But once again grumpy old pagans are determined to tell me I’m doing it RONG. (Deliberate mis-spelling to indicate flavour of ‘wrongness’ like they do in some quarters of the internet – oh my gods there is no hope for me).
When I was looking into paganism during my adolescence I had any number of books telling me about the eightfold wheel of the year and that all of the names were descended from proper ancient gaelic meanings etc.etc. Well I was big into the study of King Arthur before I was a pagan so when I got to the Autumn Equinox being called Mabon I assumed it must be something to do with the guy in the Culch and Olwen myth. He has never disabused me. I wouldn’t say I worship him, but I pay my respects every Mabon. I wrote a prayer/meditation in one of the early years I spent as a pagan based around him and based around the autumn equinox in which I was considering his name; Mabon ap Modron and the fact that he is so old that no one knows his tale (except the bit where King Arthur rescues him and returns him to his mother?).
I consider the festival of Mabon to be the second of the harvest festivals in my wheel of the year (Lammas – first harvest:fruits and bread, Mabon – second and main harvest, Samhain – third harvest/ blood harvest), it is a major harvest of everything before winter. Mabon is a skilled huntsman rather than a farmer and so to call a harvest festival after him seems a little odd, maybe even problematic, but Mabon, whatever he blossoms into as an adult is always called after his relationship with Modron who is always called after her relationship with him. Son of Mother.
A Woman’s Hour segment years and years ago contained the notion that the autumn equinox was the last point of the year that women ideally wanted to give birth, how true that is I don’t know, but in my head something clicked. Mabon is the harvest. I don’t know why the Feri Tradition (where all this started) decided to call the Autumn Equinox Mabon, but this is why I do. Mabon was brought forth by Modron, he is the First of Men, the Eldest, our reminder that we harvest the earth’s bounty and we are also of it. (Ahh that first Pagan course via letters that I did that made me read Robert Graves and as such have a very poetic understanding of Gods and Goddesses and the land.)
Sorita d’Este is a lady I’ve been known to get excited about, whether because I vehemently agree or disagree with what she’s saying, anyway, she wrote a reasonable article on her own blog and then a grumpy one on the main Pagan Federation blog. This annoys me.
It annoys me because occaisionally grumpy old Heathens tell me about when they were just getting into Paganism and Wiccans would tell them they were doing it wrong. It annoys me because of the ammount of times I’ve met initiated Wiccans who brandish their lineages like they were playing Top Trumps (Andrew Brennard gave me that comparison). It annoys me because it would seem to completely ignore the notion of Personal Gnosis, the idea that Pagans are directly connected and indeed can directly connect with their Gods/the Divine/Nature because if you aren’t doing it like I do it then you’re doing it wrong. How many people are pushed away from their path by people who aren’t trying to genuinely teach (like Sorita’s first article) but are just determined to push their own understandings onto others?
That isn’t Pagan and isn’t Wiccan to my understanding. We’re initiatory (and self counts) and we’re mystery traditions but we’re not evangelistic.
Sure Mabon was (and is) the name of a Welsh God. In modern paganism he has also given his name to the Autumn Equinox. Not because there is some organised Mabon priesthood forcing their agenda but because the energies, the flows have flowed that way and because Paganism is living and growing. There is no need to assume, because I wish you a happy Mabon that I am ignorant of where this has come from nor why it is, but I have tasted it and found it to be good and right in the 21st century.
If you got into Wicca because you heard it was thousands of years old but assumed it had never changed you know very little about how oral communication works. If you got into Paganism and then assumed everyone would be doing it the same then you have little understanding of how eclecticism and direct communication with individual gods, wights and the land works.
If you want to push your views onto other pagans then write a book, but don’t be surprised when they take your teachings and rewrite them with their own practice and understanding because though we may share common practices (thankyou Uncle Gerald, thankyou Aunty Doreen) we share a very common understanding of how to do things which is to as an individual connect with the flows of the land, the energies and understand them ourselves. This is in part due to the growth of Solitary Paths, but then when we are belittled and told we’re doing it wrong by people in large organisations, on the blog of that organisation then who can blame the Solitary Path for being easier – even for those of us who keep trying to connect?