Mabon and the Divine Feminine

Mabon and the Divine Feminine


Celebrate the autumnal equinox—also known as Mabon—by honoring the divine feminine in your life and feasting on two warming autumnal recipes.

My paternal grandmother was born in 1930 in the Appalachian Mountains and has lived her whole life with the rhythm of the seasons. Her parents grew much of their own food, which she helped plant, harvest, and preserve. In 1948, she married my grandfather, and they established a home farm of their own.

Though my grandmother is a Christian, she and my grandfather unknowingly planned their year according to pagan tradition. Springtime brought new animals and tender shoots of spring herbs and vegetables. Strawberries, corn, beans, and a host of other fresh foods burst forth throughout each summer. And, as autumn broke through the summer heat, the harvest cycle began.

The Feminine Power of the Harvest

Every year throughout my adolescence, I participated in this cycle, which naturally fell on or around Mabon in mid-September. My sister and I stood in a circle with our mother, aunts, and grandmother as we shelled peas and husked corn. I stood at a safe distance, watching the older women handle steaming hot jars with apple butter, stewed tomatoes, wax beans, and preserved beef inside.

This is the part of the harvest I remember the most—the community established among the women in my family through these traditionally feminine acts of preparation and preservation. Ironically, it’s these very activities that I carried with me onto my pagan path. Through shedding the skin of Christianity and embracing the Wheel of the Year, I felt even more connected to these memories from my childhood.

Perhaps the emphasis on feminine power in paganism is the reason for this—after all, I grew up with the understanding that the women in my family were the cornerstone of their households. My grandmother, now 93, confirmed this in a recent conversation we shared. She said, “It really was the women keeping everything together while the men were away. We were the ones doing the real work inside the house—the men couldn’t have lived without us.”

For most of history, my grandmother’s wisdom has rung true—especially at Mabon. This second harvest festival occurs after the first flush of abundance and before the snow sets in. In my family, and for families across thousands of years, Mabon has been a time for women to come together, strengthen their bonds with one another, and serve as a cornerstone for their communities.

Mabon in Ancient and Modern Times

Though humans have been conducting harvest rituals for time immemorial, the specific traditions of Mabon (and the greater Wheel of the Year) weren’t formally established until the 1970s. Today Wiccans and neopagans honor Mabon and the other seven sabbats on specific dates to honor the rhythms of the year and align their intentions and activities with the energies of each season. The three harvest sabbats—Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain—usher in the abundance of summer and autumn as the dark half of the year closes in.

The first-fruits harvest of Lughnasadh has a very masculine energy, as newly ripened grain and vegetables are reaped and stored. The final harvest, Samhain, is the meat harvest, when livestock are culled and meat is dried, smoked, or salted to sustain families through the winter. Though people of all genders traditionally participate in these activities, Lughnasadh and Samhain carry very projective and masculine energy, with humans exerting their will on the resources around them to provide for themselves and their families.

Mabon, however, has more receptive, feminine associations. Caught between two more “exciting” harvests—Lughnasadh and Samhain—Mabon is often simply used to reflect and experience gratitude. Yet, I feel Mabon’s energies are deeply rooted in the traditions of preservation. While first and final harvests are celebrations of abundance, Mabon is typically a busy time of preparation—and honoring the women leading that preparation.

Though anyone can participate in harvesting and culling, women were the leaders when it comes to preservation. In Old Norse tradition, fermenting barley and hops into a nutritious beer was an exclusively female activity. The ancient Greeks honored the goddess Demeter during this time, thanking her for the final burst of abundance before winter. In my own family, women were the ones shucking the corn, canning tomatoes, and blanching fruits and vegetables to stock the deep freezer. What’s more, all of this preservation and preparation was accomplished in addition to the daily tasks of running a household.

When I think about Mabon in this way, my grandmother’s wisdom becomes amplified. Not only did women keep things running in her time, but they always have. And Mabon is the perfect time to acknowledge the feminine energy and influences around us.

If you observe Mabon, consider celebrating it by honoring the women in your life. Invite them to a women-only feast or gift them with seasonal treats or crafts. A few suggestions include mini apple pies, homemade cider, or decorative autumn wreaths.

2 Warming Recipes for Mabon

The following recipes are almost always included in my household’s Mabon feast—and we continue eating them throughout the cold winter months. The venison chili is warm and filling, and it contains the energies of root vegetables to remind us that growth begins beneath the surface. Green herbs like thyme and rosemary have antimicrobial properties to help safeguard our health throughout cold and flu season.

Similarly, the apple crisp contains warming spices like nutmeg and cinnamon that help ward off illness and keep us feeling cozy as the days grow chilly. Oats contain calming nervines to keep our spirits high. And apples are rich in vitamins and have a long list of positive magical properties—from love and abundance to healing and purification, apples are an excellent ingredient to add to your kitchen witchery.

As you prepare these recipes, think about the women who came before you—those who canned, dried, salted, and pickled in an endless rhythm as the abundance of the second harvest entered their kitchen. Cooking and feasting with loved ones is the perfect way to honor our female ancestors who used their intellect and skill to keep their families fed and healthy as the weather grew cold.

Venison Chili

Serves 4-6


  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 medium celery root
  • 1½ lbs ground venison*
  • 2 tbsp butter or beef fat
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 32 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 15 oz. can pink kidney beans
  • Blend of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and basil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2-3 bay leaves (optional

Suggested toppings:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cornbread croutons
  • Dried cranberries (seriously, try it!)
  • Sour cream
  1. Add the ingredients to a large slow cooker in the order listed. This ensures the venison is braised in both fat and acid to make it luscious and delicious.

  2. Lightly season each layer with the seasonings listed or your favorite chili seasonings.

  3. Cook chili on low for 6 to 8 hours, checking on it every 2 hours or so to stir and break up the venison as it becomes fully cooked.

  4. Remove the bay leaves (if used) once the chili is fully cooked. These can’t be easily digested, but they add a nice dimension of flavor and a little luck and prosperity energy.

  5. Serve in large bowls and top with your favorite garnishes.

*Ground beef or turkey are also delicious!

Vegan Apple Crisp

Serves 6


  • 4 cups apples, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Dash each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and allspice
  • ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp maple syrup, divided
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.

  2. Lightly sauté apples in coconut oil until they just begin to soften. Remove the apples and place them in a heat-safe bowl. Toss them with the cornstarch, 2 tbsp maple syrup, and the spice blend. As they cool, they’ll create their own sweet and lightly spiced syrup.

  3. Blend rolled oats, oat flour, chopped walnuts, and more spices (if desired) in a very large bowl.

  4. Add the olive oil and the rest of the maple syrup to the oat mixture and stir with a fork—it’ll be clumpy at first, but will quickly mix evenly and smell wonderful.

  5. Gently fold the apples into the oat mixture and scoop everything into a lightly greased deep dish pie plate.

  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the oats are golden and the apples are soft and velvety.

  7. Serve warm with vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream.

Mabon and the Divine Feminine

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