In Pagan times the Sabbats (from the Greek ‘sabatu’ meaning ‘to rest’.) were festivals honoring the growth cycle of crops – planting, tending, harvesting and allowing the land to rest. They celebrated the path of the Sun from high in the sky and warm to low in the sky and cool – the seasons. Many Pagans saw time as one eternal whole. The god is born of the eternal goddess, dies, and is reborn. A life well lived was lived in harmony and rhythm with these cycles.
It is thought the Sabbats have been celebrated in many places and in various forms for at least 12,000 years. Some estimate much, much longer. In modern times there are still those who follow the old Pagan ways.
With the advent of Christianity and the brutal persecution of any non-Christians, the pagans went into hiding which preserved the old ways. Even many Christian holy-days
are based on these ancient pagan rites.
The Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally. We give thanks to the warm light of the summer and the crops that have been grown and stored for the winter to come. The brilliant fall colors begin to show and we sense the cyclical time of rest that is to come. It is a time to finish old business as we ready for a period of rest, relaxation, and reflection.
At the same time, we honor the dark. From the moment of the September Equinox, the Sun’s strength diminishes. The days become shorter until the moment of the Winter Solstice in December, when the Sun again grows stronger and the days once again become longer than the nights. Cycles upon cycles in an endless dance.
In the Pagan tradition Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons, and celebrate the second harvest. The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time.
Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.