RELIGION
09/23/2014 08:48 am ET Updated Sep 23, 2014

Mabon 2014: Six Ways To Celebrate The Pagan Autumnal Equinox

The autumnal equinox falls on September 23 in 2014, marking the official first day of fall as well as the pagan holiday, Mabon, in the northern hemisphere.

Mabon is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to "reap what they sow," both literally and figuratively. It is the time when night and day stand equal in duration; thus is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and honor a moment of balance.

"Mabon is a time to reflect on the previous year, when we can celebrate our successes (likened to bringing in the harvest) and assess which crops, projects, or dreams didn't come to fruition," the Los Angeles-based pagan leader Laurie Lovekraft told HuffPost.

The pagan website The White Goddess explains:

This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future. In the rhythm of the year, Mabon is a time of rest and celebration, after the hard work of gathering the crops. Warm autumn days are followed by chill nights, as the Old Sun God returns to the embrace of the Goddess.

The holiday is named after the Welsh God, Mabon, son of Earth Mother goddess Modron.

Some pagans mark the holiday by enjoying rich feasts with seasonal foods like apples, pomegranates and root vegetables. Many also observe rituals honoring the goddess' transition from mother to crone.

Lovekraft offered six ways to celebrate that can be done in small or large groups or individually:

1. Create an altar. This can be on a dining room table, hearth, or dresser with apples, leaves, pinecones, corn, pomegranate, squash, and root vegetables. Add gardening tools (scythe, baskets, hand trowel) and objects that are the colors of gold, orange, red, bronze, and rust. Light an orange or yellow candle and give thanks for the blessings of abundance you have in your life. (Always remember fire safety when working with candles and never leave a candle burning unattended!)

2. Ask for blessings. When lighting your candle, you can call to the Goddess in her Mother aspect and/or ask the Green Man to bless your harvest.

3. Do apple magic. Apples are often harvested in the fall. Cut an apple horizontally to reveal the hidden, five-pointed star (a pentagram) inside. Look for pentagonal forms around you (ex. five fingers and five toes, five petals of certain flowers, starfish, etc.)

4. Listen to music. Music is a wonderful way to get into the mood of Mabon! Songs by Lisa Thiel, the Reclaiming Tradition, and S.J. Tucker are especially evocative.

5. Meditate on balance. This is especially helpful if you are a family caregiver, but also if you have a high-stress job, pressure-filled commute, or have a lot of personal drama. Reflect on how you handle pressure, how you manage your and other people's emotions, and how easily your peace of mind can be disrupted. Think about ways you can reduce stress and bring more balance to your days. Consider going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to get a jump on the day, practicing non-violent communication, eating more healthily, and eliminating unhealthy relationships.

6. Pray for peace. In a world out of balance, praying for peace and stability -- including a stable climate -- can be especially potent during Mabon!

