Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Second Harvest


This Saturday, September 22 at 10:49 a.m. EDT, the Wheel of the Year turned to the Autumnal Equinox.  At Mabon we stand at the crossroads of bounty, warmth, and light and scarcity, cold, and darkness.  Like Ostara, Mabon is one of the few times throughout the year that true balance can be observed in nature.  The days are still mild, the light is golden, asters and goldenrod brighten roadsides and meadows while the fall migrations of birds and monarch butterflies begin. 


The second of three harvest celebrations, Mabon is a time of thanksgiving and celebration but also of reflection.  Along with the actual harvest from our garden, my family reflects upon what we have planted, tended, and harvested in our lives. My seven year old has learned to read. One son has brought back a new harvest of experiences from his first trip to Europe; another fruits of spiritual growth; another harvest of new friendships. After nearly two years, of writing & illustrating—my daughter Ellen and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Solstice Moon Solstice Sun, our illustrated pagan children’s book celebrating Yule and the winter solstice.  

Because of its associations with the harvest, the apple is a perfect Mabon symbol.  Beyond harvesting the bounty of our own garden and processing baskets of tomatoes and garden herbs, our family takes an annual trip to a local orchard.  We return with enough Golden Delicious, Honey Crisps, Galas, and Empire apples. Over the next two days our household takes part in epic apple processing and makes around a hundred jars of apple sauce, apple butter, and apple jam.  Teamwork in action!  Over the years this annual event has become a Mabon family tradition.  The delicious aroma of cooking apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg and the positive energy created as we work together fills and blesses our home.

Family and friends look forward to their annual gift of homemade applesauce.

Another way that we connect our family to the Second Harvest is through the hunting animals that represent the season.  As the summer season slowly fades and an autumn chill returns to the air in Delaware, thousands of migrating raptors will travel south over Delaware on their way to warmer winter climates. During the season of Second Harvest, we make two to three weekly trips to Hawk Watch Hill at Ashland Nature Center, an established raptor migration monitoring site, train our binoculars skyward, and observe and count hawks, falcons, eagles, ospreys, and vultures.

On a mild September morning we might witness the spectacle of hundreds of migrating broad-winged hawks as they pass over on their way to the tropics or the awe inspiring sight of a mating pair of Bald Eagles spiraling upwards on a thermal to find the currents to carry them south.  It is also a great way to be out in Nature and enjoy the beauty of the fall wildflowers, migrating Monarchs, zooming dragonflies, and the changing Fall foliage.

To top off the season, we make full use of the bounty of musical talent in our family, and host a Harvest Home music jam celebrating the gift of friends, family, music.  Using the bounty of our gardens  and produce from our local growers’ markets, we prepare homemade seasonal foods,  and on a cool early October night—enjoy the warmth of music and friendship as bluegrass, Celtic, and blues, jazz and eclectic music fills the house.

Mabon is also a time to celebrate our local Pagan community. Delaware’s Pagan Pride celebration occurs around Mabon and includes a food drive to share the bounty of the harvest. This Mabon was particularly important for me as we dedicated our new Assembly of the Sacred Wheel coven, Grail of the Birch Moon on September 22nd.

Watched over by the Great Ones, we dedicated our coven in a secluded meadow surrounded by autumn wildflowers, trees just beginning to change color, the only sheer cliffs in Delaware, and the hum of autumn insects.

Celebrate Mabon yourself! Be thankful for the things you have, and reflect upon the balance you have achieved and what needs balancing, honoring both the darkness and the light. Invite your friends and family over for a feast (the bigger the better!), and count the blessings of family, friends, and community.