with you. You should also have a small basket filled with a variety of autumn leaves. The altar cloth shall be brown, and the altar candles shall be red. Light the incense and the altar candles, and cast the sacred circle. Then invoke the God and the Goddess. Pick up the basket of leaves and hold it in both hands. Spill the leaves slowly so that they cascade down to the ground within the circle as you say these words:
The days grow colder, and the leaves fall. Our Lord of the sun rides the winds westward, and the cool, misty night descends.
Fruits ripen, and the seeds drop. This is a time of balance, when night equals day, and though all seems dead or dying, I know that life continues.
Life is not possible without death, and the coming of winter is just another spoke in the great wheel.
Put the basket down, and say:
Oh great Goddess of the waning moon, keeper of the cauldron, of secret magics and forgotten lore,
teach me to be wise and peaceful in thought and deed.
Grant me your wisdom, and do not fear that it may be used unwisely,
or for purposes other than those which encourage peace and prosperity.
Works of magic or any seasonal activities may be performed now. After any such things have been taken care of, you may hold the simple feast, and then banish the sacred circle.
Fall Equinox Ritual
Firstly ours: being traditional Wiccans, this time of year is when the God departs to the Otherworld (or Underworld), and is one of the most profound moments of the male mysteries. In our cycle, the God takes his wasting wound at Midsummer, dimishing in his strength as the sun grows weaker. He begins to look within. Where his energies had previously been focused outwards towards physical growth, between Midsummer and the Autumn Equinox, he turns inwards, and begins his inner journey towards that greatest of all mysteries.
We symbolise this by having the God and his male counterpart (normally Father/Son) meeting in ritual combat. It is their realisation that Dark and Light are one and the same that initiates them into the mystery of their deepest Selves, and thus they pass beyond this mortal realm. In our tradition, we teach that each one of us is both male and female, and so this a very profound moment is shared by everyone present, male and female, as each of us is able to comprehend the mystery at this time.
The ritual that we wrote for this year is as follows:
Circle cast in usual manner, and Elemental Guardians invoked. Blessings of God and Goddess upon the Circle.
Old God (OG) and Young God (YG) stand in the centre of the circle, back to back. The coven circles around them, chanting an invocation to the Horned God. (We used the one which begins, "By the flame that burneth bright 0 Horned One...") After the "Io Pan" chant, everyone stops, raises their arms, slowly brings them down again, and then lets go of their neighbours' hands.
OG starts to slowly thread his way in and out of those forming the circle; as he moves, he is obviously old and wounded. The YG starts to shadow him, keeping always on the opposite side of the circle. The OG begins to be aware that he is being followed, and tries to see who follows, but the YG remains hidden. At last, the OG turns and confronts the YG:
"Who is there!"
"It is I, your son and shadow"
"Why do you follow?"
"Because your time is past, old man, and I will now take your place."
"Old I may be, but I am a better man than you shall ever be! Meet me if you dare, and I shall prove it to you!"
This is not what was actually said: OG and YG spoke sponaneously, and their interchange was a highly charged, combative exchange, which had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck! This gives you some idea of the kind of thing that happened, though.
They meet in combat, and fight. After a period of fighting, they realise that fighting is not the way, and in a moment of true reconciliation, they join as one, and kill each other. This is the moment when the male mystery is revealed; the reconciliation of all those different aspects which have been explored individually throughout the passage of the Wheel of the Year. This is the culmination, and a moment of incredible sanctity.
A Priestess walks around the circle saying:
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter;
all things pass; all things fade;
all things die.
As she does, she extinguishes each of the Quarter candles, leaving only the two altar candles alight.
The HPS, wearing a black veil and robe, picks up the God candle, and stands in front of the altar. She extinguishes the candle and says:
Farewell 0 Sun, ever returning light
The hidden God who yet remains,
Who now departs to the Land of Youth
Through the gates of death,
To dwell enthroned the judge of Gods and men
The Horned Leader of the Hosts of Air
The two Gods stand silently, and move slowly and with dignity towards the west, where a veil hangs across a doorway. They part the veil, and leave the circle. Behind the veil, one holds a candle, to symbolise the passage of the sun to the Underworld. (In the ritual, in the almost-dark, this had the appearance of the etheric bodies rising from the dead, and silently moving to the veil - it was very effective!)
The HPS continues:
Yet even as he stands unseen without the circle,
So dwelleth he within the secret seed;
The seed of newly-reaped grain, the seed of flesh;
Hidden in earth, the marvellous seed of the stars.
In him is Life, and Light is the Life of Man,
That which was never born, and never dies,
Therefore the Wicca weep not, but rejoice."
The HPS replaces the now unlit candle upon the altar, and picks up the chalice of wine, and the dish of cakes. She moves to stand in front of the veil, and says:
HPS: I bring to you an offering: wine from the fruit, and food of the earth.
She places both in front of the veil.
HPS: And now I would ask of you a question.
OG: You may ask.
HPS now asks any question of the Lord of the Underworld.
OG replies to the question as he is inspired to do. This part is totally spontaneous, and assumes that the one playing the role of the OG is able to "channel" directly from the Gods, or is skilled in divination (which is probably one and the same thing!).
When OG finishes speaking, HPS thanks him, and takes a sip of wine, and a cake. She returns to her place, and each person in turn repeats her actions, beginning with the placement of an offering, and ending with the sip of wine, and taking a cake.
When all have visited, and spoken with, the Lord of the Underworld, the HPS stands before the veil once more:
HPS: My love, I cannot see you.
OG: Nor I you - but come to me, for I am lonely for you.
HPS: I cannot! For I fear....
OG: Find me - seek for me - I yearn for you, and your love
HPS: No, they need me, I cannot leave them
OG: No, they do not need you, but I do - come to me!
HPS: I cannot.
Now is not your time, but soon, soon you will make the journey,
and then you and I shall meet, and love again.
But this time, deeper and more lovingly than we have ever known before.
(Again, this was not quite as we spoke it, but is the gist of the exchange. To say there was nary a dry eye in the house would be an understatement. This incredibly emotional and moving moment is almost impossible to describe.)
HPS thanks Quarter Guardians, and finishes with the Blessing Prayer. All leave the Temple.
There are a limitless number of ways to celebrate this Sabbat.
Goddess: Modron, Morgan, Epona, Persephone, Pamona, the Muses, any Goddess associated with the Harvest.
Gods: Mabon, Thoth, Thor, Hermes, The Green Man, any God associated with the Harvest.
Colours: Red, Brown, Orange, Gold,
Incense: Nutmeg, cloves, SPICE Sandalwood and myrrh. Heather, pine and cedar
Herbs: mace, cinnamon, cloves, cypress, juniper, oakmoss, marigold, ivy and sage.
Wood: pine, apple, and oak.
Stones: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, and yellow agates.
Symbols: Wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, and horns of plenty.
Spellworkings of Mabon: Protection, prosperity, security, and self-confidence. Also those of harmony and balance.