This festival is named after the God from Welsh mythology, Mabon. He is the Child of Light and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess, Modron. There is little evidence that Mabon was celebrated in Celtic countries and the term Mabon was applied as recently as the 1970’s.
Mabon, a point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year, is counterpart to Ostara or the Spring Equinox. Night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. Again, on the cusp of transition, darkness begins to defeat the light. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion, the Sun’s power is waning. The nights grow longer and the days are shorter and cooler. The sap of trees returns back to the roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the fire of autumn, to the flaming reds, oranges and golds. We are returning to the dark from whence we came.
But before we do that, we’re going to party! This is the Second Harvest, the Fruit Harvest and the Great Feast of Thanksgiving. The Goddess is radiant as Harvest Queen, and with His gift of pure love, the cutting of the last grain, the God dies.
He will return. As the grain harvest is safely gathered in from Lammas and reaches completion, we enjoy the abundance of fruit and vegetables at this time. It is time to thank the waning Sun for the wealth of harvest bestowed upon us. It sometimes seems that each Festival requires the making of celebration and the giving of thanks, but this really is so, each turn of the Wheel brings both inner and outer gifts and insights.
Mabon is a celebration and also a time of rest after the labor of harvest. In terms of life path, it is the moment of reaping what you have sown, time to look at the hopes and aspirations of Imbolc and Ostara and reflect on how they have manifested. It is time to complete projects, to clear out and let go that which is no longer wanted or needed as we prepare for descent, so that the winter can offer a time for reflection and peace. And it is time to plant seeds of new ideas and hopes which will lie dormant but nourished in the dark, until the return of Spring.
Symbols of Mabon
The Cornucopia, or Horn of Plenty, is a traditional symbol for Mabon. It is a wonderful symbol for the wealth of harvest and is beautifuly balanced symbol which is both male (phallic) and female (hollow and receptive).
The apple is the symbol of the Fruit Harvest. The apple figures significantly in many sacred traditions. It is a symbol for life and immortality, for healing, renewal, regeneration and wholeness. It is associated with beauty, long life and restored youth. The Ogham name for apple is Quert and is the epitome of health and vitality. The apple is at the heart of the Ogham grove and is the source of life. For Pagans, the apple contains a ‘secret’. Cut an apple width ways and it reveals a pentagram containing seeds. It is a much-loved symbol of Paganism. The five points represent the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water with Spirit at the top, and thus also the directions of East, South, West, North and Within.
A circle around the pentagram represents the eternal circle/cycle of life and nature, and of wholeness. In ritual and ceremony, the pentacle corresponds to the element of Earth. It is believed to be a protection against evil for both the person and the home, worn as an amulet or used to guard entrances to the home through windows and doors.
The Mabon Altar
Your altar should be dressed in the very best produce you can find from field, forest and market, from garden and the wild. Apples, pears, wild plums, sloes, rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries, the possibilities are large. If you collect from the wild, don’t be greedy – always leave plenty of fruit and berries for the birds and wee creatures.
Make an outdoor shrine for the nature spirits in thanks for the bounty they help to provide. Leave one of each flower, fruit and vegetable that you have, as a gift.
Things to Do
Hold a Feast of Thanksgiving.
Celebrate with a feast for friends and family using locally grown fruit & veggies.
Go for a walk and collect as much of nature’s wild abundance as you can, while respecting the need to leave enough for everyone else including the nature spirits. You may find:
- wild plums (damson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damson)
- blackthorn (sloes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloe_gin)
- rose hips (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_hip)
- elderberries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus)
- blackberries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackberry)
- and more.
Remember the fruit is the carrier of the precious seed.
Clear Out and Complete.
We think of Spring as the time to clear out but now is the perfect time to complete unfinished projects and clear your home of unwanted stuff. Prepare to hibernate!
This is an excellent time to plant tree seeds and shrubs. They have all of winter in the darkness to establish and germinate. Plant bulbs which will hide in the earth until early Spring beckons. Make each one a hope, idea or aspiration for Spring and wait until their little green noses show above ground – to remind you!
What follows are a couple of thoughts to include in your festivities and preparations. If you have never made bread or cake [from scratch] there is no better time to learn something new!
(metric conversions are approximate)
Buttermilk Bread Charm for Mabon
You will need: 120g (3c) of strong white flour (bread flour – substitute all-purpose flour https://www.thebalance.com/easy-bread-flour-substitute-4143577)
500 ml (1pt) of Buttermilk
1tsp of bicarbonate of soda (baking powder)
Mabon ribbon in your choice of color – red, orange, yellow, gold, brown
A handful of dried fruit of your choice – dates, raisins, sultanas, currants
Place the flour and dried fruit in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Sieve in the blended salt and soda and pour in the buttermilk. Mix well with a wooden spoon until the dough feels springy. If it feels too sloppy just add a little more flour. Turn it onto a board and cover with a fine dusting of flour. Pat it with your hands until you have a round shape. Take a sharp knife and score lightly into eight sections, one for each festival. Our picture shows the bread cut into five sections, making a pentacle.
Place onto a greased baking tray and pop your buttermilk bread into a moderate oven for about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it. When the bread is ready it will change color and it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool completely on a wire rack. When it is cool, tie it with Mabon ribbon.
Take time to concentrate on the bread you have created and turn the loaf three times saying, “From the fields and through the stones, into fire, Mabon Bread, as the Wheel turns may all be fed. Goddess Bless.”
Now take your bread and share it with your family and friends and pass on the generous blessings of this bright and bountiful festival. Eat it fresh, as soon as it is made if you can.
You can add almost anything appropriate to this simple bread recipe and it STILL WORKS beautifully. You can decide for yourself what the appropriate additions are suited for a particular festival, in this case dried fruit for Mabon, and just do it. There is much kitchen magic in working with one recipe through the Wheel of the Year just changing it a little as the wheel turns….
Somerset Apple Cake
Here is an authentic Somerset Apple Cake recipe. It can be served cold, or warm with whipped cream.
340gms (12oz) self-rising flour
a pinch of salt
225gms (8oz) margarine/butter (butter is better!)
½ tsp cinnamon
170gms (6oz) caster sugar (make your own – https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-make-castor-sugar-substitute-4137095)
115gms (4oz) raisins
450gms (16oz) cooking apples, finely chopped
a little milk
a little demerara sugar (use a substitute – https://www.thebalance.com/demerara-sugar-substitutes-4155673)
1. Rub the fat into the flour and salt. Add the sugar and cinnamon. Make a well in the mixture and drop in the egg and fruit. Mix well; if the dough is a little too stiff, add a little milk.
2. Place in an eight-inch greased cake tin and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on the top.
3. Bake for one-and-a-half to two hours at 180°C (350°F), until cooked. Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a cooling rack.
What can be used in place of whipping cream?
Mix 80ml (1/3c) softened butter with 710ml (3/4c) whole milk for a whipping cream substitute. … This is not a dairy-free option, but it works if you are out of whipping cream and need it for a recipe. This ratio is the equivalent of 236ml (1c) of cream. (This substitute works for baking or cooking).
Above all, have Fun! Live, Love & Learn.