Although there are folks that live areas of the country where a definite change in season is visible, even if you live in a desert, just about any leaf bearing tree will start to turn yellow and fall to the ground. As little trees as we have here in the southwestern desert, whenever I see that little golden carpet along the driveway, it takes me back to my childhood in Pennsylvania.
Autumn was always my favorite time of year. The air gets crisper, the nights get chilly. We have made it through the blazing heat of summer; it’s perfect hoodie weather without the freezing temperatures, or the gray hued days of winter.
Autumn Equinox is the time of the second harvest and the colors of the season burst on the scene. This is the time that crops are being stored for winter, and it is a time of giving thanks for your abundance.
Some things to do to celebrate the Equinox:
This is the time that we celebrate the light, and welcome the dark. There are so many things to do to celebrate, acknowledging, meditating, and thankfulness are just the beginning.
Wishing you all a wonderful harvest season. Blessed Be.
by Lady Nashoba
for our Autumn Equinox 2017 newsletter
Inner Circle Sanctuary, in addition to being a school of Wicca, is a religious institution which celebrates all the eight Sabbats, and honors ancient but living Deities of nature, fertility, and benevolence. In this piece we will discuss some of our practices, and those of other groups, particularly for the Autumn Equinox.
We consider Sabbats to be times of communion with the Gods, and harmonization with Nature, at the turning points of the “Wheel of the Years.” Our late High Priest, Lord Mordred, always said “Sabbats are the Gods’ time,” and so we never do spell work or initiations on Sabbat days. We do however, make offerings of food and drink, and ask boons of the Gods, in the form of a wish written on parchment, wrapped around a candle, and burnt in our sacred center fire.
As our theme for the Autumn Equinox is “Thanksgiving” we write what we are thankful for on our parchment, and wrap it around a silver candle. Silver candles are used as “Thank You Candles” in our Tradition. For what are you thankful this year?
You are thankful for something, yes? If nothing else, you are still alive. Chances are, if you are reading an article about Wicca, you are doing relatively well. Feeling fortunate, and giving thanks, are well known qualities of successful people. So burn a silver candle! Safely, of course. Or maybe you’re one of those people who believe you got here on your own, with no help from anyone, not luck or good fortune. You can burn a silver candle too; just make it a Penis shaped candle to reflect your personality…
We also play the “Candle Game” at Autumn Equinox, as described in “A Witches Bible Compleat” by Janet and Stewart Farrar. It is a very entertaining game for a group of adults to play- as long as you have a good sense of humor, and enjoy a lot of kissing, and being (lightly) scourged!
If you don’t, by the way, we are definitely not the coven for you…
While we use the proper term for the time, Autumn Equinox, we also refer to the Sabbat as Mabon. A well known pagan author, Aidan Kelly, began referring to the Sabbat as Mabon around 1970, according to Wikipedia. We love the modernity of Wicca and Neo-Paganism! Especially when they are culled from ancient roots, as the name Mabon is.
Mabon, a character from Welsh mythology, was son of Modron, whose name probably means “Great Mother.” Her name is one of the names we add to the Introduction to the Charge of the Goddess for this Sabbat.
Here in Southern Nevada, the Fire of Summer is hopefully cooled by the Water of Autumn by the time we head outdoors to perform our Sabbat. Our Sabbats are grand events, and the set up can be quite taxing, especially when the temperature is in the triple digits.
Although Sol enters the sign of Libra around this time, an Air sign, we relate Fall to the element of Water, as it is the Dusk of the year.
As we are a Nature based religion, we relate most to the Harvest aspects of this time of year, Mabon being the middle of three Harvest Sabbats; the first being Lughnassadh, and the last, Samhain. Other groups and traditions mark this Solar tide in their own way, with their own focus.
Note that Inner Circle Sanctuary rarely uses the terms “Greater” and “Lesser” when referring to Sabbats. We consider each spoke of the Wheel of the Years to be equal, and necessary, as they indicate varying levels or aspects of fertility.
The eight divisions of the year can all be considered marked by the Sun, as the Equinoxes and Solstices are real, objective events that easily divide the year, and the Cross Quarter Days, the more Terrestrial Sabbats, are approximately midway between the Solar Sabbats. It is this relationship of Sol to Terra that gives us obvious occasions to celebrate Nature!
Why are Equinoxes so powerful to those of us who believe such things? I liken it to a two cylinder engine, preferably a V-Twin. At the Solstices, one cylinder is diminished- Day overtaking Night at the Summer Solstice, and Night absorbing Day at the Winter Solstice. At the Equinoxes, both cylinders are firing equally- that’s a lot of magical torque!
Let’s examine how some other magical groups observe the Equinox.
The Ordo Aurum Solis (Order of the Gold of the Sun) performs Affirmation Rituals in its Houses of Initiates. These rituals theugically reinforce (affirm) cohesion within the Houses, their attachment to the Order, and to the Egregore of the Order as a whole.
The Sacred Order of Sophisians, a Napoleonic Era rite of Egyptian Free Masonry, holds a simple celebration for the Autumn Equinox, probably as a foreshadow of celebrating the Resurrection of the God Osiris at the Spring Equinox. The Sacred Order of Sophisians is open to women as well as men, which makes it of particular interest to Pagans, Polytheists, and lovers of Ancient Egypt.
The Golden Dawn observes this potent time with grand ceremonies as found in “The Golden Dawn” by Israel Regardie, and “The Equinox and Solstice Ceremonies of the Golden Dawn” by Pat and Chris Zalewski. The latter book contains a version of the ritual for use by a lone practitioner, so anyone can tap in to the magick of the Equinox. These Equinox ceremonies (Autumn and Spring) include installation of Lodge Officers, and the use of a new password.
