Category Archives: Meditations

Chasing the Mabon

Big thanks to Teller who asked me ‘So, when are you putting up the blog?’ And a huge thanks to Cthulhudruid who managed to find my original post after it had been accidentally deleted!

Maponus image from Gettyimages

Ah, yes. Autumn! The season of falling leaves, bounties of fruit and vegetation, bird migration and garden spiders coming out to capture unsuspecting prey (shudder). This season also sees the Equinox as the dramatic increase of the dark overtakes the long summer nights. The balance is struck and the wheel turns once again….

Within the usual modern Pagan circles, the Autumnal Equinox has been given a name…. Mabon. Whom or what does this name come from? What the hell is a Mabon anyway?

The short story is that in the 1970’s Aiden Kelly, Wiccan High Priest, came up with the name for the simple fact that he didn’t like that the Autumnal Equinox celebrations didn’t have a grander name. In his own words, please read this.

The long story…..

Mabon is a now shadowy figure, one who once had a cult all of his own stretching from Wales to Lancashire, Northumberland, Cumbria and Scotland. Mabon means ‘Son’ in Welsh and the most familiar version of this is the character of Mabon ap Modron (Son of Mother), from the tale ‘How Culhwch Won Olwen‘.

In the story, the hero Culhwch falls in love with the beautiful Olwen. Which is great, because she loves him too and it turns out that marrying her will lift the curse that was put on him by his jealous step-mother. Problem solved. However, her Dad is Yspaddaden Bencawr, chief giant and realm owning badass. He is so against the idea of the marriage, he sets Culhwch 40 impossible tasks which must be completed. No victory from the young upstart, then no nuptials. Amongst these tasks was one where Culhwch must obtain the comb and shears from behind the ears of the dreaded supernatural boar, Twrch Trwryth. But this could not be done unless he somehow obtained the mardiest dog in the world, Drudwyn. And even then Drudwyn had to be controlled by Mabon ap Modron, a huntsman who must ride the steed Gwyn Dunmane…. and the snag was: “Mabon ap Modron who had been stolen from his home when he was three nights old, and his whereabouts not known…..

Luckily for Culhwch, his uncle Arthur (yes, THAT Arthur) had given him some of his knights as companions who helped accomplish most of the impossible tasks like some adrenaline charged-Redbull fuelled group from Dungeons & Dragons…. but they could not find Mabon ap Modron.

Anywhere.

Like, nowhere.

It was only after Arthur discovering hint about asking the Oldest Animals in the World the heroes stood a chance. So Culhwch’s band sought out the Blackbird of Cilgwri, the Stag of Rhendynfre, the Owl of Cam Cwlwyd, the Eagle of Gwernabwy and the Salmon of Llyn Lliw, to find Mabon’s location: the fortress of Caerloyw. Even then they have to break him out by force. Skipping to the end; Mabon and another hunter, some wild dude called Cynedyr Wyllt manage to corner Twrch Trwryth and grab the comb (Mabon) and shears (Cynedyr) before the Chief of Otherworldly Boars escapes and runs into the sea, prophesying he and Arthur shall fight at the end of the world…… well, a big rumble between them in the far future anyway.

In one version of the ‘Dream of Rhonabwy‘, Mabon is one of the advisors of Arthur, although this could be a confusion with another, Mabon ap Mellt (Son of Lightening) is described as a huntsman also….. This version hints at either this Mabon was as quick as lightening or was descended from some cthonic sky-god.

Interestingly, the character of Mabon was taken up by Roman occupiers in Britannia. Or perhaps, was taken up by Romanised Celts in the form of Maponus ‘Divine Youth’. Coins and inscriptions show Maponus with his dog (Drudwyn?). It appears that Maponus was equated with Apollo, the god of healing and poetry….. and linked with the bow and arrow, tools of the hunt?

