Mabon and Ritual
In Wicca I celebrate 8 different celebrations, half having to do with the turn of the season, the other half being quarter points in between. While the “year” ends and starts with Samhain, the Wheel of the Year always turns. We follow the cycle of Mother Earth.
Since it's November, Thanksgiving is coming up. Now my family is pretty laid-back on family celebrations. we never make a big deal out of anything. The only reason we're doing anything remotely secular this year is because we were invited to join with our neighbors. As we all know, Thanksgiving is a day where we join together as friends and family to honor that on which we are the most grateful for being blessed with. I, personally think it's a load of bullshit considering the fact that the only reason for the first “thanksgiving” was because the original European settlers hadn't done shit to prepare themselves properly for the upcoming winter and the Natives were nice enough to share. Then they were graciously thanked by being killed with weapons and disease as well as have their homes destroyed. I don't believe land belongs to anyone, but I do believe that you should share a land to live on instead of claim it as your own.
I celebrate a type of Thanksgiving in September, during the fall equinox, or the first day of fall. This celebration is Mabon and was known as the second harvest. The Welsh god's name, Mabon, means “great sun” and the story goes that he was kidnapped from his mother and hidden in the Underworld. This is the explanation the Welsh had for why the winter months were ahead. In many ways, the story of Mabon is very much the same as the Roman goddess Persephone's. Another explanation for the start of fall is that the Mother Goddess is now pregnant—well into her pregnancy, and the Father God is dying and can no longer support the earth. Since this is an equinox, equal parts light and dark, we also keep in mind balance.
Being a time for harvest, it is a time to celebrate the Earth's bounty. At this time we thank her for all that she had provided for us. For this reason it is considered a type of Thanksgiving. For us it is a total thanksgiving where we thank the old that has passed and the new that will come. We honor our families in this manner as well.
I did not celebrate Mabon this year. I had just had Zinnia not too long before and I was still adjusting to having three small children. However, I still remember a ritual I had with my healing circle to celebrate this occasion.
We first prepared the altar. Along with the candles we had a knife, a bowl of apples, and a balance beam on the floor. We cast the circle, called the quarters and invited deity to join us that evening. Then Eartha and her husband took turns conducting the ceremony. The purpose of the celebration was stated. We then walked along the 2x4 placed on the floor as a symbol for balance. An apple was then cut in half and the seeds passed around. They were symbolized as the seeds of healing and the fact of planting them in fall was explained. Afterward, we sat and ate and shared with each other what we were thankful for. It was a simple ritual, but very effective.
Which brings me to another topic. Most people believe ritual has to be this big showy spectacle, but in reality, it really doesn't. Some people find comfort and solace in planning and creating and later executing a large, long-winded ceremony with or without other people present, incorporating all of their magical tools. Others, like myself, prefer something simple and quick, but well thought out. Sometimes just a quick hello to deity to acknowledge the holiday will suffice. It does NOT have to be elaborate or extravagant.
The majority of my celebrations are just a simple poem dedicated to a particular deity that corresponds to the season and a prayer. I don't have the time or energy to do much more than that. With my house as full as it is, I won't be able to do much for a long time. However, the gods always hear me and know that even though I am busy I make an effort to honor them no matter how small.
Along with my Pagan holidays and celebrations, I celebrate modern holiday and celebrations with my own twist. I always feel that even if it's not a “major” holiday, the gods like to join in on the fun as well. Ever since i had my daughters, my favorite holiday has been Mother's Day. Now, while I was pregnant with Zinnia, I didn't participate in or practice any ritual work. The most magic I did on any day was my daily meditations. So this year I did no ritual work until Samhain and before then I hadn't done anything since the Samhain before. wow, so I just realized that I took a year-long hiatus. Last year's Mother's Day, Daisy was only about 6-and-a-half months old while Violet was a little over 2 years. I had decided that she was old enough to join me in ritual work for Mother's Day since she could now speak and understand the dangers of fire. I thought I'd have a nice, small ritual with my daughter and that would be it. I forgot to take into account that she was still a toddler.
I had set up a simple altar honoring both my biological mother and earth mother, as well as the women who had been like a mother to me. In the center of all my “mother” mementos was a pale green candle. After taking some time to meditate on my mothers and motherhood, I brought my children into the ritual space to join along.
Since Daisy was still quite small, she entertained herself with lying on her back and chewing on ribbon and the altar cloth. Violet was next to me and while I lit the candle I had her repeat a poem my friend Dragon had written for the occasion.
I honor my motherhood
who gave birth to me
they comfort, console
bless, teach, and love me
May they be blessed
with love, honor, and prosperity.
A beautiful poem and Violet recited it perfectly. However, being a toddler, she kept blowing out the candle! I kept laughing through most of the ritual. “See, this is why we can't have Pagan babies!” I couldn't keep a straight face. Every time she would finish a line, shed blow out the candle. Every time she'd blow out the candle, I'd burst out laughing and would have to re-light it. Needless to say it was a fun and interesting experience. Not at all what I had thought.
I hope to one day continue incorporating my children in my rituals. They always make things interesting. For the sabbats, if I am working in a group setting, I always encourage the girls to join in if they want to. It's always a blessing when they share a special moment with me. I will treasure them always.