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Mabon..Balance and Reflection
Article ID: 14176
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Close your eyes and picture this: You are sitting outside on a late summer evening. The very warm air is suddenly heavy with humidity and it’s not moving at all. The leaves on the trees don’t move, not a blade of grass stirs and there is no break in the quiet of the evening. The birds are still, the crickets and frogs suddenly have become quiet and you realize the thick, impenetrable lack of sound. Looking to the sky, you see that the sun has just set but it is still daylight enough to read by. This is twilight, the balance between day and night. It is the world in a perfect, relaxed state of being. And so it is with Mabon.
Mabon is the balance between summer and winter. The harsh heat of the latest season is gone and the bitter cold of winter hasn’t arrived. The earth is stopping her hectic cycles to take a deep breath and relax. Our ancestors celebrated this Sabbat as the second harvest. It was a time of apples, grapes, grain, wine and merriment. The God is preparing to die and the Goddess is moving from mother to crone…more on that later as it plays significantly in our perception of this Sabbat. Mabon is the autumnal equinox when day and night are equal spans of time. We tend to notice it more acutely than we do the vernal equinox because light and warmth are going away, not moving toward us.
So, what does yet another harvest festival have to do with our daily lives in the twenty first century? LOTS! Mabon is also known as harvest home and is celebrated in an “all out” fashion. The largest feasts, the most wine and beer, the best clothes on our backs and the best entertainment available are all facets of this holiday. Does that sound familiar? It does if you are at all familiar with October-fest in any of its incarnations. Once again, remnants of the old religions have survived into modern times and, I believe, that is wonderful.
The stags of the forests are bearing their crowns of antlers telling us that, with dignity, there will be another generation of wild animals willing to help us survive. If you look at a majestic stag, you can see the balance of male and female symbols as, more often than not, his antlers form a crescent moon shape. Although, it is only in the rutting season that this is obvious. You have the juxtaposition of the virile male who is ready to mate with anything against the sweet softness of the moon that shines forth her beauty freely. These symbols are in balance and that is one of the major themes of Mabon.
Balance is so important because the earth is about to make an abrupt change in the seasons. Just as summer can arrive quickly (though we appreciate that change) , it seems winter arrives with a sudden crash. Our lives change in response to the waning days, children return to school, which gives us a whole new schedule, the times we leave for work may change because of weather conditions and even our wardrobe changes in response to the lessening light. Mabon is a moment in which we can allow ourselves to become ready for the changes by becoming spiritually balanced. Just as the leaves on the trees change from green to reds and gold, our day-to-day lives will drastically change. If we achieve balance before the changes then we will allow them to flow around us with ease.
Just as the darkness begins to overtake the light, the goddess moves to the final stage of her life, that of the Crone. She is no longer responsible for her offspring and is achieving a momentary freedom from that responsibility. This freedom only lasts a moment, however, because she realizes that she is now among ‘the wise women” and her responsibility is to the community as a whole. She is also entering into the final days of her life. Just as the light is leaving, so is she.
Mabon is a time of mysteries. The Goddess has stopped her fertility cycle. Look at the fact that, to the ancients, this whole thing was very confusing in most cultures. How can women appear to bleed that often and not die? How does she bring forth life? Why does she stop bearing children when sexual activity doesn’t stop? I do not assume that pre-agrarian cultures were not intelligent enough to recognize these cycles as normal but imagine contemplating these mysteries without our benefit of extensive knowledge of biology! It must have blown minds. The mystery aspects of Mabon are ancient and probably have been passed down from peoples that weren’t even breeding animals yet so they were dealing with a zero knowledge base! No wonder that the first deities were Goddesses!
The earth moves from very fertile to totally barren…so does the Goddess. We can be thankful though, that she is the loving Crone that watches over her children and grandchildren with tenderness and patience as she waits to become fertile once again so she can bear fruit. We must realize that there are times in our lives that are barren and learn from her to be patient, kind, understanding and loving while we wait for fruitfulness to arrive again so that we can go forth and be the agents of change instead of letting those changes just happen to us! There are many times in our lives that we must wait. The time of Mabon is a point at which we can meditate on the mysteries of life and come to understand ourselves so when it is time for us to wait, we understand it as normal and natural.
At this balance point in the year, one of the mysteries we can focus on is the equilibrium and the pause it can give us. We have much left to harvest in our lives. There is still a lot of work to be done. We are granted a time in the year to celebrate our hard work and what it has given us as well as to recognize that we need to stop and get ready for the coming changes…after life without change is, well, boring!
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