Given the immense popularity of Halloween, and the attention lavished on the solstices, it’s a little odd that Mabon is so infrequently observed. Unlike its twin, the Vernal Equinox, the Autumnal Equinox has really only recently been added to the natural calendar observed by Wicca. The ancient Celts, from whom many Wiccan traditions are drawn, celebrated Samhain, which became our Halloween. Their other holidays divided the year into seasons, but perhaps the Autumnal Equinox was a little too subtle to merit much attention. Or it simply fell between their own four-fold divisions of the year. Starting today, however night will be longer than day, a situation that will last until the Vernal Equinox. In other words, we’ve entered the dark half of the year.
As someone who enjoys horror, I often ponder the benefits of living in the dark. Theologically the dark is often cast as evil compared to the light. We have taken that metaphor and made it literal. This makes sense, I suppose, given our natural fear of the dark. The only real predators in the night, however, are now of our own kind. The dark can also be peaceful, a time for contemplation. One of the things adulthood has on offer is disrupted sleep. Many of us find ourselves awake at some point in the night. We need to become comfortable with it. I’m not a Wiccan, but I appreciate the naturalness with which Mabon acknowledges the fact that half the year is darker than the other half. It’s also a harvest-themed holiday, one of the many that stretch to Thanksgiving and on to living off the stored supplies through the winter.
No doubt there is some melancholy associated with Mabon. The lessening of the light brings a chill with it. Summer’s ease is at an end and we will need to start layering our clothes and adding blankets back on our beds. Already it is dark when I begin work, which means the brightest part of the balanced day and night is spent indoors at the computer. I will need to leave the harvest, so obvious in the fast-approaching October, to others. Mabon and Halloween aren’t company holidays, but that fact won’t stop the encroaching dark. There’s a wisdom associated with acceptance and even melancholy can been sweet. The leaves, while still mostly green, have begun to turn. The bright songbirds of summer have given away to ravens and crows. We need to learn to walk in the dark again. Perhaps it’s time to consider what Mabon can mean.