Mabon, falls on September 22 when the sun enters the sign of Libra, marking the second harvest of the Celtic Pagan year. It is the end of the grain harvest which began at Lughnasadh. Because most pagans of antiquity could not determine exact astrological positions, the European peasantry usually began celebrating Mabon on the eve of September 24th. "Michaelmas" on September 25th, is both a feast in honor of the Archangel Michael and the Christianized form of Mabon. It has also been known as the Second Harvest Festival, Feast of Avalon, Cornucopia, Wine Harvest, Harvest Home, Festival of Dionysus, and Alban Elfed. The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and farmers would harvest their crops by moonlight as part of the Second Harvest celebration.
Like the modern American holiday of Thanksgiving, at Mabon people are ready to celebrate the abundance of the crops they have reaped. Spells or rituals focusing on balance and harmony are appropriate during this period. The length of time the sun shines has been lessening since Midsummer's Eve. In other words the sun is dying, so effort is made to honor the dead at this time, a practice which culminates with the final harvest Samhain on October 31st. One should not pass a burial site without giving honor to the dead.
Mabon ap Modron, "great son of the great mother," is a Welsh God of the dying and rising sun, music, love, and fertility. He represents the change of seasons. He is also called the Son of Light, the Young Son, or Divine Youth. The Equinox is the birth of Mabon from his mother Modron, the Guardian of the Outerworld. She is the Healer, the Protector, and the Earth.
According to the Mabinogion, Mabon ap Modron was the best huntsman in the world, but he was stolen from his mother when he was three nights old (or three years). In the story of "Culhwch ac Olwen," he was imprisoned at Caer Llowy, "City of Light" (thought to be Gloucester). He was needed to capture the boar Twrch Trwyth, who was in fact an evil man become a boar through magic. Yspaddaden Penkawr, father of Olwen, demanded the boar be caught before allowing Culhwch to marry his daughter. Before Mabon could be freed however, the Salmon of Llyn Llyw, the oldest animal in the world, was consulted. (The salmon often represent wisdom in Celtic stories.) Cei and Bedwyr, the prototypes of the later Arthurian Kay and Bedevere, rode the salmon to the prison, and on being set free; Cei carried Mabon on his back to King Arthur's court. From there, they hunted the boar. Mabon took the comb and shears behind its ear, and then drove it off a cliff into the sea around Cornwall.
Activities vary by region and tradition, as well as personal preference. This time of the year, people practice such crafts as wheat weaving and fashion corn dollies or weave other god and goddess symbols. The corn dolly may be used both as a fertility amulet and as an altar centerpiece. If you follow the Celtic path, dressing a corn stalk in cloths and burning it in celebration of the harvest and upcoming rebirth of the sub god might be more to your liking. You may want to string Indian corn on black thread to make a necklace. Some bake bread in the form of a God-figure or a Sun Wheel. You can try your hand at making a Sun Wheel in this week's craft.
Wandering through your garden, harvest what is ready to be gathered. Making a pilgrimage through your local woods can give you some beautiful natural additions to your altar as you collect leaves, acorns, berries, and other things symbolic of nature's gifts along your way. If the leaves where you live have begun their autumnal change, you may wish to scatter them around the house as decoration. You can also dip the leaves in paraffin and lay them on wax paper to dry. Once they harden, lightly carve symbols of protection or abundance into them and place them around the house or in large jars.
Seeds and grains may be set out for birds and other animals preparing for hibernation or migration. Small gifts of food and drink would be appropriate for the homeless as well. A feast for friends and family also encourages an aura of abundance and thankfulness. Breads may be baked in the shape of the Sun, combining fruits or vegetables and grains. This incorporates both of the major aspects of this Harvest. To honor the dead, it is traditional to place apples on burial plots as symbolism of rebirth and gratitude, and burying them in your lawn is also a traditional way to feed the ghost that may be traveling at this time. Mabon is also a time to honor your living elders, who have devoted so much time and energy to your growth and development.
Foods: nuts and acorns, corn (grains), cornbread, wheat bread, root crops -Onions, Carrots, Potatoes, etc., beans, squash, dried fruits, grapes, apples and pomegranates, goose, goat or mutton
Drinks: wine, beer, ale, cider
Colors: red, maroon, russet, yellow, deep gold, orange, brown, violet, indigo
Animals: dogs, wolves, stag, birds of prey (especially blackbird, owl, and eagle), salmon, goat
Stones: yellow topaz, carnelian, sapphire, yellow agate, lapis lazuli, and amethyst, river or stream stones
Plants: vines, ivy, gourds, pinecones, acorns, dried leaves, corn, wheat, pomegranate, hazel, hops, cedar, tobacco
Herbs: myrrh, thistles, tobacco, oak leaves, hazel, mums, hops, acorns, marigold, rose, sage, milkweed, Solomon�s seal, aster, fern, honeysuckle, benzoin, passionflower, pine, cedar
Incense: wood aloes, cinnamon, cloves, benzoin, jasmine, frankincense, myrrh, sage
Gods: all deities of wine -especially Dionysus and Bacchus, Thor, Mabon, Thoth, Hermes, Hotei, Harvest Deities, and Aging Deities
Godessess: the Mother, Persephone, Modron, Snake Woman, Epona, Pamona, Muses, Harvest Deities, and Aging Deities
Other Symbols: burial Cairns, rattles, and sun wheels, horn of plenty, garlands