Mabon – A Solitary Ritual

Mabon – A Solitary Ritual September 13, 2015

Holidays and holy days are better with friends and family.  But many Pagans maintain solitary practices.  Even if you work with a group, sometimes you can’t be with them for one reason or another.  And sometimes your group meets on a convenient day but you feel the need to celebrate on the exact day.  Whatever the reason, many Pagans will be celebrating the Autumn Equinox by themselves.

Mabon is the second of the three Celtic harvest festivals.  It’s the apple harvest and the celebration of the equinox, the time of equal day and night.  The actual equinox is Wednesday, September 23 at 3:22 AM CDT. For the next six months, the nights will be longer than the days.

This holiday has many names and Mabon is among the newest – it was named by Aiden Kelly in 1973.  OBOD Druids call it Alban Elfed, “The Light of the Water.”  But as with all the modern Pagan holidays, what you call it isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you observe it.

This ritual honors Manannan mac Lir in his role as King of the Otherworld.  As always, you are free to honor another deity instead, but if so please give careful thought as to who and why.

Setup

Mabon altar 2015 05This ritual can be done outdoors or indoors, day or night.  I prefer to do rituals outdoors whenever possible, but that’s a personal preference, not a requirement.  Just find a time and place where you won’t be disturbed.

Set an altar in the center of your space with three candles, matches or lighter, a bell, a wand or athame, incense, bread, and a drink for offering and sharing.  This script calls for wine, but cider – made from apples – is especially appropriate, and mead or water will also work well.

You will also need an apple (any kind – pick one you like), a large plate or cutting board, and a knife large enough to cut the apple in half through its center.

If you’re indoors you’ll need an offering bowl.  Set candles in the four directions.

Preparation

Take a bath, listen to music, wash your hands, change your clothes.  I rarely “robe up” for solitary ritual, but I do like to wear some of my Pagan jewelry.

Sharon Knight’s “Mistress of MacLyr” makes an excellent meditation to get you the proper frame of mind for this ritual.

Light the incense and do a final check to make sure everything is in place.

Opening

Approach the altar and pause for a moment of silent meditation.  Ground and center using whatever method you find most effective.  Then ring the bell three times.

Say “I come to this place and this time to celebrate the holy day of Mabon.”

Pick up the wand or athame, or if you prefer, just use your index finger.  Move to the East, pause, then slowly walk the circle clockwise, drawing the circle as you go.  See the circle rising in deep blue light.  Make a complete circle, and see the ends joining together.

When you return to the East, set down the wand or athame and light the quarter candle.  Say “Spirits of the East, Spirits of Air, I call to you.  Come into this circle, I ask, and share your wisdom. On this sacred night of Mabon, welcome Air!

Move clockwise to the South.  Light the quarter candle and say “Spirits of the South, Spirits of Fire, I call to you.  Come into this circle, I ask, and share your inspiration.  On this sacred night of Mabon, welcome Fire!

Move clockwise to the West.  Light the quarter candle and say “Spirits of the West, Spirits of Water, I call to you.  Come into this circle, I ask, and share your love.  On this sacred night of Mabon, welcome Water!

Move clockwise to the North.  Light the quarter candle and say “Spirits of the North, Spirits of Earth, I call to you.  Come into this circle, I ask, and share your stability.  On this sacred night of Mabon, welcome Earth!

Move clockwise back to the East, then return to the main altar.

Invocations

Light the first candle on the altar and say “Spirits of the land, spirits of this place, you who were here long before me, I invite you into this circle.  Join this celebration of Mabon, I ask, and accept this offering of food and drink, given in hospitality and in love.

Raise the bread and wine in offering, then crumble the bread and pour the wine onto the ground or into the offering bowl.

“Land spirits – hail and welcome!”

Light the second candle on the altar and say “Ancestors of blood and ancestors of spirit, you whose child I am and on whose foundations I build, because of you I have life.  Join this circle, I ask, and add your blessings to this rite.  Accept this offering of food and drink, given in hospitality and in love.

Raise the bread and wine in offering, then crumble the bread and pour the wine onto the ground or into the offering bowl.

“Blessed ancestors – hail and welcome!”

Light the third candle on the altar and say “Manannan mac Lir, Lord of Inis Mán to whom rent is paid each Summer Solstice, You who rides the waves of the sea, I ask Your presence and Your blessings as I celebrate Mabon, the Autumn Equinox.

