Each year on the autumn equinox, we gather to celebrate the second of the three annual harvests. This day is known as Mabon – the halfway point between Litha Yule. Day and night are in balance twice during each turn of the great wheel, once on Ostara and the other on Mabon. Our celebration tonight also pays homage to the Green Man in a Druidic-inspired ceremony. After this day the darkness will slowly start to overtake the light, and the days will grow shorter. Mabon traditionally marks the first day of Autumn and a great celebration of the second harvest. We celebrate because without the three major harvests, life would be difficult, if even possible at all. This year we celebrate Mabon on September 23rd in the U.S..
This ritual is designed for a medium-sized group and is best performed outside around a generous bonfire if conditions in your area are permissible for open fires (check your state burning restrictions websites and always use caution)
Items you will need for this ritual
Four quarter candles – yellow (east), red (south), green (north), blue (west)
A bounty of fresh harvested items to adorn your altar (especially apples, pumpkins, squash, vegetables, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, potatoes, onions, and late-seasonal herbs)
Mead, Cider, Ale or Beer, and Wine
Goddess Candle (White)
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed by <> symbols should be understood as instructional notes and not to be spoken aloud.
Our Mabon Ritual Begins
From the sky, to the ground, from the flames in the round, this circle now a holding space, outside of time, a sacred place
Calling the Quarters
Spirits of the East; the hidden realm of the powers of air and origin of spring. We see your grace in the shifting stalks of grain, watch your power as the autumn leaves fly effortlessly upon your drafts, and remember your vision as you carried the springtime seeds. For all that you do we honor you and bid you humbly to this circle. <light yellow candle>
Spirits of the South; where the flames of creation were spawned and season of summer resides. We feel your heat on our faces as the flames of the bonfire dance and mesmerize. We know the warmth is vital to survival in the coming months and we recognize your vitality and worth. To our circle we bid you welcome. <light red candle>
Spirits of the West; where the three states of water coexist in the purest of harmonies and all things of the autumn season come forth to the lands. Rainfall, mist, and ice all present at their allotted time and places show us that we can live together in harmony without competition; each enjoying our time of happening. We embrace your wisdom and beckon you to join this circle. <light blue candle>
Spirits of the North; where the soil, stone, and ingredients of life combine to provide humankind with the building blocks of life. Tonight we pay our respects to the trees and the forests and share stories about harvests of old, our ancestors, and the future. With gratitude and honor, we call you to our circle. <light green candle>
<Ritual Leader should raise arms high above>
Great Goddess; it is you who give life to all things; both large and small; both strong and weak; both wise and mysterious. We stand here tonight offering praise to you for providing the necessary elements of life. We thank you for bringing us together and being present in our circle as we celebrate this night. <light Goddess candle>
Tonight we gather under the light of the Harvest Moon to celebrate Mabon, the second of the three great harvest festivals. On this equinox, Night and Day are once again in perfect equilibrium; masculine and feminine energies are in harmony; there is balance with the inner and the outer. All things are as they should be. We have a special focus on the ritual tonight – honoring the Green Man.
Before we get started, please enjoy this wonderful song by Omnia, simply titled, “Mabon.” Omnia is a self-described “neoceltic pagan folk” band based in the Netherlands and whose members over the years have had Irish, Dutch, Cornish, Belgian and Persian backgrounds.
Mabon, the Second Harvest, and What Lies in Store
The frigid night air serves to remind each and every one of us that autumn is on our doorstep. The darkness will slowly overtake the light as the great wheel continues to turn. Fields have been harvested and prepared for winter. Many of the greens are showing yellow on the tips. The sap from the trees starts to return back to roots deep in the earth, and the leaves change from the green of summer to the flaming reds, oranges, and golds of autumn. The grains of the first harvest have been winnowed and stored. Now is the time to harvest the fruits from the trees and the squash from the vines; the apples and the pears for preserving and baking, the last of the grapes for the late season wines and cordials. Persimmons and pomegranates, and squashes and pumpkins; the root vegetables, corn, onions and potatoes.