What of Modron? Does the mother give any indication as to who Mabon is? She is of the ‘Washer at the ford’ variety of supernatural women, and is daughter to Afallach, one of the lords of Annwn (Welsh Otherworld), specifically, the ruler of Avalon. If true, then she was a magical being and therefore a woman of Sovereignty (The right to choose and the right to rule) and supposedly bore two sons to Urien Rheged, king of Rheged (supposedly a kingdom in Northern England and Southern Scotland). One of these sons, Owein, plays chess with Arthur in the ‘Dream of Rhonabwy‘…. see how these things always go in cycles?

Bizarrely enough, one of the stanzas of the Graves reads: “The grave in the upland of Nanllau; his story no one knows. Mabon the son of Modron the sincere.” So which is it? Is this the grave of Mabon who was in the quest for Olwen’s hand in marriage? Or was he always a mystery and none knew his details? If so, then why was he so popular? Could it be that Mabon ap Modron was in fact the figure of a mystery tradition? Like a Brythonic version Mythras?

The fact that there are remnants and inscriptions to Mabon/Maponus means there was some kind of reverence to him. What this originally was is sadly lost to time, but things have a very strange way of returning. In Modern Druidry, especially in OBOD, where the role of Mabon is given to the youngest member in the ceremony. When Aiden Kelly chose that name, did he do it because it fitted his aesthetic or was there a whisper from a long forgotten heroic huntsman? Also, how the hell did a babe taken away from his mother’s breast of only three nights old learn to become a hunter in the prison of a fort!? Perhaps….. and this is my interpretation…. perhaps Mabon in the story is meant as a metaphor for the adventurous spirit. He is the youthful part of us that dares to do the impossible once he has broken free of the dark prison of our minds. The Mabon hones it’s skills and when is broken free by bravery and need it can go forward and seize the fierce dog of anger to accomplish great things. For when the sun goes down at the Autumnal Equinox does the night get stronger. And as the nights draw in, it is the perfect time to develop our own skills and look inward until we need to release the adventurous spirit within.

Sources:

The Isles of the Many Gods, David Rankine & Sorita D’Este. Avalonia, London, 2007.

The Mabinogion, a new translation by Sioned Davies, Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007.

The Keys to Avalon, the True Location of Arthur’s Kingdom Revealed, Steve Blake & Scott Lloyd, Element Books Limited, Dorset, 2000.

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When the flame burns out….

Hey, it’s been a while.  

Following one’s dreams was never going to be easy.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before many moons ago that when I reconnected with the element of fire, I discovered my Bardic Self as being an actor.  (Actually, count that as rediscovered, because we often know the answers we are looking for, we just seek the validation.  And it turned out that even though I knew the answer, I was denying myself and was unhappy because of such). 

I’ve been quiet on WordPress because my attentions have been elsewhere, my energies have been spent and I burned myself out.  The way I’ve been living my life, it was only a matter of time.  I’ve been non-stop for a year and my body can’t cope anymore.  Even my spirit is flagging, and that I know, is not a good thing. 

The problem is, I’ve taken too much on.  Last year I did two plays back to back, I finished one play one week, I finished the second the week after. 

 Then 6 weeks later did another show.  This year, I’ve been rehearsing two more performances at the same and this is whilst doing my full time day job too.  So my body stopped.  I developed an infection on my face that had taken 3-4 weeks of antibiotics, as well as two sets of cold sores, all of which are now gone.  

 This weekend just gone saw the performance of my first musical.  I’d had the good sense to take the week off and a couple of days after too.  I’m so glad I did!  “Ooh, a week off!” Says I.  ” Time to get back exercising during the mornings and then off to rehearsals and shows in the evenings!” I told myself.  My body had other ways of telling me this wasn’t going to happen….

It needed more than 8 hours sleep just to feel rested, then when I went running, it decided my knees and ankles were going to be 90 years old, that and even though I had sleep, I felt I had no energy.  Even lifting my weights felt a chore, so I got the idea: I stopped. 

