Month: September 2016

Autumn Equinox Ritual

I have never been drawn to observing the different Sabbats with big ceremonial style rituals; they remind me too much of the pomp and ceremony of the religion I have left behind. However, having said that, I do whole heartedly believe that small meaningful rituals, tailored to one’s own beliefs are extremely important. So even though you will not find me casting a circle or calling the elements before a ritual, I will take the time to centre myself and cleanse my sacred space. Creating an atmosphere that facilitates a shift from the mundane to the divine is crucial.

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This Autumn Equinox I have decided to create a personal gratitude ritual. I have no fancy tools, just objects that I have around the cottage or that I have found out in nature. These will be symbolising the abundance in my life right now and for the abundance yet to come. I have always used ritual ideas from the internet or from books, but this time I wanted to write something in my own words, something from the heart and I hope to carry on doing this from now on. (I believe that it is perfectly fine to use other people’s ideas, especially in the beginning when you are still gaining confidence). Here is my first attempt.

The Autumn sun faintly shimmers in the distance, holding court above the cool winds of the season. Cernunnos stands tall besides a mighty ancient oak, his breath making the falling leaves dance and twirl before they finally settle on the forest floor with their glowing shades of fire.
I see him watching me, the silent and powerful protector of the wild creatures. His lust for life is still radiating from the rich soil and I feel his free spirit all around me. The Horned One is now biding his time before he falls into a deep Winter slumber.
The last of the Autumn fruits and seeds have ripened and I can see the reflection of the Goddess shining down on me from the moon. Her lovely delicate hands have created an abundance of beauty all around me.
As the year wanes into darkness, she begins her metamorphosis into Crone. I watch her as she pauses on the threshold of fading light already deeply missing her consort.

This is when I take a moment to light a candle for the God and Goddess and reflect on my life and ask them to bless me with their wisdom and love. I also make an offering to them.

 Lord of the Harvest, bless these gifts as you bless me. Thank you for ………….(health, career etc)
 Lady of the Harvest, bless these gifts as you bless me. Thank you for ………….(family, home etc)
Blessed Mother and Gracious God, my love and devotion are yours. I am your child.

I now sit quietly with my eyes closed, listening for a possible message from the Divine. I then blow out the candles.

Thank you Lord and Lady for being present in my life. May my mind be fertile, may my actions be selfless and may my words be of healing to others.
I bid you both farewell.

I would love to hear how you hold ritual and whether it is something short and sweet like mine or whether you enjoy a big celebration to mark the turning of the year.

Many Blessings

Hazel

xxx

 

 

Celebrating The Autumn Equinox

Even though I absolutely adore Summer, I am secretly pleased that Autumn is well and truly here. The misty mornings, the glistening spider webs and the cooler days are just a few things that add a sprinkling of magic to this time of year. I can also hear Mother Nature whispering to me as she begins to prepare for her Winter slumber. The following are just a few ideas I hope will inspire you to get in the mood for Autumn.