Mabon is also known as the Great Feast of Thanksgiving as we share in the bounty of the last fresh food items of the season. The Goddess is radiant as the Harvest Queen in knowing that the God; who sacrificed himself for humanity with the cutting of the last sheaf of grain at Lammas, will soon return. We take time to offer thanks for the food, but also for many other things on this night. We thank the waning Sun for the warmth and light it provided us throughout the summer. We thank the animals for providing us with meat and milk. We thank one another for sharing and caring. It’s a night to be thankful and an opportunity to share thoughts with the community.
<the ritual leader uses this time to go around the circle and have everyone say something aloud that they are thankful for – example “I am thankful for the trees, for their spirit lies within me, keeping me rooted to the earth when my head seems to want to fly away”>
Honoring the Green Man
The Green Man is one of the oldest symbols known to humankind; most agree that he is Celtic in origin, but his image has been found across the ancient world. The foliage covered Lord of the forest, nature, and agriculture was worshiped by many ancient tribes as one of the main Gods. As awareness grew, the Green Man became an ever-present symbol of rebirth, rejuvenation, and the cycle of life and death. He preserved the forests, which preserved the habitats of all creatures, protected vital streams and rivers, and cleansed the air. He held space with all the magickal creatures of the forest known as the Fae and some have even called him the King of the Faeries. Our Celtic ancestors worshiped the Horned God Cernunnos, which has a great similarity to the Green Man legend. Regardless of how modern people look at the history, those of us who follow a pagan path know that the Green Man represents all things wild, untamed, raw, and natural.
In ancient times, the Druids would celebrate, Mea’n Fo’mhair (Mabon), by honoring the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to the trees. Tonight, in keeping with that ancient but mostly unknown tradition, we shall create our own toasts and give our own modern-day thanks to the forests and the trees. We shall offer four libations, each significant of the harvests and the gifts of the earth.
If you haven’t already done so, remove your shoes and feel the energy of the earth through your feet. Listen to the wind slip through the trees and watch as the leaves gently fall to the earth. Take a deep breath and feel the air rush through your lungs. Think of how the trees provided you with cooling shade on a blistering hot summer day, or how you were able to grow delicate herbs or flowers and how the trees protected them from damage. Feel the warmth from this fire and know that even after death, the trees continue to contribute to our lives.
So tonight, as our ancestor did, we offer libations, praises, and our complete thanks to the trees. We shall pour, toast, and sacrifice four cups to demonstrate our intent. We offer ale, cider, mead , and wine; each for a specific reason, with none being more important than the others.
<ritual leader should raise the first cup, repeat the invocation, and then spill the contents on the earth>
We offer the gift of ale, made from the harvested grains of Lammas, the first of the three great harvest festivals. In ancient times when humans learned of the fermentation, it was considered a gift of knowledge from the Gods and Goddesses, good for both for sustenance and for celebration. Tonight we pour our first libation to the hardwoods of the forest – the mighty Ash, Birch, Alder, Cottonwood, Elm, Hickory, Locust, Maple, and Oaks.
We offer the gift of mead, made from golden sweet honey; a gift to humankind from the bees. All growing things that bear fruit need pollination and we depend on the bees to make it happen. Honey is one of the purest forms of natural medicine known. Tonight we pour our second libation to the Medicinal and Nut trees – the Willow, Walnut, Pecan, Almond, Hawthorne, Beech, Elder, and Ironwood.
We offer the gift of wine, made from the grapes of the mighty vines and harvested in the late summer and early fall. For centuries, wine has been used as a ceremonial drink, to consecrate, and for pure enjoyment. Tonight we pour our third libation to the softwoods of the land – the Cedar, the Cyprus, the Yews, Fir, Hemlock, Spruce, and the many Pines.
