Every week I tend to meet up with a small group of Pagans. These Pagans range in age, gender, career, experience, and paths within Paganism.
Tonight we we discussing the different Pagan holidays. I found it particularly interesting to ask each person:
What do you do to celebrate this holiday?
What do you associate with this holiday?
If you don’t celebrate this holiday why not?
As we (the whole group) went holiday by holiday I found it interesting that a large majority of people (myself included at times) celebrated a few “main” holidays.
Those holidays were:
I started to draw some interesting lines between things. All of these holidays fall in/around/near a Christian holiday OR a commercial holiday.
Beltane. Memorial Day. May Day (in some places)
Samhain. Halloween (widely accepted holiday even with Christians)
I asked the question:
Do you think perhaps we celebrate (we meaning the individuals in the group) simply because of familiarity with the Christian counter-part holiday?
Do you think we concentrate on these holidays because of the commercial appeal and overall ‘acceptance’ during this holiday?
Another point was raised that there are basically 4 celestial holidays. These holidays are based on a solstice or equinox. The other holidays are harvest holidays. These are based on harvest times of different crops.
One group member brought up the point that since we are no longer farmers/gatherers we don’t have the same connection with the land as we once did. Now that we’ve got supermarkets and can get any variety of fruit and vegetables all year round we have little working knowledge of harvest type holidays.
Is this a good or a bad thing? To bring proper balance should we observe each holiday’s counterpart?
These are all just thoughts/ideas I’m sharing. Feel free to chime in!
The answers were really interesting. I’ve been Pagan for the better part of 15 years. Perhaps even a few more, but I only consider myself a 15 year practitioner because I was still really super clueless during those first few years. During all my time as a Pagan I have also chosen some holidays which are ‘high’ holidays and some which aren’t.
After hearing everyone else’s feedback I then started to analyze my own observance of the holidays.
Did I not celebrate the others simply because of no personal connection – or – was I not celebrating simply because it was too much work?
I now bring the question here, to those who read this.
Are there holidays you don’t celebrate? Do you abstain simply because you don’t feel a connection to that holiday or is there another reason?
Mabon is also known as the Autumn Equinox. Here’s a hint – on an equinox that means that day and night is equal. So Vernal Equinox (aka Spring Equinox or Ostara) means that the daytime hours and the nighttime hours are equal.
Mabon shows the official coming into Autumn by the summer days now growing shorter and becoming equals with the night.
What’s the point in celebrating Mabon?
Its officially the final harvest before Winter fully sets in. Some places on this beautiful planet begin to get nightly frosts after this holiday. In olden times it was likely a good reason to gather as a community or family to celebrate while daily life was still easy. Best to do it now rather than in the dead of Winter when things could certainly be difficult.
Times have changed! Winter isn’t harsh and cruel as it used to be!
Please remember for some it is. Some are totally self sufficient – or rely heavily on their gardens. Unless they live somewhere tropical they will not grow anything else without aid of modern technology.
What can I do to celebrate Mabon?
If this is your first Autumn Equinox that you’re recognising … welcome! Typically Mabon falls somewhere between September 20-24. Want to know the exact day for the year? Punch it into the search engine of your choice! I’ll save you a little trouble and tell you that this year Mabon is on September 22.
– Try making a large dinner and invite your friends and family. If they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Mabon they will probably ask you “What’s the occassion?!” You can either tell them, or just say “I haven’t seen you in a while so I thought I’d invite you over! Hayyyyyy!”
– Pick some apples (if you can). This time of year is typically apple picking time. In the South (USA) we also gather pecans and walnuts around this time of year. You can’t make banana nut bread without the nuts!
– Greet the darkness. Spend one whole day and night without electricity. Go to bed when its dark enough to do so. Gain some perspective on just how hard we, as humans, work on this planet. Hell, maybe even get a little angry over how the introduction of artificial light has caused us (as people) to lose a lot of sleep as well as become enslaved by ‘the grind’ (aka our jobs.) We don’t go to bed when its the right hour – we go to bed when we’ve finally wound down from whatever crazy day we’ve had. One day and one night – don’t use any artificial lights. I understand you have to go to work, but you don’t have to use them at home that night. Try it. Its quite enlightening (hahaha).
– Center yourself and find some balance. As the days and nights equal out – maybe you could use some equalisation. Maybe you’re drinking too much or in a bad mood too often. Now would be a great time to re-center and refocus. Just as our Mother Gaia is doing.
– Give thanks and count your blessings. This one really goes without saying.
During my Mabon ritual I like to talk about Persephone. Persephone was the daughter of Demeter. Many Gods loved her and tried to woo her. While she was out being the little nymph she was – Pluto burst through the Earth and abducted her. Demeter neglected the Earth in every sense of the word while she searched for her missing daughter. Eventually Helios (the Sun – who sees everything) told Demeter what had happened. Finally after hearing the prayers and cries of the starving humans Zeus demanded Pluto release Persephone.
Pluto agreed. He had a trick up his sleeve, though. He released Persephone but Hecate was the only one powerful enough to walk Heaven, Earth and the Underworld. Hecate assisted Persephone by lighting her way and guiding her out of Hades. Pluto gave Persephone a pomegranate while she was making her way out of Hades. She ate four kernels while in the underworld. The Fates said anyone who ate or drank in the underworld was doomed to stay there for eternity. Due to eating only 4 kernels Persephone must only stay 4 months in the underworld with Pluto every year.
Even though Persephone was abducted against her will … even though by all accounts she shouldn’t have to stay with Pluto in the underworld – she has so much honour and integrity that she does stay those 4 months. Persephone is a representation of spirit, hope, honour, integrity, courage, and faith. All of these traits were required by our ancestors to survive the winter.
So tell me, how do you celebrate Mabon?
I plan to do a video about it in a couple weeks’ time.