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The Fall Equinox has arrived, and with it the final Wiccan
Sabbat celebrating the harvest, the reaping of the riches produced throughout
the year. Like the Spring Equinox,
Mabon is a time of balance, but balance with a different flavor. In the wheel of the Year the powers of
life stand in balance with the powers of death.
In many parts of the country our gardens are still producing
abundantly, but if you live in a temperate zone with a real winter, look
closely. Signs of declining vigor
and abundance are everywhere.
Plants are showing wear and tear, their growth not as exuberant as it
was not long ago. Many flowers are
long gone, having wilted, their centers turned to seeds. Other plants often just look
exhausted. The squash are heavy
with their fruits, but often their leaves are past their peak. In many places, here and there touches
of color are appearing on particularly sensitive trees.
The times are still good in terms of the harvest –
especially the tomatoes and peppers and corn – but in most places the harvest
is starting to wind down. By the
end of the month it will be obvious.
Mabon celebrates and honors the final harvest.
Here in Sonoma County where the cycles of our seasons dance
to different steps than to the East, traditional symbols still fit, though they
manifest differently. September is often our hottest month, life-giving rain is
a distant memory and future promise, though a freak storm sneaked through last
week. But the water it dropped
will soon be baked out of the earth.
With the aid of human-supplied water our farmers’ market is at its
height in productivity and beauty.
But when we look into the wild world, the declining energies are very
much to be seen. The growing
season is over.
More importantly than the exact agricultural line up between
Sabbat and season is what Mabon honors: the last abundance of life before it
passes into death. It is a time of
balance, but the movement is now from life to death. Mabon honors stock-taking more than promise-making. Promises and plans were made – how well
have they been kept?
In societies which honored wisdom as well a knowledge, the
elders were always accorded positions of respect. They might not have the vigor of younger people, but they
had accumulated the years of experience to be better able to judge what to do
with their vigor. They had the
biggest contexts within which to make their judgments.
Our youthful oriented (though hardly youth-honoring) culture honors knowledge and
technique, and these skills are more easily acquired when young. I am far from denigrating either youth
or the unique strengths that come with it. But a society in balance, a society unlike ours, also honors
experience, and the wisdom accumulated by that experience. That even our conservatives have
respect for neither genuine tradition nor the lessons of the past says volumes
about this lack of balance.
Perhaps this is why Mabon is not
one given the emphasis we give to many other Sabbats.
Mabon is the Sabbat to honor in particular the fruits of a
lifetime, of a season, of the turning of a wheel. It is easy to feel regrets over possibilities not attained, but there are always possibilities not attained. More important, like the harvests around us, what are the possibilities we have attained? This is the time to honor those. Our next Sabbat will have quite a different tenor.
What have you achieved over the past year? How can you honor it? If you are on the downhill side of
life, with fewer years ahead than behind, this is especially the time to honor
the wisdom you’ve gained, the different perspectives you can bring to problems
compared to when you were young.
For these are the genuine riches you, and all of us, will take with us
when our time of passing comes.