We offer the gift of Cider, the nectar of the Gods of incomparable sweetness, made from the ripened fruits of our orchards. Our ancient relatives found innovative ways to extract the juice and preserve it for consumption over the winter months and it was expected that libations would be poured throughout the trees each fall to protect the fertility and fruit-bearing capabilities of the trees. Tonight we pour our fourth and final libation to the fruit trees – the Apple, Pear, Cherry, Mulberry, Persimmon, Plum and the Olive.
With wide eyes and humble hearts we offer these sacrifices to the Green Man
Our bellies filled with the bounties of our harvest
Our hearts filled with the love of the Goddess
And our future secured by the gifts of the forest
We pledge to safeguard the green spaces of the land
Protect the wetlands, the waterways, and the soil
Replenish those areas that have been depleted
Rebuild those which have been eroded
Replant those which have been burned or bruised
Use only what we must to survive
And leave the natural world safe for the next thousand generations!
So Mote It Be!
Spiritual Review and Looking Ahead
The season of Mabon will soon give way to a time of rest; after the long hours and toiling labor spent bringing in and storing the last of the harvest, our physical bodies are weary. Take time to evaluate all that you’ve accomplished this year and what you still need to work on. Understanding that you will be reaping the spiritual bounty of what you have sown. It is time to look back at the hopes and aspirations of Imbolc and Ostara and reflect on how they have manifested in your lives. Did you follow through with your plans? If not, then what stopped you? Once you are able to identify those hurdles; you can easily step over them and focus. Winter will soon be upon us and now is the time to complete projects, to clear out and let go that which is no longer wanted or needed and to cleanse our spiritual selves as we prepare for the descent into darkness. With a clear mind and full bellies from our harvests, we can use the winter for peaceful reflection and planning. And despite the frozen ground and chilling temperatures ahead, we can still plant something. Now is time to plant the seeds of new ideas and fresh hopes; ones which may lie dormant but are being nourished in the darkness of our minds until the return of spring.
The Second Harvest Prayer
Alas, ‘tis the time whenst the days grow cold,
Nights even colder
The morning chill reminds us
Darkness comes earlier
The Goddess surrounds herself
With the last life of summer
As the Great Sun God sails westerly
To the lands of enchantment
Waiting and remembering
Until rebirth begins
The land provides final preparations
Coaxing the last of the fruits to ripen
Seeds to open and drop
Hours of day equate hours of night
Yet only for this night
Tomorrow all will change
The cold riding upon the wind
A precursor of the coming winter
Growth begins to wilt
Leaves began to fall
Not and end, but a dormancy
For without death
We cannot experience rebirth
And spring cannot occur
Without this second harvest
Sharing The Love
<Have everyone in the circle join hands and make this short statement>
May the next turn of the Wheel bring us love and compassion, abundance and prosperity, fertility and life; as the moon above, so the earth below.
Closing the Mabon Circle
Spirits of the north, the great power of Earth – tonight we give thanks for the harvest, the livestock, the land, and especially the trees. Praises be to all things which are provided so that we may sustain. <extinguish green candle>
Spirits of the west, the majestic power of water – tonight we give thanks to the sweet cool mountain springs where magick originated, the rippling rivers which move cleansing energy, and the deep oceans and they’re many mysteries. <extinguish blue candle>
Spirits of the south, the legendary power of fire – tonight we give you thanks for heat and warmth and also the ability to harness the flames that power the forges, melt the metal, and gives meaning to civilization. <extinguish red candle>
Spirits of the east, mighty power of air – tonight we give you thanks for the cleansing winds that refresh the lands, the loft that give lift to the creatures of the sky, and the essence of breath itself. <extinguish yellow candle>
Great Goddess, it is your wisdom and unconditional love that gives all humankind hope, strength, and vision shared. Thank you for walking alongside us as we take another step along the great pathway of life. <extinguish Goddess candle>
And so the wheel turns…blessed be!