Autumn Equinox, around September 21, is the time of the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld. With her departure, we see the decline of nature and the coming of winter. This is a classic, ancient mythos, seen the Sumerian myth of Inanna and in the ancient Greek and Roman legends of Demeter and Persephone.
In September, we also bid farewell to the Harvest Lord who was slain at Lammas. He is the Green Man, seen as the cycle of nature in the plant kingdom. He is harvested and his seeds are planted into the Earth so that life may continue and be more abundant.
Mabon ("Great Son") is a Welsh god. He was a great hunter with a swift horse and a wonderful hound. He may have been a mythologized actual leader. He was stolen from his mother, Modron (Great Mother),when he was three nights old, but was eventually rescued by King Arthur (other legends say he was rescued by the Blackbird, the Stag, the Owl, the Eagle, and the Salmon). All along, however, Mabon has been dwelling, a happy captive, in Modron’s magickal Otherworld — Madron’s womb. Only in this way can he be reborn. Mabon’s light has been drawn into the Earth, gathering strength and wisdom enough to become a new seed. In this sense, Mabon is the masculine counterpart of Persephone — the male fertilizing principle seasonally withdrawn. Modron corresponds with
From the moment of the September Equinox, the Sun’s strength diminishes, until the moment of Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun grows stronger and the days once again become longer than the nights.
Symbols celebrating the season include various types of gourd and melons. Stalk can be tied together symbolizing the Harvest Lord and then set in a circle of gourds. A besom can be constructed to symbolize the polarity of male and female. The Harvest Lord is often symbolized by a straw man, whose sacrificial body is burned and its ashes scattered upon the earth. The Harvest Queen, or Kern Baby, is made from the last sheaf of the harvest and bundled by the reapers who proclaim, "We have the Kern!" The sheaf is dressed in a white frock decorated with colorful ribbons depicting spring, and then hung upon a pole (a phallic fertility symbol). In Scotland, the last sheaf of harvest is called the Maiden, and must be cut by the youngest female in attendance.
Here is a Mabon ritual of which I am quite fond, from the Witchery.
Autumn Equinox 2010
Items for this ritual include: Two brown or yellow candles for the altar; Chalice; A basket of apples; enough for the circle boundary (they need not touch each other); Three additional apples; A sharp knife to cut the apples; Several gourds; Blackberry wine or juice; A small bowl of hazelnuts; Vines (real or from a craft store) to decorate your altar (optional); Drum (optional).
This is Mabon, time of the second harvest. We enjoy a wealth of good food and weather that is neither too hot nor too cold. Beauty surrounds us as autumn colors begin to blaze. We reap the beauty and bounty of this earth. We also reap the fruit of the seeds we have symbolically sewn in our lives this year. Tonight we take time to count our blessings and give thanks to the Lord and Lady.
The vine dance can be done in group or solo rituals because it is the dance step that creates the “vine.” To move deosil, your left leg will advance your step. Your right leg will move first, behind then in front of the left to simulate the winding growth of a vine. Place your right foot behind the left, then step sideways with your left foot. Cross your right foot in front of the left, and then take another step with your left foot. Keep alternating the movement of your right foot behind, then in front of your left.
Take an apple from the basket and hold it in both hands. Feel the wisdom and love of the Goddess; feel her generosity. Walking deosil, place apples on the floor to mark your circle as you say:
This is an ancient symbol of the Goddess; of her great knowledge and power of healing. It holds her wisdom, and provides a gateway into other realms. As above; so below. Sacred is this space decreed with the riches of the Great Mother’s body.
Cut two apples in half across their middles.
This sacred fruit contains the five-pointed star—the symbol of my ancient faith and connectedness to all life.
Place half an apple at the edge of the circle in the respective directions after speaking.
Spirits of North, element Earth, your golden fields provide the promise of a comfortable winter. I celebrate in the abundance of your blessings. Join me in my circle this night.
Spirits of East, element Air, your warm summer breezes yield to the autumn chill that gives birth to a blaze of bright color. I appreciate the blessings of the beauty you bestow on this world. Join me in my circle this night.
Spirits of South, element Fire, your brilliant August sun is becoming a memory that will dance through my heart in the dark months to come. May I find your spark to illuminate my path ahead. Join me in my circle this night.
Spirits of West, element Water, your cool autumn rains wash the emptying fields to make way for a winter’s rest. May I receive the blessing of your cleansing showers. Join me in my circle this night.
Cut another apple in half. Hold one half at a time as you call the Goddess and God. After speaking, place it on the altar and light a candle.
