The Fall Equinox and the Pagan holiday of Mabon were celebrated by over 50 students on Sept. 23, at Lakeside with the Harvest Holidays event hosted by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Interfaith Leadership Team and Pagans About Living and Creating Energy.
The Harvest Holidays was an event to celebrate harvest holidays. These are holidays that are associated with the seasons and the idea of “bringing in the harvest” and reaping what we sow according to Leah Rediger, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life.
“Since there are equal hours of daylight and darkness at the Autumnal Equinox, the first official day of Fall, some Pagans choose to use the holiday as an opportunity to reflect on finding balance and harmony in their lives. Since it is a harvest festival, it is also a time to embrace the bounty and abundance of seasonal foods, giving thanks for all that the Earth provides,” an email advertising the Harvest Holidays event said.
Cinnamon rolls and caramel apples with toppings were provided by Sodexo. The spiced apple cider was homemade from a personal recipe by AJ Friesen, advisor of PALACE and Tiger Tech help desk manager.
While students enjoyed their free food and drink, they also read anonymous note cards made by students, staff and faculty about how they celebrate Mabon.
“I have found going outside and sitting in the dark. I’ve always been one to sit out in the dirt in the forest that is behind my house and really grasping the environment around me. It’s always nice to bring yourself back to nature after being in town,” a Doane student wrote.
“Every single year my family and I have been going to apple orchards to pick apples from trees. The reasoning behind this, from what I’ve read, is because apples have always been a sign of wisdom. My family doesn’t carry the same beliefs as me but I’m glad that something I celebrate can also be with my family,” a Doane student wrote.
“For Mabon, I like to do some baking and work with my garden containers/beds. I also like to go through and donate items I no longer need or want,” a Doane staff member wrote.
“Meditate and offer prayers for a good harvest and a safe upcoming winter,” a Doane student wrote.
“Giving up an offering to Persephone to celebrate her return and make her trip easier and more enjoyable, as well as asking her to give messages to deceased loved ones,” a Doane student wrote.
There is a story many Pagans read and use as a part of the celebration for Mabon about the Greek Goddess Persephone. The story explains the changing of the seasons happens when Persephone goes to be with her husband, Hades for four months. Persephone's leaving saddens her mother Demeter, the Goddess of Agriculture, so much so that the land becomes infertile and the weather turns cold and snowy.
“We have seen genuine curiosity and an eagerness to learn and be accepting of the neighbors around us from the students, which is what my office is all about, being more accepting and open with our religious neighbors,” Rediger said.