The Autumn Equinox (derived from the latin word aequinoctium which means 'equal night') marks one of the two occasions in the year where the sun crosses the celestial equator or the imaginary line which crosses the sky dividing the northern and southern hemispheres) the other of course being the Spring Equinox. In the wheel of the Year it is considered a lesser Sabbat.
(Altar set up courtesy M. Lancashire)To Pagans and Witches it is also know as Mabon. The second Harvest (post Lammas) and the preparatory phase for the coming of Winter and the end of Summer.
To some, this is a Sabbat of balance and harmony. To others, of deep preparation both physically and psychically. There are those Traditions which hold that this is a time where Our Lord lays 'in state' and our Lady makes ready for his ascent as the 'conquering hero' to claim her. Together they will descend to the underworld and we mortals wait in silence, reflection, introspection and readiness, yet travel with our Gods within the inner landscapes. Some Traditions do not observe this Sabbat. Some non Traditions and Traditions only observe the harmony and balance and reflective qualities the Sabbat elicits. We reflect upon what has come to pass, and what is yet to come.
More practically it turns our attention to the work of our ancestors and farmers who at this time look toward the harvest of apples, pears and the last of the vine harvests in readiness for pressing for cider and wines. This was also common to the ancient Greeks with their harvest Oschophoria and across other cultures similar observances are noted.
The name Mabon is also known as the welsh "Mabon ap Modron" or Mabon vab Modron, Son, son of Mother, a male personified as youth. He is know via his mothers line. Ross (1996) states that he does not appear to have a father in the traditions which appear in the mabinogi but another Mabon-Mabon vab Mellt is referred to 'in medieval contexts and may have originally been the same deity'. She relates that this may refer to Maponus however son of Matrona. Although no seemingly evidence proves the existence of worship there is suggestion that Maponus was worshipped within the Southern parts of Scotland into Cumbria, known as both the Hunter, concerned with poetry and music, the wooded lands and Exalted Prisoner snatched and incarcerated as a newborn as featured in the Mabinogion. Although resting in folklore, Ross suggests certain evidence certainly points toward earlier mythology.
For us Autumn represents the time of the Heroic Quest of the God and his journey toward the Dark Lord resplendent in his authority and assumption of Godhead at Samhain. His Queen sitting beside him within his realm. Our rituals reflect this inner reality which according to Vivianne Crowley was also practised by our ancestors. To use a quote from Vivianne 'the method of portrayal was to use allegories found in Nature; for t was in part through observation of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth in Nature that human beings understood that this too was their fate".
However you celebrated Mabon, we hope you celebrated in keeping in honour of our ancestors, in truth and happiness for yourselves and the future of our children.
(Courtesy M. Lancashire)
References: Mary Jones "Celtic History"
Anne Ross "Pagan Celtic Britain"
Vivianne Crowley 'Wicca: The Old Religion in a New Millennia'