Why I Celebrate Mabon

Mish, Regional Coordinator for North Lancashire and Cumbria, shares why she calls the current celebration in the Wheel of the Year, Mabon:

I’m an Eclectic Wiccan; Wiccan because I worship in a recognisably Wiccan way โ€“ inside a Circle into which I have called the Quarters and primary in the deities I honour are the God and the Goddess surrounded by Magic. Eclectic because as I have come across traditions and paths I have incorporated that which makes sense to me in my practice currently this includes elements of Druidry, Heathenry, Shinto and Native Mexican working.

I started on my path in the early 90s and one of the first books I came across was Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, in fact a lot of the generic pagan books available at that time were heavily influenced by the Feri Tradition. So although Scott Cunningham, Marian Green and Vivianne Crowley may have been referring to the Autumn Equinox as the Autumn Equinox (three other authors who I was reading at the time) what I called that particular festival was Mabon.

I don’t think I’m unusual in that when I decided I was serious about this Wicca thing I read up on everything possible so that I, solitary in a small village in Lincolnshire, ‘Did It Right’. I took a postal course, did a heck of a lot of pathworkings and researched names so that I could find out what this wheel of the year thing really was. The postal course had me reading The White Goddess and I don’t think any other book has had quite so much influence on my understanding of poetry or religion, for me they’re intimately connected via intuition. (Intuition being located somewhere between thinking and feeling โ€“ I also recommend SSOTBME by Ramsay Dukes). I do not dispute reconstructionist viewpoints or religions, but they are not mine. I worship in a poetic religion, Gardner et al put together this way of worshipping at some point between the 30s and 50s. That does not deny that it’s older but I would suggest that the methodology and minutiae are not, the soul of the religion is. The soul, the poetic understanding is, for me, what we connect to when we come together in circle.

In the name of ‘Doing It Right’ I did a particular pathworking, I had come across the name Mabon before as I was interested in the legends of Arthur before I knew I was interested in Paganism. This was in the days before the internet so I had no way of looking up on Wikipedia whether or how the names were connected. Even these days, clicking and reading is not the only way I try to understand my religion.

Mabon ap Modron; Son of Mother.

What are you, a hunter, doing giving your name to a harvest festival at the Autumn Equinox?

Mabon is The Eldest, Mabon is the Hunter, Mabon is Wise.

Mabon is known by his relationship to Modron. Mabon is the Son of the Mother. Mabon seems out of place to this daughter of the farmlands because of his status as Hunter and I have always associated Harvest with being the territory of farmers. But it is the earth’s bounty that we harvest. We are of the earth as is Mabon, first man, the eldest. He is of the earth as are we. Mabon’s skills which were of such use to Arthur.

Of the images that I have received over the years during pathworkings one that retains perfect clarity is that of the silhouette of the huntsman against a starry sky.

What is Mabon ap Modron doing at this the second harvest? Reminding us that it is not only what we take from the ground that is the harvest. We are of the earth as well.

It’s a personal gnosis and is (as far as I am aware) completely unsubstantiated but Paganism as a whole and even Wicca is not only about the Reconstructionist path. Sure, you ought to do the groundwork but to discount the intuited poetic soul of this religion is, for me, to ignore much of the raw magic that knits Wicca together.

I’m an Eclectic Wiccan and I call the Autumn Equinox Mabon because his name fits and names have power.

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    7 Responses to Why I Celebrate Mabon

    1. Lily Oak says:

      Mish, I’m at the same conclusion as you, but get there a slightly different way! lol – Hope you had a good Mabon x

    2. Ginger says:

      To put it more succinctly, I just feel the whole thing is unhelpfully confused…either celebrate the “wheel of the year” as a symbolic myth about the cycle of nature without the associations to any particular God/Goddess/pantheon or culture *or* celebrate festivals for the Gods you worship, or both at different times. But make a distinction about what you choosing to focus on. The “wheel of the year” is something that many in the pagan community relate to…so why would a Heathen, Kemetist or Hellenist give two hoots about Mabon? Seems a bit exclusionary if you ask me to have the Autumn Equinox named after a Welsh God. What about all the people that don’t resonate strongly with that mythos or with Welsh culture? I resonate with certain Gods, Saturn for example. So I celebrate Saturnalia *but* I also celebrate Midwinter a week or so later because hey any excuse for a party but also whilst both celebrations feel like a continuation of my spiritual experience, my understanding and intentions in both festivals are different.

