Mabontides are flowing out once more, my lovelies! Witches’ Thanksgiving is one of my favorite sabbats, and it is marked by our entry into the cardinal sign of Libra, a sign of balance. Once again, the sun hangs in the equilibrium of light and dark. This year that moment falls on Wednesday, September 23rd.¹
When day-time and night-time are equal,
When sun is at greatest and least,
The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,
And Witches gather in feast.²
The second harvest of fruits and vegetables, Mabon is the initiator of the season of Autumn. This is a low ebb or lesser sabbat, wherein we feel the vital energy begin to recede from the earth as she continues her spiral into the decline of the year. This is the time of acceptance, the receptive power of water. The auburn, red and yellow leaves of the trees, the apples ready for picking, the deepness of the setting sun, the darkening afternoons, all remind us that night always follows day, no exceptions.
The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
Of this our ancestors teach²
In the Wheel of the Year mythos that I enjoy, at Mabon the God and Goddess become the Sage and Crone, and with experience, comes the inner vision to see deeply into both the past and future. They know the sacred order of the “perfect,” complete cycle, that is symbolized by the wheel; they teach us that life is sustained through death, just as death contains the promise of rebirth (at Ostara). As symbolized in the yin/yang, the key to one side of any polarity is found in the heart of it’s opposite. The fruits that are cut down, will rise again both as the seeds planted next year, but also by sustaining the living. As we are fed another year, the gods live on through us.
The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.²
No Witch is an Island
This time of year, I ask myself: how will I stay in balance of giving and receiving? It takes hard work to bring in the harvest, and many hands working together toward the common goal of survival. Think about that cookie on your altar platter; SO MANY hands are required to bring that seed of wheat, sugar, and chocolate chip all the way from planting, through harvest, through baking, to the store, to the feast … no witch is an island!
How have we helped our fellow humans within this web of existence lately? How have we expressed gratitude for all that we are bringing in from the fields of the gods? They instruct us to FEAST! Let us bring our best and most tasty offerings to the common table, and share in what we have with generosity.
So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And Dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphame’s fair land shall receive us
In peace at the end of our days.²
Perfect Love as a Verb
This harvest feast, the Witches’ Thanksgiving, calls for a gathering ’round of family, both your family of origin, but also your family of choice. Recently I was challenged by a dear priestess friend of mine with the question: “When does it get to be Love as a verb? I mean, to see all this broken humanity, yes. But how does that translate into action?”
This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Mr. Rogers, my childhood hero. Despite growing up deep-fried in the contentious and back-biting Southern Baptist church, I can thank a children’s TV show personality and Presbyterian minister, Mr. Fred Rogers, for instructing this young witchling in what it means to be a decent neighbor.
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” ~Fred Rogers
Verbs or nouns, the key word we are looking for here is “active.” We all occasionally fall short of the ideal in our relationships–especially our spiritual relationships. Perhaps sometime in the past, a kerfluffle flared up between friends. It has happened to me more than I like to admit.
Egos get in the way sometimes; perception can be such a tricky thing — especially within covens. We all have shadowy bits that must be dredged out of the deep recesses for processing–that is how we advance through the initiatory and evolutionary process of Witchcraft. Too often (usually when Mercury is in retrograde) we erroneously project those shadows onto our loved ones standing beside us in the cosmic amplifier of the sacred circle. Unfortunate things go down, sad to say.
I hate it when that happens. Hopefully, with time and water under our damaged bridges, things have now settled down. Thank all the gods that life is a cycle … those may have been the winters of our discontent, but the hope of spring always follows. Hopefully, we’ve come through the kerfluffles as wiser people.
The Mabon Challenge
We realize that it is the struggles, the challenges, the grit and tweak against the grain of life that hones us into the powerful incarnate gods that we are, yes? “Thanksgiving” is a pretty obvious theme of The Great Work at this time of year. This Mabon, we need to dig deep and excavate gratitude for the lessons learned through adversity–including the unfortunate coven kerfluffles.
As a way to turn the idea of perfect love into a course of action, lets consider reaching out with ye olde olive branch. Mend a fence, rebuild a bridge, send a card, make the call…it doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but in some way let’s reach out to the beloved friends we’ve been missing at our feast tables, and “accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” Maybe that means that the first thing you serve yourself is a heaping helping of crow, but that kind of soul food can be so beneficial.³
This is The Work, folks. No one said witchcraft would be all glitter and moonbeams. (Well, if they did, they were a snake oil salesman!)
And Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment.
By Magic of old, be it done!²
As a “spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down,” I’ll share with you one of my favorite recipes (below) to scintillate your coven mates come Mabontides!
- For exact astrological times of all the Sabbats for your region, you might find archaeoastronomy.com helpful.
- From Doreen Valiente’s, “Witchcraft For Tomorrow”
- I have this theory that “eating crow” actually melts cellulite…uh huh…seems legit!
Autumn Harvest Bisque (Vegan and gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only,
- rinsed thoroughly and drained
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper (optional)
- 1 Teaspoon Berbere powder (it’s an Ethiopian spice much like paprika.)
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
- 6 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 can of Coconut Milk
- 1/2 cup Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
- Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 pound crispy fried bacon (Obviously this recipe is vegan all the way up to this option, but…bacon!)
In large soup pot over moderate heat, melt the coconut oil or EVOO. Add the leeks and saute about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir briefly. Add the squash, potato and apples, raise heat to high and saute until they begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder, ginger, lemongrass, berbere and red pepper. Add in the broth, bring to a simmer and cover, Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer until the vegetables are all tender, about 40 minutes.
I puree in the pot with an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one, transfer in batches to the blender or food processor and process until pureed. Return to the pot, add the coconut milk, and tamari sauce. Stir well, remove from heat and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Serve as soon as possible into individual bowls and garnish with and liberal sprinkles of green onion (add bacon if you don’t need it to be vegan.)