The witch’s lesser sabbat of Mabon is celebrated at the autumn equinox, which occurs when we enter the airy, cardinal sign of Libra. Balance is the reason for this season! This auspicious moment falls sometime between Sept 20-23 each year. For this year’s date and time of the precise balance between the dark and light half of our days, check out this site: https://www.archaeoastronomy.com/
There are many names used for this Sabbat among the varying traditions of neo-paganism. “Mabon” was the name supplied by Aiden Kelley in his Pagan-Craft Holidays calendar for The Green Egg back in 1974. For more info, see Kelly’s article about his naming process here.
Regardless of what you call it, in our Wheel of the Year at this time, we celebrate the second harvest of fruits and vegetables, and the shift into the season of autumn. It is a time of bounty and contribution, generosity and gratitude. I think of it as Witch’s Thanksgiving, and it is one of my favorite holidays.
Autumn Equinox = Witch’s Thanksgiving
Libra is the sign of balance and justice. At Mabon the sun hangs in the equilibrium of light and dark, between bounty and the coming dearth. Just like the American Thanksgiving that is celebrated in November, it is here that we are reminded to be grateful and generous. A balance must be struck between our contributions and our rewards. That balance is key to our health and happiness, and Witchcraft is right there with both a thealogy* and praxis to support our balance on all levels. This interwoven balance is a message of the Pentacle, which we often reveal by the seeds of an apple cut cross-ways.
Thealogy* of Mabon: Divine Love in the Balance
Any witch will tell you that neither life or the Craft are all fun and games. If Divine Love is everything, then we’re challenged to reconcile how a delightful thing like a delicious feast with friends, is just as “Divine” as starvation and betrayal; how happiness is just as necessary to balance as is suffering. This is our most difficult assignment, and Mabon puts these truths back into an unavoidable spot-light for us every turning of the wheel.
“Learning to balance the “light” and the “dark” aspects of life is tough, but equinoxes are an ideal time to give these things some thought. I suggest closing the textbooks and going rogue to seek personal gnosis. Do you have a burning question that has never quite been explained to your satisfaction by any book or authority? Go direct. Appeal to the Powers that Be, in that special way that you do. You may want to add the caveat that they be revealed gently, in a way that will benefit your life at this time. Then, as the year winds down into the silence of the blessed dark, hold the space. You’ll know.”
“As the second harvest of fruits and vegetables, Mabon is the initiator of the season of Autumn. This is a low ebb or lesser sabbat, wherein we feel the vital energy begin to recede from the earth as she continues her spiral into the decline of the year. This is the time of acceptance, the receptive power of water. The auburn, red and yellow leaves of the trees, the apples ready for picking, the deepness of the setting sun, the darkening afternoons, all remind us that night always follows day, no exceptions.”
Rites of Mabon and Autumn Equinox
Our tradition celebrates the rites of Mabon around the actual feast table. We haul out all the folding tables and create a massive spread for all 25 or 30 of us. It looks a bit like that final scene in the Grinch who Stole Christmas, and I adore it. We pass the food around deosil (jed-sil, or clockwise), and we bless the meal and reinforce our community interconnection in many ways. We also create a charged blend of wine and other ingredients, and fill our chalices from that community vessel. Then we toast our gratitude for all we’ve received, pledging acts of contribution throughout the remaining harvest.
This blessing comes from my rite of feasting and toasting linked below, which spells out that rite in ridiculous detail.
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.
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.
May the blessings of Spirit flow through us.
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.
Recipes for a Witch’s Thanksgiving Feasts
At this link below, you’ll find a collection of my most autumn-ish, thanksgiving-like recipes that are already indexed! Basically, if you like autumn veggies like butternut and acorn squashes, and the sweet-n-savory combinations of apples and curry and maple and berbere spice, then you’ve got a lot to choose from in this handy collection. Whether you’re vegan or omnivore, I’ve got you covered. Choose from a bisque, to a roast beast, with collard greens, braised miso radishes, or vegan “cole-slaw”; from Thai sweet potato casserole with spicy pecans, to fruit compote desserts, there are many delicious ways to celebrate the harvest at the link below.
Mac and “Cheese” for Nostalgic Vegans
Is it even an American holiday unless Mom’s famous baked macaroni and cheese is on the table? We have folks in our house with dairy allergies, but that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying an upgrade in our nostalgic recreations from Mom’s table. This Vegan version is always a hit at my house!
Fungus Aradia with Pappardelle Pasta
“For me, the Mabon harvest season is about gratefully enjoying our bounties by sharing them generously with our friends around a shared table. These celebrations maintain the balance of abundance and gratitude, solitude and social interaction. The days and nights equalize once more, then slip into the quiet deeps, but before then, FEAST! As Mabon gatherings are planned, I’d consider this dish a good pot-luck contribution choice.”
No Toil or Trouble Tomato Soup with Southern Fried Cornbread
“Sharing of food is some practical and effective applied magick, that overcomes cultural boundaries… I’ve made this recipe countless times for dinner parties of my own, and with each serving, I raise my spoon in salute, with hopes for their continued happiness.
I’ve made an adaptation or two of my own, and I now call it “No Toil or Trouble” tomato soup, because I like witchy references. May it serve you just as well.”
There is just something so satisfying about this cripsy, crunchy, buttery, carb-y fried cornbread dipped in hot soup. To make this dish is a form of ancestor worship for me, considering how often my grandfather (and my mother) made these for us. I think it is a perfect compliment to the tomato soup recipe above.
Pumpkin Spice Magick
The spices typically used in fall’s “pumpkin spice” lattes, cookies, and muffins all have potent magickal associations of elemental Fire. This powerful blend of Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Allspice and Nutmeg bring the Four P’s: potency, protection, passion and prosperity.
However you celebrate the autumn equinox, and by whatever name you call this auspicious time, I wish you balance and bounty all season long!
*Before you git yer garters in a twist on my spelling of Thealogy with an a, I’ll explain that I choose this spelling on purpose, as it is in alignment with other feminist writings on neo-paganism. This root word thea in Greek is more inclusive to the equality of genders, and “theology” was a word coined specifically for a discourse on Christianity, with Deity being specifically male. To that notion I say “nope.”