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23 September 2016 @ 11:55 pm
Autumnal Equinox Blessings to You!  
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For the unawares, here is some information courtesy of About Dot Com. The Autumnal Equinox is also known as Mabon.

All About Mabon

It is the time of the autumn equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty, because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons, and celebrate the second harvest. On or around September 21, for many Pagan traditions it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings.

History of Mabon

The Science of the Equinox
Two days a year, the Northern and Southern hemispheres receive the same amount of sunlight. Not only that, each receives the same amount of light as they do dark -- this is because the earth is tilted at a right angle to the sun, and the sun is directly over the equator. In Latin, the word equinox translates to "equal night." The autumn equinox takes place on or near September 21, and its spring counterpart falls around March 21. If you're in the Northern hemisphere, the days will begin getting shorter after the autumn equinox and the nights will grow longer -- in the Southern hemisphere, the reverse is true.

Giving Thanks
Although the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving falls in November, many cultures see the second harvest time of the fall equinox as a time of giving thanks. After all, it's when you figure out how well your crops did, how fat your animals have gotten, and whether or not your family will be able to eat during the coming winter. However, by the end of November, there's not a whole lot left to harvest. Originally, the American Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on October 3, which makes a lot more sense agriculturally. It was later moved by Franklin Roosevelt in a bid to help post-Depression holiday sales.

Mabon for Modern Pagans
For contemporary Druids, this is the celebration of Alban Elfed, which is a time of balance between the light and the dark. Many Asatru groups honor the fall equinox as Winter Nights, a festival sacred to Freyr.

For most Pagans, this is a time of community and kinship. It's not uncommon to find a Pagan Pride Day celebration tied in with Mabon. Often, PPD organizers include a food drive as part of the festivities, to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and to share with the less fortunate.

If you choose to celebrate Mabon, give thanks for the things you have, and take time to reflect on the balance within your own life, honoring both the darkness and the light. Invite your friends and family over for a feast, and count the blessings that you have among kin and community.


The Mabon Altar

Mabon is the time when many Pagans celebrate the second part of the harvest. This Sabbat is about the balance between light and dark, with equal amounts of day and night. Try some or even all of these ideas -- obviously, space may be a limiting factor for some, but use what calls to you most.

Colors of the Season
The leaves have begun to change, so reflect the colors of autumn in your altar decorations. Use yellows, oranges, reds and browns. Cover your altar with cloths that symbolize the harvest season, or go a step further and put brightly colored fallen leaves upon your work surface. Use candles in deep, rich colors -- reds, golds, or other autumn shades are perfect this time of year.

Symbols of the Harvest
Mabon is the time of the second harvest, and the dying of the fields. Use corn, sheafs of wheat, squash and root vegetables on your altar. Add some tools of agriculture if you have them - scythes, sickles, and baskets.

A Time of Balance
Remember, the equinoxes are the two nights of the year when the amount of light and darkness are equal. Decorate your altar to symbolize the aspect of the season. Try a small set of scales, a yin-yang symbol, a white candle paired up with a black one -- all are things which represent the concept of balance.

Other Symbols of Mabon

• Wine, vines and grapes
• Apples, cider, and apple juice
• Pomegranates
• Ears of corn
• Pumpkins
• Gods' Eyes
• Corn dolls
• Mid-autumn vegetables, like squashes and gourds
• Seeds, seed pods, nuts in their shells
• Baskets, symbolizing the gathering of crops
• Statuary of deities symbolizing the changing seasons


Mabon Around the World

Nearly all of the myths and legends popular at this time of the year focus on the themes of life, death, and rebirth. Not much of a surprise, when you consider that this is the time at which the earth begins to die before winter sets in!

At the time of the autumn equinox, there are equal hours of light and dark. It is a time of balance, and while summer is ending, the winter is approaching. This is a season in which farmers are harvesting their fall crops, gardens are beginning to die, and the earth gets a bit cooler each day. Let's look at some of the ways that this second harvest holiday has been honored around the world for centuries.

In China, the moon's birthday falls around the time of the autumn equinox. Special holiday birthday cakes are baked with flour from harvested rice, and families gather together to honor the moon. It is believed that flowers will fall from the sky on the night of the moon's birthday, and those who saw them fall would be blessed with great abundance.