Me and Artemis have discussed many times about the amount of things I do.  I don’t do time off well, I feel like nothing is being done or accomplished.  Also, when we do talk about it, I’m always like “I’m almost there, then I can rest…..” It’s sort of my mantra.  It wasn’t until I was in conversation with Devi (she’s my 20 seconds of insane courage and I haven’t scared her away yet) and she asked if I was feeling run down, I realised I was.  Pointing out that she didn’t want to sound like my mother, Devi expressed her concern I was taking on too much and recommended I take some serious time off for just me.  No working to schedules , no tasking, no box ticking when not working.  Oh, and to go and spend my time out doors.  And she’s absolutely right! 

I haven’t done this yet, last week was all about the musical I was doing, but I did get a full night’s sleep every night.  When I wasn’t rehearsing or performing, I rested and if it’s one thing I learned, it’s that I need to stop.  

Stop acting? No, stop taking on so many projects that I end up knackering myself out.  I need to focus my energy so when I do have a project, I can concentrate on that one project only.  And when I don’t have a project, not to think of it as not doing anything- take the time I need to recuperate. 

What good is it to keep the flame going if I can’t even keep the embers alight? And what’s the point of pursuing my acting if I’ve spread myself too thin? 

What are the gods? 

I was getting a lift home from rehearsal when my friend started asking about my beliefs.  He, himself is an atheist, but he showed a genuine curiosity in what I believed to be going on in the universe.

I have touched on this subject before, here

Obviously, I did not mention or bring up any of that.  That would have been way too much! 

Instead, I launched into a monologue of my latest hypothesis of the gods I believe in and what they are.  It went something like this: 

If we go with the idea that all there is through the universe is the Life Force.  And by that I mean the spark of life that is within you, is connected to the Life Force in all things: it is connected to the Life Force in others, in animals, the sea, plants, the wind, the rain, the Sun.  This Life Force permeates everything, it’s why some people can feel or even see the auras of other people and things.  It is the thing where our Life Force goes to when we die and is the reason why some people can claim to speak with the dead as their spark joins the pool, allowing echoes to be heard and remembered. 

You get the idea, right? 

So, what if….. What if this Life Force had a sentience to it? And it communicated with us, and these communications became manifest into beings our ancestors interpreted and called gods, or spirits even? 

In effect, the gods are the avatar of the Life Force. 

Of course, when talking about all this to someone who had already stated he was an atheist, he told me “The problem with anyone who believes in something, is that you’ll never convince me it is real.” 

And he’s right.  I can’t convince anyone of what I experience or believe to be true. Our experience is entirely subjective.  My beliefs are a mish-mash of what I have learned, experienced, encountered and found not to be true.  Yes, I resonate with the gods of a people whose culture has now gone.  I have had conversations in visualisation meditations with beings who claim to be these ‘gods’.  Are they in fact distant ancestors? a manifestation of the Life Force that uses images and names I would understand? A projection of my inner voice that I unconsciously make into a character (a bit like what happens when we dream, except this time I am more lucid)? 

What would make such encounters more interesting, is for one of these to appear and give you their name as one you don’t recognise.  Or better yet, a familiar deity comes forward and disagrees with you.  Saying why something won’t work or how something else is a bad idea.  Or even how some idea about them is wrong: although be sure to write notes upon coming to and do some research to back that one up! 

Question: How come all gods are not the same? 

Conjecture: Because they are relevant to the people they belong to. 

 I know these things, these conversations (revelations of insight?) , these beings are real in my perspective.  It’s like when I see balls of light at the Grove Hearth:  I physically see them with my own two eyes, even point out when they are there, but no one else does.  Except for one other.  Do I know what those balls of light are? No.  Can I show a team of scientists one of our ceremonies in the Grove and point out when the balls of light arrive? No, they don’t appear every time.

And so it is with gods, spirits, entities et al I can’t convince other people these things exist just because I encountered something.

