Thursday 22 September marks the mythical British mid-harvest festival of Mabon, heralding the arrival of the autumn equinox which in 2022 is on 23 September.
During an equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the “celestial equator”—an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line.
In the Northern Hemisphere, when the Sun crosses the equator going from north to south, this marks the autumnal equinox and when it crosses from south to north, this marks the vernal equinox. This is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.
Now we leave the zodiac sign of Virgo, the Queen of the Harvest, and enter the astrological territory of Libra The Scales, representing the ever changing balance of day and night, represented in Tarot by The Justice card.
Libra is the only Zodiac constellation represented by an inanimate object, and not by an animal or a mythological character. The stars that represent the scales of justice are borrowed from the constellation of Scorpio next door, the claws of the Scorpion.
Those born under Libra are famously cool in temperament, intellectual, and can be somewhat emotionally detached but also volatile. According to the Roman writer Marcus Manilius, Roman judges were born under the sign of Libra. The moon was said to have been in Libra when Rome was founded, and therefore the Roman empire itself (at least, according to Manilius) began on a just and balanced foundation. Or at least, a legalized, rational, process based system.
The first harvest festival of the year was Lammas (‘Loaf Mass Tide) celebrated on the first of August. This later second harvest, Mabon, ends on 29 September.
Mabon ap Modron, -Mabon the son of Modron, was a figure from Welsh mythology who by the tenth century AD, and the first written record of him in an old Welsh poem, had became associated with the story of King Arthur. In these stories, he was one of Arthur’s war band, but the roots are much older.
The origin of the name, Mabon is related to the Romano- British god Maponos, whose name means “Great Son”; his mother Modron, in turn, is likely related to the Gaulish goddess Dea Matrona. (modern word Matron) (Via Wiki)
Dea Matrona was the Divine Mother Goddess. The River Marne in France was named in her honour and Gaulish religious images included mass produced inexpensive terracotta statues for domestic use in household shrines. These little statues showed mother goddesses nursing babies or holding fruits, other foods, or small dogs in their laps.
Mabon may be a semi-fictionalized festival. The name is not known to have been associated with this late harvest before the 1970’s, and may be at least in part, a Neo-Pagan confection.
But there is only humility and gratitude, in seeing stories in the seasons, honouring the great earth mother, whether we think of her as Modron, Virgo, Astrea, Demeter, Gaia or Persephone, or simply as the earth itself.
All stories grow out of some real soil.
The stories are all true.
The fall or autumn equinox is especially associated with apple picking. Bring on the scrumping, the crumble and the cider.
The best cider vinegar still contains the living ‘mother.’ This vinegar is made through a two-step process. First, yeast is added to apple juice to break down the sugars and turn them into alcohol. Then, bacteria is added, converting the alcohol into acetic acid. This bacteria is what is known as the mother, This is the catalyst that gives rise to the vinegar. Many apple cider vinegars have the mother removed because it gives the vinegar a cloudy appearance and some people think it’s gone bad. Not so. The mother is the best bit, the most nutritious element.
Medicinally it is reputed to work as an antacid.
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