Wicca is a pagan form of religious witchcraft practiced by both men and women around the world. With origins reaching back into pre-Christian paganism, Wicca experienced a revival in the mid-20th Century following George Brosseau Gardner's publication of several popular books on Wiccan rituals, including "Witchcraft Today" and "The Meaning of Witchcraft." Wiccans believe in reincarnation, the divinity of nature and a wide range of spirits, goddesses and gods, including Mabon, the god of the harvest.
The practice of Wiccan rituals can take place in a group of followers called a "coven," or a solitary Wiccan can perform rituals of his or her own. In a coven, there is generally a leader in the form of a High Priest or Priestess that leads the group in chants and procedure. Rituals can consist of any combination of spells, candle lighting and sacrifices to the gods, all of which are included in the Mabon ritual of thanksgiving for the year's harvest.
Historically, the figure of Mabon appears in Celtic myths as the "Divine Youth." Welsh literature describes Mabon as a trickster and lover, and the name appears in the legends of King Arthur and folklore of northern Ireland, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica online. In Wicca, Mabon is revered as the god of the harvest and home. Mabon is observed during the autumnal equinox as a celebration of darkness taking over light.
A coven may choose to hold a ritual feast for Mabon with symbolic offerings of food to the gods in thanks for an abundant harvest. Dark brown or red candles may be lit, and harvest decor can include autumn food such as wheat, corn or apples. Solitary or group rituals usually include the construction of a sacred circle and Mabon prayers asking for "blessings of love and abundance" are recited. Like other Wiccan rituals, the Mabon ritual ends when the sacred circle is closed or deconstructed.
Wicca continues into the present day, with Gardner's writing still constituting most of its major texts. In 1980, there were 50,000 Wiccans between Europe and North America, although the number is largely based on self-identification, as there is no centralized Wiccan church or structure. Anyone can practice Wicca, as either a spirituality or a religion.
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