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The Sabbats

Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

Written and compiled by George Knowles


(The Autumn Equinox)


Mabon is upon us, sweet Autumn Equinox

A time of hope and balance, and of harvesting our crops

When day and night are equal, as on Ostara day

We share our food, our hope, our love, our God and Goddess' way. 


Mabon the Autumn Equinox is one of the lesser Sabbats of the Witches calendar.  In the Northern Hemisphere it normally falls between the 21st-23rd September (in the Southern Hemisphere the equivalent Sabbat is Ostara the Spring Equinox).  At Lammas (1st August), we celebrated the first of three autumnal harvests, and now as days and nights become equal and darkness overtakes light, we celebrate the conclusion of the second harvest. 

Mabon can be pronounced in various ways:  May-bun, May-bone, Mah-boon or Mah-bawn), and is commonly known by a variety of names:  The Second Harvest, Harvest of First Fruits, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Festival of Dionysus, Michaelmas, Harvest Home and Cornucopia.  The druids of old celebrated the Autumn Equinox as “Mea’n Fo’mhair” in which they honoured the Green Man as the God of the Forest by offering libations to trees.  According to the Celtic tree calendar Mabon is represented by the Vine (2nd Sept – 29th Sept), and the season (23rd Sept-22nd Dec) by the White Popular (Aspen). 

Green Man mask

While the waning sun still hovers in the sky and crops continuing to be gathered, it’s a rush against time to reap in the harvest before the cold winter winds overtakes us.  After completing the corn and wheat harvest started at Lammas; the farmer turns his attention to grapes from vines, apples from orchards, nuts, berries and other essential fruits and vegetables.  As the days become shorter his efforts to complete the harvest are aided by the light of the full moon.  For this reason the full moon closest to Mabon is known as the “Harvest Moon”. 

Another name for this moon is the “Wine Moon”, for when apples and grapes are harvested, the grapes are pressed into wine and apples made into cider, both being favoured drinks of the season.  The grapevine in particular was considered sacred by early Pagans and reached a height in popularity during the eighth century BCE.  The followers of Dionysus/Bacchus, the gods of wine and inspiration, honoured the grape vine as a symbol of rebirth and transformation. 

In addition to harvesting the crops, many other things need to be accomplished for our continued survival.  Seeds of renewal for the following years plantings need to be separated and stored ready for re-use.  Contained within them is the mystery of Life in Death, the spirit of nature in the guise of the “Corn King”.  He was sacrificed at Lammas and now sleeps awaiting his re-birth and return in the spring.  As summer draws to an end and winter approaches, nature withdraws its bounty and begins its period of rest.  Leaves fall from trees, flowers wither and die, and birds begin their migration to warmer climes.  Mabon is also the start of the hunting season, and time to check livestock’s (herd animals and poultry) ready for the winter slaughter during the third harvest Samhain. 

“The reaping is over and the harvest is in,
Summer is finished, another cycle begins”

A harvest supper known as Harvest Home is traditional at this time, when friends and family all gather together to rest and appreciate the fruits of their labour.  The home is decorated with autumn coloured leaves, wheat sheaths, corn stalks and cornucopias filled with seasonal fruits and nuts.  The table is set and filled with such delights as roasted meats, poultry, pork pies, hams, bread, potato cakes and vegetables, followed by custards pies, cakes, fresh fruit and tarts.  Typical fruits of this time are apples, grapes, hazelnuts, pears and peaches, all washed down with copious helpings of wine, ale and cider. 


In the mythology of the Sabbats, at Mabon the “Lord of the Harvest” dies in a willing act of sacrifice.  He descends into the earth to the Underworld there to await his return by rebirth of the Goddess.  Nature declines and draws back its bounty in readiness for the winter and it’s time of rest.  The Goddess looks at the weakening sun and a fire burns in her womb as she feels the presence of the God, and so prepares for her own journey into the Underworld in search for him again. 