    3. Ginger says:

      I love your use of poetic concept in this article and whole heartedly agree in what you say about a pagan spirituality. Apart from on the topic of Mabon, which for me personally carries no poetry at all, having been a term for the Autumn Equinox devised by an American oath breaker and having nothing to do with either my personal gnosis or spiritual path. I wonder had she been aware of the context and origin of the term Mabon, whether Starhawk and others would ever have used it themselves?

      • Mish says:

        Does it really matter who decided to call it ‘Mabon’?
        Clearly theres some random personal politics involved in this, which I frankly couldn’t care less about. The origin of the name Mabon is surely the God Mabon, that’s what actually matters about this isn’t it? Rather than who first thought it was a good name.
        I hope that had she been aware of whoever your ‘American oath breaker’ was she would first have thought about the God and the time of year and then chosen for herself whether it was a good name.

        • Ginger says:

          The person who named the festival Mabon did so by his own rationale to fit a calendar that was being created and sold commercially. The idea came to him because Fred Hoyle had written about an outer circle of Stonehenge being aligned with the Autumn Equinox, he then equated this with Michaelmas and “Celt-ified” it by associating St Michael with Lugh, made some strange leap to Kore and then sought to find a more celtic fertility God for underworld rescue purposes and arrived at Mabon. A god that there is very little known about. What we do know however, is that Stonehenge was not built by anyone with a Celtic culture. It was built much, much earlier than that by the people that first lived on this land and who migrated up from the Iberion Peninsula after the last ice age.

          From my perspective and as someone who does not follow any prescribed wheel of the year according to a man made calendar (whether that be neo-pagan or Gregorian) but who follows the natural rhythms as I experience them. I feel absolutely no association with the God Mabon, or indeed Lugh at the Equinox. I feel very strongly that it is of the detriment of the wheel of the year to have the festival associated with **any** particular pantheon or culture because the umbrella term “paganism” includes the kind of diversity and celebration of spiritual individualism that makes my heart sing. I don’t call any of the festivals by deity associated names. That’s my personal path.

          I most certainly cannot ignore the history of Autumn Equinox being named “Mabon” by the American Oath-breaker because I consider oaths as sacred and I would not wish to follow the example set by search a person.

          So not in respect of my only personal gnosis, or my intellectual rationale or my personal path, does the Autumn Equinox being named “Mabon” resonate with me. I am happy that the devotee’s of Mabon name a celebration for him, but I object to someone else’s path becoming part of the generic wheel of the year, which is celebrated by many traditions.

        • Mish says:

          “The person who named the festival Mabon did so by his own rationale to fit a calendar that was being created and sold commercially.” – So what? That means nothing to me, nor does the guy who named it. It means something to you because clearly you knew the guy or he impacted on you negatively. I’m not disputing your personal gnosis or understandings of the Equinox but I really don’t care what silly reasons any of the people writing books give for why they do things. (If I did would I still call myself Wiccan I wonder?)

          I’d rather see if what they do, if the names they give are appropriate directly.
          If you give consideration to the people above the gods or the seasons or the magic then that seems likely that you’re going to take on board a whole lot of energy you just don’t need. Energy that is not good for you.

          I don’t dispute your wish not to follow a ‘wheel of the year’, it’s an artificial construct whoevers wheel is chosen to follow, but it works for me and the festivals have meaning for me. Just as your path does not follow them mine does.

          “I object to someone elseโ€™s path becoming part of the generic wheel of the year, which is celebrated by many traditions” – But if that part of their path speaks to many people who follow different traditions then why would you dispute that when it may be a very true thing for them. The only reason to dispute it is personal difference with someone because of who they are. I disagree with disputing a path because someone who happened also to follow it (or crossover in part) who not a good person or did something that people found objectionable.

          Would you avoid a god because one of the gods followers was an objectionable person? Or avoid a religion because one member of that religion was objectionable?

    4. Tanga ---------- says:

      Thumbs up! To this article and to Ramsay Dukes. ๐Ÿ˜€
      Shame you’re so far away from me.
      May Darshan shower your path regularly.

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