Mabon (Autumn Equinox)

Mabon is the second of three harvest festivals celebrated in autumn. It takes place on the equinox, when the sun passes the celestial equator, and marks the start of fall. It follows Lammas, and is followed by Samhain.

At Mabon, we celebrate the fertility of the year with feasting. It’s very close to Canadian Thanksgiving. We celebrate the food that comes from the sun and the exchange of energy with the soil. We pray, we feast, and we give back to the gods as thanks for the bounty. We find joy in death. This is a sorrowful rite as much as a joyful one, because with the harvest, the Lord dies and leaves the Lady to navigate the winter alone, with the seed of new life deep in her womb. He sacrifices himself so that life will survive the winter and flourish again in the spring.

The counterpart of this holiday, across the Wheel of the Year, is the spring equinox, Ostara.

In the coven where I attend ritual, this is the first ritual in the year where we wear all black. The dark half of the Wheel is easier on my closet!

Lammas, or Lughnasadh

August 1st is Lammas, the first harvest. The word “Lammas” comes from the phrase “loaf mass,” and enjoying fresh bread made from wheat or corn can be part of the celebration.

It is the first of the three autumn festivals, the other two being the Autumn Equinox (Mabon), and Samhain. In the Gaelic tradition, it is called Lughnasadh and is one of the four seasonal festivals or Cross-Quarter Days that also include Samhain, Imbolc, and Beltane.

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Generally speaking, this is a holiday that celebrates a time of plenty and reaping success after all the hard work of the light time of year. The crops are becoming full and ripe, and it’s time to enjoy the first harvest. We reap what we sow, and recognise that the days are going to get shorter as the dark side of the wheel approaches.

Some of the foods associated with Lammas include apples, grapes, berries, root vegetables, and of course freshly baked bread!

In the coven I attend, Lammas is the last festival on the light side of the year, when we wear all white. When we gather next at Mabon, it will be time to wear all black again. Much easier on my closet!