Original Artwork © Julie Cox, 2008
I practice what in sarcastic circles is known as Lazy Paganism. You know the kind. Traipsing along, not thinking of anything remotely spiritual, then they go to write a check and ask what day it is. Hearing the date, they blink a couple of times, say "Oh shit Im missing a solstice!" and bolt for the door, leaving their Cheezy Puffs at the register.
You will notice how stealthily I changed pronouns, from "I" to "they." Like Im fooling anyone.
This year I was determined I would celebrate Mabon. I had made this particular resolution before, so this declaration didnt get much of a reaction. Especially since I only told my cat and my children. I expected a "Whats Mabon?" from the preschooler, which would segue nicely into a monologue from Mom on the spiritual tradition of the harvest. Instead I got, "Will there be birthday cake?" When the answer was no, my audience dismissed me.
Id have liked to do some actual harvesting on Mabon, but unfortunately the Old Gods did not garden in Texas. The spring vegetables were long ago turned into pathetic brown sticks by the summer heat. My okra looked more like churros. I have fall vegetables started, but theyre still young flat-chested maidens. No harvest yet. Maybe for Samhain, assuming I dont forget them and let the birds eat all my stuff. I would count that as a sacrifice, but Im pretty sure sacrifices have to be deliberate, not forgotten and left out accidentally.
It doesnt help that I only practice with my husband, and hes even more in the dark about traditions than I am. So when I say "Lets celebrate Mabon!" its the equivalent of a Christian saying "Lets celebrate Advent this year!" They may or may not know what that really is. Reading online about Mabon is dicey, because - and I dont know if you know this - lots of people on the internet are wrong! Still, I threw caution to the wind and started clicking. An hour or so later I was in the midst of reading a Wikipedia article on the Loch Ness Monster
(how did I get there? Im still not sure) when it occurred to me that I didnt really have to try to follow a set recipe for Mabon. Its a holiday with so many different traditions anyway, why not work my own brand of subtle magic and forget the ritual?
So I broke out my craft stuff and set to work. I Finished Things. Any project that was waiting for the last buttons to go on, a strap replaced, a handle repaired, got finished. Even if I didnt care about it anymore. Crafts that would take a long time to finish, like my poor tiny quilt that Ive been working on for three years running, were prioritized and set aside. I have a List. My crocheted bag is done, after a furious few hours late at night counting stitches and rows and double-crocheting like the wind. My spats are done (yes, thats right, spats); I finally gave up on finding the perfect buttons and settled for invisible snaps for now. At least theyre functional, and if perfect buttons come to me someday, then I will be ready for them. I reached the halfway point on my nephews scarf. I cleaned.
Not that all went perfectly, of course. My darling husband kept the kids out of my hair for the most part, which is more difficult than it sounds, what with the babys preoccupation with chewing hair. The preschooler tried to use the elastic strap for my spats as new rigging in his toy pirate ship, and of course there were things like LAUNDRY and the cat howling for food that demanded attention. And through it all, I did get to explain to my preschooler what Mabon was about. Completion, finishing things, wrapping up loose ends. I think he understood; he even sat with me and pretended to do his own crafts, which was adorable. It was good. It was magic. Literally.
What does all this boil down to? In an age where were disconnected from the lifestyle of our ancestors, from agriculture and nature, its sometimes difficult to relate to (and communicate to our little magical babies) the traditional meaning of the holidays. We might go through the motions, but the essence of the holiday is frequently lost without serious contemplation. This goes for every religion, I imagine. It is my responsibility as a parent to solidify the ideas of our spiritual ancestors into something my kids will understand and appreciate, without rolling their eyes and going "Thats so stupid, no one HARVESTS things anymore." (Ok, so there will surely be some amount of eye rolling no matter what I do.) Its not about reaping wheat. Its about the turning of spiritual seasons, these cyclical reminders of different aspects of our lives that are universal, no matter the era or the landscape. Mabon closes loops - a time of reaping. Samhain will be interesting this year, since my grandmother just recently passed on. Its not ritual that makes us a pagan family. Its a frame of mind.
About the Author: Julie Cox is a new pagan writer and artist who lives with her two young children and husband in Texas. She carries degrees in both Art and Religion. To see more of Julie's artwork go to Shopping and Art gallery on our main menu.