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Image: Jan ShepherdAutumnal Equinox/Mabon

Here are Jan's thoughts:
Like the Vernal Equinox, this celebration occurs at a point of pivot.   With days and nights of equal lengths, there is a particular stillness which encourages contemplation of the summer now dying, and the long night ahead.  Whilst we give deep thanks for the harvest resting in our store-houses, we are starkly aware of what lies before us.

Mabon roughly translates to “Bright Blessings”, erected almost like a shield against the encroaching darkness.  Another of the titles belonging to this festival is that of “Harvest of the Wine” – this because grapes are traditionally gathered and trodden at this time of year.

In our modern world, which bristles with manmade conveniences to defeat the wrath of Mother Nature, it becomes very easy to lose sight of what a critical period Mabon represents.   But – just for a little while – journey back with me in your imagination.  There is no electricity, no piped gas, no central heating, no running water.  

You have (if you are fortunate and diligent) a waterproof and wind-proof shelter.  But as the nights lengthen and the temperature drops you have only the warmth and light shed by a fire which, no doubt, fills your home with smoke at times.   You will have been gathering wood and seasoning it for months, storing it in a wood shelter which will hopefully keep it tinder dry.   This fire is also your only method of cooking food.   If its embers die, and you cannot resurrect them, or if you run out of fuel, you too will die. 

Over this last few months you have spent every daylight hour gathering in your harvest, collecting berries and fruit, storing meat to see you through the dark and barren winter.  You will continue gathering until there is nothing left to harvest.  Every day will be just a little colder than the last, and a little shorter.  As Autumn slides into Winter, the weather will turn into a fiend, seemingly intent upon the destruction of your shelter.  After every storm you will drive yourself to your limits in the dimming daylight making repairs that you hope will see you through the next storm.    [More...]

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