As the summer warmth and life-enhancing energies of late-September start to give way to cooler days and lengthening nights we are reminded that the turning of the Wheel of the Year brings us into a new, more reflective phase of living.
Mabon is the commonly used term used amongst witches and pagans to describe the Autumn Equinox—a festival which takes place at the end of September and which is, much like the Spring Equinox, considered to be an important time for reflecting upon the year and its fecundant energies.
Mabon, like harvest festivals celebrated by many traditions throughout the world, is also seen as a time of appreciation for the abundant offerings of the earth and as a celebration of the work involved in gathering the crops from the fields.
However, as Pagan journalist and author Diana Rajchel explains in the opening to her book Mabon: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox, our modern tradition of the festival also recognizes the concepts of sacrifice and survival which, as a consequence, highlights those many dying-gods myths that also feature heavily in ancient spiritual traditions.
Diana Rajchel also notes how Mabon also falls on the date in which the Sun makes its first movement into the zodiacal sign of Libra. More commonly symbolized by the Scales these denote that sense of balance and equilibrium which many individuals strive to attain in their year.
This is perhaps rather less important to those not connected to the growing of crops and who often use this time to consider their harvest and the seeds need for the following Spring but for the rest of us the decisions that we need to make at this time in order to remain in balance are more psychospiritual by nature.
The meaning behind Mabon is also mythological and in her book the author explains how it was the Wiccan Aiden Kelly who first founded our modern concept of this autumnal festival by upon the legends within the Eleusian Mysteries.
It is also worth noting that the myth of the dying god also featured heavily in the seminal work on religion and magic The Golden Bough by James Frazier so it is somewhat fitting that the death of Dionysis (the Greek god of wine) should be recognized and acknowledged at this time of the year.
Whilst the roots of Mabon celebration might be historical, Diana Rajchels” evaluation of it is very much up to date. In her book she recognizes this by presenting different ways that modern Pagan organizations of all types place their own particular flavour to this festival.
Whilst many of these groups are found within the British Isles she also points to various similar harvest festivals all of which do take place in various areas of the world.
So how exactly is Mabon celebrated and how can we enter in the spirit of the occasion?
Diana Rajchel offers many tips and ideas on just this question; including advice on practical activities such as dancing, the making of corn dollies and weaving harvest baskets.
For anyone practicing magick the book also digs deeper than mere celebration of the festival by including a section on spells and divination.
Given the community connotations of harvest festivals many of these relate to the individual spiritual work we can do in helping others at this time.
Given the large influx of natural foods that become available at this time of the year it seems only appropriate that the book should include recipes for a wide range of food types including, but not limited to nuts, berries and fruits. These are lovingly created with reference to the dynamics of the Equinox.
Another way of engaging with the energies if the Mabon festival is through the use of prayers and invocations.
In Mabon: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox, the author features a variety of these practices as well as invocations that can be performed to a number of world dieties from various traditions.
These can be practiced as a solo worker but if group or couple-centric rituals interest you then the book also offers specific guidelines and methods you can apply.
The book closes with a list of Mabon correspondences further reading, bibliography and index.
The Autumn Equinox is such a wonderful time of the year and it is fantastic that modern paganism is increasingly recognizing the Rites of Mabon at this time.
In Mabon Rajchel has summed up the qualities of the shifting dynamic of this season with a terrific sense of magickal reverence.
The book itself is lovingly written and whilst its content will be most appreciated by Wiccans, Druids and Pagans it also offers much to the lay-person, or somebody with no particular spiritual association, who is seeking to develop a deeper resonance with e changing energies of the year.
I particularly enjoyed the historical, mythological and folklore sections of this book but at the same time was impressed by the simplicity, but effectiveness, of its magickal insights. The recipes are great and the book is, all-in-all a very satisfying and well-rounded read.
Given the very reasonable price of this book, its wealth of information and attractive design I see no reason for any self-respecting Wiccan not to add this book to their book library or indeed to their collection of other Llewellyn Sabbats titles for they are all equal in quality to Mabon.
Mabon by Diana Rajchel is a wonderful celebration of the immense spiritual power of the Autumn Equinox and is an essential read for anyone wishing to engage more profoundly with our season cycles of growth and decay.