The Mythology of Mabon + Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox

Today at 10:21am (EDT) the Autumnal Equinox began. With the equinox occurring the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south, on this day light and darkness are equally balanced.

The Autumnal Equinox ushers in the yearly spiritual journey we must take as we prepare for the cold of winter, a time for letting go and shedding that which no longer serves us, confronting unfinished business, and completing karmic cycles. Now, more than ever, our light must shine as bright as possible, so our spirit can carry us through the darkness as an unwavering torch of hope and courage during a tumultuous time of transition. Growth (spiritually, mentally and emotionally) comes when we let go and allow, and this period is a time for release – so we can resurrect as the next best incarnation of ourselves.

The mythology of this time is celebrated with the Pagan holiday, Mabon, which tells a symbolic tale to represent the allegory of resurrection after spiritual testing.

According to An Old Path:

The name Mabon comes from a relatively obscure Welsh hero whose name means “son of the mother.”  His tale is of descent and resurrection, as his legends claim that Mabon was stolen from his mother as an infant and held captive in the underworld.  He was ultimately rescued and was considered the oldest living human, for he did not age during his sojourn in the land of the dead.  Mabon is sometimes connected with Maponus, a Welsh deity described as a divine youth.  He is the son of Modron, an early version of the mother goddess, and is often depicted in sculptures naked and holding a lyre, suggesting a link to the sun god Apollo.

The autumnal equinox is most closely associated with the goddess Demeter, who roams the earth in mourning at the loss of her daughter, Persephone.  She comes to the city of Eleusis and serves as a nursemaid to Demophoön, the son of Metaneira and Celeus. Demeter loves this child dearly and seeks to confer on Demophoön the immortality of the gods. She anoints his body with ambrosia and lays his body upon the hearth fire by
night, purging him of his mortality.

This desire of the goddess to rescue a beloved male child from the possibility of death echoes the legend of Mabon. A strikingly similar version concerns the goddess Isis.  During her search for the body of Osiris, Isis came to the city of Byblos and was entrusted with the care of the baby son of Astarte and Malcandre.  Like Demeter, Isis tried to confer immortality upon the boy through a nightly ritual wherein she would hold the baby over the hearth fire. When she was discovered by the queen, who reacted in horror at seeing her child placed on the flames, Isis revealed herself as a goddess and discontinued the bestowal of eternal life upon the boy.

While Demeter attempted to assuage her grief by nursing Demophoön, the pain of losing her daughter caused her to devastate the earth, rendering it barren and devoid of plant life.  And when her beloved Persephone was finally restored to her at the command of Zeus, she made restitution for her abandonment of the earth. She bestowed the knowledge of cultivation upon the mortal man Triptolemus, a prince of Eleusis who is credited with establishing agricultural techniques among men.  The ancient theme of the autumnal equinox was associated with either the dying god or the descent of the maiden goddess into the underworld. The modern correlation of the autumnal equinox with the Welsh demigod Mabon references an aspect of the god as divine youth. We are reminded that in all endings, there are also beginnings and that the fields that are cut down will also one day rise again.

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