Many British counties still observe Michaelmas, which is the feast of St. Michael, on September 29. Customs included the preparation of a meal of goose which had been fed on the stubble of the fields following the harvest (called a stubble-goose). There was also a tradition of preparing special larger-than-usual loaves of bread, and St. Michael's bannocks, which was a special kind of oatcake.

Long before the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, the Native peoples of North America celebrated the harvest with thanksgiving festivals in the autumn. This typically included lots of meat and grains to eat. Games and activities were held, and it was also useful as a time of matchmaking between neighboring villages.

In some Germanic countries, people worried about the fate of their grain harvest. If there was a great deal of wind during the harvesting season, it could be because Odin wanted a share of the crop. To keep Him happy, a few spare sacks of flour were emptied into the wind.

The Yoruba people of Nigeria had a celebration in October to celebrate the yam harvest. Dances were held to honor the ancestors, and to bid farewell to those who might have died in the past year. Yams were offered to dancers in hopes that a fertile crop would appear next year. Interestingly, studies have shown that women who consume a lot of yams (real African yams, not sweet potatoes) are statistically more likely to conceive twins, so there is certainly a link between yams and fertility symbolism!

The Iroquois people celebrated a Corn Dance each fall. This was a way to give thanks for the ripening of the grain -- songs, dances and drumming were part of the celebration. Naturally, food played an important part as well, including corn bread and soup.

For the ancient Druids, the fall equinox was Alban Elfed. Many contemporary Druids celebrate this as at time of balance and thanksgiving.


Rituals and Ceremonies

Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Mabon, but typically the focus is on either the second harvest aspect, or the balance between light and dark. This, after all, is the time when there is an equal amount of day and night. While we celebrate the gifts of the Earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead. Here are a few rituals you may want to think about trying -- and remember, any of them can be adapted for either a solitary practitioner or a small group, with just a little planning ahead.

Feasting and Friends
Early agricultural societies understood the importance of hospitality -- it was crucial to develop a relationship with your neighbors, because they might be the ones to help you when your family ran out of food. Many people, particularly in rural villages, celebrated the harvest with great deals of feasting, drinking, and eating. After all, the grain had been made into bread, beer and wine had been made, and the cattle were brought down from the summer pastures for the coming winter. Celebrate Mabon yourself with a feast -- and the bigger, the better!

Mabon Altar Gallery
Honor the Dark Mother at Mabon
Mabon Apple Harvest Rite
Autumn Full Moon -- Group Ceremony
Mabon Balance Meditation


Ten Ways to Celebrate Mabon

In addition to thanksgiving and community, Mabon is a time of balance and reflection, following the theme of equal hours light and dark. Here are some ways you and your family can celebrate this day of bounty and abundance.

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1. Find Some Balance
Mabon is a time of balance, when there are equal hours of darkness and light, and that can affect people in different ways. For some, it's a season to honor the darker aspects of the Goddess, calling upon that which is devoid of light. For others, it's a time of thankfulness, of gratitude for the abundance we have at the season of harvest. Because this is, for many people, a time of high energy, there is sometimes a feeling of restlessness in the air, a sense that something is just a bit "off". If you're feeling a bit spiritually lopsided, with this simple meditation you can restore a little balance into your life. You can also try a ritual to bring balance and harmony to your home.

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2. Hold a Food Drive
Many Pagans count Mabon as a time of thanks and blessings-- and because of that, it seems like a good time to give to those less fortunate than ourselves. If you find yourself blessed with abundance at Mabon, why not give to those who aren't? Invite friends over for a feast, but ask each of them to bring a canned food, dry goods, or other non-perishable items. Donate the collected bounty to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

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3. Pick Some Apples
Apples are the perfect symbol of the Mabon season. Long connected to wisdom and magic, there are so many wonderful things you can do with an apple. Find an orchard near you, and spend a day with your family. As you pick the apples, give thanks to Pomona, Goddess of fruit trees. Be sure to only pick what you're going to use -- if you can, gather plenty to take home and preserve for the coming winter months. Take your apples home and use them in rituals, for divination, and for delicious recipes that your family can enjoy all season long.

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4. Count Your Blessings
Mabon is a time of giving thanks, but sometimes we take our fortune for granted. Sit down and make a gratitude list. Write down things that you are thankful for. An attitude of gratefulness helps bring more abundance our way -- what are things you're glad you have in your life? Maybe it's the small things, like "I'm glad I have my cat Peaches" or "I'm glad my car is running." Maybe it's something bigger, like "I'm thankful I have a warm home and food to eat" or "I'm thankful people love me even when I'm cranky." Keep your list some place you can see it, and add to it when the mood strikes you.

