Archive for the ‘Autumn Equinox’ Category

The Autumn Equinox is a harvest holiday that is also known as Mabon to many Pagans (Ellison 187).  It is generally celebrated around the actual equinox date, usually September 21st.  Although it was not an especially important time to the ancient Celts, there are traditions throughout the British Isles and Ireland.  According to Mara Freeman, there was a special ceremony surrounding the cutting of the last sheaf.  This was then transformed into a female doll that could represent any number of things, from the Cailleach to a young Goddess, depending on the region.  It would then be hung in a barn, home, or saved for Imbolc festivities (Freeman, 260).

Mabon is also a time of year for feasting and food preparation as people prepare for the winter months.   Specific foods, such as corn and nuts, are being harvested, and wine making is especially important (Ellison 188).

In many ways, this holiday seems like a Pagan version of Thanksgiving without the convoluted history between Europeans and Native Americans.  In years past, I didn’t anticipate it as wholly as Samhain or Winter Solstice.  In fact, I rarely thought much about it on the actual holiday.  Yet now that I’ve read more about the Autumn Equinox it makes more sense to me than the American Thanksgiving which seems more about the beginning of the Christmas season now than celebrating the bounty of the earth.  Mabon’s purpose, it seems, is to remind Pagans to stop, think about where their food comes from, and thank the Earth Mother.


How I Celebrated in 2007


Once again, I joined the members of Muin Mound to celebrate a holiday.  This particular holiday, the Autumn Equinox, has never attracted me in the way that others have, but it is important to celebrate the end of the harvest and the preparation for colder times.

The ritual was lead by the senior Druid, Dennis.  This is the second ritual I’ve seen him lead.  I’ve found him to be very humble and he never seems as if he is on a power trip.  He always organizes the rituals quite well.  He knows the structure and he encouragingly helps to remind people when it’s their turn to present an offering or call to a particular spirit or kindred.

The patrons of the rite were the Welsh Mabon and Madron, Mabon’s mother.  I know very little about them as I work with Irish deities, so it was very interesting to learn.  The gatekeeper was Manannan Mac Lir.  I stumbled my way through some of the chants, but I’m starting to form a firm grasp on the ritual format, the chants Muin Mound uses, and the appropriate responses during the rite.  I’m becoming confident!  I did, however, forget to bring a sacrifice.  I felt bad, but recalled that I had already made an offering to my shrine earlier in the day.  I didn’t do anything of note in the ritual except participate in the toast and boast.

I cannot remember the exact omens drawn.  I know Dennis used runes and that the overall message was that we need to contribute to the whole community, not just to the grove or even just the Pagan community.  It was a good omen and something I believe we need to do more of.

Whenever I’m at Muin Mound, I definitely feel the presence of nature spirits.  They seem to love the grove.  I feel the Gods and ancestors as well, but the nature spirits really make themselves known.  The deity I felt most was Brighid, and I also sensed the Dagda.  I felt Brighid standing mostly to my right, and the Dagda to my left.  Brighid urged me to keep an eye on a little boy as he played dangerously close to the fire.  She would have been upset with me if I let him hurt himself.


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Busy Busy

Life has been so busy recently.  Since Pagan Pride Day, I feel like my schedule has been full of non-stop action.  Work, two equinox celebrations, Pagan meetings, more work, car hunting, grocery shopping, cleaning, pot lucks, Dungeons and Dragons …  I feel like, even when I have a spare moment, I don’t have the energy for artistry or meditation.  I still do my devotional every evening, though, and that helps keep me connected.  Last weekend saw me at Muin Mound for the Equinox ritual, and that counted as my weekly formal rite.  This weekend I will make time for another on my own and I’m thinking about using it to meditate.  I really need to stop and do nothing  but focus on my breath.

The lack of art depresses me.  I bought some materials to use for wildcrafting and sewing – I just have to have the time and energy.  I’m also trying to decide what I want to do for a Samhain costume.  Muin Mound is having a contest and, while I have no particular need to win, I think it’s a wonderful excuse to make a new outfit.  I’m thinking about being a fairy.  It’s not particularly original, but I want something whimsical and nice enough to wear to work.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Last night, I celebrated the Autumn Equinox with my grove.  I had a lovely time and, as always, am grateful to the grove organizer and his wife for their hospitality.  Every time I go I feel closer to my grovies.    It feels more and more like family.

We started off harvesting some grape vines for wreathes.  This was the first time I ever made a wreath so it was a fun learning experience.  My mum used to make them with vines from our forest; she made it look so easy and, while I suppose it really is, I think I was a bit too anal about it.  The plan is for the wreathes to dry until Imbolc, when we’ll make “wheel of the year” wreathes for our homes.  We must find representations for each high day to attach to our wreath.  As the wheel turns, so will our wreathes so that the top of it will correspond to the high day we celebrate.  I think it’s a lovely idea and can’t wait to finish mine!

