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
Autumn Equinox 2016
Despite several hiccups this ritual, the sabbat was beautiful. The energy conveyed by the High Priestess and High Priest sustained throughout despite two rounds of dancing and chanting in the thinness of the high mountain air.
Our group follows the strict rule that once a ring is erected, it should never be broken, or the High Priestess or High Priest must recast it to put us again, in that place that is not a place and in that time that is not a time. When it does happen, the energy of the group can skitter about the area and throw everyone off of their game, sometimes dissolving the ritual space into one of unfocused haphazard emotions. It takes a strong High Priestess and High Priest to steer the course. If the invocations of the Goddess and God were applied correctly, it is rare that this discombobulation occurs. The Goddess, channeled by Lady Sive, took strength and grace with her as she recast the ring and the frenzied energies were quickly dissipated. The God, as channeled through Lord Rand, lent all his strength to support to Her and the remainder of the ritual went off without a hitch.
Whether it was the two separate dances or the need to recast the ring, or perhaps both, it seemed to energize the Goddess thoroughly for it compelled the chopping of the harvest vegetables with much zeal and glee, which was shared by all. Delightful rings of laughter drifted to the trees.
After the ring, we played a round of the Candle Game... something I personally, hadn't done in a long, long time... Whee!! So, SO much fun. Thank you to our guests for participating, as well.
We gather with the Gods eight times a year at these celebrations and never know what to expect when they grace us with their company. One thing we know for sure is that they will bring out the very best in us and if that is not something beautiful to be grateful for, then I don't know what is.
In Las Vegas the EQUINOX is at September 22 Sat 6:54 PM PT
The EQUILUX occurs on Sep 26 - Wednesday ALL DAY with midday at 12:31 PM PT
In Las Vegas the EQUINOX is at Sep 22 7:21 AM PDT
The Equilux occurs on Sep 25 - ALL DAY with midday at 12:32 PM
The equinox is not really when the day and night are equal. We know that "equinox" derives from the Latin: aequinoctium - "aequi" or "equi" + noct (nox) or night or "equal night"... but No, not equal by a few minutes of the day
At the precise moment of the equinox there are three things happening:
1.) the sun is at zenith over the equator
2.) where the sun rises, it does so exactly in the east and where it sets it does so exactly in the west and
3.) both northern & southern hemispheres are EQUALLY illuminated on the side of the planet that the sun is shining on.
For us, here in Las Vegas, the EXACT moment of the equinox happened at 1:22 AM, earlier today. That's it. That one precise moment in time at 1:22 AM was the equinox.
Here in Las Vegas, dawn was at 6:29 AM and sunset was at 6:36 PM; giving us 12 hours and 6 minutes of daylight. Not equal. (But it's only six minutes... you can't forgive 6 minutes?!) No.
There are two reasons for this inequality: First, the sun is not a point in the sky. It is a disk. The apparent size of the sun (it's BIG & CLOSE) matters. Second, the atmospheric refraction of the sunlight in relation to the ltitude of your loction. The erth's atmosphere bends the light adding or subtracting how much actual daylight you have. Check this site for a more thorough explanationL Day and night exactly equal at equinoxes? By Bruce McClure)
Somewhere in the early 2000's, someone (probably my soul twin), usurped the word "Equilux" to mean 'equal day and night'... taken from a lighting term meaning 'equal illumination' or 'equal light'.
The equilux for Las Vegas will occur on September 26.... and guess what? It's the whole day!
But despite that most don't exactly know the astronomical details, the Autumnal Equinox is a time to give "Thanks" for the success of our harvests, whether literal or metaphorically, and to prepare and look to the future return of that bounty.
We pay respects to the coming forces of night and Winter and learn from them as we ourselves prepare for the dark season ahead. The night starts waxing and the day begins waning and we are reminded that nothing ever remains without change.
The Inner Circle Sanctuary celebrates all these aspects of the Autumn Equinox in it's ritual. We honor the Old Ones and pay respects to our ancestors by doing as they did in this season; by giving offerings from the harvest back to Mother Earth and to mark the season.
We hope your Autumnal Equinox was filled with love, laughter, family, and friendship... and a deep and loving connection with all that envelops us.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150922-equinox-autumn-seasons-sun-moon-space-science/ >> Great movie here 2:44 min
Why aren't there exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness on the fall equinox? http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-fall-autumnal-equinox
Day and night exactly equal at equinoxes? By Bruce McClure http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/why-arent-day-and-night-equal-on-the-day-of-the-equinox
The Witches Bible by Janet and Stewart Farrar
ICS Sabbat packet
Autumn Equinox / Mabon Sabbat 2015
High Priestess: Lady Grayce High Priest: Lord Lyghtbrynger
Lots of people we haven't seen for a while... Welcome back to all of them. We missed Our Lady Morgana but she was in our thoughts throughout. New students abounded and quickly proved their worth with their aptitude, energy, and willingness to do just about...... well, everything. The night was beautiful and the company even better!
The Inner Circle Sanctuary is a school for traditional style Wicca and holds eight sabbat festivals every year.