Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chapter 2: The Autumn Equinox Sept 21-23: Mabon

Mabon: Celebration of the Autumn Equinox

Ordinarily I would have started with the beginning of the Witches’ year or Samhain aka All Hallows eve October 31, but because The Autumn Equinox is so close and because there happens to be a full moon on this very important End of the Witches year, I thought it would be good to give you an idea of what we celebrate.

If you have started your note book observing the change of the seasons, you will have noticed the leaves falling and turning brown, there are no butterflies, that flowers have created seed pods and dried up, that certain birds or animals no longer appear. That the fruits and vegetables in our markets have changed, no cherries or apricots for instance, instead we have apples and late pears. Or that some animals---like raccoons and possums have gotten more aggressive.

That is because Fall is upon us.

Miss Faith in her “all about column” has given a very good description of this time of year which I’m going to post here and those remarks in these [ ] brackets are my additions.

’Every fall many religions and non-religions around the world celebrate the

autumn equinox in one way or another. The day of celebration normally falls on

either September 22nd or 23rd, depending on the placement of the leap year. This

year [2010] the equinox will take place on September 23rd, but why should you celebrate

and how should you do it?

Depending on your religious or non-religious affiliation, you may or may not

even notice that the fall equinox takes place. On average, most people are only

aware that there will be an even amount of light and dark, meaning there will be

12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness on this day. To Pagans and Wiccans

however, it is a day of celebration.

[This is one of two days in the entire solar year where there is the balance between light and darkness]

The holiday, known as Mabon, is a Sabbath. A Sabbath is considered a high holy day

or a day of power. Mabon is one of eight of the seasonal celebratory days in

which Pagans and Wiccans celebrate on the wheel of the year. Mabon is seen as

the second harvest of the year and it is also when gardens are in full bloom and

full of the bounty of nature. Mabon is thought of as the Pagan Thanksgiving,

where they celebrate the passing of the year and in turn give thanks for

everything they have been given.

According to Wiccan and Pagan spirituality, this is the time when the sun God

prepares to depart and develop once again in the mother's womb. The Goddess,

both sad and joyful, will then anxiously wait for his rebirth in the Spring.

This is the time when Pagans and Wiccans that have altars will begin to decorate

them with various items such as acorns, leaves, pine cones, Indian corn, apples,

pomegranate, gourds, and berries. Some Wiccans/Pagans may also use this time of

year to harvest their gardens, bake breads, and harvest seeds from vegetables to

use for planting next season. Since the rays of the sun are beginning to die,

this is also a time to begin honoring the dead by placing apples, acorns, or

pine cones on burial sites as well as having joyous celebrations in memoriam to

the departed.

Most Wiccans/Pagans will focus their rituals on more balance and harmony and may

align energies toward protection, wealth, security, prosperity, and self

confidence. Other festivities for celebration could also include walking in the

woods, scattering left over seeds and other offerings in harvested fields, and

offer libations to the trees.

There are various stones, colors, and incense used with Mabon. Some of these include: Sapphire, amethyst, yellow topaz, yellow agate and lapis lazuli, red, orange, green, gold, maroon and brown, and sage, benzoin and myrrh. You may also associate some flowers and plants with Mabon such as mums, marigolds, roses, ferns, and tobacco.[These items you would have on your Altar or use on your Feast table]

The full moon for the month of September that is generally around the time of

Mabon is referred to as the Harvest moon. Normally this moon is known to be seen

as bigger and brighter than the other full moons throughout the year. Some say

this is because of the marriage of the full moon to Mabon while others state

that it only appears to be bigger and brighter and is actually what is called a

moon illusion.

Nevertheless, it does not really matter what your outlook is on

why the moon appears larger for the Harvest moon than other times. The important

thing is that you look within yourself during this time of thanksgiving as well

as give your thanks and appreciation to the earth and things around you. This

year, whether you call it the fall equinox, Mabon, cornucopia, harvest tide, [Harvest Home] the second harvest feast, witch's Thanksgiving, feast of Avilon, or the first day of

Autumn, make sure you take time out of your busy day to relax for a moment and

celebrate the bounties of fall.’

(Published by Miss Faith---Miss Faith is a full time student and she is currently working with as the Guide to Makeup. She has finished her Bachelor's Degree in Intelligence Studies Published September 10, 2007 by: Miss Faith © 2010 Associated Content, Inc.)

Miss Faith makes a very good point about the reasons surrounding the Fall Equinox, a Witch in recognizing the seasons of the year knows that there are at least 3 times or 3 basic phases of harvesting, August 1, Sept 21-23, and the final one Oct 31.

