written by Richard
The Autumnal Equinox, or Mabon, is one of my favorite sabbats. September beckons the first winds of fall here in North Carolina, and although the days remain hot and muggy late into the month (and sometimes even into October!), the feel of change in the air is unmistakable. The scales of our planet balance briefly as day and night become equal in duration, and then begins the slow tip towards the enveloping darkness of Samhain and Yule.
Mabon is also the second of the three harvest festivals—preceded by Lughnasadh, during which grain is often a focal point in homage to the goddess Tailltiu in my tradition, and followed by Samhain, when we remember the many souls of ancestors and loved ones that Time has harvested for the universe. So it’s only appropriate that these festivals be accompanied by feasting—and that was in no short order at the Mabon potluck at Umstead Park before ritual! Just as we share our traditions at Church of the Earth, we also share our recipes (or maybe just some really good comfort food that someone else knows how to make way better than we do!).
It is also unusual for Church of the Earth to host our own Mabon event, and this marks the first year I can recall since joining the Church that we have done so. The reason for that is that we have traditionally observed Mabon at the Central NC Pagan Pride Festival, which has ceased for the time being. One good thing about that, though, is that we’ve gotten really good at running it—in fact, the ritual we performed this year has existed in some form for the better part of eight or more years, with segments of the text written by a wide pool of practitioners from different Pagan traditions within our community, and led by High Priestess Laurel for as long as I can remember. This, too, resonates with me very strongly at the time of the second harvest—just as we are blessed with an abundance of food from different cultures and kitchens, so too are we fortunate to enjoy a diverse and harmonious community that has created a greater whole from many disparate parts.
In keeping with this observance of harvests, ritual co-leader Tamara Davis set up a table at the shelter replete with a colorful array of pens and paper for us to write down our own harvests—the many blessings for which we give thanks on this holy day of parity between sun and shadow. Taking time to count the many amazing people in my life, and the powerful experiences I have shared with them over the course of the year, helped to ground me in preparation for the observance of the year’s final harvest, Samhain—for just as we honor the dead who have passed beyond the veil, we should also honor the living who dwell here with us in the present and convey our gratitude to them for the abundance they bring into our lives.
The very next day after our ritual, the winds grew colder; the earth felt as though it had finally begun to breathe after a stiflingly hot summer. Ritual co-leader Dodde flippantly remarked that perhaps our shindig had finally ushered in a long-overdue fall. I’d like to think she was right. The Autumn was waiting patiently; we only needed to take the time to give thanks to the gods for the turning of the Wheel and welcome that much-needed change into our hearts. Blessed Harvests to you all!