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Mabon, the Fall Equinox

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Raye gardens organically, harvests rainwater, strives to eat locally, and honors the gods from her home in the Pacific Northwest.

The Autumnal Equinox

In September is the Fall Equinox, which has come to be called Mabon by many contemporary Neo-Pagans. Occurring traditionally on September 21st, this is the day when the hours of daylight and nighttime are once again balanced. Calender days from now until the Winter Solstice will slowly get shorter and shorter in their daylight hours. Remember to check with a modern astronomical chart or website to learn the exact day and time of the Equinox.

Agriculturally, this time of year the harvest is now in full swing or even starting to wind down, with late summer and fall fruits, vegetables and grains being gathered up before winter. This is the time of year a lot of canning or preserving of garden foods takes place. Hunting season also starts around this time, and this was when farmers would slaughter animals and preserve meat for the coming months as well.

This holiday is the last of the harvest holidays which began with the summer solstice and continued with Lammas. If you were to think of a secular holiday which matches up with this one, this is really the most like a Pagan Thanksgiving.

Symbols of the season

Harvest vegetables like gourds and squash and autumn flowers are suitable for table centerpieces and altar or hearth displays.

Harvest vegetables like gourds and squash and autumn flowers are suitable for table centerpieces and altar or hearth displays.

Links and Info about Mabon

About the Autumnal Equinox

Harvest Grains

The fall equinox marks the end of the seasonal harvest of grains and other grass crops.

The fall equinox marks the end of the seasonal harvest of grains and other grass crops.

The Many Celebrations of the Fall Equinox

Druids know this celebration as “Mea’n Fo’mhair” and honor the Green Man, God of the Forest, and his trees with poured offerings of ciders and wine. Norse pagans celebrate this time as Winter Finding, a time period that runs from the Sabbat until October 15th. This night is known as Winter’s Night and is the Norse New Year. The Wiccan New Year is also approaching at October’s end. It is known the ancient Mayans observed this date as well. At the pyramid at Cihickén Itzá, seven triangles of light fall on the pyramid’s staircase on this date only. In Japan, there is a six-day celebration around the equinox. This holiday is to honor Higan-e, the “other shore” and is based on six “perfections”: giving, observance of the precepts, perseverance, effort, meditation and wisdom.

There is an interesting folk legend involving eggs and the equinoxes. It was believed that since the hours of light and dark were equal, it would be possible to balance an egg on end during these magickal times. Sometimes the rumor specified that the balancing would only occur during the few hours that most closely fell before and after the actual time of the equinox. In reality, occasionally eggs can be balanced on the larger end if the conditions of the fluids inside the egg, the temperature, balancing surface, etc. all come together just right, however this is more specific to the actual egg used, and is regardless of the day of the year.


Corn Braiding and Knotting

Corn dollies can be symbolic, like the one shown above, or they can be realistic and look more like little people.

Corn dollies can be symbolic, like the one shown above, or they can be realistic and look more like little people.

Making Harvest Corn Dollies

At harvest time, many ancient Pagan communities felt that the growing or harvest spirit had to be preserved over the winter. The very last sheaves of wheat or stalks of corn in the fields were felt to be where these energies gathered as the crops were harvested. These last bits harvested where what were used to main a variety of figures known as corn dollies (also spelled corn dollys).

Sometimes these were literal female figurines, often tied from dried corn stalks. A few handfuls folded over each other easily makes a small figure. Other times these were symbolic knots or braids made from dried wheat sheaves, braided while the plant material is still somewhat moist and pliable.


More Info About Corn Dollies

  • How To Make Corn Dollies
    Wheat weaving is as old as farming, and a heck of a lot easier. If you can braid hair or tie an overhand knot, you' ll be weaving in no time.
  • Guild of Straw Craftsmen
    Working in straw in its many forms - here is where you can learn lots of different ways to braid straw.
  • American Museum of Straw Art
    The American Museum of Straw Art shall exist to foster an understanding of the straw arts in all of its complexities, through various exhibitions of its cultural significance, folklore, history and technique.

Watching over the fall harvest...

Scarecrows symbolize the fall bounty, being stuffed with straw from the grain harvest, as well as being a protective totem.

Scarecrows symbolize the fall bounty, being stuffed with straw from the grain harvest, as well as being a protective totem.

Mabon Feasting

With the harvest in full swing, and mornings and nights just starting to grow crisper, this is the time of nature's bounty and thanksgiving. Having a large dinner party to mark the equinox and celebrate the abundance of the season is a great way to bring the whole family or your spiritual community together.

Having a potluck meal is perfect for this time of year. Encourage your guests to bring things they grew and made themselves. Dishes that offer up the last of the summer fruit or which offer a first taste of fall fruits should be especially welcome. Making homemade bread in the party home is a great way to set the mood with the fantastic aroma.

Exchanging canned foods is a great way to share your harvest and it allows everyone to diversify their pantry before winter. As part of the dinner activities, set up a produce swap so that everyone can show off and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The different squashes, both edible and decorative, are favorites at this time of year.

The different squashes, both edible and decorative, are favorites at this time of year.

Celebrate the Harvest with a Mabon Feast!

Autumnal Equinox at Stonehenge

Mabon Messages

Raye (author) from Seattle, WA on September 15, 2013:

If you have access to the materials, they are really fun to make.

Mackenzie Sage Wright on September 14, 2013:

Great Article. I really love the wheat braid.

Madalain Ackley from Richmond, Virginia on September 21, 2009:

Blessed Mabon.

Raye (author) from Seattle, WA on September 17, 2009:

Which holidays are perceived as harvest festivals can differ with traditions. So, it's clear you and I come from different Neo-Pagan branches.

Bree indigo on September 17, 2009:

Actually, Mabon is the second of Harvest Festival's, Samhain being the third and Lammas the first. Lammas is the beginning of Autumn, thus being the beginning of the Harvest.

Blessed Be.

Eva Thomas from Georgia on September 07, 2009:

I always look forward to Mabon, it brings me that much closer to Halloween/Samhain.

Raye (author) from Seattle, WA on September 22, 2008:

Many Mabon Blessings to you too, gamergirl! We're picking the last of our summer garden and getting ready to plant the winter crops.

Kiz Robinson from New Orleans, Louisiana on September 22, 2008:

Happy Mabon relache!

Bob Ewing from New Brunswick on August 04, 2007:

Harvest Festivals and other agiculturaly connected celebrations remind us of the importance of Nature and Life's cyle.

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