  • Visit loved ones’ graves and decorate them. While this activity is more commonly seen at Samhain, this time of year is undoubtedly a celebration of endings as we watch birds migrate, flora die and fauna preparing for the long Winter months ahead.  Autumn time allows us to reflect on the meaning of death and its importance within the natural cycle.
  • It was traditional at this time of year to offer up the last harvest grains in thanks for the year’s abundance. This gesture reminds us that we cannot receive these gifts of food without Gaia’s intervention. Leave offerings of fruits, grains or berries in a field or under a tree, giving thanks for all the little things that we can so often take for granted.
  • Celebrate your own personal harvest. What have you sown and reaped this year? Celebrate your successes, your accomplishments and reflect on what you have done to enhance your life.
  • Connect to an ancient custom by making a rattle with natural materials like seeds, nuts and gourds. Rattles are traditionally used to ward off negativity, purify space and raise energy.
  • Autumn is a time when homes and gardens are cleaned and tidied. Give away what you no longer need so that you can begin this new phase with a clear mind.
  • Create your own hearth and home ritual. Perhaps a small ritual of thanks and gratitude in honour of the Mother and Crone Goddesses.
  • Think about planting bulbs for next Spring and offer libations to the trees.
  • Decorate your altar with spirals, pine cones, acorns, nuts, berries, corn dolls and Autumn wreaths.
  • Take a quiet moment to rest, reflect and rebalance. This is the time we re-enter the dark womb of the Goddess and begin to explore our inner selves. Plant the seeds of your dreams ready to spring forth next year.
  • Go for a walk in the woods and marvel at the smells and colours of this time of transition.
  • Make your own bird feeders.
  • Visit a farmer’s market, local farm or orchard.
  • Donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter.
  • Fill small baskets with fruit or nuts and pine cones to decorate your home with.
  • Make a charm from some hazelnuts and beads thread them onto a red thread and hang up for protection.
  • Create mobiles out of nuts, acorns, conkers, dried citrus slices, twigs and twine.
  • Wrap up warm and go for a walk along the beach.
  • Make some acorn bells. (Tutorial on Pinterest)
  • Make some walnut shell wishing candles. (Tutorial on Pinterest)
  • Create an Autumn leaf mandala.
  • Have or attend a bonfire. Dance, drum and sing.
  • Have a go at making your own apple cider or bake an apple pie or a loaf of bread.

Brightest Blessings

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

The Autumn Equinox

The Autumn Equinox also known as Harvest Home, Alban Elfed and Mabon is the second harvest celebration of the year and typically falls between 21st and 23rd September.

At this time of year night and day are briefly of equal length before we begin our descent into cooler temperatures and longer nights.  This was a very important time for our ancestors as it marked the end of the growing season when they would find themselves gathering the last of the wild berries and preparing their stores for the long Winter ahead.

There are many ancient sites in Britain that were built to mark the equinoxes, one being Hag’s Cairn at Loughcrew not far from Newgrange in Ireland. Filled with ancient carvings the passage tomb is filled with light, if the weather conditions are right, illuminating its beauty within.

Mabon was originally the name of an ancient Welsh sun God or hero whose story begins with him being stolen from his mother Modron at only 3 nights old. During his absence Modron’s sadness transforms the world into Winter, just as Demeter’s did when Persephone was taken to the underworld in Greek mythology (almost every ancient culture has their own version of this story). Modron is rescued years later during the Spring by King Arthur’s knights and the character Culhwch.

So what does Mabon have to do with the Autumn Equinox? Well, absolutely nothing. There is no evidence that our ancestors used this God’s name in any way, shape or form during this time of year. The term Mabon was originally used by the American Wiccan author Aiden Kelly who in his book called ‘Crafting the Art of Magic’ (revised title,’Inventing Witchcraft’) decided to rename some of the Sabbats. And since the 1970s the name has become popular throughout the Pagan community. Because I want my practice to be as authentically rooted as possible, I just simply use ‘Autumn Equinox’. Mabon when translated literally means, ‘son of the mother’.

Although the name ‘Mabon’ is quite modern, Autumn celebrations are genuinely ancient, as some of the ancient sites of Britian prove. The Venerable Bede, who was an Anglo Saxon monk , mentions in his writings in the early 700’s that September was a holy month in the Anglo Saxon Calendar when harvest time was celebrated and by the late 1500’s country folk were still celebrating Harvest Home. There was feasting, celebrations and games. This was a  well deserved rest from everyday life.

Some Pagan traditions remember the death of the sun God at this time and his journey into the Otherworld. Others confusingly recognize his death at Lughnasadh instead. However, everyone’s path is different, so don’t worry if your beliefs are not the same as other Pagans.

While the Goddess mourns the loss of her consort she grows tired as she prepares her transformation from mother to crone. She offers us her last fruits of the season so that we may be nourished throughout the dark months of inner reflection.

The Autumn Equinox is a time of great joy and great sorrow. After every death comes new life and we are all a part of this ever changing cycle. As the trees lose the weight of their dead leaves before their Winter slumber, so too can we lose our burdens, allowing us the freedom to go within and begin the inner work that permits us to plant the seeds of new growth.

Brightest Blessings

Hazel

xxx

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