So is it pronounced “maybon” or “m’bon” or “maybn”? Perhaps you’ll skip over the whole bother of how to say it and just call it the Autumn Equinox. Maybe in your tradition there isn’t even a celebration at this time of year and you’re just waiting for Samhain-tide to roll around on the calendar. However you look at it, there will be plenty of Pagan people hoisting a pint or attending a ritual or forwarding a FaceBook meme that “proves” the real meaning of the word Mabon is linked to the tongue-twisting,Welsh phrase for “Aidan Kelly made it all up”.
And here’s the thing about Mabon – We’re not all that concerned with what the day is called or even how ancient it is (or isn’t), but we do like what it means to us.
Phoenix: It’s been stuck in my craw a bit, especially this year for some reason, about the use of the word ‘Mabon’. (Queue, my ancient ancestor voice)…Back in my day we called it the Autumn Equinox; and that was good enough for us! But seriously, a couple of decades ago I don’t remember folks using the term Mabon. It was the Equinox, the balance point, the opposite of the Spring. Even in the secular world I remember hearing the “first day of fall”. This was the point of the year where it was safe to start wearing wooly sweaters again and turning on the heater. As a kid I thought it actually meant something special and it sparked an excitement about the coming winter and all that comes with the seasonal changes.
Gwion: The common phrase I hear about this holiday is ‘second harvest” and that’s particularly apt for where we live. Around here, apples and tomatoes and all sorts of other delectables were harvested in July and August, but now we’re looking at pumpkins, squash and grapes to come in. Our public and private rituals tend to focus on abundance and balance (you know, that equinox thing). We note what we’ve harvested and what we are taking with us as we prepare for Samhain and a more introspective time of year.
Phoenix: We find ourselves at the balance point between light and dark, winter and summer, day and night. Things become equal, if only for a moment, and winter is coming (literally). The Equinox holds promise of cool days and early dark nights. The Equinox symbolizes the final kiss of summer, the farewell exit of the height of the sun and the beckoning arms of the darkness. For many of our ancestors, this was the final push before life started to turn indoors and slow down. For me, this is when life speeds up. Samhain-tide is always the busiest time of the year for this busy witch and then we’re all dragged into the commercial holidays and that keep me on my toes as well. It is at this time of the year that I remember the balance and sit with that energy. It is a perfect time to pause and listen to the land, to my inner voice, to my Gods, and to connect with the energetic and spiritual descent that is coming.
Gwion: A few years ago, our local Reclaiming community did a fundraiser for the Ceres Project. They provide organic, locally sourced food for folks with long-term and terminal illnesses. The meals are prepared by local volunteer chefs with help from teenagers looking to learn more about the culinary arts. The food is then distributed by a network of volunteers all over Sonoma County. This foundation couldn’t be more in-line with our personal and spiritual goals. Phoenix and I recently donated the proceeds from the World Goddess Day celebration held at our shop to this group. This is one small way that we can tie the pagan ideals of Mabon’s second harvest to the “real” world.
Mabon is the name of a character from the Welsh tales in The Mabinogion, so really what the hell does that have to do with the Autumn Equinox? The reality is, absolutely nothing (although, learning about Mabon and the whole Welsh Pantheon is a bit of an obsession with us). But this word, this label, has taken on a meaning for our modern Pagan celebrations and that is just fine. Whether this is a time of balance for you, a second harvest, or just another arbitrary date on the calendar, we hope you get a chance to reflect and celebrate.
You can like our Facebook page at The Witches Next Door.
Notes: The Wheel of the year picture comes to you courtesy of the WitchCraft Museum in Cornwall and is used with permission. The Picture of the teen chefs comes from the Ceres Project’s website.