Mabon for the Family
September 21-29: Mabon | Fallfaest | Haustblot
Mabon is a harvest celebration that happens during the autumn equinox. The origins of Mabon are Celtic. It comes from areas of Scotland, Cornwall and Wales. There is no evidence of Mabon in pre-Christian Scandinavia or surrounding areas until the Asatru movement of the 1970s.
One theory is that Mabon takes its name from the Celtic god of fertility, Mabon ap Modron. He is a popular god in Welsh literature and mythology whose name is related to Maponos, meaning Great Son. He may have been the son of the Welsh goddess Dea Mātronā, meaning Great Mother. Some people associate the god with the Greek Apollo or a chief Druid. Although the autum equinox was given this name in the 1970s, the god Mabon doesn't seem to have anything to do with this celebration.
Today Mabon is most commonly known as the seventh celebration on the Wheel of the Year and the second of three harvest festivals (the first was Lammas, the second is Mabon, third is Samhain).
If the Old Norse knew about Mabon, they were probably too busy tending their crops and animals to celebrate. In modern times we have comforts that allow us to enjoy more conveniences.
Norse deities worshipped during Mabon include:
Frey, for good harvest, sunshine and fair weather
Nerthus for peace and prosperity
Iduna for hard work ethic, health and rejuvenation
Njord for wealth in fishing and hunt
Jord, goddess of land and earth
Huldra, keeper of flocks
10 Mabon Activities for the Family
So what can we do to celebrate Mabon? Other than the common bonfires, feasts and dancing, here are some ideas offered from historical records and modern pagan communities:
1. Go foraging for food
Either go into your nearest forest to find berries and other treats or head to your local farm to pick in-season fruits and vegetables.
2. Make a seasonal wreath
Collect items from your yard, neighbourhood or forest to make an autumn-inspired wreath for your front door. You can also use these items to decorate the inside of your home to help give it a cozy autumn feel!
3. Plant bulb flowers
Bulb flowers require a winter of cultivation before they bloom in the spring. If you don’t have a crop to prepare, prepare your spring garden instead.
4. Throw your bones into the fire
Bonfires are a general practice for several celebrations. The idea of throwing bones into it come from pre-Christian Germany. Not only do the bones help feed the fire, but the tradition helps a community bond. It is better to be together and warm than alone and cold.
**Caution: Bones can splinter and pop. Mind your distance, be careful and do this at your own risk.
5. Offer help to your neighbours
It takes a village to raise a village. Make sure you are helping your neighbours when it’s needed. Here are some ideas:
Give your gently used clothing away;
Help with lawn maintenance or get groceries; and,
Donate food to a food bank.
What are some ways you can volunteer to help your neighbours?
6. Ward off bad luck
The autumn equinox is a sign of cold and long nights. This change brings health risks and is a sign of bad luck. Combat this by inscribing protection runes on your home to help attract healthy, safety and prosperity.
Symbols for protection:
Sun-Wheel - Power, holiness, prosperity, continuity, luck, and fire (the life force)
Mjolnir - Thor's protection against giants, chaos and the supernatural; and his aid with fertility, growth, and good fortune
Trollkors (troll cross) - Protection against malicious magic
7. Honour your ancestors
Ancestors have an influential role in family affairs. They ensure happiness and prosperity in the afterlife. To call on them, visit their graves or invite them into your home by giving memorial toasts.
8. Sacrifice to the wights
Similar to ancestor worship, it’s good to leave offerings for land wights (nisse and tomte). Typically, wights live by waterfalls, groves, or farms under the floorboards or in the barn. Sacrificing food and drink would help avoid conflicts and bring good luck to the land and animals.
9. Go Camping
Go camping while you can! Get out into the brisk fall air, take a hike, and light some fires. Enjoy outdoor time with your family before you're all cooped up inside for the winter.
Seriously. Hit the road, grab a Tims, enjoy your flannel and enjoy being one with the great outdoors! Oops. I think my Canadian side is showing.
10. Share thanks and celebrate the opportunity to be warm and well-fed
Lastly, enjoy your spoils and remember to be thankful for it all.
References: Who Is Mabon: Davies, Sioned. The Mabinogion. 2005. Oxford University Press.
Name Etymology: Matasović, Ranko (2009). Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic. Brill. p. 260. ISBN 978-90-04-17336-1.
Norse Symbols - https://www.worldhistory.org/article/1309/norse-viking-symbols--meanings/#:~:text=Advertisement-,Aegishjalmur,tridents%20emanating%20from%20its%20center.
Ancestor/Wight Worship -
Holtsmark, Anne (1970) Beliefs and Myths in the Viking Age. ISBN 82-521-3344-4
Steinsland, Gro (2005); Norrøn religion. ISBN 82-530-2607-2. Pages 344-345, 352