It's called by many different names; Feast of Avalon, Harvest Home, Winter Finding, Alban Elved, the Second Harvest, Harvest of First Fruits, Wine Harvest and Festival of Dionysus.
It's the second harvest, with Lughnsasadh being the first. Mabon was known as the end of the grain harvest, while Lughnsasadh was known as the end of the corn harvest. Mabon was named after the god with the same name, Mabon ( may-bon, MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon, MAH-bawn ). To the followers of Strega it was called Equinozio di Autunno. The druids called it Mea'n Fo'mhain, who honored the Green Man this time of year. He was the god of the forest. The druids would leave offerings at the base of their sacred trees and groves in honor of them and the Green Man.
The Fall Equinox, is when the day and night are equal. It's the time when the moon/night begins to take over the days, which becomes shorter. This is the time of the year, when the god of light is defeated by his twin brother ( who is also his alter-ego ), the god of darkness.
This is also when the full moon at this time of year is known by the farmers as the Harvest Moon. Our ancestors in the ol' country, would harvest the last bit of crops at night with the help of the light of the full moon. Also the full moon was known as the Wine Moon, because of the grapes that was harvested, as well at this time of year.
In some cultures of the ol' country, the last sheaf of grain, that was to be harvested was saved until next spring. Sometimes this last sheaf was molded into a shape of a person, mostly a female figure. This 'doll' became known as a Barley Mother, The Old Woman, The Maiden. The 'doll' would be honored in the home and taken care off. In the Spring of the following year it would be either plowed back into the fields or burned, then the ashes would be spread across the newly plowed fields.
Mabon ( Fall Equinox ) is also the time when the deer mating season begins, therefore the hunting season begins and this I know living in Alabama.. lol
In Britain folklore, this is when it was thought that Herne the Hunter would lead a wild phantom chase through the forest. Mabon was also considered the Night of the Hunter. This was when the weak livestock would be slain because they wouldn't make it through the winter months. In some cultures, to honor the dead, apples would be left on burial cairns or tombstones, as a symbol of rebirth and thanks.
As I said, Mabon is the name of a god. In Welsh, Mabon meant, "great son" referring to the Son of the Great Mother, The Divine Son of Light.
When Mabon was born, three nights later he disappeared or was kidnapped. Some traditions claims that it was three years. No one knew where he was. Where ever he was at, some interpret the story as he was in the womb of Mother Earth waiting to be reborn again. He was accompanied by ancient and wise animals; stag, raven, owl, eagle and salmon. According to the Arthurian stories, Mabon was found by one of King Arthur's knights with the help of the animals. There are many versions of this story since over time the original story has been re-told, re-written and christianized.... need to say more.
A lot of the interpretations of the story is that Mabon, being the Divine Child of Light is the Sun. This time of the year is when the sun is slowly loosing it's grip as the ruler and is slowly slipping into the underworld, thus the mysterious disappearance of Mabon. In the spring he will return again. While he is there he is gaining his strength and wisdom ( from the animals ) while awaiting his return. We as the 'Knights of the Round table', per say, are always looking forward to his return. By the end of the reign of the winter months, we can't wait til he returns.
We can take the life cycle of Mabon as:
- Yule- He is born as the God of the Sun.
- Imbolc - He grows into a toddler with the forest being his playground.
- Ostara - He is growing up into youth as a young hunter & warrior.
- Beltaine - He has grown into a matured adult male with his new bride.
- Litha- He is a man in the prime of his life.
- Lughnsasadh - He has become a leader, provider and a teacher to his people.
- Mabon - He is a man with a spirit in a weaken body, awaiting his Underworld journey.
This is a time of the year that we, Children of Mother Earth, can look back over the year and be thankful for the blessings that the Goddess has bestowed upon us. I know I could.
We can also look at the losses that we have suffered through and consider these as blessings, as well. Take this time of year clean out your house. Open up the doors and windows, letting the crisp air flow through your home. Take long walks in the forest or where I live, in the woods. Look around you, pick up some pine cones, leaves, sticks and think about the changes around you. Be thankful for the blessings and smile, be proud because you are now stronger and wiser. Even though 'death' is all around you, it's not the end of life, but the beginning of something new and exciting.
As Pagans, this is our Thanksgiving; giving thanks.
Have a Blessed Mabon,