Writer: Diana Rajchel
Publishing House: Llewellyn Publications
Date of Publication: July 1st 2015
Rating: 4 stars
‘’Harvest festivals celebrated more than finished work for the season; they celebrated the capacity to survive the winter.’’
Mabon is arguably the most obscure tradition of the Old Ways calendar, yet we find its significance and symbolism in every aspect of our lives, regardless of our religious convictions, as Autumn greets us, entering our homes, preparing us for the days that lie ahead and the year that is slowly coming to an end. We harvest the results of our toil. It is a time for reflection, remembrance, contemplation and, possibly, a time when we need to retrieve (or rediscover) the will to begin anew.
Diana Rajchel narrates the tales of Isis and Osiris, of Demeter, Persephone and Hades. Of the mythic hero Culhwch, Mabon and Olwen. Of Dionysus, the Eleusinian Mysteries dedicated to Demeter. Stories where life and death approach each other, where the harvest becomes a metaphor for the strange marriage between the living and the dead. We learn about the world traditions that surround the last sheaf, about Michaelmas and its haunting echoes, the songs of mourning and the fear of loss. The celebration of Boedromion in Ancient Greece, the Winter Finding of the Norse, the Feast of Avalon of the Celtic tradition, the Equinozio di Autumno of the Italian Witchcraft, the Dozynki of the Polish, the Erntedankfest of the Germans. The moving tradition of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper, two of the most beautiful Jewish celebrations, and the Sukkot that observes the forty years that Jewish tribes wandered in the desert.
As we feel the power of the Autumn equinox, we decorate our homes and churches with cornucopias, taking a walk in the woods, embracing the colder days. Many of us will make a corn doll or a wreath (but be careful with the bonfires…) and listen to stories about the Harvest Moon. Forget about the spells and divination (which are always a great source of laughter) but enjoy a very interesting Appendix. As Halloween and Thanksgiving are on their way to knock on our doors, another summer has come to an end. Another winter is about to begin. Who knows what surprises await along the way?