The full moon nearest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon and farmers would harvest their crops by this moon, as part of the second harvest celebration.
This festival is now named after the the God of Welsh mythology, Mabon. He is the Child of Light and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess, Modron. In truth, there is little evidence that Mabon was celebrated in Celtic countries and the term Mabon was applied as recently as the 1970's. All part of our reconstructed Paganism...
Here is another point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year, its counterpart being Ostara or the Spring Equinox. Night and day are again of equal length and in perfect equilibrium - dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But we are again on the cusp of transition and from now the year now begins to wane and from this moment darkness begins to defeat the light. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion, the Sun's power is waning and from now on the nights grow longer and the days are are shorter and cooler. The sap of trees returns back to their roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the fire of autumn, to the flaming reds, oranges and golds. We are returning to the dark from whence we came.
But before we do that, we're gonna party (again)! This is the Second Harvest, the Fruit Harvest and the Great Feast of Thanksgiving. The Goddess is radiant as Harvest Queen and the God finally dies with His gift of pure love with the cutting of the last grain. He will return. As the grain harvest is safely gathered in from Lammas and reaches completion, we enjoy the abundance of fruit and vegetables at this time. It is time to thank the waning Sun for the wealth of harvest bestowed upon us. It sometimes seems that each Festival requires the making of celebration and the giving of thanks, but this really is so, each turn of the Wheel brings both inner and outer gifts and insights.
So Mabon is a celebration and also a time of rest after the labour of harvest. In terms of life path it is the moment of reaping what you have sown, time to look at the hopes and aspirations of Imbolc and Ostara and reflect on how they have manifested. It is time to complete projects, to clear out and let go that which is no longer wanted or needed as we prepare for descent, so that the winter can offer a time for reflection and peace. And 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.
Symbols of Mabon
The Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, is a traditional symbol for Mabon. It is a wonderful symbol for the wealth of harvest and is beautifuly balanced symbol which is both male (phallic) and female (hollow and receptive)
The apple is the symbol of the Fruit Harvest. The apple figures significantly in many sacred traditions. It is a symbol for life and immortality, for healing, renewal, regeneration and wholeness. It is associated with beauty, long life and restored youth. The Ogham name for apple is Quert and Quert is the epitome of health and vitality. The apple is at the heart of the Ogham grove and is the source of life. For Pagans, the apple contains a 'secret'. Cut an apple width ways and it reveals a pentagram containing seeds. It is a much loved symbol of Paganism. The five points represent the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water with Spirit at the top, and thus also the directions of East, South, West, North and Within.
A circle around the pentagram represents the eternal circle/cycle of life and nature, and of wholeness. In ritual and ceremony the pentacle corresponds to the element of Earth. It has long been believed to be a protection against evil for both the person and the home, worn as an amulet or used to guard entrances to the home through windows and doors. So it has a modern day threefold function: as a mark or sign of being a Pagan, as the element of Earth in ritual, and as a powerful protector.
Colours of Mabon
From green to red, orange, yellow, brown and gold.
The Mabon Altar
Your altar should be dressed in the very best produce you can find from field, forest and market, from garden and the wild. Apples, pears, damsons, sloes, rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries, the possibilities are large. If you collect from the wild, be not greedy - always leave plenty of fruit and berries for the birds and wee creatures.
This is a very good time to 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.
Things To Do
Great Feast of Thanksgiving.
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 wild damsons, sloes, rosehips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn 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!
This is an excellent time to plant tree seeds and shrubs. They have all of winter in the darkness to establish and 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 noses show above ground - to remind you!
Buttermilk Bread Charm for Mabon.
You will need:
3 mugs of strong white flour
500 ml of Buttermilk (available from the supermarket)
I teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda
Mabon ribbon in your choice of colour - red, orange, yellow, gold, brown
A handful of dried fruit of your choice - dates, raisins, sultanas, currants
Place the flour and dried fruit in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Sieve in the blended salt and soda and pour in the buttermilk. Mix well with a wooden spoon until the dough feels springy. If it feels too sloppy just add a little more flour. Turn it onto a board and cover with a fine dusting of flour. Pat it with your hands until you have a round shape. Take a sharp knife and score lightly into eight sections, one for each festival. Our picture shows the bread cut into five sections, making a pentacle.
Place onto a greased baking tray and pop your buttermilk bread into a moderate oven for about 20-25 minutes. Keep and eye on it. When the bread is ready it will change colour and it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool completely on a wire rack. When it is cool, tie it with Mabon ribbon.
Take time to concentrate on the bread you have created and turn the loaf three times saying "From the fields and through the stones, into fire, Mabon Bread, as the Wheel turns may all be fed. Goddess Bless."
Now take your bread and share it with your family and friends and pass on the generous blessings of this bright and bountiful festival. Eat it fresh, as soon as it is made if you can.
Recipe donated by the Counter Enchantress. Adapted by the Boss Lady with permission.
The Counter Enchantress is discovering that you can add almost anything appropriate to this simple bread recipe and it STILL WORKS beautifully. You can decide for yourself what the appropriate additions are for a particular festival, in this case dried fruit for Mabon, and just do it. There is much kitchen magic in working with one recipe through the Wheel of the Year just changing it a little as the wheel turns.....
Somerset Apple Cake
We are very blessed here in that we live in the sacred Isle of Avalon, also called the Isle of Apples, in Somerset, England. And we are indeed surrounded, still, by orchards which grow apples both for Somerset's famous cider-making and for eating. One of our family pleasures is a local orchard which grows many traditional varieties of apples. Most of what they grow goes to make apple juice. But just before they do that, local people are invited over a weekend to go pick apples for themselves and their families. And it's such fun to spend an afternoon among the apple trees within sight of Glastonbury Tor. Chalice Well Trust is developing an organic apple orchard on the slopes of the Tor and now also produces small quantities of delicious organic apple juice which are sold to visitors. It's a limited supply and very precious - reserved for very special occasions or ceremony in our household.
Below is an authentic Somerset Apple Cake recipe. Eat it either cold, or warm with cream.
340gms/12oz self-raising flour
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
170gms/6oz caster sugar
450gms/16oz cooking apples, finely chopped
a little milk
a little demerara sugar
1. Rub the fat into the flour and salt. Add the sugar and cinnamon. Make a well in the mixture and drop in the egg and fruit. Mix well; if the dough is a little too stiff, add some milk.
2. Place in an eight-inch greased cake tin, and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on the top.
3. Bake for one-and-a-half to two hours, in a moderate oven (Gas Mark 4/180°C/350°F), until cooked. Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a cooling rack.
Above all, have Fun, celebrate Life & learn from the Wheel! xxx
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