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.