I also collected some vine for magical purposes.  Skip and I talked a bit about ogham.  He suggested that I make mine out of disks or else I could subconsciously choose the omen I want based on the feel of individual tree staves.  He gave me a thick piece of vine that I can saw into disks.  Doing this may mean that the energy of the individual trees represented in the ogham wouldn’t be as strong in my set, but using a vine/muin to make them would strengthen my connection to my spiritual family of Muin Mound Grove.  I think it’s fitting.  I can still use the rowan and oak ogham staves I made for charms.  Rowan, or luis, is especially good for protection magic whereas oak, or dair, helps with strength and wisdom.

The business meeting was productive.  I took over the secretarial duties and once more volunteered to help with the website.  This basically means I need to get a web editing tool such as Dreamweaver.  My occupation allows me to get a pretty hefty discount on the software so I wouldn’t really mind.  I think of it as a good investment towards my own websites and as a sacrifice to the grove.  I’m excited to help out and hope I can meet everyone’s expectations.

This ritual was the first since Imbolc that started after the sun set.  The year is growing older and the days have become shorter.  It was chilly and it felt nice to stand around the fire.  The mosquitos were noticeably absent.  The moon smiled down on our rite.

I’m already excited for Samhain!

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Yesterday I talked about what the Autumn Equinox means to me.  Now I’m going to share with you some of what I’ve been doing to celebrate it!

I’ve started to collect twigs from specific trees to create small ogham staves.  So far I’ve started luis/rowan and dair/oak.  I’m proud of them so far!  Here they are with some festive mini pumpkin gourds.
Some of the last summer flowers cut, bound, and ready to offer at a gathering I attended last night.  They turned into the table centerpiece!  
My personal altar with an autumn-colored altar cloth and harvest offerings.
Here’s a closeup of the cornhusk doll I made.  She’s probably the third one I’ve ever finished so…  she’s not as impressive as some others out there!  I’m proud of her all the same.  I actually grew the corn that she’s made out of!  Granted, because only two spouted and were grown in containers, they didn’t produce large ears.  Still, I was able to grow my own offering and autumn decor (the stalks have been cut and tied to an iron post outside).  This dolly is going to be part of the main offering at Muin Mound Grove tomorrow.  Everyone was encouraged to make a corn dolly to place in the fire.
More harvest offerings!  Everything except the gourds were from my own garden.  I included the tiny ears of corn.  Behind all the flowers, fruit, and vegetables is a harvest Earth Mother doll I crocheted.  She’s my planned personal offering for the big ritual tomorrow.
I’m looking forward to seeing my grovies tomorrow and celebrating the harvest.  On the actual Equinox I  went to Better Farm for a potluck dinner, casual “ritual,” and bonfire!  What an amazing place!  I met so many wonderful people.  Everyone was so hospitable.  Sharing a meal with local gardeners, artisans, and free-thinkers; listening to a fiddler and guitarist tweak out an acoustic “Knocking on Heaven’s Door;” standing in a candlelit barn; and sitting around a smokey fire while crying “I hate rabbits!” every time the smoke hit my eyes – now that was a great way to spend the Equinox!  

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Autumnal Equinox

I’m trying to be more mindful of the moon’s cycles.  The past few months have found me more observant than ever before, and I thank my friend Imagickat for inspiring that. While checking the calendar a few weeks ago, I noticed that there was to be a full moon on the Autumnal Equinox.  It seemed like a very auspicious occurrence!  While there is little evidence that the equinox specifically was very important to the ancient Irish, there are numerous harvest traditions that anyone following a Celtic-inspired/Celtic Reconstructionist/or Druidic path can incorporate into their rituals, such as the sacrifice of corn to harvest deities.  While Samhain was viewed as the beginning of the winter season and the dark half of the year, the equinox could be viewed as a last hurrah for the light half.  I find it interesting that the full moon should occur on this day.  It seems symbolic of the coming waning of the earth’s green, productive period.

There’s a lot of change in the air.  The trees are changing, the mosquito population has decreased a bit, and the nights are chilly.  I’ve heard the travel songs of the geese on their way to warmer places.  Some of the plants on my patio have begun to die (I took several others inside ).  It is easy to observe the Nature Spirits change.  But what about us?

My vacation was over a few weeks ago, but it is only now that I’m getting back into the routine.  I’m busier and will only get more so as we approach Samhain and Winter Solstice.  I also notice myself being more social, especially with new people, in my new home of Northern NY.  The summer days of wide-spread, outdoor fun in the sun and day trips is over; here come the days of hearth fires, warm dinners, movie nights, and storytelling.  Here come the days of cold and, eventually, ice.  In other words, here come the times when we stay closer to home more often.

I always welcome Autumn.  It’s my favorite season.  I can sense the energy – the magic – in the air.  The world is dying and yet there is so much potential for rebirth.  The veil is thinning and the Otherworld calls.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Sorry for the lack of “Magically Mundane Monday” yesterday!  I have ideas for more posts in that series but life has been busy these past few days.  This week will also be very busy due to the Equinox and, well, work.

Expect a post about the Autumn Equinox later this week.  🙂

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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