Summer has come to a close. Up until now, the days have been longer than the night, but after Mabon, night and darkness reign.
In traditional cultures the days at this time of year are filled with harvesting, cleaning up and preparing for Winter. The Harvest Festival, Mabon, is celebrated at the Fall Equinox. It is a celebration and a time of rest after the work of harvest is done; giving thanks for the abundance of life and calling in protection for the cold nights of winter to come. It is a time to receive inner and outer gifts and insights.
The heartaches of this Summer call for us to steep ourselves in appreciation for what the ways the land sustains us with her bounty and beauty. It is a powerful act of sovereignty to recognize the ripple that is created by the small acts we do each day. When we honor our needs and longings, tend to the health of the Earth and her creatures we become conscious of the ways we contribute to the creation of the new story and new world that is coming forth. We feel and know that we are sourceful and powerful agents of change.
Mabon, like Ostara, reminds us about balance. At the Fall Equinox, like it’s counterpart, the Spring Equinox, day and night are of equal length. The cycle of life is moving towards completion. The sun’s power is waning as it begins to move south, nights grow longer and colder.
Gaia responds to the shorter amounts of light by going to seed, by pulling her energy back down into the roots, into the dark soil. The sap in the trees begins to retreat back down into the roots, leaves that were once the lush green of summer, take on the fiery colors of autumn and begin to drop. We are reminded that change is the only constant as the Wheel of the Year continues to turn and will continue as it takes us through the darkness of Winter and into the light of Spring.
On our life path and with our soul work, it is the moment of reaping what you have sown, time to look at the hopes and aspirations set at Imbolc(February) and Ostara(March) and reflect on how they have manifested. The Aspen tree, the ogham tree of Mabon, guides us in examining our own ripeness and evaluating our life; harvesting what is useful and cutting away what is not. It is time to complete projects, to clear out and let go of that which is no longer wanted or needed as we prepare for the descent so that the winter can offer a time for reflection and peace. Like Gaia herself, it is time to plant seeds of new ideas and hopes which will lie dormant but nourished in the dark, until the return of Spring.
The Mabon Equinox Altar
Your altar can be created using the very best produce you can find from field, forest and market, from garden and the wild. Apples, pears, rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries, juniper berries, pine cones, oregon grape, aspen or poplar branches, the possibilities are vast. If you collect from the wild, curb being greedy - always leave plenty of fruit and berries for the birds and wee creatures.
Make an outdoor shrine for the nature spirits in thanks for the bounty they help to provide. Leave one of each flower, fruit and vegetable that you have, as a gift.
Ways to Celebrate:
Have a Great Feast of Thanksgiving. Reclaim the rite of Thanksgiving, an honoring of the land. Rekindle your own connection to the land, the way you belong to the land and not it to you. Research and bring forth your own indigenous lineage and customs. I have offered some from my Celtic lineages but you may wish to call forth others with respect and honor.
Celebrate with a feast for friends and family using as much fruit & veg, locally grown, as you can.
Go for a walk and collect as much of nature's wild abundance as you can, while respecting the need to leave enough for everyone else including the nature spirits. You will find rosehips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries, pine cones, juniper berries and more. Remember the fruit is the carrier of the precious seed.
Clear Out and Complete.
We think of Spring as the time to clear out but now is the perfect time to complete unfinished projects and clear your home of unwanted stuff. Prepare to hibernate!
Plant Bulbs, Trees, Shrubs and Perennials
This is an excellent time to plant tree seeds and shrubs. They have all of winter in the darkness to establish strong and prepare to germinate. Plant bulbs which will hide in the earth until early Spring beckons. Make each one a hope, idea or aspiration for Spring and wait until their little green sprouts show above ground - to remind you planted in Fall. Write a story of the hopes, dreams and aspirations that you bury in the ground where they are safe.
Create a protection bundle - this is especially helpful if you find yourself getting depressed as the dark half the year moves in. Ritual, Spell work and prayers related to protection and security are appropriate now, as well as those for self-confidence, prosperity, harmony and balance. Use this time to set an intention for inner peace and strength during the next two seasons.
Contemplation Questions for Mabon:
What are you harvesting in your life right now, what are the fruits of your experiences this year, what skills, new habits, and beautiful memories do you want to pluck and store to savor throughout the dark half of the year?
Identify the dried stalks of old habits, unfinished projects and old ways of seeing- your act of clearing them away, physically, figuratively and ritually bring to light what has already come to pass- they are dried up and spent, cut them away, send them no more energy.
What is it you are clearing away? What debris is needing to be cleared away in your life?
What are you dreams, wishes and plans for the next cycle? Imagine yourself planting the bulbs of these dreams safely within the darkness to be nurtured through the next two seasons.