August 1 is the bringing in of the fruits and vegetables that cannot be eaten to be stored or canned, Sept 22 the Autumn Equinox is the harvesting of grain before the rains come, and Oct 31 is the final harvest before winter and is the culling of the animals or slaughtering of the excess animals and their meats preserved by various means for the winter.

The three Harvest Festivals are reasons to give Thanks for what blessings we receive, even if we feel that we have not received much, that which we have received we should be thankful for.

With the Fall Equinox, once again nature is in balance, the light and the dark are the same hours, but the light must give way to the dark, we need to go into winter to allow the earth to rest, if you are a gardener and grow herbs, vegetables and fruits, this is the time to do your final harvesting of your herbs and start drying them, harvesting the seeds to plant for next year, harvesting your vegetables and fruits to either make into sauces, can them, dry preserve them, make jams and jellies, some people can freeze things but not all things freeze well.

Once the garden is harvested, this is a good time to enrich the soil, save the seeds for future plantings, prepare the cold frames for the early seedlings for next year.

This is also the time to make wine and beer, the pressing of the grapes, if you are into wine making and such this is a good time, or at least stock up your “wine cellar”. The making of apple cider and butter is also an event.

If you are an apartment dweller, you can still have a few pots to prepare to grow herbs for next year, even cherry tomato plants or a dwarf lemon tree if you have a large enough patio or balcony.

If your apartment does not lend itself for larger plants, a window sill for future herbs can still be prepared. You can also go to the Farmer’s market or a Harvest Festival Crafts Fair or an early Oktoberfest, to celebrate. Some people go to the local farmers to see what they offer to be harvested, you can get a box of apples or something for a fantastic price. Or they go and drive out to the local vineyards to sample wines and buy some to bring home.

I remember that about this time of year was a busy time for the preparation of foods for storage. It was extremely busy, that when I got home from school, either my Dad or my Uncle would pick me up and take me over to my Granny’s house where my Mom, Aunts and Granny would be in the midst of canning and drying fruits, vegetables, herbs, going through the pantries to see what was needed in the way of jars and such to store things.

I would be in the dinning room doing my homework and being the oldest girl when I was done with it, I was expected to help out in some way.

A table of feasts can be prepared with corn bread, wine or apple cider, pumpkin soup or bread, yams or sweet potatoes, late grapes.

The traditional Foods of Mabon/Autumn are: cornbread, wheat products, bread, grains, berries, nuts, grapes, acorns (not for eating but for decoration) use hazelnuts or walnuts or almonds, seeds (sunflower seeds ), dried fruits, corn, beans, squash, roots vegetables (i.e. onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), hops (in beer), apples, pomegranates, carrots, onions, potatoes, roast goose or mutton, wine, ale and ciders, breads, apples, pomegranates If it looks like I’m repeating myself I am because I’m gather this from several sources.

I remember my Granny and some of the ladies, my Mom and Aunts, the men folk would drive, they would get together on the Autumn Equinox on a Saturday that was closest to it, to go to a farm that raised cattle, there they would be shown the one or two steers that they had invested in. I remember them saying prayers of thanksgiving, throwing Holy Water on the steers to bless them and then the steers would be led off.

About a week later, we’d go down again and all the meat was freezer wrapped with names on them and what portions they were. They were packed in ice and brought home and put in the freezers that were at one of the ladies’ homes. These were large freezers, very heavy duty. By the time I was graduating from high school that was no longer done for economical reasons, but my Granny substituted a simpler ritual to honor the spirits of those animals whom we rely on to survive.

On the day of the Equinox, a sort of altar was set up outside if the weather was fine, if it was rainy then inside. The altar would be decorated with autumn leaves, mums, Yellow or coral colored roses, yellow and gold colored candles, small plates or bowls of grapes, apples, pomegranates, dried corn, nuts, a statue of a cow or bull and a statue of Mary usually the one Our lady of Grace where she is stepping upon a serpent. There would also be a small bowl of Holy water as well. There would be incense burning, sandalwood usually.

Towards twilight, the candles would be lit and we would gather at the altar, Granny would then take the bowl of Holy water and going clockwise would bless everyone there, then facing the altar I remember her saying prayers, everyone had their rosaries, and she would recite a rosary but on the Our Father beads, instead of the usual mysteries it was something else. On the first three beads right after the cross say a Hail Mary on each bead one for Faith, one for Hope, one for Charity.

Then starting with the first large bead she would announce what it was to remember. The prayers went like this:

First mystery

The planting of the seed

Holy Mother as the seed was planted into you, so do we plant the seed into the ground with hope and love, just as the animals male and female mate, so do we see the abundance to come.

