The witchiest time of the year is almost upon us – are you ready for it? As autumn draws ever closer, let’s look at the harvest festival of Mabon and how you can give thanks at this time of year.
I’m usually a last-minute witch – chucking herbs in a pot and calling it ‘magick’ on the day of big festivals – but this year I wanted to take some time to really step back and look at the next Pagan festival on the Wheel of the Year: Mabon. It deserves our full attention.
What is Mabon?
Mabon is the second harvest festival on the Wheel and happens on or around 21st September, the autumn equinox. Back in August, we saw the corn harvest in the form of Lammas (or Lughnasadh) where cultures across the world make corn dollies to celebrate a good harvest and welcome in an even better one for the following year – but now a slightly darker festival is about to come along.
In many countries, the autumn equinox was a time to revere and speak to relatives that had passed over to the other side. This tradition now seems more akin to Halloween/Samhain but, as we slip into the autumn months and the light fades away, now is actually the perfect time to be looking at the darker side of life and thinking about the uncomfortable things we usually shy away from.
There is a tendency to skip over Mabon as we gear up to Samhain, perhaps the biggest festival on the Wheel. Why might that be? I believe Mabon’s first hints of darkness don’t sit well with us; we aren’t quite ready to give up the light of summer and begin the more introspective processes that autumn and winter can bring.
While there is an element of darkness to Mabon, it is still firmly a harvest festival and is closely linked with apples and sweet fruit. Bring on the apple pie! Read on for some heartening recipes that will keep you warm this September.
Falling into autumn
I’ve always struggled with this time of year because I never want to say goodbye to the sun. In my book, I talk about my feelings towards this time of year. While every other witchy person is buying their Halloween treats and kicking up leaves, I’m still trying to find the small spots of sunshine at the end of the garden. Letting go of summer always feels like a mourning period.
Mabon, just like the autumn equinox that houses it, is a time of embracing balance in your life – welcoming in the dark and the light. To honour this, journaling your emotions can really help you get a handle on the change and juxtapositions that are occurring at this time of year. Honour your ancestors by including photographs on your altar, making their favourite foods or visiting places you once went to together. This might be tricky, particularly if your loss is very recent, but finding light in the darkness can be a way of easing any sadness that autumn might stir up.
I find that a good way to keep grounded and to stay focused on the light is to make plenty of harvest food! Take a look at some of these recipes for the autumn equinox:
- Make rosehip syrup – Lucy McRobert recipe, BBC Wildlife
- Apple Dapple cake
- Dark Mother Mabon Honey Wheat Cake
If you’d like to find out more about the Pagan festival of Mabon or ways to celebrate at this time of year, my book The Wheel is now available for pre-order at your favourite bookstore. You can also pre-order for Kindle, Kobo and Google Books.
Next week in this blog series, I’ll be talking about witchy familiars and where they first came from. But for now, enjoy the equinox and eat cake!