Autumn Equinox/Feast of Mabon/Gwyl canol Hydref/Alban Elfed/Mea’n Fo’mhair ~
The year’s second harvest, celebrated in the weighing of the grain and fruit, and festivals of plenty, is held now in the Northern hemisphere. This holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months.
This time celebrates the Autumn Equinox - one of the four “cardinal festivals” of the Earth year, so called because on this day the year was thought to turn like a door on a hinge (Latin cardo) as the Sun now reaches the 180° point on the zodiac wheel at 0° Libra, exactly opposite the 0° Aries point of the Spring Equinox. Autumn now begins as the Sun enters Libra (the Scales), symbolizing the balance of light and darkness at the moment when the Solar energy of the year begins to wane and Earth energy waxes toward harvest and abundance. Mabon is one of the eight solar holidays or sabbats of Neopaganism.
The use of the contemporary name Mabon is more prevalent in America than Britain or Ireland. Mabon’s modern construct and observation is derived in honour of the Welsh Patron-deity Mabon, son of the goddess Modron though it has also been attributed to Queen Mab of the fairy people.
Apples are sacred to this time when they ripen as they are known for their healthful aspects. Their seeds may be found in a pentagram formation when the fruit is sliced open and are recognized as symbols of fertility and regeneration. Blackberries, sacred to Brigid, must be harvested between now and Samhain or left for the pookas - fairies who, by tradition, receive all unharvested fruits after 1 November.
The Celts and Druids are thought to have called this time, Mea’n Fo’mhair which honoured the Green Man - the God of the Forest - by giving libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and natural fertilizer were shared at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.
In Neo-Druidic practice this time may be called Alban Elfed. There is contradiction as to whether the autumn equinox as such was actually celebrated as a harvest celebration in Celtic culture. The name Alban Elfed, is considered contemporary, a term many attribute to visionaire Iolo Morgannwg. Age-old Anglo-Saxon customs of the time saw September as ‘haleg-monath’ or ‘holy month’…