Six Seasonal Foods For Spells and Rituals
Mabon is a harvest festival, a celebration of the abundance of late summer. Many know it is a pagan Thanksgiving, and a day to give thanks for all we’ve received. It takes place on the Autumn Equinox, a time when day and night are of equal lengths. It is a celebration of balance between light and dark, summer and winter, life and death. Mabon occurs when the leaves are changing color and the world starts to wind down in preparation for winter. We mark this day as sacred because it represents a key transition in our lives. After this day, we will begin to turn inward and stay indoors more, but on Mabon, we celebrate the last of our external bounty: friends and food.
This year, Mabon takes place on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021.
Because this is a harvest-centric holiday, the best ways to celebrate Mabon all revolve around food and nature’s bounty. With each key fruit, vegetable, crop, or plant, we can create a ritual to celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Here are six foods to use for your Mabon celebrations, and six ritual activity ideas to do with kids.
A key symbol of the bounty of Fall, apples are considered to be sacred and deeply magical by many cultures. In fact, they contain a hidden pentagram inside. They are associated with the underworld, the turning of the Wheel of the Year, and abundance in all forms.
Activity: Go apple picking. If you’re able to pick your own apples, go to an orchard and gather your own! If not, apples from the grocery store or farmer’s market will do just fine.
Perform an apple spell. Cut an apple in half horizontally to expose the concealed star inside. Remove the seeds and place them in a bag, which you can hang as a good luck charm. Eat the apple together, expressing gratitude for its sweetness (and for the love you share with each other).
As a crop that ripens in late summer and fall, in many cultures, corn is inextricably tied to the arrival of Autumn. It is hearty and nutritious, and has innumerable uses, both medicinally and magically.
Activity: Make a corn dolly. Corn husk dolls are a craft traditionally made in Autumn, originally made to represent the spirits of the corn and give these harvest deities a body to inhabit until the next harvest season. They are made from corn husks, twisted and tied into the shape of a body. Some corn dollies are very simple, while others made by artisans are intricate and complex. Here is a simple video tutorial for how to make one.
A warm, comforting, nutrient-dense fruit, Pumpkin is an ideal food to enjoy as we head into colder and darker days. The Jack-O-Lantern originates from the belief that carved pumpkins can ward off evil spirits on Halloween night. That being said, they can be used for this purpose at any point during the season.
Activity: Perform a pumpkin seed ritual. Cut open a pumpkin and scape out the insides, saving the seeds. Separate them from the stringy flesh and wash them. Lay them out on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle them with herbs and magical intentions to keep you warm and happy throughout the darker half of the year. Cinnamon for warmth, salt for protection, brown sugar for kindness. Bake them at 350°F for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice throughout the baking process. Save the seeds to nibble on when you are in need of comfort.
What to do with the body of your pumpkin now? Try carving it with protective symbols or sigils, and lighting a candle in it during your Mabon dinner. Or, you can stuff it with yummy food like stuffing, vegetables, or meat, and bake it for a savory meal.
When we think of leaves changing color, maple is usually one of the first that comes to mind. Maple trees are prominent in various folktales and are known to repel evil spirits. Also known as “the giving tree,” Maple generously offers us its sweet syrup, the “blood” of the tree.
Activity: Go for a nature walk in an area where trees change color, taking in all the sensory details of Autumn. What does the crunch of the leaves sound and feel like beneath your feet? What color are the leaves on the trees? When they fall, is it slow or fast? Which trees change color first? Do any trees stay green all year long? Consider leaving an offering of water (or breath) for the trees, and thank them for all they provide.
If you can’t go for a nature walk or you want to work more directly with the magic of maple, try incorporating maple syrup in your spells. To connect with the spirit of the forest, simply eat a teaspoon of maple syrup while intending to take in the wisdom of the tree into your own body. If Kitchen Witchery is your style, you can achieve the same effect by intentionally adding maple syrup to food. You can also add a drop to any spell for protection, or trace some along your front door as a house blessing.
A magical fruit associated with the underworld, Pomegranate is an Autumn symbol because of the legends tied to it. After the goddess Persephone was persuaded by Hades to eat six pomegranate seeds, she was forced to stay in the underworld for six months each year (the time period between equinoxes). At Mabon, we eat pomegranate seeds to honor the sacred darkness of the underworld and its associated powers of transformation. As we head into the winter, we know we will be changed by springtime. Thus goes the blessed cycle of life.
Activity: Perform a pomegranate intention-setting spell. Write down six wishes or intentions that you’d like to bring with you into the winter. These can be for friendship, luck, prosperity, health, or whatever you want. Cut open a pomegranate. Pull out a seed as you read each intention, and then chew and swallow each one slowly, letting the sink into you. After you’ve eaten six seeds and read your six intentions, leave the pomegranate as an offering on your altar or at the base of a nearby tree.
No grain is associated more with harvest festivals than wheat. Considered the most sacred of all grains, wheat has long been a staple of many western diets because of its high carbohydrate and protein content. Wheat can be stored for relatively long periods of time, making it an ideal food to stock up on before winter. Magically, it represents abundance in all its forms.
Activity: Bake bread. Make any kind of bread you like, and try kneading it with magical intention. Carve a pentagram of magical symbol onto the top before baking. When finished, leave a small offering of flour on your altar as a symbol of gratitude for the bounty and richness of summer. Note: If gluten-free, substitute grains works well for this ritual too!