Mabon — Autumn Equinox September 20-23
As in each of the solstices, once again the time of light and dark are in balance as the sun crosses the equator, making this the counterpoint to the Spring Equinox. This time, however, it’s evident that the days are continuing to get shorter and we’re headed for a greater increase in the darkness. It’s the time of the Full Harvest when the Earth has given us its all. It’s a time to begin food storage. I vaguely remember when I was young how my grandmother spent this time of year pickling foods and making jams and jellies, to be used throughout the coming period of the darkening light.
In one version, Mabon comes from Queen Mab of the faeries; in another version Mabon means “son of the mother,” as well as the “Son of Light,” the mother being the Goddess Modron, Guardian of the Otherworld. The legend is that Mabon was taken from his mother at only three days old, and for some time dwelt in the Otherworld, invisible for a period of time, even from his mother, only to be reborn at a later date.
The harvest is the dominant theme here. For this harvest, whether of food or of projects completed and things achieved, the focus is on gratitude. This is possibly a better time for a national thanksgiving celebration, aside from the more traditional one. It’s also a time of preparation for the decreasing light. Time to gather the nuts and store them. Time to put into the dark of the Otherworld any ideas or projects that need a period of time to gestate.
Since it is the season of full harvest, one way is to sponsor a shared feast, one where everyone brings a dish. Along with the feast, incorporate a sharing of what you are grateful for. This can be done simply, during or following the feast. Another ceremony is to gather representations of all of those things you’ve harvested, the fruits of your labor, the end result of things that were planted earlier in the year. Bring those together, and put them on your altar, or create a special one just for this ceremony.
These “fruits” can be earned diplomas or certificates, projects that have been completed or are near completion, photos of new friends, or of new children or grandchildren, marriage or divorce papers, and any other symbols of completion. Put them all together on the altar, or in front of it, and spend a few minutes meditating on these. Feel what goes on in your body as you look at these altogether. Consciously breathe while you’re doing so. Feel the pride, or any other feeling, as you meditate on these. Express your gratitude through prayer, especially to the spirit guides who helped you.
A private ceremony you can do is one of transmutation. Find a representational object, such as a crystal or a stone. Consider what undesirable personal characteristic(s) you want transmuted or transformed. This can be fear, doubt, anger, shame, etc. Set up in front of your altar. Prepare for the ceremony in your usual way. Take the object and using your breath, blow into it those characteristics that you want transformed. Name what you want them to transform into. For instance, anger into calmness, or turmoil into peace.
When this is completed, take the object and bury it in a place that is accessible, such as near a tree in your back yard or a park. Leave it there for six months, until the sun crosses the equator one more time, to confidently assert the growing light at the spring Equinox. Your task is to dig it up on that day, then leave the object in direct sunlight for several hours once you’ve done so.
I did this ceremony a few years ago, blowing into a quartz crystal, asking that doubt and skepticism be transformed via the crystal and the assistance of the spirits, especially the Earth Mother, into faith and discernment. I buried the crystal close to the roots of a tree in a nearby park. At the spring Equinox, I retrieved it, feeling certain that it had not been disturbed. I know that my faith and my discernment strengthened over the six-month period and attribute this growth to this ceremony.
Regardless of how you honor or celebrate either of these seasonal markers, make it a point to express your gratitude and appreciation as much as possible. I know that when I hear someone say to me, “thank you,” or “I appreciate you,” or “I’m so grateful for you (or your help)”, it always warms my heart. I know when I sincerely express that to someone else, I also feel the reward of gratitude and breathe it in.