And as I was explaining the Life Force hypothesis to my friend, I actually realised how ridiculous this sounds to someone who doesn’t believe.  You’ve got to admit, it does sound crazy.  Any of it, all of it! And people go to war over this?  People murder each other because they disagree? 

Thankfully there was no war in my friend’s car, we ended the chat on pleasant terms and I finished it by saying: 

“You’re right, I can’t convince you of what I believe.  My beliefs are my own.  But if I was to say if you were to believe in something, believe in you.” 

Image from independent.ie

Love yourself!

I’ve deleted drafts of posts that never saw the light of the internet day, but never have I deleted an actual post…. Especially the morning after a night of drinking with friends and finding I wrote an entire post whilst being drunk! 

I had even given it the phrase “Will regret this in the morning.”  Boy, was I right. I was not proud of it at all, embarrassed would be more accurate.

It wasn’t an insightful piece, it was one of those drunken rants you get that only makes sense when you are surrounded by other drunks ranting in a similar fashion.

Basically, a friend of mine told me I was ‘distrustful of women’ and the whole flavour of the post was about how this was THE TRUTH and went on about broken hearts, gathering pieces of that heart and other self wallowing crap my inebriated mind came up with.  To my credit, I built my self up in the post and argued my case about how actually awesome and amazing I am. 

One reader even commented in prose about how we all get knocked, so let’s get up and have fun.  Thanks LittleWolf! And yes, my head was sore! And guess what, I don’t distrust women at all.  

So, this got me thinking: 

We punish ourselves a lot, don’t we?  At least, I do anyway.  We are quick to saying how we can’t do this, that or the other.  How easy is it for us to rail against the world instead of doing something about it? 

Yes, we do get knocked, yes, bad things happen, yes we get our hearts broken.  But if we let these things consume us, we become bitter, angry and resentful.  I don’t know about you, but I think life is too short for that shit.  However, it is long enough for us to enjoy, to share and to love, whatever the form takes. 

When you are next feeling down, or in a situation where you feel powerless, I have some suggestions which may help: 

  1. As Xena Warrior Princess once said: Act don’t react. 
  2. If you are in a situation that gets you down, what can you do to change it? 
  3. Remember all your victories, however grand or small, you’ve come this far.
  4. Learn from your mistakes and use them to bring out more of your best self. 
  5. Accept responsibility for your actions, you make and made your choices, own them, don’t let them own you!*
  6. Love yourself, do something just for you, you do indeed deserve it. 
  7. Keep being awesome. 
  8. Trust your gut, if it feels bad, stay the hell away. 
  9. Use the powers of “Yes” and “No” respectively. 
  10. See number 7.  Always number 7. 
  11. Don’t lose your cool.  Don’t let those assholes let you lose your shit.

    And my new lesson:  when drunk stay AWAY from using your WordPress account! 

    *And yet, by deleting the drunken post I am contradicting this with the suggestion of number 2…… Not sure how I feel about that. 


     

    Why perform ritual? 

    “Do you perform it for their glory, or for yours?” Was the question that popped into my head as I poured the water from Monday’s ceremony into the kitchen plant. 

      A slight rewording from the question posed to Dr. Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but an effective one nonetheless. 

      That previous night had me perform a personal meditation in order to find an answer to something I was thinking through.  Well, more accurately, the meditation was the middle bit of my ceremony (to my fellow members of the Grove who wanted to know how it is I can recall the words by rote….. This is how).  And to perform the meditations and visualisations I use without the ceremonial bits feels…. Naked.

      This is how I do it: 

      1. Peace to the quarters.
      2. Cast the circle.
      3. Bless the circle with fire and water.
      4. Prayer to deity or deities.
      5. Awens.
      6. Middle bit.
      7. ‘Hour of recall….’
      8. Thanks to Deity.
      9. Uncast the circle.
      10. Declaration of the end of ceremony. 

