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Original pattern and photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Autumn’s arrival means I have to prepare my garden for the colder temperatures. I realized that I had the same garden flag out since the Spring Equinox. I’ve grown fond of having a splash of color flying in my garden, but tulips and bees just won’t cut it for this time of year. Rather than buy something cheap and made in a factory, I decided to make something myself. I’m really proud of how it turned out, and wanted to share it with my readers!  What’s more, I decided to share my Goddess pattern in case you want to try making one yourself.

To make a flag, choose what fabric you’d like.  I used a stiff canvas for the background and some Autumn colored quilting fabric for the Goddess herself.  Trace the Goddess pattern onto the quilting fabric and cut out exactly.  For the flag, use the Goddess to determine the size and shape you’d like.  You can be fancy like myself, make a long triangle, or stick with a basic rectangle.  Cut two.  Pin the fabric Goddess, right side out, onto one of the flag pieces.  Applique stitch all the way around.  Pin the two flag sides together, right sides in, and stitch around all but the top edge.  Turn it right side out and iron.  Fold the top down, creating a wide enough entrance for your flagpole, and stitch.

Now you have a lovely, homemade flag to welcome the Autumn season!

If you make a flag using my Goddess pattern, I would love to see it.  I’m thinking about making another one winter, spring, and summer, since the Solstices and Equinoxes feel more about the Earth, Nature, and their changes.  For Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasadh, I see myself utilizing more cultural symbols.

Happy sewing, happy harvest, and blessed Autumn Equinox!

We had planned to attend the Central New York Pagan Pride Day today, but in what seems to be a continuation of a pattern I’m only starting to see, health issues got in the way of socializing with a wider group of Pagans.  Wellspring was thwarted by surgery; the Fairy and Earth festival cut short by extremely painful cramps; and now PPD is not happening for us because we all have colds.  I’ve been keeping mine controlled by drinking tea whenever possible, but my little one is fussier, and it’s a long day out in the cold wind with a miserable child.  If we lived closer, I would have gone on my own for an hour or so, but it’s so much driving, gas, and, as a result, money to commit for only a short time…  So I made the difficult decision to miss it for the second year in a row (last year Bee was still an infant and it was raining the entire time).  While it’s disappointing since I was looking forward to seeing old friends, attending a workshop on Manx folklore, the drum circle, and such, I now realize that I needed this day very much.  It’s been a very stressful, busy few weeks.  My spiritual life has been stymied by mental and sometimes physical exhaustion.  I hadn’t been to the forest in ages…

Green Ring Rock. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

So I changed that.  Sniffles be damned!  I went into the forest and reacquainted myself with the trees.  I’ve found that the old place I gravitated towards to make offerings no longer feels right.  It is too high traffic in some ways.  It’s too near the entrance to the forest.  Too convenient for others to access.  By others, I mean those who don’t understand what I’m doing and move stones, leave trash, or spray-paint the trees.  Most people view the forest as a sort of playground, not a sacred place, let alone a home to millions of other lives.  The old place needs healing and attention, but sometimes a Druid just wants to reconnect and feel at peace.

Look for the oaks… Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I felt called to the opposite end of the forest, so I let myself wander there.  I felt particularly drawn to the rocks and their lichens.  I noticed the fallen hickory and acorn shells.  Autumn is a wonderful time to learn about the tree population in the forest.  Prior to today, I hadn’t realized how many shagbark hickories are in the forest!

I found myself drawn to an oak tree.  I collected numerous acorn crafts for a project and then realized that I’d found a small grove of trees – the oak, an old hemlock, a hickory, and some maples.  They formed a near perfect circle.  The lyrics, “We approach the sacred grove,” left my lips and I found myself circling clockwise.  I made offerings and the wind rushed through my hair, filling me with joy.  I felt myself entranced by the swaying trees, especially the majestic maples towering above, already changing from green to golden and crimson.

I found a new quiet place to commune with the forest, and I left with a pocketful of acorn caps, and a handful of litter.  I feel reinvigorated and ready for the coming week.  I feel more connected to the land, to my Druidism, and to my spirit.  I think my nasal passages even felt a little clearer!   I miss seeing my friends and exploring other perspectives, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit the forest and be alone with my thoughts.  Today I was a proud Pagan in the woods.

