Mabon symbol: Gourds
Mabon is the old Anglo-Celtic festival of Harvest Home, a respite from the work of harvesting and a celebration of thanks. Mabon is often referred to as the “Witches’ Thanksgiving”. It is the time to give thanks to the Goddess for her bounty and to share in the joys of the harvest.
Gourds are one the symbols of the Mabon, and symbolize the different meanings of Mabon: thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, prosperity and abundance, and harmony and balance reflecting the fall equinox being one of two days of the year when daylight and darkness are equal in length.
The bottle gourd is a common Chinese symbol for longevity as well as good luck. It is thought that the gourd holds magic nectar which is consumed by many Buddhist deities. Sau, the Chinese god of longevity brandishes the gourd at the end of his staff, that is said to contain the elixir of immortality. In feng shui, gourds are painted with the Chinese symbol for longevity and then displayed in the home to ward off harmful energies – thus promoting long life.
Gourds are possibly the oldest cultivated crop, with evidence dating domesticated gourds from early as 12,000BC. Nearly every culture throughout the world grows and uses gourds for food, medicine, kitchen tools, toys, musical instruments and decoration. Today, gourds are commonly used for a wide variety of crafts, including jewelry, furniture, dishes, utensils and a wide variety of decorations using carving, burning, painting and other techniques.
There are three principal genus of gourds: the bottle gourd, the snake gourd and the bitter gourd. Bottle gourds are generally believed to be African in origin. Because of the their bottle shape, these gourds are principally used as a container for both liquid and dry materials. Other uses include containers for food, water buoyancy floats and musical instruments. Snake gourds are cultivated in humid tropics of Asia, Latin America and Africa, while bitter gourds are native to Asia.