Mabon initiates of the season of Autumn, as the second harvest of fruits and vegetables. This happens at the exact moment we enter Libra – otherwise known as the Autumnal Equinox. So what is a Witch to do?
The Witches’ Creed by Doreen Valiente gave us this excellent idea: “When day-time and night-time are equal, When sun is at greatest and least, The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned, And Witches gather in feast.” Mabon is the feastiest of feasts for me. It is a Witch’s Thanksgiving!
In our Wheel of the Year mythos at Mabon, we celebrate the God and Goddess as they begin their descent into the shadows. In this rite, we honor the balance between the bounty of the upper world, and the release into the underworld. They know the sacred order of the “perfect,” complete cycle; they teach us that life is sustained through death, just as death contains the promise of rebirth.
The key to one side of any polarity is found in the heart of it’s opposite, as symbolized in the yin/yang. That is the mystery revealed in balancing the lessons with the sabbat on the opposite side of the wheel, in this case, Ostara. The fruits that are cut down at Mabon will grow again both as the seeds that rise next year at Spring Equinox, but also by sustaining the living now. As we are fed another year, the gods live on through us.
This time of year, I ask myself how I will stay in balance of giving and receiving? Not being “the weak link” means we take responsibility to help maintain the balance within the web of existence. It takes hard work to bring in the harvest, and many hands working together toward the common goal of survival. How have we expressed gratitude for all that we are bringing in from the fields of the gods? How have we helped our fellow man lately? The Gods instruct us to FEAST! Let us bring our best and share in what we have with generosity.
Several years now, our coven has enacted this ritual around the family-style dining table. We’ve used 5′ folding tables to create a giant doughnut shaped configuration with enough seats for everyone in attendance. One of the end tables is set like an altar where the Priest and Priestess lead the ceremony. The table is dressed with fine tablecloths and decorated with fall foliage and a cornucopia. All participants bring their ritual chalices, for use in offering toasts and libations.
This one time, we forgo the buffet line, bring out the nice dishes, and actually set bowls and platters overflowing with food for passing around. I especially like to use the heirloom dishes I’ve inherited from my mothers, as a way to honor their memory. The scene we set is just like that moment of redemption at the end of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. All the better if someone slices up some Roast Beast! It gives me the warm and fuzzies just thinking about it.
Mabon Ritual of Feasting and Toasting – Family Style!
Altar goods needed:
- Singing bowl or bell.
- Candles for Spirit, God, Goddess, Ancestors.
- An apple
- Athame, Boline and Chalice
- Large Offering bowl
- Large pitcher for blending the chalice brew: (Depending on how many celebrants you have, you’ll need more ingredients.)
- 1 part Apple Cider
- 1 part pomegranate juice
- 4 parts Red table wine
- 1 part infusion of chamomile and passion flower. (An infusion is a strong tea allowed to steep in boiling water for more than 20 minutes, or until fully cooled.)
We work together to set the tables beautifully with a place setting for every celebrant.
Erecting the Temple
After all food and drink has been brought to the table, The priestess chimes the singing bowl, or bell, to call all celebrants to find a place to stand behind their chairs.
Welcome to the Feast
Priestess: Tonight we will feast in thanksgiving, offering gratitude for the bounty of our harvest, examining if we are in balance of giving and receiving. Let all that we do tonight serve the highest good of all involved, so mote it be!
All: So Mote it Be!
Cast the circle:
Chant as we take hands deosil: Hand to hand the circle is cast (for each hand taken) will to will the circle is cast (3x) heart to heart the circle is cast (3x) mind to mind the circle is cast (3x) spirit to spirit the circle is cast. (3x) spirit to spirit to spirit to spirit…. (raising hands to a peak of power, then cast the circle.)
Priestess: A ring of our energy dances around us. Together we close the sphere above us (bring hand to a peak above our heads) and below us (sweeps hands to close them pointing to the earth.) The circle is cast. Naught but love will enter in. Naught but love will emerge. We stand in a temple of our own making, between the worlds, in a time out of time. Blessed be!
Elemental Gates are opened: Powers of Air, Fire, Water and Earth! Be with us now at our Mabon Feast. Inspire us, Transform us, Accept us and make manifest our Great Work this night. Hail and Welcome!
All: Hail and Welcome!
Priest: Ancestors of land, blood and spirit, All those of Good Will and Aid, gather near and dine with us now. Hail and Welcome! (Lights black candle.)
Priestess: Calls Goddesses Demeter of the Harvest, and Persephone Queen of the Underworld (Lights Silver Candle)
Priest Calls Gods Dionysus of Wine and Abundance, and Hades Lord of the Underworld (Light Gold Candle)
Everyone please be seated at the table, holding our hands over the meal, channeling energy (chi) into the foods to bless them.
Blessing the Feast
In this sacred time and place,
we celebrate the balance of the equinox
around our community feast table.
We’ve set a bountiful feast, for which we are thankful.
We enjoy many blessings of our harvests this turning,
and we receive them with humility and gratitude.
May this food and drink nourish our bodies,
and this assembly of friends nourish our hearts,
so that we may be strengthened for our journey into the coming dark.