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

  • 1 Symbols
    Like many religions, pagans employs certain symbols both as representations of their faith and as images and objects that con
    Wikimedia Commons
    Like many religions, pagans employs certain symbols both as representations of their faith and as images and objects that contain power in and of themselves. The pentacle is probably the most common in paganism, often depicted in art and jewelry. Some say its five points represent the four directions plus the sacred spirit.
  • 2 People
    As Harvard's <a href="http://www.pluralism.org/resources/statistics/tradition.php#Paganism" target="_blank">Pluralism Project
    Wikimedia Commons
    As Harvard's Pluralism Project notes, it is difficult to determine the number of pagan adherents around the world as estimates vary widely. The number may be anywhere between 200,000 and 1 million, or possibly more. Most pagans don't exhibit their religious identity outside of the ritual space (unless they wear clothing or jewelry depicting pagan symbols such as the pentacle.) According to The Pagan Census, modern pagans are distributed fairly even throughout the U.S., with a slight majority on either coast. Men and women of all ages, races and backgrounds practice paganism, though the census said the community tends to skew toward white, middle class women.
  • 3 Sects
    Contemporary paganism is <a href="http://www.patheos.com/Library/Pagan/Historical-Development/Schisms-Sects.html" target="_bl
    Getty Images
    Contemporary paganism is widespread and somewhat scattered, hence the difficulty counting adherents. Modern paganism does not descend from a singular ancient religion but rather many ancient indigenous and folkloric traditions, and there is no central text to refer to that can shed light on doctrine. There are, however, subtle distinctions that delineate Celtic and northern European sects, Baltic and Slavic sects, Greek and southern European sects, American neopaganism, and other groupings around the world. Some covens (organized groups of pagans) worship specific deities, such as Diana or Odin. Others practice ancient Druidism, such John Rothwell ("Arthur Pendragon") pictured, while some focus on activism, such as the Reclaiming tradition.
  • 4 Sites
    In general, pagan worship centers around earth and spirit, as opposed to specific structures imbued with sacredness (ie. a ch
    Getty Images
    In general, pagan worship centers around earth and spirit, as opposed to specific structures imbued with sacredness (ie. a church, Mecca, the Vatican, etc.) Forests, hilltops, urban warehouses and individual's homes can operate as ritual sites, especially because many pagans take measures to "create sacred space" for rituals regardless of where they are. That said, some natural or ancient sites, such as Stonehenge or Machu Picchu, may hold particular importance for some pagans.
  • 5 Triple Goddess
    The <a href="http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=KnJgevpp3DMC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=triple+goddess&ots=3V-IUtp3YH&sig=ETA-p
    Wikimedia Commons
    The triple goddess in modern paganism embodies the maiden, the mother and the crone. These three aspects are meant to encompass the full power of the goddess, reflected in the moon's cycles. The waxing moon represents the maiden; the full moon represents the mother; and the waning moon represents the crone. Pagans will often hold gatherings or do personal meditation to observe these moon phases. In addition to the goddess, some pagans worship a masculine divinity, occasionally in the form of the Horned God or the Green Man. Many also revere the natural world as divine, as well.
  • 6 Sabbats - Quarter Days
    There are <a href="http://books.google.co.za/books?id=rwzttsI9-NwC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepag
    Wikimedia Commons
    There are eight sabbats that make up the pagan "wheel of the year," though not all pagans observe all eight. Each sabbat corresponds with different seasonal events of the year. Pagans celebrate the winter solstice, spring equinox, summer solstice and autumn equinox (or "quarter days") to mark the deepest part of the season and the lengthening or shortening of daylight.
  • 7 Sabbats - Cross Quarter Days
    The other four sabbats, or "<a href="http://books.google.co.za/books?id=rwzttsI9-NwC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summar
    Getty Images
    The other four sabbats, or "cross quarter days," are Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. Imbolc falls in early February and celebrates the onset of springtime, encouraging the sprouting of seeds and new life. Beltane is an early summer celebration in May, often seen as a fertility festival. Lughnasadh falls in August and is the first of several harvest festivals. Samhain coincides with the western Halloween and is a holiday for paying tribute to the deceased. It is often seen as a time when the veil between this world and the afterlife is thinnest.
  • 8 Altars
    Pagans often <a href="http://books.google.co.za/books?id=44aJEQfacdoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=pagan+altars&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yhfxU
    Wikimedia Commons
    Pagans often construct altars for rituals and to keep in their homes, and these may act as offerings to specific deities or to 'the goddess' more generally. Each object holds certain meaning, such as rocks to symbolize earth, seeds to symbolize intentions and new life, bread to symbolize bounty, and so on.
  • 9 Tools
    Pagans occasionally <a href="http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6YzI4HDTmaAC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=pagan+athame&ots=B6pBUf
