Chapter 18: 'Legality' is not in my vocabulary
I don't own 'Harry Potter'
The Autumn Equinox, otherwise known as Mabon. The festival was named after Mabon, The Child of Light and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess Modron. The day of the equinox is celebrated as a day of complete balance, as a way to cherish the inherent differences seen in those who worship Magic.
Dark and light, inner and outer, masculine and feminine. Night and day are of equal length – perfectly balanced, just like Magic itself. There is no superior alignment of magic, we are all equal to one another. There is dark and light in all, and there is choice to balance. Nature and nurture, physicality and will. Neither is more important, they simply are.
It is a celebration of the waning power of the sun and a way to welcome winter and reap the bounty Magic has blessed her people with from the earth. Mabon is the second harvest of the year after Lughnasadh, and is a festival of thanksgiving to secure blessings for the coming winter. Giving thanks to Mother Magic for what she has provided in the hopes that she will give blessings for the harsher winter months. It is worship and a relationship of reciprocity. As we follow and worship Magic, so she provides for all.
There are many different ways to celebrate Mabon. As with all traditional festivals the intent matters much more than the physicality of our actions. Major parties with hundreds of people or a solitary recognition of the day, an elaborate altar decorated with an abundance of vegetation or a few select items, traditional magical festivities can be carried out in a variety of ways as long as the correct intentions are realised with our actions.
While many may think of traditional pagan rituals such as Mabon as strict 'rituals', with ritual circles and chanting, the truth is that the celebration stems more from the meaning behind the festival and an appropriate action to convey thanks rather than an elaborate set up.
One of the most popular ways to celebrate Mabon, both as a group or as a personal activity, is a walk to gather bounty from nature. Fruit, vegetables, berries, flowers, herbs … anything you can think of or find can be gathered, however nature itself must be respected. Taking too much and not leaving enough sustenance for the native creatures of the wild will not endear you to Magic. Mother Magic cares for all equally, and as respect for her you must respect others who serve Magic.
The bounty from nature is to be enjoyed, however some must be given as an offering at an altar. Regardless of the altar's decorations or complexities, one of each flower, fruit and vegetable must be left as thanks.
The altar itself is also a personal thing depending on who creates it. It can be a large and elaborate construction for mass celebrations of Mabon, or it can be a simple design for a personal worship. It is decorated with the offerings from the collected bounty, and often denoted with pentagram, the five points symbolising earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Candles can be added depending on personal taste, and the structure is usually decorated with ribbons in a mixture of red, green, oranges and browns.
She sat back and closed the book, frowning in contemplation. All in all, Mabon was a beautiful day of deep meaning that often settled a magical being celebrating it, an acknowledgement of their dedication and love of Magic.
It was also illegal to celebrate.
"But it's Paganism!"
Kevin looked aghast and Rose braced herself for the inevitable blow-up that was no doubt about to occur.
The study group she had started up to help build political relationships had done wonders for the average scores of their entire year, and just as she had predicted there had been a few classmates who wanted to join this year after seeing the vast improvement of the group across all the subjects.
After a couple of weeks of them getting back into the swing of things and coming up with a new schedule, several students had asked her friends if they could join and she ended up having Lavender, Hannah and Su come to her to ask permission. She knew she'd started the group but she wasn't sure when she'd ended up in charge. Oh well.
Soon enough they'd been joined by Kevin Entwhistle and Roger Malone from Gryffindor, Hufflepuff's own Justin Finch-Fletchley and Megan Jones, as well as some more of her Housemates, Padma Patil, Lisa Turpin, Oliver Rivers, and Stephen Cornfoot.
Instead of simply teaching their new peers their past work they'd assigned them as tutors for the subjects like everyone else. Rose knew well how teaching something also developed your own skills and knowledge in that area. Why people had been surprised at her Defence skills after teaching the D.A., she'd never know.
Roger was now assisting her and Tracey for DADA, the unusually reserved Gryffindor having a surprising amount of magical power that just needed a bit of finesse to balance the force of his spells. The perpetually-happy Megan Jones, her cousin through marriage (who had cheerfully attached herself to Rose calling her 'Rosie' for some inexplicable reason) was helping Hermione and Su with Transfiguration, and Justin Finch-Fletchley had enthusiastically started describing non-magical history, so everyone had all but thrown him at Terry and Wayne to collaborate on new History topics.
