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Mabon: Meanings and a Quick History

Happy Witches’ Thanksgiving! It’s time to turn the Witches’ Wheel of the Year once more, and this time, we’re celebrating Mabon. Also known as the Autumn Equinox, Mabon was originally celebrated by the Witches in Wales. However, many Witches, Pagans, Heathens, and Wiccans celebrate this harvest holiday of balance under different names, worldwide.

When is Mabon or the Autumn Equinox?

Because the Pagan holidays are typically celebrating the changing of seasons, and seasons are different in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, it depends on where you live!

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, Mabon happens between September 21 and 23.

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, Mabon falls between March 21 and 23.

What is the History of Mabon?

While the harvest season and giving thanks isn’t owned by one culture, and there are many different celebrations that fall around this day, the history of Mabon, specifically, begins in Wales and Ancient Ireland! 

In Welsh tradition, the son of the Earth Mother Goddess was named Mabon. He was the God of Light who was defeated by his twin brother, the God of Darkness. Because balance is necessary for life to thrive, the wonderful people in Wales have always celebrated this seasonal transition into winter. 

You may see similarities of this story in: 

  • the Greek lore of Persephone, Hades, and Demeter
  • the Roman lore of Proserpina, Pluto, and Ceres
  • the Sumerian lore of Inanna and Ereshkigal
  • many others

It wasn’t until this last century, during the revival of Witchcraft, that the name “Mabon” was adopted as the “official” name of this global Pagan time of celebration. There is evidence that the original holiday in and around the United Kingdom was not called “Mabon”.

In fact, your culture and personal practice may know the Autumn Equinox by a different name. Feel free to explore your ancestry to understand which holidays might resonate with you the best.

What are some other names for this harvest holiday?

While the premise is the same, our ancient ancestors were born into pockets of culture. This led to different names and slightly different practices for the Autumn Equinox, or the transition to Winter. 

Other names for Mabon include: 

  • Autumn Equinox (Worldwide Observation)
  • Equinozio di Autunno (Italy)
  • Festival of Dionysus (Greece)
  • Harvest Home (England)
  • Mid-Autumn Festival (China and Vietnam)
  • Oschophoria (Ancient Greece)
  • Oktoberfest (Germany)
  • Winter Finding (Nordic Areas)
  • Witches’ Thanksgiving (Modern Universal)

Again, feel free to explore your ancestry to understand which holidays might resonate with you the best. As many Witches, and now science supports, our DNA carries the memories of everyone who made us who we are today. 

Hypothetically, you may be surprised to be called to celebrate the Festival of Dionysus if your immediate family is African American; you’ll be even more surprised to see a Grecian ancestor in your family tree.

Why is it called Witches’ Thanksgiving?

As you know, Witches are known for being very connected to the land and the energies of our environment. Historically, farmers, healers, and their families would survey their land, their gardens, and their animals to see their chances of survival through the winter. They knew how to read the energies of the earth. They knew how to hear and feel the changing of the seasons to get a glimpse of the harshness of the coming winter. They knew how to talk with their animals to understand their health and potential food capabilities. They knew how to understand the whisperings of their crops to know yield to estimate their survival through the winter. 

And when things looked amazing, they celebrated and gave thanks to the earth and the sky for helping them live another year!

While modern Witches don’t have to worry as much about winter’s survival, we still appreciate all of the challenges and wins that lead up to who we are and where we are today!

Modern Witches are still very connected to the essence of the ether, which allows us to feel the subtle changes and celebrate all that does make life possible. Even though we can easily pop into the local grocery store, we still acknowledge everything that goes into our produce, meats, and meals.

We are still connected to the timeline of Earth, and that’s why this is the Witches’ Thanksgiving.

If you don’t feel comfortable tying yourself to a culture’s individual practice, try celebrating Witches Thanksgiving!

How do I celebrate Mabon or Autumn Equinox?

If you’re looking for a quick starting point, here are a few rituals and ideas for how to celebrate this Witchy Holiday: 

At Plentiful Earth, we love to tell everyone to follow their own guidance, follow their own energy, and, if you’re called to, follow their ancestry. Learn anything you’re called to learn and then respect what you have learned and experienced. Respect is key.

Copyright 2021 Plentiful Earth, LLC. / All rights reserved.

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