    Wikimedia Commons
    Pagans occasionally employ tools in rituals and personal practice that may either function in ritual procedures (such as an athame, pictured), aid in divination (such as a pendulum), assist in cleansing (such as water or incense) or pay respects to a specific deity (such as a statuette). Other tools may include drums, candles, ribbons, cauldrons and more, depending on the specific ritual or practice for which they will be used.
  • 10 Fire
    <a href="http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6YzI4HDTmaAC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=pagan+athame&ots=B6pBUfKGzG&sig=0MfPQjGir9f
    Wikimedia Commons
    Fire plays a prominent role in many pagan rituals and in personal practice (through candles and incense.) During some rituals pagans circle around a large fire, which is seen to hold transformative power. Fire may also be used in cleansing, divination, trance and ecstatic dancing.
  • 11 Rituals
    The anatomy of any pagan ritual will vary from group to group, but Reclaiming -- one of the best-known American pagan groups
    Wikimedia Commons
    The anatomy of any pagan ritual will vary from group to group, but Reclaiming -- one of the best-known American pagan groups -- identifies several key components. Typically rituals begin with grounding and cleansing, then move to the 'casting' of a circle. Leaders and/or participants will often invoke deities, then guide one another into trance or magic work. At the end, participants often share food and drink before closing the ritual by devoking and opening the space once again.
  • 12 Magic
    Magic in paganism and witchcraft is primarily about <a href="http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=6YzI4HDTmaAC&oi=fnd&p
    AP
    Magic in paganism and witchcraft is primarily about change and transformation. By some accounts, magic allows practitioners to remove the barriers of what they think is possible so that they can manipulate the physical or spiritual world. Most groups shun what is sometimes referred to as "black magic" and instead employ magic crafts that encourages practitioners to draw health and fortune into their lives and the lives of others. Some magical activities include chanting, trance, craft work and more elaborate manipulations of objects.
  • 13 Invoking Deities
    One of the key elements of pagan rituals and personal practice is the <a href="http://www.reclaiming.org/about/witchfaq/ritua
    Getty Images
    One of the key elements of pagan rituals and personal practice is the invocation of specific deities. The chosen deity may correspond to a certain sabbat (such as Brigid for Imbolc). The invocation is intended to invite the god or goddess to assist the ritual or so the participant may come to know the divine through embodiment.
  • 14 Pagan Leaders
    Modern pagan leaders are often hard to identify due to the dispersed nature of the faith. Individuals may be <a href="http://
    Wikimedia Commons
    Modern pagan leaders are often hard to identify due to the dispersed nature of the faith. Individuals may be trained and ordained by specific seminaries or by independent groups (such as Reclaiming). In general, pagan sects are non- or semi-hierarchical, but certain individuals may hold sway in the community due to their large followings (Such as Starhawk, pictured) or their influence through authorship.
  • 15 Marriage
    Along with legal marriage and domestic partnership, some pagans practice <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=L9mPdewmqR
    Wikimedia Commons
    Along with legal marriage and domestic partnership, some pagans practice handfasting, a ritualistic but not legal form of marriage. According to BBC, handfasting rituals are believed to predate Christianity and was certainly present by medieval times. During the ceremony, the couple will tie their wrists together with ribbons or twine to represent their union.
  • 16 Activism
    Though not a rule for pagan communities, some groups make <a href="http://www.starhawk.org/pagan/activist_spirituality.html"
    Getty Images
    Though not a rule for pagan communities, some groups make activism and community work central to their practice. Some of the causes promoted by pagan groups include environmental protection, gender and racial equality, LGBT rights and the preservation of sacred indigenous sites.
  • 17 Community
    Paganism is by no means an adults-only tradition. The 1999 <a href="http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=aQEzgn
    Wikimedia Commons
    Paganism is by no means an adults-only tradition. The 1999 Pagan Census found that just over 40% of participants reported that they had children. The growing number of children in the pagan community has lead some groups to open their rituals to families and youth, adjusting some practices that may not have been appropriate or accessible for young people.  
  • 18 Personal Practice
    The Pagan Census found in 2003 that just over 50% of respondents said they were <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=L9m
    Wikimedia Commons
    The Pagan Census found in 2003 that just over 50% of respondents said they were solitary practitioners. This means they do not belong to a coven and may not have been 'trained' by a larger spiritual organization. Solitary practitioners observe rituals and practice magic on their own, or perhaps occasionally in small groups. Even for those involved in covens, personal practice is seen as key for developing magic skills and deepening spiritual connection.
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