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A Bit of Mabon Love

This was originally posted on Patheos a few years ago. The title is a response to something John Beckett had said, to the effect that complaining about people using “Maybon” as a word for the autumn equinox was “hate”. 

It’s that time of year again when I hear the name of a deity I revere on the lips of many people. His name is on my social media feed on a daily basis, too. That would feel great if more people actually knew that the were speaking His name, so this year I’m on a bit of a campaign to get His story out there, since his name is, anyway.

The name of this deity is Mabon. A few years ago, I made the short video below about how the Autumn Equinox came to be named Mabon in the early 1970s, and a few other cool facts.

You might have seen my post a few years ago on Patheos Agora titled Mabon is a God. It explains Mabon’s ties to the Gaulish/British god Maponos, and mentions his thriving centre of worship in the first century AD along the Scottish/English border. It never occurred to me that any of my Pagan friends would doubt that Mabon is a god, but apparently that’s also a thing, which mystifies me, because I think the evidence for that is pretty sound.

Brian Walsh seems to agree with me. His Mabon – a God of Spring Misplaced post gets an airing every year, and while I don’t necessarily agree with the theory that Mabon ap Modron and Angus Óg are more-or-less the same deity, I’m glad that other polytheists at least agree that Mabon has deity status. 

An equally important reason that I believe that Mabon is a god, however, is that I have a relationship with Him. Years ago, when I desperately needed to escape from Edinburgh for a couple of weeks, I decided to book a holiday cottage somewhere quiet, and I ended up on the outskirts of Lochmaben. The little town of Lochmaben is surrounded on three sides by three different lochs (that’s Scots for lakes). Perversely, none of them is called Loch Mabon, but it seems like the one called Castle Loch probably used to be.

I definitely needed some emotional patching up at the time, even if I was fine physically, and it was easy to reach out to Mabon there. I ended up making a pilgrimage to the Clachmaben Stone, as well, which was another powerful experience. I went back to Edinburgh renewed in myself and with great respect for the kindness of the god Mabon, as well. He definitely has healing powers.

Over time that experience faded, and I moved on to other things, but I still remember how Mabon’s places touched me. At the time, I’m not sure I was even aware of the Autumn Equinox being called Mabon, so when I moved back to the US and started hearing people say “What are you doing for Mabon?” the question didn’t quite compute. It still makes no sense to me, because from what I can see, most people are doing absolutely nothing for Mabon. They aren’t honouring Him. They aren’t talking about Him. A lot of people only half believe me when I tell them that there actually is a deity called Mabon. 

When I was researching what I wanted to write about Mabon this year I couldn’t believe that there were no photos of the healing spring Maponos was associated with in the Auvergne region of France. It’s famous largely because there is a museum filled with votive offerings someone once found there during construction work. There are thousands of them. Most take the form of human or animal limbs, as if to show the gods where it hurt, but others take the form of an entire person or animal. Among them was a lead tablet addressed to Maponos. Finally, in a local French paper I discovered that the spring had been neglected and blocked up for decades, but someone has recently cleared it and built a small pool, and there are hopes that eventually there will be a public font. No one is worshipping Maponos there (yet!) as far as I know. I don’t have a photo to show you, but there are several at this link.

I don’t suppose a few vocal polytheists will convince wider Pagandom to stop calling this holiday Mabon, but I am on a one woman campaign to at least encourage people to show Him a bit of love and devotion once a year. 

Mabon ap Modron and Maponos

A class looking at many aspects of Mabon and Maponos.

Saturday, September 18th, 2021 at 12 noon Pacific/3 pm Eastern/8 pm UK

Click here for more information.


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