Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mabon: Story of Demeter and Persephone

"The Return of Persephone"
Painting by artist Frederic Leighton

I know that everyone is just as excited about Halloween as much as I am but before we can get started on our pumpkin carvings and decorating we have another important date coming up. September 23rd otherwise known as Mabon, the second Harvest Festival and the Autumn Equinox.

Usually Mabon is between the dates of the 21st and the 24th. This year it will be on the 23rd. This day marks the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld. There are many mythological stories that tell this tale but the one that resonates with me the most is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter is the Goddess of the Earth and Grain and with her brother Zeus, gave birth to Persephone. Persephone is taken by Hades into the Underworld with the intention of marriage while Demeter is left to search for her missing daughter and try to restore her to the light.

She searched for nine days and with the help of Hekate and Helios she soon discovered that Zeus had given Persephone to Hades for marriage. Her rage soon turned to sorrow and despair which impaired her from doing her work of bringing in the harvest. She went through many trials to find her daughter and while she was sorrowful, grain would not grow from the Earth. Eventually, Zeus told Hades to give Persephone back to Demeter but Hades offered her a meal beforehand. She ate the seeds of a pomegranate and therefore was doomed to return back to the Underworld and to Hades for the last four months of the year. Demeter agreed to this and in return food grew from the Earth once again during the time Persephone was safe at home with her mother.

So on Mabon, in honor of this story, I eat pomegranate and offer the seeds to Demeter along with grains and wheat. I decorate in fall colors such as reds, browns, and golds. You can choose to honor Mabon in different ways with any of the stories associated with it and with any God(s) and Goddess(es).

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