Author: Kristin Madden
Trade Paperback, 211 pages
Publication date: July 2002
Price & More Info: Click Here
Mabon: Celebrating the Autumn Equinox is the eighth and final book book in Llewellyn's series of books on the Wiccan festivals. I'm not really surprised that Mabon was the last festival book published as Mabon was a holiday I often skipped when I was more-or-less Wiccan. Even more than most of the quarter days, Mabon seemed to be a non-entity. I jumped at the chance to review this book simply because I wanted to see what could be made of a holiday I could so easily skip.
In the first chapter, Kristin Madden talks about the origins of Thanksgiving in Canada and the United States. It's short and interesting only in that it attempts to give a view of the first US Thanksgiving and the years thereafter from a Native American point of view.
The second chapter discusses fall traditions and holidays from around the world. The chapter ends with a discussion of some of the various modern Neo-Pagan holidays. It is nice to see non-Wiccan Pagan holidays covered. "Myths and Deities," the third chapter, talks briefly about some of the myths and deities associated with the season. Written from a modern point-of-view, these treatments are somewhat superficial due to space limitations. However, a large number of deities from a variety of cultures are covered.
Symbols (colors, animals, mythic beings, plants, etc) associated in some way with the season are discussed in varying degrees of detail in the next chapter. The seasonal connection of some of these symbols is tenuous at best. For example, the gulon (a creature from Scandinavian legend) seems to be mentioned only because it was sometimes used to symbolize gluttony.
The fifth chapter provides a number of short rituals for Mabon (or fall in general in some cases). Rituals are included from the following religions or groups: Wiccan, Druidic, Norse, and Neoshamanic. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these rituals actually work within the appropriate system instead of simply being Wiccan ritual with the names changed. A children's ritual and a eclectic ritual (that does feel very Wiccan) from the Pagan Pride Project round out this chapter.
The sixth chapter is the one I look forward to in all of Llewellyn's Wiccan festival books: the chapter on food. I was a bit disappointed here. Of the 22 recipes included, none screamed "you have to try me." I suppose I can't fault the book for this, but I'm personally disappointed. The next chapter continues with the recipes, but this time for magick.
The eighth chapter is another favorite section from previous books in the series: decorating, and other projects suitable for families, appropriate to the season. The last chapter is devoted to science. The author discusses exactly what an equinox is in astronomy and in astrology. Some ancient sites which may have been used to track the seasons are briefly described. A number of appendixes round out this book: a seasonal calendar, information on wildlife rehabilitation, and links and references.
Mabon: Celebrating the Autumn Equinox is well-written coffee-table style of book on the autumn equinox. It has lots of interesting information presented in short easy-to-read sections. As with most coffee-table style books, academic accuracy isn't stressed. This book did not make much of an impression on me; however, I think this is due to the minor nature of the holiday. Even after reading this book, I'd probably still skip Mabon if I were Wiccan. I am, however, impressed by the efforts the author made to include non-Wiccan autumn rituals. It is always nice to see an author pay more than lip service to the many non-Wiccan Pagan religions.
Reviewed by Randall