For the Wiccan coven I study with, Mabon is the second of three harvest festivals, preceded by Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain, and falls on the Autumnal equinox. The actual name ‘Mabon’ is a contemporary, new name for the Sabbat coined in the 1970’s. Until that time, it was mostly referred to as the Autumnal Equinox.
Although the coven lore states that the Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally, this is not true from a physical standpoint. However, perceptually, this still holds true. It does, however, still mark the time as moving from a time of light to a time of darkness. As a harvest festival, it is in of itself an occasion of thanksgiving for the gifts of the Earth during the time of growth and in preparation for the time of rest.
Rituals focus on the theme of the harvest to reflect the harvest which occurs within each of us as the time moves to summer’s end, which is the Scottish Gaelic for this time of year, Samhraidhreadh (roughly pronounced ‘sow-ruhc-uhc’). Mabon mythology centres on the idea that, as a farmer sows the seeds in spring that become the grain, so do we sow the seeds of our own future. When the growth comes to fruition we choose to keep some aspect of the harvest and leave the rest.