Mabon – Celebrating Harvest

Mabon or the Autumn Equinox occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on Tuesday 22nd September.  Day and night will be of equal length for the second time in the Wheel of the Year (the first time was at Ostara, the Spring Equinox).  The Equinox also marks the official start of autumn, although with some of the very chilly days we’ve had in Yorkshire this September I’ve felt pretty convinced it started early this year.  I’m a big fan of autumn, it’s probably my favourite season as you can tell from this post about the joys of autumn from a couple of years ago.

Mabon is actually a relatively new name for the Autumn Equinox having been adopted by Pagans in the 1970s.  In some traditions the festival is referred to as Alban Elued or simply Harvest.  While Lammas marked the first harvest of grain, Mabon is a celebration of the fruit and vegetable harvest. As harvest festivals are celebrated in churches and schools (or would be in normal years), Mabon is the pagan equivalent. My memories of school harvest festivals seem to involve singing ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ while being the only one clutching something knobbly or misshapen recently pulled from our garden (my parents were heavily influenced by ‘The Good Life’ although their efforts at self-sufficiency didn’t go quite as far as Tom and Barbara’s) while all of the other children brought tins of sweetcorn or shiny shop-bought carrots.  I digress but the point is that this celebration of harvest is eons old and has been celebrated in different forms throughout the centuries.

Sunrise over the canalThe balance of light and dark at Mabon is a time for reconciling opposites: light/dark, female/male, young/old and preparing for transition. We know that the dark is returning, that daylight will be in shorter supply in the coming months.  As we give thanks for the gifts and joys of summer, we prepare for the winter ahead.  Having a good clear out of our home can be really cathartic at this time of the year as we prepare to hibernate in the months ahead. (I’m writing this knowing that hibernation may be more literal this year as coronavirus restrictions return and that brings an additional weight which makes this feel less like a ritual and more of a necessity.)

Apples in a basketThis year I’ve found writing a powerful way to mark the Sabbats particularly as it’s not always been possible to celebrate with other people (unless we meet on Zoom which isn’t exactly the same). These are some writing prompts that I use to celebrate Mabon:

  • Use a fruit or vegetable as a prompt. Hold it in your hand, smell it, taste it. Describe it using all of your senses and then write about a memory associated with it.
  • Let go of the summer with joy by making a gratitude list. After you’ve made your list, take one or two items from it and write about them more fully. Use your senses to make the description as rich as possible and capture the beauty of summer days (or nights).
  • Mabon is a space to reflect on both what we’ve achieved in the year so far.  Write a ‘I’ve done it list’ (this is the opposite of a ‘to do list’ where you record the things you’ve achieved rather than the things you’ve yet to do).  Include the little things as well as the big ones.  If you’re working in a group share your list (or part of it).

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I hope your Mabon celebrations bring balance and calm to give you strength and focus for the transition into the next phase of the year’s cycle.


Alys xx


Image credits:

Sunrise reflections © Tim Pearson 2020 – Instagram: wolds_photo

Apples and Leaf © Rebekka D from Pixabay

Conker © S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

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