is clear', said the Mac Óc, `that night and day
are the whole
world, and it is that which has been given to me."
~~Book of Leinster~~
The Autumn Equinox, which usually falls around September 21st,
often celebrated with harvest festivals, various games, and
Home rites. The most prominent Celtic customs surrounding the
harvest is that of the last sheaf, which becomes 'the Cailleach'
is taken in until the next spring's ploughing (though there
other variations on Last Sheaf customes). Much of this days
is movable to correspond with the activities of the harvests
placed on September 29th, Michaelmas.
association of harvest with the Autumn Equinox is so strong
many modern Pagans refer to the holiday as Harvesttide. However,
many American Wiccans, and Pagans who take their cue from them,
come to call the Harvesttide, 'Mabon'. Some have attributed
association of the appellation `Mabon' with Harvesttide, to
calling Harvesttide, `Mabon', began in the US in the
1970's, and is an innovation that has increased in popularity,
spreading quickly among those who do not know anything about
deity Mabon. A fact made more striking when the deity Mabon,
whom this holiday is named, often does not figure in the `Mabon'
rites. There are many things that Mabon is, but currently there
no evidence or indication that Mabon was ever a harvest god.
is the Welsh name for the Continental Maponos or the Irish
Aengus Mac Oc (*Maccan*). Mabon's role in Culhwch and Olwen,
primary myth in the Welsh material, and the events that play
there, have no harvest connections whatsoever.
cursory study of this god and his cognates would indicate
is associated with healing, vitality, water sources, music,
horses, youth, beauty, love, dawn, and white birds. As well,
associated with hunting, especially the boar hunt, which may
some ritual connotations. In the Irish myths the Mac ind Oc
Maccan is the son of the Fire god, Dagda, and the Water goddess,
Bóann and as such he embodies the union of opposites.
In the Welsh
myths he is the 'Son of the Mother', Modron, and the 'Son of
Lightning'. As Modron is most likely a river mother type (cf.
Continental Matronae), and Lightening is obviously celestial,
reconciles `below' and `above'.
his associations, the most obvious rites to Mabon in Autumn
would most likely focus on his associations with hunting, and
be best celebrated closer to Samhain, which marks the traditional
close of the hunting season in most Celtic lands.
since Mabon has no Harvest associations at all, I believe
is better to celebrate Mabon (the god) at another time, leaving
Autumn Equinox and its strong associations with harvest to
who actually have connections with the Harvest.
to Mabon's role in Culhwch and Olwen myth, his release from
imprisonment signals a return of vitality and life. These along
many of his other themes are well suited to, and very much
with, the rites of early spring and Bealtaine, and, in my opinion,
would be the better time for celebrating Mabon and his Mysteries.
(2003, edited 2005)
First printed: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/newtara/message/16