Consummate Gryffindor Kevin had teamed up with Susan and Hannah to teach everyone Charms, the loud muggle-born being strangely intuitive when it came to finding the right balance of power and technique to pull off the different spells taught to them in class.
Quiet and thoughtful Oliver Rivers had teamed up with Lavender and Parvati for Astronomy in a bizarre turn of events that nobody could figure out, though they seemed to get along well enough. Stephen, who was also Terry's first cousin (bloody pure-blood families), had become fascinated by the Whomping Willow so had been enticed to research Herbology by Neville, all the while Millicent shaking her head but encouraging them all the same.
Padma and Lisa had suggested they add some lectures of magical theory and traditions too, so they'd decided to include different ideas concerning various aspects of magical life.
Today's lecture had been on the festival of Mabon which was the following day and something that Rose was quite looking forward to. A day of giving thanks for the sustenance provided by the earth and Magic wasn't really something that could be construed as evil or dark, at least to common sense. Then again, that was something scarce in their world.
Kevin's outburst had interrupted Lisa's explanations of the altar, the image of a pentagram apparently some indication of evil for the boy.
Here we go.
"If you want to be technical, magicals generally are Pagan. Paganism is a belief in which people worship the earth itself and celebrate how it provides for us. Of course, Magic too is celebrated, and how our own magic provides for and nourishes us."
Lisa finished her brief explanation with a slight frown on her face. She too was a half-blood born into a well-known family and had obviously been raised to understand magical customs. If her expression was anything to go by, she was none too impressed with Kevin's disgusted tone of voice and expression. Rose could empathise; she was proud of her heritage and enjoyed celebrating her magic as something she was gifted with.
"But – but, everyone knows Paganism is evil! Even the older students said it's dark magic!"
If Rose hadn't been an adult in mind she would have been fidgeting in place at the sudden tension. As it was, she kept a blank look on her face while surreptitiously glancing around at the various expressions on her classmates' faces; fury from Draco and Daphne, disappointment from Susan, and confusion from Wayne. Hermione also looked to be gearing up for a massive lecture, and though she herself wasn't too grateful for Kevin's claims, that didn't mean she would subject him to Hermione. Yet.
"Mister Entwhistle," she questioned, getting the attention of the irritating brunette, "what exactly do you mean by 'dark' magic?"
He looked at her like she was stupid and she bit her tongue before she said something that would make Sirius blush. "Dark magic is evil, it hurts people. People who use dark magic are evil."
"I see. So someone who uses dark magic is evil, and by your definition dark magic 'hurts people'. By that understanding, anyone who uses magic that hurts someone is dark and therefore evil. Is that correct?"
"Of course," came his indignant reply.
"Just a quick question. Is a spell that has the ability to slit someone's throat also evil?" she asked, noticing faint smirks on Neville and Susan's faces.
"Definitely! That's awful, anything that can do that is evil!"
"That's interesting," she mused, her tone catching the attention of her close friends who sat up a little straighter, "because from your own words, then you yourself have used dark magic and therefore evil magic."
"What?! No I haven't! Shut up!"
"Mister Entwhistle." Her frigid tone thankfully shut him up and she glared at him. "We are having a rational discussion and I have not said anything impolite or provoked you, therefore I would very much appreciate it if you ceased shouting at me. There is no need for such behaviour during an important conversation.
"More importantly, I did not call you an evil wizard, I was simply pointing out the issues with your own descriptions. Last year in Charms we were taught the Severing Charm which in fact could be used to slit someone's throat if they were so inclined, which is what I was referencing.
"The Severing Charm is a simple light spell taught to eleven-year-olds, and is not dark magic. Dark magic, light magic, grey magic … None of them are indications of whether or not someone is evil or not. It is the intent behind a spell that makes it evil or not, not how the magic is aligned.