Sun King, Corn King, God of the Harvest, your seed has provided a bounty that has greened the meadows and filled the fields. As the burning embers of summer are overtaken by darkness and you begin your descent to the Underworld, bestow your blessings on my circle.
Great Mother Goddess, Brigid, Demeter, Queen of the Harvest, your body has provided abundance and beauty. As you begin your metamorphosis into Crone, bless me with your wisdom.
Lord and Lady of the Harvest, as this year wanes into darkness, come to me one last time as Queen and Consort. Join me in my circle this night.
Take a moment or two and give thought to what you have been blessed with this year. When you are ready, go to the altar and take a gourd from the basket. With both hands raise the gourd above the altar and say:
Lord and Lady, I thank you for ______________ (state the blessings you have received.)
To give power to your thanks as you release it to the world, raise energy with the vine dance. As you move around the circle, chant:
Harvest dance, go round and round,
With blessings for all to be found.
After the energy has reached its peak and has been released, bring your dancing and chanting to an end. Take a few moments to ground your energy.
My world passes from summer into the dark of the year. On this day of the Equinox, this day of balance, I pause on the threshold where light begins to fade. As the nights grow longer it is time to reflect on my life and cultivate inner wisdom.
Raise the bowl of hazelnuts, saying:
Hazel is a symbol of wisdom. I call on the Wise Ones to guide me through the dark that lies ahead. Teach me to hear the inner voice that whispers of ancient ways.
Raise the wine, saying:
Blackberries, fruit sacred to Brigid. Sweeten my lips and warm my heart with memories of this summer past.
Perform the Great Rite, lowering the athame into the chalice, saying:
The Horned One returns to the belly of the Mother.
The Great Goddess transforms into the powerful Crone.
I follow them into darkness, as two become one.
The seasons change, the Wheel of the Year turns.
Pour the wine into the chalice, saying:
Mother, bless this wine and food.
Before taking a bite of the hazelnuts and a sip of wine say, respectively:
May I never hunger. May I never thirst. I look ahead to the darkness for rest and renewal.
Great Mother, as you enter your most powerful aspect of Crone, I ask that you favor me with your wisdom. Guide me through the coming dark. I bid you farewell.
Extinguish one of the candles.
Horned One, Warrior of Light, go to your rest and dream of rebirth. Endings are beginnings. I shall await your return. I bid you farewell.
Extinguish the other candle. Pick up the half apple placed at the edge of the circle for each direction, and then place it on the altar after speaking.
Spirits of West, element Water, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid you farewell.
Spirits of South, element Fire, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid you farewell.
Spirits of East, element Air, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid you farewell.
Spirits of North, element Earth, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. I bid you farewell.
The Lord has gone to his rest, and the Lady gathers strength. I witness their parting as the Wheel of the Year continues to turn. In faith and unity, blessed be.
for your Celebrations or just when you need an idea for something different!
from The Witchery
Cheater Baked Apples
teaspoon brown sugar for each apple
teaspoon cinnamon for each apple
Core and wash one apple per person. Place in individual sherbet dishes. Fill each apple with cranberries, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Microwave until baked (approximately 3 minutes per apple). Serve warm, topped with whipped cream.
Mabon Apple Crisp
6 cups sliced and peeled apples
2/3 cup flour
1 1/3 cup Oatmeal
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2/3 cup Melted Butter
½ cup of walnut (optional)
Spread apples evenly on the bottom of an oblong baking dish. In a bowl mix together remaining ingredients until everything is moistened. Spread evenly over top of apples. Bake in a 375 degree oven until apples are soft (about 30 minutes) and topping is crisp.
Serve warm or cold. I like warm apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream! YUM!!
Recipe by: Pauline Mansberger.
Harvest Morning Muffins
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated apples
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin or line it with paper liners. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the eggs, sugar and oil until well combined. Stir in the grated apples and carrots. In a separate bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Blend the dry ingredients with the apple mixture until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.
Baked Squash and Apple Casserole
1 small Butternut squash, about 2 pounds
2 apples, cored, peeled, sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Peel squash, scoop out seeds, and cut in small pieces.
Place squash and apple slices in oblong baking dish (7×11-inch). Blend remaining ingredients with fork or pastry cutter until crumbly.
Distribute over squash and apple.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes.
Serves 6 to 8.
Here is a beautiful poem by Dolores Stewart Riccio to add to your celebrations. From her "Doors to the Universe," Bellowing Ark Press, 2008.
Before we come with rakes and crackling
energy to clean it up,
the backyard is precisely
as the dog prefers it — left alone,
a natural selection