Saturday, September 24, 2011

What is Mabon?

Autumn equinox also known as Mabon or Alban Elfed, is the time of the harvest. In the welsh druid tradition it is associated with the sun setting into the “ocean” that surrounds the world. It is placed on the western side of the wheel of the year and is associated with the setting sun, the coming of old age, and the reaping the fruits, grains, and nuts of the year. Alban Elfed to me is very much about taking up the rewards of the hard work. The reaping of the harvest that was lovingly planted, the enjoying of the labors of spring and summer. Perhaps it’s the Americana in me, but I also think that at this festival it’s important to show thanks to the holy kindred for all the blessings they have given throughout the year.

There are many reaping rituals from the old world that relate to this holiday. Most of them have to do with either the first cutting of the corn or the last. I can relate to this having grown up on a very agricultural community that had seasons very near to those in the British Isles. Now that I live much farther south in a totally different ecology, I find that these old associations of the last of the harvest don’t ring as true. Here the growing season is very long and the final harvest is still a long ways off. That’s why agricultural products are still California’s largest export.

One harvest that is the same in all the northern hemisphere though is the harvesting of wild game, the hunt. I think many modern pagans forget the importance that the hunt was to bolster the food stores of the ancients. The rituals surrounding the hunt have found to be some of the oldest known rituals in the world. As a hunter this time of year it’s important to give thanks to the nature spirits that we hunt. A gift for a gift—the heart of the Ghosti* relationship after all, they give their lives so that we may live, in turn it is only right that we give them something . I honor them with offerings, before the hunt, and I honor them by telling their stories after the hunt. Most importantly I honor them by donating money to groups like the Rocky mountain elk foundation and Ducks unlimited. I believe these organizations do more to preserve the ecology than any other organizations.

So there you have it. Mabon is a special feast of thanks and offering. It really makes real the idea of the Ghost* relationship. It is a time to reap the efforts of our hard work and a time to give thanks to the holy kindred for all they give us…as a gift calls for a gift.

1 comment:

  1. This is insightful. I'm newly embarked on the ADF Dedicant path and Mabon was my first holy day ritual. I'm lucky enough to live near enough to an ADF grove to celebrate with more experienced Druids, so I got a good, full sense of the thanksgiving aspects of the day.

    My essay prior to the ritual was pretty thin, but afterward I had a deeper understanding.