"The types of magic simply correspond to what type of magic we are born with in our core. Some are naturally aligned to dark magic and therefore find dark spells easier to use. It has no bearing on the personality of a person; dark magicals can be good while light magicals can be evil."
"But – name one light person who's evil!" He was still shouting, but Kevin looked to have lost much of his confidence in the conversation. Her calm demeanour probably didn't help.
"I'm afraid it's past tense as they're now dead, but Peter Pettigrew was a light wizard and a close friend of my parents. He was in Gryffindor with them, and he betrayed them to You-Know-Who because he was a coward too scared to fight in a war. He passed away in the summer of last year after the Dementors destroyed his soul."
Her nonchalant tone seemed to suck all the fight out of Kevin Entwhistle, and he slouched down in his seat with a frown on his face.
She mentally sighed as everyone eyed her speculatively even as Lisa and Padma carried on with their discussion of Mabon celebrations.
After their group meeting they went their separate ways, and Rose walked back to Ravenclaw with a contemplative Hermione. Only when they were in their room did the bushy-haired girl open her mouth.
The nervous tone made her look up to see the other girl gnawing her lip, an incredibly unsure expression on her face.
"I … I think the traditional magical celebrations sound really interesting, but I'm not really sure. I mean, they're all illegal to celebrate. I don't want to get in trouble for getting into everything."
Rose smiled softly at her friend. "Hermione, nobody's going to make you celebrate something you don't want to. As long as you respect that Mabon is a traditional holiday that a lot of people subscribe to, it'll be okay."
"Are you going to celebrate Mabon?" her friend asked.
"You said it yourself, Hermione: Mabon's illegal to celebrate," she smirked. "Do you really want to know if I'm breaking the law?"
Hermione looked scandalised and seemed to choke on air. "Rose!"
She just laughed.
Rose might have joked about the legality of the situation, but the stringent laws from the Ministry were definitely not a joke. A trip to Azkaban for participating in festivities was extreme, but was nevertheless something she had to look forward to if she was caught giving thanks.
If things had been different she would have liked for Hogwarts to host a massive party for the students and staff to join in if they wanted, but at this time it just wasn't feasible. If you wanted to celebrate with someone else it was best to keep it with small groups, preferably three. It was small enough to hopefully go unnoticed, and three people together were strong because of the properties of the number three.
Those of their study group – and that group really needed a name – who wanted to celebrate Mabon had divided into small groups of three to walk around and collect the wildlife hidden around the grounds. She knew full well that there would probably be hundreds of students out this evening, and she wondered what the staff would do; would they try and stop everyone or simply turn a blind eye?
Either way she wasn't too bothered. It would be a little tight because they wanted to finish decorating the altar and send a quick prayer as close to the actual time of the Equinox as possible, and they wouldn't have a lot of time to get back to the Great Hall and eat dinner. The Equinox was about twenty to seven and the evening meal finished at half seven. Everything should be okay.
She made her way out the castle and across the grounds to the edge of the Black Lake nearest the Forbidden Forest. It was half five now, so they would have just over an hour to collect their things and build a Mabon altar.
"Took you long enough."
Rose looked up to see a nervous-looking Neville and a put-out Draco, picture complete with arms crosses over his chest and narrowed grey eyes.
"Oh, I do so apologise Lord Malfoy. Please do forgive this poor soul who –"
"Oh, shut up!"
His hissing voice was accompanied by a light blush on his cheeks and she turned to hide her grin from her prissy cousin, calming down before turning back.
"Sorry. Hermione was getting tightly-wound about having a roommate who was about to break the law," she grumbled, remembering trying to escape the girl.
"I know what you mean," Neville moaned.
There was a moment of silence before she and Neville turned as one to look at their blonde cousin, who simply raised a brow and asked, "What?"
"I suppose he is in Slytherin," Neville wondered out loud.
She muttered under her breath. "Bastard."
Their journey around the grounds of Hogwarts had been an enjoyable walk, finding plenty of vegetation and plants to use for their celebration. It was also fairly entertaining running into other covert groups trying to discretely celebrate Magic. One memorable occasion had included the group of Marcus Flint, Graham Montague and Cassius Warrington. She'd spoken to Warrington a couple of times as she'd been writing to his father about politics, but it was certainly daunting to come face-to-face with three of the tallest and more morally-grey Slytherins all at once. Still, she'd introduced herself with a smile and watched them look completely thrown at Rose Potter discretely collecting things for a Mabon altar.
