The History of Mabon
On or near September 21st of each year, we celebrate the Fall Equinox. In Latin, the word equinox translates to "equal night". On this day, the earth receives the same amount of light as it does dark. In spring, the equinox is celebrated in many traditions as the festival of Ostara. In fall, this day is celebrated as the festival of Mabon.
Mabon is a fairly new term used in many earth-based religions to recognize the autumnal equinox and to honor the earth for her bounteous harvest. However, harvest celebrations are nothing new, in fact they date back for millennia. The Greeks, Bavarians, Chinese, Native Americans, and many other cultures have all had their own traditions for celebrating the fall harvest. For the Druids, it is the celebration of Alban Elfed, a time of balance between light and dark.
There are also many myths and legends surrounding the day of the Fall Equinox, nearly all of them focusing on the themes of life, death, and rebirth. The best known may be the story of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone.
Demeter is the greek goddess of grain and the harvest. As legend has it, Hades, god of the underworld, became smitten with Demeter’s beautiful daughter Persephone. Hades abducted Persephone and took her to the underworld to live with him. Demeter’s grief for her daughter caused the crops of the earth to die or become dormant in her time of mourning. By the time Demeter was able to recover her daughter, Persephone had partaken of six pomegranate seeds and so was doomed to have to spend six months of the year in the underworld with Hades. During this time the plants of the earth also retreat and die as Demeter grieves for the loss of her daughter. These six months begin at the autumnal equinox and end with Persephone’s return in the spring
Another Legend is told of the Sumerian goddess Inanna who is the incarnation of fertility and abundance. Inanna descended into the underworld where her sister Ereshkigal ruled. Ereshkigal decreed that her sister could only enter the underworld in the traditional way-
she must strip her clothing and leave behind her earthly possessions. By the time Inanna arrived, her sister had unleashed a series of plagues upon her, killing Inanna. While Inanna remained in the underworld, the earth ceased to grow and produce. Eventually a Vizier restored Inanna to life and returned her to earth. As she journeyed home, the earth was awakened and restored to its former glory.
For those who practice an earth-based spirituality, Mabon is a time of community and kinship. It is a time to give thanks and to share our bounty with others. It is also a time to be mindful of creating balance in your own life and honor the balance of our Mother Earth.
May you have a beautiful & bountiful Mabon!