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5. Honor the Darkness
Without darkness, there is no light. Without night, there can be no day. Despite a basic human need to overlook the dark, there are many positive aspects to embracing the dark side, if it's just for a short time. After all, it was Demeter's love for her daughter Persephone that led Her to wander the world, mourning for six months at a time, bringing us the death of the soil each fall. In some paths, Mabon is the time of year that celebrates the Crone aspect of a triune Goddess. Celebrate a ritual that honors that aspect of the Goddess which we may not always find comforting or appealing, but which we must always be willing to acknowledge. Call upon the Gods and Goddesses of the dark night, and ask for Their blessings this time of year.

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6. Get Back to Nature
Fall is here, and that means the weather is bearable once more. The nights are becoming crisp and cool, and there's a chill in the air. Take your family on a nature walk, and enjoy the changing sights and sounds of the outdoors. Listen for geese honking in the sky above you, check the trees for changing in the colors of the leaves, and watch the ground for dropped items like acorns, nuts, and seed pods. If you live in an area that doesn't have any restrictions on removing natural items from park property, take a small bag with you and fill it up with the things you discover along the way. Bring your goodies home for your family's altar. If you are prohibited from removing natural items, fill your bag with trash and clean up the outdoors!

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7. Tell Timeless Stories
In many cultures, fall was a time of celebration and gathering. It was the season in which friends and relatives would come from far and near to get together before the cold winter kept them apart for months at a time. Part of this custom was storytelling. Learn the harvest tales of your ancestors or of the people indigenous to the area in which you live. A common theme in these stories is the cycle of death and rebirth, as seen in the planting season. Learn about the stories of Osiris, Mithras, Dionysus, Odin and other deities who have died and then restored to life.

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8. Raise Some Energy
It's not uncommon for Pagans to make remarks regarding the "energy" of an experience or event. If you're having friends or family over to celebrate Mabon with you, you can raise group energy by working together. A great way to do this is with a drum or music circle. Invite everyone to bring drums, rattles, bells, or other instruments. Those who don't have an instrument can clap their hands. Begin in a slow, regular rhythm, gradually increasing the tempo until it reaches a rapid pace. End the drumming at a pre-arranged signal, and you'll be able to feel that energy wash over the group in waves. Another way of raising group energy is chanting, or with dance. With enough people, you can hold a Spiral Dance.

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9. Celebrate Hearth & Home
As autumn rolls in, we know we'll be spending more time indoors in just a few months. Take some time to do a fall version of spring cleaning. Physically clean your home from top to bottom, and then do a ritual smudging. Use sage or sweetgrass, or asperge with consecrated water as you go through your home and bless each room. Decorate your home with symbols of the harvest season, and set up a family Mabon altar. Put sickles, scythes and bales of hay around the yard. Collect colorful autumn leaves, gourds and fallen twigs and place them in decorative baskets in your house. If you have any repairs that need to be done, do them now so you don't have to worry about them over the winter. Throw out or give away anything that's no longer of use.

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10. Welcome the Gods of the Vine
Grapes are everywhere, so it's no surprise that the Mabon season is a popular time to celebrate winemaking, and deities connected to the growth of the vine. Whether you see Him as Bacchus, Dionysus, the Green Man, or some other vegetative God, the God of the Vine is a key archetype in harvest celebrations. Take a tour of a local winery and see what it is they do this time of year. Better yet, try your hand at making your own wine! If you're not into wine, that's okay -- you can still enjoy the bounty of grapes, and use their leaves and vines for recipes and craft projects. However you celebrate these deities of vine and vegetation, you may want to leave a small offering of thanks as you reap the benefits of the grape harvest.


From Rituals For Sacred Living by Jane Alexander:

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A happy and safe holiday to all who celebrate~!
 
 
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Vicki: Night with Her Train of Starsdaisydumont on October 2nd, 2016 09:36 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful photo! I should've said so days ago, but I've gotten very bad about coming to LJ. Meaning, I forget to. But it's autumn, my favorite season, yay!
Madame Magdolene Lives, esq™: Wheel of the Yearalivemagdolene on October 3rd, 2016 02:34 am (UTC)
I wish I could claim credit for it, but it was too pretty not to leave the photographer credit in the bottom right. ^_^