Autumn Sunshine. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Early September Harvest

Early September harvest featuring hot peppers, a tomato, a cucumber, an eggplant, and apples from the backyard. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

I might not be able to fill my cupboards with food for the winter, but what I am able to grow and wildharvest really helps connect me to the land and the changing seasons. Thanks Nature Spirits! Thanks Mother Earth!

Our September Ritual

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The waterfall behind the Burrville cider mill. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

On Sunday, we took part in our yearly September ritual – visiting the Burrville Cider Mill for apples, cider, and apple cider donuts.  As always, we had to visit the beautiful waterfall in back.  The smell of the cider press and donuts was intoxicating!  And yes… we shared some of our donuts with Bee.  That either makes us the best parents or the worst…  I haven’t decided…

After that, since it was such a gorgeous day, we went to Sackets Harbor for a picnic near Lake Ontario. It was relaxing just to be there next to such a lovely body of water.  Another ADFer recently blogged about making pilgrimages to various Great Lakes; she refereed to them as “ladies of the lakes.” There’s certainly a lot of divine energy there.  Bee had fun visiting the different trees in the park.  We said hello to the ancestors at the battlefield monument.  We also met a lovely butterfly.  Summer lingers, but autumn is definitely coming into power.

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Lake Ontario as seen from he Sackets Harbor battlefield. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Cherry tomatoes from a past garden. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.

 

My toddler daughter is mastering walking (and running), and loves going outside to walk around my garden.  She’s also mastering her fine motor skills, which has made for some mildly stressful walks.  She’s seen me harvest enough food from the garden to understand that you can pick things and eat them.  Thankfully, she doesn’t put just anything in her mouth these days, but she knows that tomatoes are a good thing to pick and pop in your mouth.  As a result, several little green tomatoes have left the mother vine before their time.  It’s taken a lot of patience and modeling, but I think Bee is starting to understand that we want to pick the red tomatoes.  Any red tomatoes in her sight are hers – at least that’s what she thinks.  I try to pick as many as I can for our salads, but I make sure she can find one or two.  The pride on her face when she finds one is so heartwarming, and the grin that forms when she sucks in that delicious, fresh tomato juice …  I’ve always felt that it was a summer elixir, and it shows on her face.  It feels wonderful to know that she is developing an appreciation for homegrown food.  Seasonal foods play an important role in our holiday rituals, so this is a simple but important step to understanding and celebrating our relationship with the natural world.

The view from Wellesley Island, NY. Photo by Weretoad, 2014.

Like most people in America, I spent some time outdoors with my family this Labor Day weekend. We decided to explore one of the larger islands in the 1000 Islands – Wellesley Island. We chose to take a late afternoon hike on one of the shorter trails at the Minna Anthony Nature Center. We arrived shortly before the building closed, but we were able to take a quick peek at the butterfly house. There weren’t many butterflies in there, but we did enjoy what we saw. Honestly, the highlight for me was finally seeing a positively identified nettle in person. There’s a world of a difference between looking at field guides and live specimens. Now I have a better sense of what to look for when I go foraging again!

Since we had toddlers with us and none of us were dressed for a longer hike, we decided to take a short trail. You can lengthen your hike by continuing on to a lookout over Eel Bay, but we turned towards a dock*. All the while, the St. Lawrence River was just visible through the still green trees, it’s gentle waves hushing the chattering squirrels. There were several large oak trees near the path. We stopped to admire them – even hug them. I’ve been teaching Bee that trees are important Nature Spirits. We say hello to them, and I teach her their names as we do this. “Hello oak!” She always waves.

We were delighted at how quiet the dock was. Perhaps it was the time of day, or perhaps most people were busy swimming or having picnics. Had it only been myself, my husband, and daughter, I would have asked for some quiet time to meditate. It’s a great spot for just that. We put our feet in and caught some sun on our faces. Land, sea, and sky – an island is a great place to connect with the Three Realms.

Weretoad and I intend to return on our own in the future. We want to hike the longer trail to Eel Bay, and I would like to do some meditation. It’s a large state park, and there seem to be plenty of quiet areas where a Druid or even a very small group could go to meditate.

*We discovered afterwards that the dock is also accessible via an even shorter trail right behind the center itself.

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