There are eight Wiccan Sabbats each year: Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhein. I admit that Mabon is one of the ones that has often felt less "witchy" and significant to me. It's sometimes called "The Witches' Thanksgiving," which sort of makes it sound like a September version of the American Thanksgiving holiday, but one that falls too early to have that lets-eat-a-lot-because-seriously-people-there's-frost-and-shit-out-there-and-you-know-a-hard-rain-is-gonna-fall feeling that gives American Thanksgiving its real energetic push. But the more that I work with, and listen to, and continue to be in relationship with this one particular bit of land, the more I "get" Mabon.
First of all, the veils that began, incrementally, to thin on Litha now get demonstrably thinner every day and you can feel the rapid progress. By Ostara, they'll be back to "normal," which, for veils, means: but you can still slip through them, you just have to know what you're doing and do a bit of work. Being in relationship with this spot of land for a number of years now has allowed me to learn how the veils "feel" at all times. It's almost automatic, sort of like being aware of the quality of light or the presence or absence of bird song or cicada chant. I wake up in the middle of the night or the morning and sense them, I pull weeds in the herb bed and am aware of them, I walk outside in the pouring rain, stretch out my hand, and feel their heft. Mabon feels, in very many ways, like the beginning of, or the prequel to, Samhein.
Second, there's the actual harvest. Two years ago, our oak grove masted and there were more acorns than any dozens of squirrels could ever eat. I raked up a few tons of wet acorns, cursed them, spent the whole next spring pulling infant oak trees out of the cottage garden, the lawn, the poison garden, the mint. Last year, there weren't a dozen acorns from the entire grove. A number of our squirrels died off, which meant that the fox went hungry, and there were, due to poor nutrition, v few squirrel babies this Spring. This year, the harvest looks normal, and the squirrels love the new, big, flat, irregular flagstones that make up the winding walk to my front door. Apparently, those stones were made for cracking acorns. And, there's the harvest from the herb bed that I put in Spring before last. This year, the lavender and tarragon and sage and thyme and dill came back with a vengeance, the rosemary overwintered and grew quite a bit, the parsley came on almost too strong, and the pineapple sage, well, it's just ridiculous. Even the mint that was moved into pots is doing almost too well, the morning glories now come completely from self-seeding, and I'm growing dozens of datura, all from my own seeds. My rain barrel and I have learned each other's rhythms, and the beech tree and I are now friends. This year was, in so many ways, the Year of the Landscaping. I can't wait until next year to really see the results of all the black day lilies, white cottage garden flowers, and glossy gardenias that we put in this year. I plan to reap the harvest of beauty from this year's investment from now until I die.
And, third, I'm focused quite a bit on using this Sabbat to, as I imagine my ancient grandmothers did, take stock. To count up what I have, what I lack, what I'll need to use sparingly this winter, what I need to initiate this coming Spring. What must I hurry and procure and what should I be dumping or using up right away? I don't just mean that in terms of seeds, or dried beans set aside for soup, or dried herbs made into smudge sticks or hung from the rafters for cooking. I'm looking at my wonderful and blessed relationship w G/Son, the time we spent in nature, reading books, playing trains, and watching President Obama make his very serious promise to the country, to Nonna, and to G/Son. I'm looking at my amazing circle of amazing women, doing trans-Atlantic magic, magic in the shadow (and the Shadow) of power, magic for ourselves and the world. I'm counting up legal wins at work, political/activist wins and losses, plusses and minuses in terms of my health. Even in these areas, my relationship w the land helps. My continuing communication with this land informs my thinking, grounds me, allows me to be honest with myself about where I'm doing well and where I need to apply more effort, come Imbolc.
What does Mabon mean to you? Do you use it to take stock? How do you celebrate it? What are the veils all around you doing right now?
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I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."