A Blessed Autumn Equinox to you!
The season is changing Wise Women, and fall is officially beginning on Monday September 23rd. I wanted to get some celebration ideas out to you a few days early so you can plan accordingly.
This is my favorite time of year. I have always loved Autumn above all the other seasons. There is something about the smell of the air, the shift in energy from outward to moving inward, the shorter days and longer nights…all of it is just pure bliss for me. Some refer to this season as the season of the Witch. To me, this is the season of coming home, literally, as in spending more time indoors and cozy, and also coming home to myself. Just as the earth begins to slowly turn her energy inward as the crops begin to die down, so too does my own energy turn inward and I become more reflective.
The Autumn equinox, like the spring equinox is a day of balance. Equal parts day and night create a sense of in betweenness. That moment before the energies shift, and, in this case, the darker part of the year begins in full. Between now and Winter Solstice we will be feeling the longer nights and shorter days.
The equinox is the second of three harvest festivals on the wheel of the year. The first was Lammas and the next will be Samhain (which is also so much more than a harvest festival).
The Autumn Equinox is often referred to as Mabon. However, this is not an ancient name for this festival. Instead it was a name given to it by Aiden Kelly a Wiccan follower on or around 1970 and refers to the name of a God in Welsh mythology.
I find that for myself, my thoughts turn to Persephone at this time of year, as in her story this is when she is making her descent into the underworld to rule below until Spring comes again.
Both the story of Mabon and Persephone are easy to find if you want to learn more.
This turning of the wheel is often a harvest associated with apples. I know in Northern California many of the apple trees have already shed their fruits, while other varieties are heavily weighted by their harvest. The apple is often referred to as the fruit of life. It holds a place in the creation story in the bible and has found its way into other stories over time (think, Snow White and the poison apple). The apple holds at its center the symbol of a star. The pattern inside a cut apple is a five pointed star. (A pentacle). This is a symbol given the meaning of all the elements and spirit too with each point representing one of these.
Some ritual and celebration ideas to use apples for include:
1. Make apple dolls-peel an apple and carve a face into it. Stick it on a dowel and allow it to dry. As it shrivels its feature will come even more into being. You can dress this doll and set it on your altar as a symbol of the harvest and nourishment to carry you through the winter. It is also a symbol if the cycle of life as this “doll” begins as fresh full fruit and slowly withers. Eventually in Spring your doll can make it’s way back to the earth to nurture the soil and help begin the growth cycle again.
2. Create apple candle holders. Carve out the center of an apple to make space for a votive candle to reside. This can be a fun craft project (especially with kiddos) or you can turn this into a ritual by carving the candle holders with the intention of lighting your way through the dark seasons and having enough harvest to carry you through the months the earth is quiet.
Because this is also a celebration of balance and harvest, here are some additional ways to celebrate.
1. Have a harvest feast. I think I mentioned this at Lammas as well, but now there is even more to harvest and what better way to celebrate than to gather your friends and/or family and to share in this bounty. You can think of this as the Witches thanksgiving and be sure to offer gratitude for all we are gifted (food and otherwise).
There are some great songs for giving thanks and for honoring the harvest. You can look these up on YouTube if you need ideas. Singing together is a really lovely way to connect.
2. Get crafty- Why not craft your own broom? This can be looked at as a tool of balance representing both masculine and feminine energies. It can be crafted by found items.
3. To play with the idea of balance you might also make a nature mandala. You can do this on your own by gathering items from the land (or your garden) and then creating a mandala out of these items. It is also a fun activity to do in a group, with people moving into the center and placing items as they feel so called. When doing this with a group you might ask everyone to bring items from their yards or gardens to co-create this mandala with the shared energy of everyone’s home spaces. Alternatively, you might choose to go for a hike together choosing items along the way. Remember all items must be earth based as the idea is to create it and then allow it to go back to the earth.
4. Make medicine- Each year at the equinox my circle makes a collective batch of fire cider to help us sustain health through the winter months. I made my own batch last year too in order to have a little extra on hand for the cold and flu season. Fire cider is an apple cider vinegar based medicine with immune boosting properties. This is Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe. There are many variations on this recipe so if this one isn't to your liking, I encourage you to explore and find one that sounds just right for you!
Happy Autumnal Equinox Wise Women! May your harvests carry you through the dark months.
Each mark on my body is a story. Each intentional one, a spell. A moment etched into my skin of an emotion, a promise and intention.
I hadn’t thought of it this way before. I didn’t know the magic I was delving into each time I invited a needle and ink into my flesh. And yet I did. This is a ritual that lives in our DNA. Our scars are part of our story. Whether intentional or otherwise.
My stretch marks tell the story of my growth, of my own up and down relationship with food and exercise and wellness. The scar on my chin is a reminder of that time I fell on my face in class and bled all over my new dress in the second grade. The white lines that run across my forearm are a tale of my teenage angst and heartbreak. While the one on my knee is a reminder of all the falls I took training for half marathons and that somehow I always manage to land on my left side.
Then there are the tattoos. The peace sign that lives on my hand. That came into being when I was 14 with a needle, thread, india ink, some marijuana and an idealistic mind that the world could be saved with peace and love. If we could all just figure out how to get along. That story was etched in a haze at the downtown square by a friend I considered close to my heart yet knew not at all.
The Celtic knot on my ankle that I wore the symbol of for a year before getting it. A shout out to my Celtic heritage and a welcoming in of fertility and eternity into my soul. The Celtic band that surrounds it came later as I wandered the streets of London, freshly graduated from college. And somewhere just before that London wandering, in that strange surreal space of time, hungover from celebrating my graduation, I chose to add a Chinese symbol for friendship on my shoulder. Matching tattoos and locations with my dear, dear friend, one who knew me as only one who spends countless hours creating our lives over coffees and bottles of wine and pizza box poetry could. A symbol that holds the story of our many transits around the sun as we birthed ourselves into who we wanted to become.
Years passed. New scars emerged. The kind you can not see. The ones born of loss and struggle. The lines, that like scars will not fade, that mark my face and tell the story of my emotional landscape.
And still more intentions were brought into being. A triple moon, a bond in my skin, linking me to one of my (circle and soul) sisters. A reminder of our intertwining stories, from before this life and into all the future ones we will share.
Then came death. My father’s death shook me and the snake came to visit me and soon I knew this being must have a place on my body too. This was a story that needed to be imbedded. This was a spell of remembrance that called to be cast. I answered the call and the moon cycles and snake messenger brought balance to my ankles. Creating a new sense of groundedness. Matching bands tying me to the earth with the weight of their stories. Completely different stories but living in the same book.
This year brought the gift of a feather and star pressed into my forearm. A tale told of two friendships that bled into three. One spanning 30+ years of my life the other the past decade, and their friendship born from the tendrils of my connections with each of them and location. This feather is a connection across the miles, linking me to these women in the pacific northwest.
And finally the Mule deer and my most sacred Mamma cat came into being. A glorious piece of art on my upper arm from a tattoo artist who told me the story of tattoo as spell and offered me tarot cards from her altar. A most amazing artist who exchanged stories with me about the power and medicine of cat’s as she etched a tale into my skin of grief, loss, love, remembrance and belonging.
Our scars are our spells. They are both the intention made manifest and story of who we are.
What is the story etched into your skin Wise Woman?