The Bards and the Mabon

“The Goddess likes the taste of a man’s tonsils”
– locksley2010 (don’t blame me – he said it.)

We all knew locksley2010 was a history geek, but I didn’t know quite how much of a history geek he was until last Tuesday evening.

The reason I’m blogging about this month’s meeting, by the way, is that Locksley is too modest to write about his own event, so he’s asked me to summarise it instead.

On Tuesday, several of the Bards met at Briseilid’s house. Our more senior members weren’t able to attend, for various reasons that included Luch Dorcha’s car troubles (and we hope the car’s OK, Luch Dorcha!) But there was something very nice about a meeting of (some of) the Bards, as much as we would rather have had everyone there. There was lots of useful discussion about how we’re finding the Bardic Grade material. We were also introduced to a potential new member of the grove, who didn’t appear to be too terrified by us. After some drinks, during which Locksley got started on the wine in earnest, he shared his research on the Mabon with us.

And what research! I think most of us in the Grove would have been aware that Mabon is not an ancient name for the Autumn Equinox, but a modern one – but I certainly didn’t know much more about it than that. Locksley began by explaining the modern Pagan association with the Mabon. This story was attached to the Autumn Equinox in the 1970s – yep, that recently – by Wiccan priest Aiden Kelly (who writes here about why he chose to associate the story of Mabon with the Equinox). After giving us a decent history lesson and exploring the background of the myth in detail, Locksley recounted the tale in vivid storytelling style. It’s a fantastic story, and definitely worth a read, but it’s also worth trying to get your head around some of the background too. Locksley was able to tell us about the various places in myth where the Mabon is referenced, as well as other myths and literature that are useful to read in conjunction – and I have helpfully forgotten all these references, so perhaps he’ll grace us with a book list in the comments.

I’m more familiar with Irish rather than Brythonic mythology, so I’m a bit sketchy on the backgrounds to some of the Welsh/British tales. But we quickly started seeing the patterns that link these myths and those with similar themes from other neighbouring cultures. We talked about the theme of the ‘oldest animals’, who have several stories that pop up in both Irish and Brythonic mythology, often featuring the Salmon of Wisdom and the archetypal quest for knowledge or gain, and we got a glimpse of how that theme can be traced into the Grail Quest legends. (I might be headed off on a quest to find all the Oldest Animals tales soon.) Locksley also showed us some thought-provoking parallels between the Mabon and the Lugh/Balor story, and figures in Norse myth.

I find the myths of these islands fascinating. Thanks to centuries of waves of invasion and travel to the British Isles, there’s been so much cultural mixing between the myths of Britain, Ireland, the Norse lands and the Greco-Roman world that we can find resonances in a whole range of mythology. The tales of these lands are the tales of the world. Thanks, Locksley, for a very interesting talk – and I hope you weren’t too hung over the next day.


About Léithin Cluan

Léithin Cluan is a modern druid and Gaelic polytheist, disability rights activist, sociologist and curator of the stories of the unheard. She's an active member of the Druid Network. She is researching for a PhD in sociology of religion, currently writing her thesis on disability and religion. She lives in London, UK, where she does her urban druidry thing, with her spouse (thanks for 'almost equal' marriage, UK government...) and too many cats. Find her at .
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2 Responses to The Bards and the Mabon

  1. cthulhudruid says:

    Its only in the last few years that I’ve really heard Mabon used as a name for the equinox (like Lammas for Lughnasdha). I always assumed that it was an American Wicca influence moving into popular pagan culture. To me Mabon was always the young sun god.

  2. Aidan Kelly says:

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s always fun to discover a few new friends and/or fans. I put a whole lot of other weird Pagan stuff on my blog.

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