At this time of our bounty, we remember times of lack.May the blessings of Spirit flow through us.
We remember that life gives itself in sacrifice so that others may live,
Knowing there are those who are suffering,
we hold them in the light of Divine love
and we offer a pledge to give of ourselves as we are able
in service for a greater harvest.
We are love and light, sacrifice and shadow,
toil and harvest. We are complete.
For all that is loss, there is gain.
For that which is despair, there is hope.
For the moments of pain, there are moments of joy.
For all that falls, there is the chance to rise again.
May we find balance in our lives as we find it in our hearts.
May we remain ever mindful, in deepest gratitude.
All: Blessed Be!
We pass the food around the table deosil, or clockwise, enjoying the meal and conversation with our beloved friends.
After celebrants are almost finished with their meal, the priest and priestess stand at the head of the table and continue the rite…celebrants are welcome to continue eating as they wish.
Blessing the Chalice and Cakes:
Priestess: In the Witch’s Pyramid of Power, as we celebrate it within our wheel of the year, this is the time when we switch gears from water’s outward flowing power of daring to experience the receptive power of acceptance. This is the time of the chalice.
Let’s create and bless our chalice brew to toast in gratitude for our harvest:
Apple Cider: The apple is a symbol of the harvest season, of the Goddess Demeter and the life force. You see a fruit which gives life, but you also see a fruit whose seeds give death with the poison cyanide. Life feeds on death. Like the great mother, who is the womb giving birth to new life, and is also the tomb who welcomes us in death. As it is, as it was, as it ever shall be: two halves of a whole, beginnings and endings, all are one within the balance.
(Priestess slices the apple transversely with the Boline and reveals the pentacle within, passes one half around to all the celebrants to see)
Within this balance of halves–Behold the mystery of the pentacle…the five pointed star. All matter in balance with Spirit.
Half the apple is added to the pitcher.
Priestess adds the apple cider to the pitcher and calls on its powers of balance, helping us to accept both the poison and the antidote offered through our Mabon rites. (pours in, chanting) Balance, Balance, Balance… (all repeat)
Pomegranate Juice: As we remember Persephone, maiden goddess who we welcomed back to the earth at the spring equinox, tonight we bid her farewell as she descends into the Underworld to rejoins Hades as his Queen. As the vitality of the earth recedes with her, may we all be sustained through the coming dark and remember that within the balance, we hold the promise of rebirth. (pours in, chanting) Promise, promise, promise…(all repeat)
Red Wine: Through the grapes of this wine we welcome Dionysus and the fruits of the vine that have grown to sustain us, not just with the bare necessities, but with delicious, abundant enjoyment! Wine is a miracle of transmutation of death, of rot and being consumed, into the refined Spirits that we enjoy. Dionysus teaches us to embrace life and to celebrate all of its aspects…even in decline. We add his vitality to the brew. (pours in, chanting) Abundance, abundance, abundance… (all repeat)
Herbal infusion: I add the herbal of water: chamomile and passion flower. I ask them to awaken within us their powers of acceptance. (pours in, chanting) Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance…(all repeat)
Pitcher of Brew is blessed with the athame by Priest and Priestess: As the chalice is to the Goddess, so the Athame is to the God, and together they are conjoined in blessedness.
Libation of drink is poured into the offering dish for the Gods.
Priest blesses the altar cakes, presenting them to everyone, saying May you never hunger.
Ritual of Toasting and Libations:
The Priestess carries the pitcher around the table to fill each of the celebrants chalices, saying to each, May you never thirst.
Each in turn, we stand, raising our chalice, offering a toast in gratitude for our personal harvests. All raise their glasses with a “Blessed Be” and drink to each other.
Then we pass the altar cakes and the offering dish. Each celebrant takes a piece of cake and splitting it in half, gives one piece in offering. I give this offering, and will sacrifice of myself this generous effort to give back to the web of existence, and further my Great Work in the world (tells everyone what that generous endeavor will be, pledging to complete that act before Samhain, the final harvest) Then eats their own half of the cake to be sustained for the coming Work.
Dissolving the Temple:
When all toasting is complete, and the meal is finished…
Closing: Blessed be this Mabon! Autumn is here and our Work is complete. It is time to dissolve our temple and step back into the flow of time and the mundane world.
Priest: Releases the Gods Hades and Dionysus, snuffs candle.
Priestess: Releases the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone, snuffs candle.
Priest: Releases the Ancestors, snuffs candle
Closing the elemental Gates: Powers of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Thank you for your presence at this feast. Aid us in completing our acts of generosity here in the middle world. We release you now to your elemental realms. Hail and Farewell.
We all stand and take hands once more.
Priestess: I open our circle widdershins (turning to the celebrant on her right) Blessed be! (They drop hands, and pass the blessing around until all hands are dropped.)
The circle is open, but never broken! Merry meet, Merry part…
All: And Merry meet again!
And now for some dessert…and more wine…
So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And Dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphame’s fair land shall receive us
In peace at the end of our days.
And Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment.
By Magic of old, be it done!
The Witch’s Creed, From Doreen Valiente’s, “Witchcraft For Tomorrow“