Mabon, The Autumn Equinox

The Wolf and the Stag

In the time before the tribes of Man walked upon the Earth, the Wolf and the Stag were of the same blood. They shared the world with all of the other animals in peace and friendship.

It came that a dangerous time fell upon the land. The spirits of the South had become harsh and had baked the earth until it was hard and dry. They kept the spirits of West from bringing water to the parched land. Food became scarce and the water that remained was like acid on the tongue. When the rains did come, they fell upon the barren ground in angry sheets that gouged great fissures in the face of the world. 

Stag worried greatly for his sister Wolf. She had become thin and weak and Stag knew that the snows of Winter were not long from coming to bring the world to icy sleep. Fearing that Wolf could not survive, Stag called out to the Goddess for aid.

"Great Mother" cried Stag, "Please save my sister! There is no food and she is weak and sick. She must eat soon or she will perish."

"All that you require you need only to seek." the voice of the Goddess sang in Stag's heart. "But remember, that whatever you seek, if you find it not within, you will never find it without."

The words of the Goddess confused Stag and he cried out again," Mother, the Earth is barren and the Winter comes soon. I fear it may already be too late, for had I food to give her I know not if she has the strength to eat."

"If you find food for her," the Goddess spoke in rustling leaves, "then I shall grant her the strength she shall need to eat." And then she was gone. Stag was gladdened at the hope of saving his sister and hurried off to find nourishment for Wolf.

Long and hard Stag searched, turning the ground with his hooves, moving rocks and logs with his horns, but he found nothing to bring back for his sister. He continued his quest until he was too weak to search any longer.

With great sadness in his heart he returned to Wolf and wept, "Forgive me my sister, but I have searched the land over and could find no food for you to eat."

"Then this is how it must be." said Wolf. "I thank you for your efforts, my brother. I shall think of you often and will await you arrival in the Summerland. I love you, Stag." With that, Wolf laid down to wait for death to take her. Stag laid with her and wept tears of desperation and helplessness.

Wolf had lain motionless for a long time when the Dark Goddess appeared to Stag again and said, "I must take Wolf now to the Summerland." and reached out icy fingers toward Wolfıs still form.

Stag could bear his sorrow no more and cried out at the Goddess. "No!" he bellowed, "Do not take the life of my sister! She is kind and wise and loving of all things. If only one of us can survive then let it be her. I offer over my life to you if it will let her live."

"Brave Stag," whispered the Goddess, "Your love for Wolf is true and strong. I will grant your request, her life is spared."

Wolf's body twitched and shuddered violently and with a great yelp, Wolf leapt to her feet. What Stag saw next struck terror in his heart. For the creature that stood before him was no longer held the loving eyes of his sister. No, these eyes said but one thing, hunger! 

Wolf started to move toward Stag with cautious calculation and unwavering stare. Confused and frightened, Stag could think of but one thing to do, and that was run. Into the woods Stag dashed, with no thought but run. Wolf moved with lightning speed on spindly legs and wizened frame that belied the strength of the Goddess the flowed within, her eyes fixed on her goal.

Stag ran as hard as he could but quickly tired for he too had had nothing to eat for many days. Suddenly, Wolf was upon him in a blur of fang and claw and blood. Stag kicked at Wolf and forcing her off of him and held her at bay using his antlers as a shield.

"What has happened to my sister?" he thought. "Why is she doing this?" He continued to fight Wolf off but his strength ebbed quickly and he knew he could no longer keep her away. Just as Wolf was preparing for her next attack Stag heard the Goddess singing again, "if you find it not within, you will never find it without." and in that moment he understood it all. He was to be the food that his sister needed to survive. The Goddess had honored his request to spare the life of Wolf and to take his in her stead. In her wisdom, the Goddess had known that Wolf would never willingly take the life of her brother. So she had made the hunger blind her until all she could see was food.

All of the fear and confusion was washed away from Stag and he raised himself up to his full stature and proudly waited for Wolf to come. And Wolf did come.

As he fell, Stag saw the Goddess looking on and she was smiling at him. "Thank you for the life of my sister." he thought as death came to him in a warm embrace of blackness.

Wolf ate until she could eat no more and then, exhausted, she lay down and slept. She slept for a long time and dreamt of running through the forest with her brother.

Wolf awoke expecting to see her brother by her side as he had always been. Instead, she found Stagıs lifeless body and the memory of what had occurred nearly tore her heart to pieces.

"What have I done?!" she sobbed. Her pain and sorrow welled up in her and burst forth from her throat as a sound the likes of which had never before been heard in the world. All the animals stopped and listened to the mournful sound and heard the name "Stag" as it was carried throughout the land on Wolf's baleful song.

The Goddess, hearing this cry, came to Wolf and soothed, "Weep not for your brother, my child, for he shall live on."

"But I have killed him!" wept Wolf.

"No," purred the Goddess, "So strong was Stag's love for you that he gave his life unto you that you might live. I shall bring him forth again and again as my lover and consort and the Stag shall ever more be a symbol of the love and sacrifice of the God."

"And so I shall forever honor his gift to me." said Wolf. "Leave me as I am, thin and gaunt, for it shall remind me of his love and sacrifice. And when the night is full I shall sing his name to the heavens, as will my children and my grandchildren so that the name of Stag will live on until Wolf and Stag are no more.

İ 1992 Daryl Fuller; The Circle of the Wildewood

Mabon is commonly known as the Fall Equinox. This year, 1999, Mabon falls on September 23, when the Sun enters Libra. At that time, the Moon will be waxing with the phase in the first quarter.

Mabon is named for the Welsh God, known as the "great son." It is the second of three harvest celebrations. According to the lore, Mabon was stolen as an infant and taken to the dark underworld until rescued and returned in the Spring. In our tradition, this is the time when we observe the God willfully giving his life for the Harvest, and thus, the sustaining of life through the upcoming winter. This is represented quite well in the above story about the Stag and the Wolf. 

Mabon is most often a time to reflect upon the year that is coming to a close as it is the last of the sabbats. We take this time to think about what we have "planted" in our lives, how we "nourished" it, and what we "harvested" as a result. We look at what succeeded and what did not. We also plan for the future harvest. These are, of course, metaphors used to represent our goals and accomplishments in our lives. As we think of the great sacrifice that the God has made for us, we ask ourselves what we are willing to sacrifice for the good of ourselves and those around us.

Wine making is often a large focus during this time. Apple and berry harvesting are a central feature of this observance. Mabon is also a time of giving thanks for the bountiful harvest. 

This is also the time when day and night are equal, in balance. This marks the beginning of when the nights begin to rule the days. Winter will be upon us soon. We follow the Sun God into the darkness and look to our Great Mother for guidance and hope until Spring returns.