We finally made it! It’s officially autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere and time to celebrate the second of three harvest festivals. I usually extend my celebrations from September 22 – 24 each year. You know, just because I love it so much.
In ancient times, this was the period where collecting food for the winter really began in earnest. Communities worked together to stock up the storehouses, make any repairs to homes, barns, or fences, and go out for the hunting season. It was a time of diligent preparation – to be lazy now was to doom yourself later.
Thankfully in modern times, we have the privilege of standing atop our ancestors’ shoulders – all of their hard work ensured we are here today – and we don’t have to worry much about preparing ourselves for the winter. Food is readily available for most people, but not always – if you are in a situation where you can easily nourish yourself, be grateful. If you find yourself in the opposite situation, there is help available – please scroll down to the bottom of this post for local (northwest Indiana) food assistance.
So, with most of our physical needs cared for at this time, what can we focus on during the harvest season?
Think back to the very beginning of the year. Depending on who you are, that either means in January or in my case, February (I like to start my new year with Imbolc, the return of the light.) What intentions did you set? I don’t like using the word resolution because it implies that there was a problem that needed to be resolved. We aren’t problems, and neither are our lives. We can certainly make new intentions though, and choices.
In the pagan view of the year, we set our intentions in early spring and spend the summer tending our gardens, so to speak. The solar energies give us an extra push of motivation and drive and action for us to really go and complete what we set out to do. When the autumn equinox hits, things start to slow down. The temperatures begin to drop. We find ourselves curling up and in, without much desire to leave our nests. We are following the cues of nature. Intentions and projects begin to fall to the wayside. This is all part of the cycle.
I imagine that you’ve achieved quite a few things up until now, either intentions that you had planned, or even happy surprises. But there are probably others that just didn’t come to fruition. There’s no need to shame or blame. It may not have been the right time. It may not have furthered you on your path. That’s okay.
During this autumn equinox, this period of balance, it’s time to put your intentions on the scales. Which ones will you bring inside to nurture through the winter? Which ones are ready to be laid to rest and returned to the earth at Samhain (Halloween)?
Personally, when I sit down at my altar on this equinox, I tend to make lists. What intentions do I still want to work on? Which ones am I ready to let go of? What am I ready to release internally, whether that be an emotion, an old thought process, or just general negativity?
Take an internal inventory, too. How are you feeling? What do you need in your daily routine now that the weather is changing? I have a great guide for shifting into autumn, routine-wise, that promotes balance in your body with the season here.
And finally, I always make it a point to either write a list of gratitude or meditate on the things I’m grateful for. ‘Tis the season, you know? Really though. I know my ancestors thanked the gods every day during this time if they were hauling huge bounties from their fields or hunts. They were taken care of, they were grateful.
I have so much to be grateful for, too, and I thank the gods often. I always have access to food. I have a comfortable, little house of my own. I have a really nice, safe vehicle to get around in. I have the means to take care of all my animals who bring me joy. I have an incredibly flexible, creative job where I set my own schedule, for the most part. I have a loving partner who takes care of me and keeps me consistently entertained. I have a family who accepts my different…well, everything (instead of the black sheep, I’ve been coined the ‘red’ sheep) and they love me anyway. I have a very close connection with one of my spirit guides that I’m thankful for every day, because it allows me to have one ear in the otherworld, and one in well, this one. And even on my worst days, when I lay down in my bed and look up at my string lights, I’m thankful for my soft bed and quiet space.
Through my 10+ years of being on this path, my rituals and practices for the high holidays have become much less structured. I believe that this is just the natural outcome of shifting away from the newbie phase – through time, you collect so many practices and tools that you don’t need to plan much anymore, you just do. But I remember what it was like as a beginner. I wanted to be told what I needed, when I should do it, and how it should be done. I’m hoping to get a post together soon that outlines the bare basics of ritual, a fill-in-the-blank if you will. But remember, don’t ever get bogged down by your mind – do what feels right, and don’t question it. Below are some things that fit the ‘theme’ of Mabon.
Mabon | Fallfeast | Autumn Equinox Correspondences
Symbolism: harvest, prosperity, abundance, giving, kinship, protection, gratitude, shifting, balance
Symbols: apples, acorns, wine, pine cones, gourds, grapes, grains, dried seeds and leaves, vines, horns, scythes, sickles, squash
Colors: red, maroon, gold, orange, brown, yellow, purple, violet, indigo
Food & Drink: apples, dried fruits, nuts, squash, soups, stews, pomegranates, breads, grains, seeds, potatoes, carrots, onions, wine, grapes, cornbread, beans, meat, ale, cider
Herbs/Oils: fern, honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, myrrh, pine, rose, sage, tobacco, thistle, wheat, barley, oats, aster, mums, oak, hops, cedar.
Gods/Goddesses: Thor, Sif, Morgan, Epona, Persephone, Thoth, The Green Man, Demeter/Ceres, the Muses, Bacchus, Dionysus
Crystals/Gemstones: black obsidian, honey calcite, garnet, carnelian, citrine, brown aragonite, golden tiger’s eye, polychrome jasper, red goldstone, yellow fluorite
Animals: dog, wolf, goat, stag, blackbird, owl, raven, crow
Magic: home and hearth magic – placing wards of protection and abundance around your home. Inviting in the gnomes. Gratitude to the earth. Celebrating kinship, whether blood related or not.
Link for food assistance: https://foodbanknwi.org/programs/families/mobile-pantries/marketplace/