Aleister Crowley published a very usable, stripped down version of the Golden Dawn Equinox ceremony in his 1936 work 'The Equinox of the Gods.'
Tarostar, a famous author of many great books of Magick and Witchcraft (several of which are used in
ICS curricula), refers to Equinoxes and Solstices as “the Times,” and their celebrations as Celestial Sabbats in his book “The Sacred Pentagraph.” There are introspective questions asked and meditated on during the Autumn Equinox ritual, and annual dues are collected.
How will you celebrate Mabon? Whether you are a
Solitary Practitioner, or part of a group or coven, observing this powerful time of the year with joy and reverence will join you to a large community of magical people, and harmonize you with Nature, and energize your Spirit. May Frith and good seasons go with you!
by Lord Tanys
for our Autumn Equinox 2017 newsletter
Demeter is the daughter of the titans Kronos and Rhea, and sister to the Olympian deities. The name Demeter comes from de, which is a derivative of the Cretan word dêai, meaning barley, and the word meter which means mother. De could also come from the Greek word da which means earth. Whichever etymology you choose to believe, it means the same thing. Demeter is the earth mother. In the Roman pantheon, she is called Ceres, which gives us the word cereal. She is the goddess of grain and barley. Demeter’s influence was not limited to just grain, but extended to vegetation and fruits in general, and thus fertility. Women, especially, revere Demeter for her attributes of health, birth, and marriage. Demeter taught mankind about agriculture. Through agriculture, cities were created. With cities came law and order. Because of this, she was also thought to be a goddess of justice.
As a mother goddess, Demeter is usually depicted as a mature woman with a chaplet of corn bearing a cornucopia and a torch. Her festivals take place during the harvest season and the first corn was always given to her as an offering. Her symbol is the bright red poppy, which commonly grows among the wheat fields. To ensure the fertility of the crops, pigs were often sacrificed to the goddess. Animals that are sacred to Demeter are pigs, serpents or geckos, and bees.
Perhaps the most well-known story surrounding Demeter is the abduction of Persephone by Hades. In short, Hades, the God of the Underworld, fell in love with Persephone, Demeter’s daughter. Demeter was so heartbroken with grief that she would not allow the earth to bear fruit until she was reunited with her daughter. Fearing that mankind would starve to death, Zeus intervened and told Hades to return Persephone to her mother. However, while in the Underworld, Persephone ate some pomegranate seeds and was bound to spend a third of the year below the earth as Queen of the Underworld and wife to Hades. This myth corresponds to the cycle of the seasons and helps to explain why the earth is barren during the winter months while Persephone resides in the underworld. When Persephone returns to the world and to her mother, she brings the spring and fruitfulness of the earth with her.
Persephone and Demeter are often referred to as one in the same goddess. Persephone would be the maiden form of the earth goddess, Demeter herself would be the mother aspect, and often, Hecate is considered to be the crone aspect of this triple goddess form. This idea of the goddess undergoing a change in herself to correlate with the seasons is one of the Eleusinian Mysteries so often associated with Demeter. The Eleusinian Mysteries are some of the oldest and most famous of the secret rites of ancient Greece. Initiates into the Mysteries would reenact the loss of Persephone to the Underworld, Demeter’s search for her daughter, and finally the ascent of Persephone back to the world. Through this reenactment of symbolic death and rebirth, the initiates would learn that all life springs forth from the generations that came before.
During these modern times, we certainly aren’t going to sacrifice a pig to honor the goddess. Most of us probably don’t have a corn harvest either. If you would like to make an offering to Demeter during her harvest season, you could make corn muffins and share them with the goddess. You could also bake cookies in the shape of any of her sacred animals and share them with friends and family, and of course, the goddess. You could gather some of the best looking fall vegetables you can find and make a nice barley and vegetable stew. Have some friends over and share your stew with the goddess. Leave a seat at the head of the table for her to enjoy the stew with you. The best ways to commune with the gods and to make offerings is just to share your time and effort with them. After all, Demeter is the mother goddess. Don’t you want to spend time with your mother?
by Lady Anwyn
for our Autumn Equinox 2017 newsletter
Sources: The Witches’ Goddess by Janet and Stewart Farrar
The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan
Throughout high school I volunteered on a regular basis at our local senior center. I will always distinctly remember two people; a woman who would tell me the same stories over and over as we looked through her albums, and a sharp-witted man who was a retired fire fighter and proud Freemason. For a while I aspired to be a geriatric nurse, until I experienced the heartache that comes when they pass on. Seeing lonely seniors whose children never visited them was a hard lesson to learn about how our Western culture commonly discards parents.
After my own Mother passed, my Father remarried a Chinese woman and she educated me about how Eastern culture puts so much emphasis on caring for parents it is now the law in China!
Beyond the daily care of our aging parents, how can we do better as a culture to celebrate our elderly? Here are a few ideas:
As the saying goes, “Age before beauty,” proper etiquette dictates that the eldest female is given priority in these circumstances:
(I cite no sources for this as I was a “Manners Instructor” at a finishing school for girls. I also graduated from one as a child. These are American rules. Every country & culture differs.)
These are more ways to celebrate our elders:
Consider this, if you believe in the concept of reincarnation, then we are possibly the older souls who came after them and we are caring for them now as our spiritual children from past lives. Even if you extend compassion and kindness to an unrelated elder, you never know when your souls may cross paths again in future lifetimes.
by Lady Adalynne
for our Autumn Equinox 2017 newsletter
The Inner Circle Sanctuary is a school for traditional style Wicca and holds eight sabbat festivals every year.