I don't know if "autumnalia" is an actual word or if I just made it up. Who cares? "Mabon" is a made up name too, so let's just roll with it.
Tonight I did a simple ritual, nothing pre planned, all from the heart. I made offerings and petitions, and told the story of this time of the year. However, tonight's rendition was a bit different than in times past. I used to romanticize the abduction of Persephone and Demeter's lament, and the wine and grain festivals and a young girl becoming Woman and Queen. Then I grew up, gained some perspective, and did some research.
Also, with what I now understand of this holiday as a time of parthenogenetic Goddess worship and the passing of knowledge, lore and magic from mother to daughter, woman to woman in a community of women, I just get angry. Now I see my once romanticized mystery for what it is- not just an abduction of a daughter, but the abduction of a way of life and a culture. These Mysteries were taken from Sicily to male dominated Athens exactly the same way Persephone was taken from Demeter, and that just frosts my cookies. On top of that, so many people go around calling it "Mabon" that if I rolled my eyes any harder they'd shoot laser beams. Why the rolling?
Well, let's stick some more Male mythology on top of it all, shall we?
For some, this is about a son, Mabon, being taken from his Mother and rescued by King Arthur. So why is it about the son and not the Mother? It's Her lament! And she is given back what she lost by a man. Just sayin. Modron is typically syncretized with Demeter too. Interesting.
Then we have the perpetual battle of the Holly King and Oak King, with one vanquishing the other through the year. All male all the time.
Don't get me wrong, I adore men and am having a red hot love affair with Mercury. But as this is the supposed to be the time of balance (the sun is even in Libra now- the literal sign of balance!), I have to ask: Where is the balance in all of these celebrations?
There is the matriarchal focus which I mentioned earlier, and others who unwittingly celebrate this holiday from an entirely patriarchal point of view. Is there ever any actual balance involved here?
After the Eleusinian Mysteries had concluded, there was a festival of Demeter and Apollo. These two are not often associated with each other. Don't you think they would be? In aspect as Mother Earth and Father Sky? If there is no sun, there is no grain. Apollo is mentioned along with Hekate in the lore of Eleusis, but only in passing (Hekate was hanging out with Apollo in the sky and they saw what had happened to Persephone). So how were Demeter and Apollo celebrated together? Were they? Anything about Demeter having a connection with male deities is either Zeus or Poseidon and remotely, Dionysus. However! There still stands the ruins of a temple dedicated to Demeter and Apollo as a pair on the island of Naxos:
This has been a lot of Greek talk tonight- so what did Italians do? Eat. Drink. Make offerings of bread and wine and fruit. Prep for the winter. There's no time to be high falutin when you're concerned with survival!
No matter which way you look at it, this is not the happiest time of year, a time to bid adieu to the blooming earth for a while, knowing that She will be restored. No wonder so many Pagans skip this holiday or just gloss over it!
No matter how you celebrate, no matter what you call it, I hope you have a good one :)