          It’s mainly based on the general OBOD ceremonies, but I have found the form that works for me.  No flowers though.  Can’t be doing with taking from the plant realm for the sake of aesthetics!

            The Order encourages members to try things out and see how things work for them, even saying to stop something if it doesn’t work for you.  I have kept the above as it works for me.  Some of the wording is different and the words I say to deity are my own. 

          The ritual water I give to the household plants, a way of giving back and not wasting what was taken.

          There was a time I would perform this every day, and even though it did calm my being, I became stifled with the repetition.  So now, I like to do it with meaning, the ritual bringing calm and satisfaction to myself as well as honour and communication to those that are listening.  

          Do I do it for their glory?  Not really, as I have other personal rituals for giving thanks and honour.

          Do I do it for my glory?  Perhaps.  But when I perform the ceremony it isn’t for glory, it is a series of repetitious actions that allow me to enter a certain level of consciousness that allows me to find a stillness.  This stillness can be used to calm my fiery temperament, to gain insight or inspiration.  

          And even if there is no one in the ether, the ceremony still serves it’s purpose. 

          “There are FOUR lights!” Pic by Locksley2010.

          Owl-right, my son? 

          This would have been written New Years Day were it not for the extreme hangover I had suffered.  Regardless, I consulted the Druid Animal Oracle for my yearly focus.

          Of dragons and potential

          Last year’s card signified 2016 as being a year for discovering my inner potential power, it was not wrong!  Last year I had: 

          • Successfully auditioned for the part of Watson in a comedy version of Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. 
          • Performed two theatre plays back to back.
          • Provided the voice for the ‘Where Witchcraft Lives’ exhibit in Brighton.
          • Learned a great deal of my strengths and weaknesses.
          • Found my place in my day-job and I’m fine with it! 
          • Became a member of a brand new theatrical events group.
          • Completed my Bardic course and review. 
          • Completed my Ovate initiation just in time for Yuletide. 
          • Learned what my acting type is.
          • Discovered where I went wrong in my marriage.  
          • Cut my long hair off in the name of charity.

          So yes, quite a lot, really! 

          Eyes in the night

          And where does my focus lie for 2017?  The card drawn for this year is Owl, or Cailleach Oidhche . The card for detachment, wisdom and change.  It speaks of turning a disadvantage into an advantage, also it signifies a call to explain the Otherworld with studying esoteric lore and clairvoyancy.  Not sure about speaking with the dead, but seeming as I will be beginning my journey into the world of the Ovate (mystic, seer, healer) this is apt indeed.

          I am aware of the Owl being named as one of the oldest creatures of the Earth, according to one of the tales of the Mabinogion.  In another tale, it is the final form inflicted upon Blodeuedd by the sorcerer Gwydion.  Owl is also associated with the Cailleach, although which specific one, I am not sure.  Either way, both Owl, the Cailleach and studying esoteric lore are to be treated with respect. 

          Art by Bill Worthington.

          Learning from the past

          You can look back on your life at all the things that went wrong.  Think of all the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s.  Fact is that choices were made and what was done is done.  

          Whatever our choices were, they have led us to now and who we are presently.

          When dealing with the past, it is healthy to learn from our mistakes and make changes for the better in ourselves or our environment- wherever and whatever that may be. 

          Nostalgia is great for taking a trip down Memory Lane, however we must remember not to stay there and become trapped by what was, whether good or bad. 

          We are the product of our own experiences, not just in life, we also learn from the characters we read in books or see in movies or television.  Even a song lyric can touch us and inspire our take on the world.

          When dealing with events from the past, it is important for us to go forward and learn from our mistakes, lest we wallow in dispair and do nothing, or worse: deny everything and blame everyone else. 

          Our choices make us who we are, but it is our actions that define us. 

          Memories flow into the pool of time, on the surface they may have gone, but we always remember. Photo by locksley2010.