Mabon, Son of Modron

As a follow-up to my last post, I should perhaps explain a few things. The source of the story of Mabon in the medieval Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen appears to preserve a mythological deposit about the Brythonic god Maponus. It has always struck me as a suggestive parallel to the Greek myth of Persephone, confined to the Underworld for the Winter half of the year and emerging from the darkness of Hades in Spring to bring life when new light comes to the land. But Maponus is male. Does this make him a vegetation god? Whatever his origins he seems more complex than that by the Roman period from which the only records of his worship exist. He was at that time equated with Apollo. Modern commentaries interpret 'Mabon Son of Modron' as 'Divine Son of Divine Mother'.

Posting on Easter Sunday, following posts on other fora about the meaning of Easter and, in particular, a reference to a posting on an evangelical christian site denying the origins of Easter as a pagan festival, I was moved to re-publish this poem . Whatever the balance of probabilities between the festival of Y Pasg, as Welsh has it along with other languages using terms linked to 'paschal', and Easter in English which apparently links to the Saxon goddess Eostre; however appropriate the associations of eggs and bunnies to the natural cycle; this seemed to me a good way to make my own statement about the festival as one of both natural and spiritual renewal. So, after an initial false start, I titled the post 'Atgyfodiad Maponus' (the Resurrection of Mabon). But of course he is resurrected into the world rather than from it. With Mabon, or Angus Og or the divine spark of youth in the world, magical possibilities abound. And will follow.

3 comments:

Algernon Misanthrope said...

Dear The Heron's Stare,

I was wondering, are you drawing such comparisons between Mabon and Christ solely through the motiff of resurrection?

I recall that for a while there in the late 80's early 90's there was a lot of neo-pagan books on the topic of celtic paganism/druidry which attributed a date to a festival called Mabon. (I can not recal for the life of me if it was spring or autumn equinox) Either way, the books tended to be quite ghastly and very clumsy in their shoe-horning of a culture into their wiccan framework.

But it led to thinking, was there ever a date or celebratory period attributed to Mabon, or perhaps a saint overlay that was subsequently reverred at a certain time? And if so does anyone know of it?

Regards,
Algernon Misanthrope

The Heron's Stare said...

I didn't intend any sort of direct comparison between Mabon (Maponus) and Christ. Merely to make the point about Easter as a Spring festival of renewal and the appropriateness of that episode in 'Culhwch and Olwen' in my mind for this theme of renewal.

There is, indeed, a usage among wiccans to call the Autumn Equinox 'Mabon'. I don't know why as the Spring Equinox seems more appropriate.

As far as I'm aware there is no association between Mabon and any saint (though other readers of this weblog might know better). As far as I can see the god Maponus developed into Mabon in folklore and literature rather than via sainthood. Apart from the recorded altars to Maponus in Roman Britain and Gaul, I have some intuitions of my own about his identity and appearance in different guises since , but nothing with which I would care to construct an argument.

Algernon Misanthrope said...

Thank you for that Heron's Stare.

I was merely curious.

Although I feel any reason is a good reason to bring up Culhwch and Olwen. Thank you again!

Regards,
Algernon Misanthrope