She, Draco and Neville made their way just inside the Forbidden Forest – after a little coaxing and manipulation of their male pride – and sat down with their newly-found bounty to construct a small wooden altar.
They used broken branches to fashion the structure before covering it with large fallen leaves from the forest floor. Once it wasn't in danger of collapsing they covered it with their offerings. Elderberries, apples, daisies, lavender, starthistle, leaves from the Whomping Willow, lemongrass, baneberries, and blackberries were slowly placed upon the altar, each of them adding something one at a time. It was one of their personal decisions to maintain balance. The three children each offered three things before each lighting three candles around the offerings.
Once the altar had been fully decorated they sat in front of it in a circle, legs crossed and hands held as they closed their eyes as they prepared to chant in celebration. They waited for a few minutes to get closer to the actual Equinox, allowing their innate magic to flow through their bodies and join together, three as one.
(The three of them together would actually be rather powerful, each of them having a core of the three persuasions: dark, grey and light. The fact that Rose was grey was even more of a boon. Not only was grey magic the balancing factor, she was also the lone female in the group; she was both the balance between magic and between the two males. Mabon was about balance in both magic and gender, and Rose was a physical representation of that fact in the group.)
After a few more moments the feeling of magic in the air had thickened and they heard the candles flicker.
Neville breathed in and began the brief ritual. "May Mother Magic bless us on this day of balance. May she bless us in times to come."
His soft voice carried in the small clearing and she heard a rush of wind.
"May we give thanks for all gifted to us by Mother Magic, and may she enjoy that which we offer to her in return."
Rose felt her words resonate with her two companions, their magic swirling around the circle from person to person.
"May these offerings convey our worship to Mother Magic. May we bless the earth and the elements, and may Mother Magic be blessed for all she provides."
Draco's finishing sentence ended with a roar of flame that burned behind their closed eyelids, and they waited a beat before continuing in unison.
Three voices spoke as one and the magic that had been welling up between them swirled up and around the clearing before blanketing them in warmth, the feeling akin to being held by a mother. After a minute the feeling seemed to seep into them and settle deep within their cores, leaving a content sensation in their stomach.
Not long after, though honestly it felt like it could have been anywhere from a couple of minutes to an hour, the trio opened their eyes and looked at each other, grinning from the sensation of warm magic still permeating their bodies.
Rose glanced down at her watch and saw they only had forty minutes until dinner ended.
"We'd better get going if we want something to eat."
As she spoke Neville's stomach let out a loud out a strange gurgling noise and his face turned bright red. She bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from laughing; Neville really was cute.
"I can't tell if you need food or if you've already eaten something that's still alive in your stomach."
Neville's mortified cry broke her composure and she toppled to the forest floor, wheezing with laughter.
That was one way to end Mabon.
So ... I'm horrendously sorry and please don't hate me for updating so late because I'm ill and I'll totally use the sympathy card right now? But in all seriousness I am sorry for this being so late, I'm still trying to figure out the best schedule for all the fics I'm writing and it's awful. Why on earth did I start so many stories?
On another note, does this chapter deviate from canon too badly, or does the whole Mabon thing work in its own way? I really wanted to get into the fundamental differences of magical and non-magical celebrations and how they're unique in their own ways. I based it off my own research into Pagan celebrations, and if I got anything wrong or offended anyone I apologise. This isn't something I'm well-versed in so mistakes are probably quite likely.
Another thing, I'm thinking of posting a separate story as a part of this universe that's just various notes and things, related to what people have asked me or things that are a part of my canon but I haven't added because it would seem too forced. An example would be who all of Rose's classmates are, which of the Houses are Noble and Ancient and whatnot, maybe a few explanations of pieces of magic that have appeared. What do you think?
Anyway, sorry again but I honestly can't even bring myself to try to write quicker when I have shifts that are over nine hours long when I'm ill. (I swear my managers are trying to kill me lol.)
Until next time!