The Deities of Mabon
The Deities of Mabon
Written by Cauldron Living staff writer Tommy Watson
Almost every pantheon from the primordial deities of the Hindus to the twelve Olympians have a deity associated with the youth, beauty, the hunt, and death. *These are the commonalities found in the deities associated with the god Mabon. *In the following article, I continue with the Deity Transportation Theory, also known as the Nomadic Deity Theory and various other names. *This theory states that through a series of culture relocations, transports, interactions, and victorious wars people brought their deities with them to new lands or "borrowed" deities from surrounding areas. *
We begin our journey with the Hindu god Rudra meaning "howler." *This deity is an earlier primordial form of the god Shiva, also known as the destroyer. *He is associated with young love, hunting, destruction, and death. *His arrows brought illness, death, and destruction to whomever they hit. *Another common aspect this deity shares with others leading to Mabon is youth. *In every text referring to Rudra he is described as an attractive young male full of vitality. *Not much more is known of this deity without incorporating information on Shiva or Kama, which would dilute the purpose of this article.
Photo: Hindu God Rudra
Moving on to Egypt and the primitive god Nefertem, this deity was originally associated with the creation and destruction of the Memphis area, until a cult following Ptah took over the area. *Nefertem was a young man usually depicted with blue water lilies floating around his head signifying seduction. *He was also shown as Bast's son in the form of a lion. *His later associations included seduction for the purpose of love by using perfume as well as the bringer of luck. *Several pouches containing small figures of Nefertem have been found around Memphis.
Photo: Egyptian God Nefertem
Progressing to Greek and Rome we encounter the god Apollo. *This is where we see the most recognizable associations of Mabon. *Apollo rules over archery, medicine, healing, death, music, and plagues. *Apollo grew so popular that he also eventually became the god of the Sun and prophecy. *He was the patron deity of Delphi and the oracles there in. *He was the twin of Artemis by Zeus and Leto. *Both Apollo and Artemis shared responsibilities of the hunt and herdsman.
He is portrayed in a constant youthful state with golden shining hair. *Even as Apollo ages in the Greek and Roman mythos he is always described as a young man. *Apollo may have also been a Roman god of love. *He had more lovers both male and female than any other recorded deity. *There have been tablets found invoking him in matters of the heart. *His accomplishments are many, some of them being the slaughter of the Python at Delphi, the rescuing of Aeneas in the Iliad, and defeating Pan in a combat of musical skill with his lyre. *The lyre and the bow are two important contributions made by Apollo, the lyre representing his healing of emotional pain, and the bow and arrows being the destroyer of both mental and physical ailments. *He was thought to be able to both ward off evil and attract evil. *Days that are sacred to Apollo are the seventh and twentieth of every month, which corresponds to the day of the New and Full moons.
Photo: Roman God Apollo
When the Romans invaded Gaul it was Maponos who they equated with their god Apollo. *His name means "divine son." *Moving further we find the same deity in Welsh mythology known as Mabon ap Modron, the "divine son of " the "divine mother." *In the Mabinogion (a collection of Welsh mythology) Mabon is the only deity, which can control the hound needed to kill Twrch Trwyth in order for Culhwch to obtain his bride Olwen. *It is Culhwch who must find Mabon who had been stolen from his mother three days after his birth. *Culhwch eventually finds Mabon in Annwn. *Annwn is a mythical land where there was no aging, death, or disease. *Due to Mabon's time in this place he stayed forever a young adult free from disease. *Not much more is mentioned about Mabon in the Mabinogion. *Nor, have any other writings in Old Welsh been found pertaining to this deity. *Much of what is known about Mabon and Maponos was recorded by the Romans in comparison with Apollo. *What is known is he was considered a god of the hunt, youth, beauty, an aid in love, and able to heal and inflict disease.
In Ireland it was Mac ind Óg "son of the young" also known as Aengus that was most similar to Mabon and Apollo. *He is the son of the Dagda and Boann. *So that Nechtan, Boann's husband, would not find out about their affair the Dagda caused the Sun to stand still for nine months, until Aengus was born. *This is what gave Aengus his appearance of eternal youth. *Later in his life his father was dividing his land amongst his children. *When it came time for Aengus to receive his share there was none left. *So, Aengus asked his father if he could stay in Brú, An Dagda's home for "a day and a night." *Since there is was no singular article in Old Irish he literally had said "day and night." *An Dagda agreed to this and thus Aengus tricked his father out of his home, since the time was indefinite.
Aengus' main story involves his recurring dream of a young girl. *For a year Aengus meet this girl in his dreams until he feel in love with her. *He was so in love with this girl that he became drastically ill. *In order to help her son, Boann searched all of Ireland for a year to find this girl. *The girl was eventually found by King Bodb Dearg at the lake of the Dragon's Mouth. *Aengus found his love, Caer. *Caer was cursed so that every other Samhain she turned into a swan. *In order for Aengus to be allowed to marry her he had to identify her as a swan. *Aengus did just that and turned himself into a swan and flew away with her. *When Aengus takes the form of a swan to be with his wife the music he sings is so sweet that all who hear it will sleep for three days and nights. *Aengus is seen as a god of youth, beauty both natural and by transformation, music, poetry, trickery, and hunting.
Photo: Celtic God Aengus
In Norse mythology, it is Balder who is equated to Mabon and Aengus. *In the Gylfaginning a section in the Prose Edda Balder, it is said that he is best of all the gods and all praise him. *It is also said that he was so fair featured (youthful) and bright that light shines from him. *He was the most eloquent in speech that no one every challenged his judgment. *Balder's mother was so afraid of his death, which they both prophesized that she made everything on earth swear never to harm her son, except mistletoe, which she did not see as a threat. *Loki had a spear made from mistletoe and trick Balder's own brother into using it against him. *All the gods mourned Balder's death, especially Nanna his wife who died of grief. *Balder is thought of as a god of youth, beauty, hunting, and poetry.
Photo: Norse God Balder
The Fall Equinox now known as Mabon by many Neopagans is named for the Welsh deity of the same name. *However, it is unsure of why this date was named after this deity in the 1970's by Aidan Kelly. *Though all these deities are associated with the god Mabon it would seem that their association with this particular time of year is inappropriate. *One possible assumption that can be made involves each deity's association with four primary things youth, love, the hunt, and death. *The first hunt of the year takes place in spring when youth and love are prominent while the last hunt of the year takes place in the fall when death is a strong element. *Thus, it can be assumed that Mabon's association with this time could coincide with final hunt. *For more information on this Holiday in the Wheel of the Year see the following article by Cauldron Living Staff Writer Thelma6954 by clicking here.
Photo: Welsh God Mabon
Tommy Watson has practiced Witchcraft since he was in his early teens and has now dedicated himself into the service of the Craft of the Wise. *He is currently enrolled in the Dedicant Program through Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. *Tommy is also involved with the Maple Oak Coven, here at Cauldron Living, which is harmoniously blending Celtic Druid practices with Wiccan beliefs. *He lives in Huntsville, Texas with his partner Terry of 7 years.