Mabon (Fall) 2009

Fall                               Waxing Blood Moon

Equinox.  Today is the fall equinox.  In spring we celebrate the shift towards yet more light and warmth as the trend toward lengthened days sees daylight overtaking the night.   Now the shift has a different, more somber direction.  At the Summer Solstice the hours of daylight began to shrink in relation to the hours of darkness.  At this equinox the night begins to predominate, an acceleration that will reach its peak at the Winter Solstice.

Contemporary Wiccans (some at least) call this equinox Mabon and see it as the final harvest festival.  My own understanding and practice sees Mabon as the second of three harvest festivals:  Lughnasa (ended yesterday), Mabon and Samhain (Summer’s End).  Here on the 45th latitude the gardening year does begin to wind down now.

On farms, however, the corn harvest lasts well into October and even in our garden we have carrots, parsnip, garlic and potatoes still in the ground.   In the ancient British Isles the end of summer meant deciding how much livestock you could feed through the winter.   If there was too little food for your herd, a certain number of animals would be slaughtered and their meat prepared to sustain the family over the winter.

In either case though the fall equinox is the moment when the Great Wheel takes a decisive turn toward darkness.  That shift, along with the senescence in the garden and in the trees and fields, makes this an appropriate time for taking stock.  Kate and I are in the midst of preserving through canning, drying and storing the fruits of our summer’s work.  Grain and corn gets driven to the cathedrals of the plains in open trucks filled to the brim with yellow or golden seeds.  The elevators fill up as does our newly built store room.

On a personal level this turn of the Great Wheel offers us a similar opportunity, that is, a time to take stock of the summer, the last year, even the course of our life.   Experience the joy of taking in to yourself the fruits you have harvested as a result of your own hard work.  Yes, money may be a part of that, but it is not the most important.  How have you increased in wisdom?  Have you and a significant other grown in your relationship?  Has a relationship that needed to come to an end done so and allowed you to move into a new phase of life?

This is a wonderful festival for gratitude.  In fact, if you do nothing else to acknowledge this transition, take a moment to make a list of people and things for which you are grateful.  You could take this one step further and make others in your life aware of your gratitude.

Finally, on a life level, the Great Wheel’s turn at Mabon symbolizes the autumn of our lives.  If this is where you are on your ancient trail, Mabon prompts you to consider the gifts and lessons we have embraced along the way.  The Great Wheel turns toward the final harvest, that day when we will be gathered up into the abundance from which we came and to which we return.  Present to us now that the years ahead are fewer than the ones behind this knowledge can enrich these autumnal days.  Life becomes more precious, an experience to be savored, lingered over, greeted with joy hour by hour, day by day.

In the end the Wild Hunt comes for all of us, the just and the unjust.  The Great Wheel teaches us that even after it comes, life will go on and that, in some fashion, we will all be part of it.  Come to think of it, this may be my best answer to the question about the after life.