Manannan son of Lir, Ruler of the Otherworld, You who gave the Silver Branch and the Golden Cup to King Cormac, I ask your blessings on this celebration of harvest.  May it sustain me through the coming winter.  Manannan, please accept this offering of food and drink, given in hospitality and in love.”

Raise the bread and wine in offering, then crumble the bread and pour the wine onto the ground or into the offering bowl.

“Manannan mac Lir – hail and welcome!”

Main Working

Pick up the apple.  Hold it in both hands.  Feel its smoothness.  See its color.  Smell its fragrance.

Think about where the apple came from.  Not where you bought it, but where it grew from bud to fruit:  a particular tree in a particular orchard in a particular location.  Can you see it?  Can you feel it?

Visualize the growth of the apple from bud to flower to tiny apple to large apple, compressing the months from Spring to Autumn into a few moments.  Meditate on its growth, and what that growth means to you.

Mabon altar 2015 02Now set the apple down and pick up the knife.  Cut through the apple at its center, as shown in the picture.  Set the knife down and pick up one half of the apple.  See the color of the apple beneath its peel. Smell its fragrance, stronger now that it’s been cut open.

Look at the center and see the natural pentagram formed by the seeds.  In many modern Pagan traditions, this represents the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, and the fifth element of Spirit.  In Arthurian lore, the apple comes to us from Avalon, the Isle of Apples where Arthur went to sleep until Britain needs him again.  The apple is a reminder of the healing powers of the Earth and the restorative powers of the Otherworld.

Gaze at the pentagram and contemplate the connections between the apple, the Earth, and the Otherworld.  Don’t force thoughts to come and don’t judge those that do – just gaze into the core of the apple and let the Earth and the Otherworld speak to you through it.  Maintain the meditation as long as it feels right and helpful.

Mabon altar 2015 04When it feels like the meditation should be over, slice off a portion of the apple.  Hold the slice up and say “Manannan mac Lir, please accept this offering.”  Break the slice with your hands and drop it into the offering bowl.

Slice off a second piece, hold it up and say “Mighty Ancestors, please accept this offering.” Break the slice with your hands and drop it into the offering bowl.

Slice off a third piece, hold it up and say “Spirits of this place, please accept this offering.” Break the slice with your hands and drop it into the offering bowl.

Now take a bite of the apple and taste its flavors.  Feel it refreshing you, filling you with the power of the Earth and the power of the Otherworld.  Eat as much as you want, but no more.  When you’re finished, set any of the apple that’s remaining back on the plate.

Take a bite of the bread and a sip of the wine.  In your own words, give thanks for the second harvest and what it has brought you.

Farewells

Say “Manannan mac Lir, I thank You for your presence and Your blessings. May there be peace and honor between us now and forever.  Hail and farewell. 

Say “Ancestors of blood and ancestors of spirit, I thank you for your presence and your blessings. May there be peace and honor between us now and forever.  Hail and farewell.  

Say “Spirits of the land, spirits of this place, I thank you for your presence and your blessings. May there be peace and honor between us now and forever.  Hail and farewell. 

Closing

Say “Spirits of the North, West, South, and East, Spirits of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, I thank you for your presence and your blessings. May there be peace and honor between us now and forever.  Hail and farewell. 

Pick up the wand or athame, or if you prefer, just use your index finger.  Move to the East, pause, then slowly walk the circle counterclockwise, pulling up the circle as you go.  See the last of your circle disappear as you return to the East.

Ring the bell three times.

Say “This rite of Mabon is complete.  Hail and farewell.”

Afterward

Take a breath.  Turn on some music, or if you were playing background music, change to something lively and vocal.  Drink some water.  Turn on the lights. Do something to reorient yourself in the ordinary world.

Extinguish the candles and the incense, then begin to pick up and put away.

If you performed this ritual indoors, dispose of the offerings in an appropriate manner.  I prefer to deposit them outdoors in an inconspicuous place where they’ll be eaten by wild creatures.  Depending on where you are, you may need to do something else.

You may wish to write about your experience in your journal, particularly if your experience was strong.  Focus on recording the experience, not on your interpretation of the experience.  You have the rest of your life to figure out what it all means, but you have only a short time before your recollection of the events begins to fade.

* * * * * * * * *

May you be blessed by Manannan mac Lir, may your apple harvest be bountiful, and may your Mabon be bright and joyous!

Mabon altar 2015 01

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