It’s not just Wiccans who celebrate the Wheel of the year. Pagans of many stripes celebrate the Solar Sabbats, and connection with the Wheel can even be done in a secular way, if desired. Of course, to most Pagans, everything is spiritual, so it may seem silly to our Pagan minds to try to secularize the Wheel. However you connect with the Sabbats, I’d like to reflect specifically on Mabon, or the Autumnal Equinox.
Mabon is the 2nd of 3 harvest festivals. The first is, of course, Lughnassah or Lammas (Aug 2). That’s the grain harvest. The Greater Harvest is Mabon (Sept 21), at which we have the full bounty of what we have planted available to us. The last harvest is, in fact, the “blood harvest,” or even “harvest of souls,” which is Samhain (Oct 31 thru Nov 8-ish, or whenever the Sun enters Scorpio, for purists). Samhain celebrates the holiness of death as part of the Life Cycle, and this includes the animals whom we slaughter for our food. We recognize animals as spiritual beings, and they deserve to be honored, as do our ancestors, who are the primary focus of Samhain.
As the second harvest festival, Mabon is the time of taking stock of what we actually have. It is time to feast, time to “come home,” time to forgive debts, settle accounts, and prepare and preserve food for winter. It is the time when we can take stock of what we have planted and tended, not just in our gardens, but in our lives. What we do right now affects our well-being, and even our survival, throughout the long winter. Much of Paganism in general and Wicca in particular is taking the mundane and making it holy. The work we do has meaning. The drudgery and toil of harvest, of canning, preserving, laying up, counting, preparing, etc. are given meaning by this beautiful holy day. The making of the besom, specifically a fall activity, is a magical act, to clean not just our houses, but our lives. The making of the preserves, the brewing of the mead and the cider, the storing up are magical acts as well. We weave blessings into the food that will keep our families alive in the dead of winter. And we give thanks to the Gods for the bounty of the Land. We give thanks to the Land Herself. And to the Sky which produces the winds and rains that allow our food to grow and propagate. It is simple, yet very profound. Our very survival is dependent on a six inch layer of topsoil and the rain. We forget that, sometimes, don’t we?
What are some acts that can be done to connect with the Wheel at this time? Aside from holding a Mabon ritual, which I hope you all do, consider these:
- Make and preserve something from your own land if you have land. I make crab apple preserves from my tree. I go apple picking at an orchard and make cider and apple jelly for canning.
- Learn a new skill that is appropriate for this time of year. Learn to render tallow for soap and candles, or learn to make hard cider and apple jack. Learn to crochet warm blankets or knit socks.
- Do workings to “call the Pagans home.” It is traditional for people to celebrate “homecoming” at this time of year. Send out a beacon so that like minded people can find their Pagan communities, covens, moots, or tribes.
- Throw yourself into study of a system that’s new to you. Learn runes or study with a group that offers elevations and clergy training. Take classes at a metaphysical store. Learn energy healing or study herbalism. Going into winter is a fine time to start study of something new. By spring, you will be filled with new knowledge.
- Forgive those who owe you, as a spiritual act of gratitude.
- Share your bounty with others. Cook a big feast for family and friends. Feed kids at the teen shelter (get cleared as a volunteer first, of course). Volunteer at a food shelf.
- Create a new Matron or Patron relationship, or start a conversation with a new Deity of your choice. One can work with many Gods if one wishes.
As the weather turns crisp, we feel the Wheel turn, and the Dark comes marching toward us in dignified and ancient majesty. Prepare your stores and give thanks. May Mabon blessings abound for you this year. Blessed Mabon.