Mabon far from being a term from antiquity when the Autumn Equinox was referred to simply as that “the Autumn Equinox”, it was not until recent times that neo-pagans began referring to it as Mabon.  Ronald Hutton, a noted pagan scholar and historian, claims the term was first used by the American author Aidan Kelly during the early 1970’s, when as a co-founder of the “New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn” he was drafting copies for his much later book “Crafting the Art of Magic” published in 1991.  Kelly has admitted that he coined the modern term of Mabon (and other festival names) from literary sources, in this case Welsh mythology, in his efforts to conceptualise modern pagan rituals. 

In Welsh mythology Mabon is the “divine son” of Modron, the Great Goddess of the Earth and the Otherworld.  As the story goes Mabon disappears or is kidnapped three days after his birth (and the light of the sun diminishes), and is held prisoner in the Otherworld (Modron’s womb).  Where he is held nobody knows, not even Modron, who seeks the help of friends to find him.  Eventually aided by King Arthur (from the Arthurian legends) and guided by 5 anciently revered animals (the Raven, Stag, Owl, Eagle and Salmon) they find Mabon at Yule, and release him from his prison as the new source of Light. 

In this story of Mabon it is easy to see parallels matching the mythology of the Sabbats, but perhaps more fitting to natural events are the Eleusinian mysteries associated with Demeter and Persephone from Greek mythology.  In brief, Demeter is the Goddess of Corn, Grain and the Harvest.  One bright sunny day her daughter Persephone was out picking flowers in a meadow, when the earth suddenly opened up and the God Hades dragged her down into the Underworld, there to become his wife. 


Hades abducts Persephone  -  (Sculpture by Schiaffino) 

Demeter was naturally devastated and for the next nine days looked everywhere for her, but to no avail.  In her distress Demeter consulted with the Sun god Apollo, who revealed that her brother Zeus had pledged her daughter to Hades in a secret agreement.  Furiously Demeter left Olympus and disguised as an old woman wandered the Earth in search of her daughter.  Unable to find her she retired to her temple at Eleusis and cursed the earth so no crops would grow.  Zeus became concerned at the resulting famine and sent her a message asking why she was doing this.  She responded stating there would be no renewal of the earth’s bounty until her daughter was returned. 

Zeus sent Hermes into the Underworld to seek the release of Persephone, but Hades was not willing to give up his wife completely.  He knew he must obey Zeus however, so he enticed Persephone to eat a pomegranate seed before she returned with Hermes, and by doing so she became eternally bound to Hades and the Underworld.  When Demeter learning of this trick she appealed to Zeus who declared that Persephone would henceforth live two thirds of the year with her mother, but the remaining third of the year must be spent with her husband Hades.

So delighted was Demeter to have Persephone back, if only for part of each year, she lifted the curse she had placed on the earth and revealed the Mysteries of nature.  She created the Spring Equinox in celebration of her daughter’s return, and the Autumn Equinox to reflect the great sorrow she felt when once again her daughter would journey back into the Underworld to be with her husband Hades. 

Frieze of Demeter and Persephone Consecrating Triptolemus 

After revealing the Mysteries of nature, Demeter taught the people of Eleusis the principles of agriculture, and these they observed annually.  Later these observances were adopted by Athens as official festivals, but under the influence of the Eleusinian priesthood.  The most important part of the festival was the initiation of new Priests and Priestesses, which for centuries took place every year in the Telesterion Temple at Eleusis.  While the Mysteries were reserved only for the priesthood, the festival was eventually opened to all Greek citizens.


Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. 

Cunningham's Encyclopedia Of Magical Herbs - By Scott Cunningham 

A Witches Bible  -  by Stewart and Janet Farrar 

Plus to many websites to mention 


 Written and compiled on the 12th September 2008  ©  George Knowles 

Best wishes and Blessed Be


Site Contents - Links to all Pages


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About me:

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Wicca & Witchcraft


Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick


Traditional Writings:


The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality


Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /   


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras





A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /   Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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