Say Our Father, followed by 10 Hair Mary’s

The growth of the seed

Holy Mother just as you watched your child grow, and mature , just as you and Joseph looked for him in the temple with fear in your hearts for his safety and love that he was safe, so do we watch over our seedlings, our young, with love and fear that they will reach maturity

Repeat the pattern of prayers

The bloom of the flower

Holy Mother, just as you asked him to perform his first miracle so that his ministry would bloom, so do we watch as the blooms form, as the animals swell as the flock grows, knowing that it comes from you.

Repeat the patter of prayers

The making of the fruit

Holy Mother, as you saw his ministry grow and as you began to understand his path so do we see the forming of the fruit and with it the secret it carries.

Repeat the pattern of prayers

The Harvesting.

Holy Mother, as you saw your son cut down at his perfection, and then with weeping buried him so you too saw his resurrection and continuing life, as we see with the Harvesting so do we see within everything the continuing of life everlasting.

Repeat the pattern of prayers

After the final Hail Mary say---

We give thanks to all the abundance that we receive from the harvests and as we receive so do we give back to life, to the earth, from the earth we came, to the earth we return back to our Mother for with each turning of the season so do we understand that from life comes death, from death comes forth life.

Then Say “Hail Holy Queen” prayer

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished
children of Eve, to thee do we send
up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us; and
after this our exile show unto us the
blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God

That we may be made worthy of the
promises of your Son.

After that then Granny would bless the foods that were on the altar with the holy water, Then she’d take a sharp knife and cutting an apple in half through the middle would show us the hidden 5 pointed star within the apple and say “Behold the hidden rose within all life, it shows air, earth, fire, water that is a part of us and the spirit that is life within us.”

She’d put that apple in a special bowl, sprinkle it with gold glitter, and pour some wine on it, saying “Let the fruit of the vine, the abundance of earth cover us so that we increase in abundance, Oh Holy Mother all source of light and goodness, you have created all things, and filled all creatures with every blessing, lead all of us to your light even as the darkness begins to grow around us so that we will forever see your promise. ”

Then she would take some gold glitter and sprinkle it on our heads, we’d each get an apple to eat, and sip a little wine.

Taking the apple that was cut in half we’d go to a tree in the back yard and bury it at the roots of the tree, and we’d chant “Dying you destroyed death, rising you restore life, by death and resurrection we live forever.”

Afterwards we go into the house and eat, almost always it would be a hearty stew with root vegetables, corn bread and fresh baked sweet French bread, with real butter, apple and berry pies, there’d also be sweet yams or sweet potatoes, cooked kale or spinach, carrots, cheese, Apple cider to drink and wine, coffee of course.

People then would talk about how the year had been so far for them, and look at ways to turn a negative into a positive.

Then the children would be packed off to bed, and Granny would do a prosperity spell if the moon was waxing or full, or a spell to banish negativity if the moon was waning. This would depend upon the phase the moon was in at the time of the Equinox.

The closest Full Moon before or on the Autumn Equinox would be the Harvest Moon, and that is when it is time to do a spell for prosperity.

This Equinox the Harvest Moon falls right upon the time of the equinox so the celebration at this time is very special.

I have given you a ritual that you can do in the privacy of your home, either with a group of people or by yourself with some modifications.

Either before or after this period you should take in any Harvest or Craft Fairs or Octoberfests (don’t get drunk) go through a Farmer’s Market to see the Fall and winter foods that are offered and begin to prepare a list of the foods that you would be eating during this time, look for recipes, especially for hearty stews and soups to see you through the Fall and Winter.

Enjoy an occasional hot cider or hot chocolate for those chilly nights.

This is also the time to put away the Spring and Summer clothes (with cedar blocks to keep them fresh) and bring out the fall & winter clothes, keep a couple of t-shirts or cotton shirts out for the stray hot day, but by Samhain you will be wearing winter clothing. Bring out blankets, and candles, especially those with apple vanilla or cinnamon scents or fall scents avoid pine at this time. You want something that gives the memory of what Grandma’s kitchen would smell like during the fall, if your Grandma was into baking.

I am not going to give a prosperity spell at this time, because I want you to start enjoying and observing this changing season.

Once last note, wiccan’s call this time Mabon, but Granny never did it was simply Fall or Autumn or the 2nd Harvest or harvest Time as a matter of fact from August 1 to Fall was always considered harvest time, the preparation for Winter. This was also a time to check your car, your house, your appliances, clothing and everything to see you through Winter’s challenges. Granny would also start stocking up on those things for colds and flu as well. So that is another thing that you can do.

Bright Blessings. Ms. A.

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