Dedicant Path Week 29 – High Day Recap – Mabon

25 09 2013

I did my Autumn Equinox ritual on Sunday afternoon. The ritual started off a big haphazard but I got into the swing of things quite quickly and it went well from then on. I used the Solitary Druid Fellowship’s ritual with a few changes of my own, including using the words “parting the veil” rather than “open the gates” in order to make it more Celtic. I chose to honour An Dagda as the main god of this ritual because he is the Irish Celtic god of the Earth and the turner of the seasons. He also has a cauldron of plenty which I felt fitted in nicely with the harvest theme of this festival. I wrote a praise prayer to him myself and used that in the honouring the deities of occasion part. As I had already done a 20 minute meditation in nature during the day, I kept the meditation part very short but I don’t think it harmed it in any way. The offerings were the same as normal except for an extra portion of oats for An Dagda. My normal offerings are an apple for Manannan, oil for the fire and for the shining ones, a silver coin for the well, incense for the tree, seeds for the nature spirits, cider for the ancestors (I have just finished brewing my own so I used that in this ritual) and oats for the Earth Mother. I didn’t feel anything special happen in the ritual but this is the second time when I’ve felt a sense of readiness/ confidence/ empowerment once the ritual was ended. I have decided I need a better final offering for all the Kindreds instead of just water so I will need to have a think about that at Samhain. I also mucked up a little on the oil and to keep pouring it in the middle of ritual ruins the flow of things so I need to make sure I have it already poured out beforehand next time.

The omen was confusing but positive I think. I pulled three tarot cards. First I asked – “how were my offerings received?” I was given Two of Stones – Challenge. Reading the handbook for the Tarot, it talks about challenge, rivalry, adversity, something born of insecurity in the subconscious. It’s also about having personal integrity and sincerity, standing my ground and remaining clear and focused on objectives. I’m not 100% sure whether this is meant to be positive or negative. Do they feel challenged or do they want to challenge me? Do they want to challenge me about my offerings? Perhaps they don’t like them?The second question was “how shall you respond?” For this I pulled the Green Woman. This is a symbol of the universal mother, the womb of nature, the female archetype of wildness and the bounty of the great mother or goddess of sovereignty. She challenges all comers to brave her tests and offers them inner kingship, love and a deep bond to the riches of the earth. It’ about the blessings of the earth mother, fertility, nurturing, protection and the path of communion with nature. I’m taking this as meaning they are offering blessing, fertility and abundance so its a big positive.
The final question was “what more would you have me learn?” For this I pulled the six of vessels – Reunion. This is confusing again. Its about affection and love in a situation which needs resolving or could be a reunion in the soul – of the individual with their own nature. I think the Kindred are saying there is something in me that needs resolving or reuniting.

I think I need to have much clearer questions and use my new Ogham set rather than the Tarot to make things a lot simpler and easier to understand.

For the rest of my celebrations, I made an Ogham set using local pebbles. I had a big potluck meal with friends and drank cider I had brewed myself, and I decorated the house with lots of leaves and other things from nature.

Dedicant Path Week 22 – Fourth High Holy Day Explanation – Harvest Home

20 09 2013
English: Autumn fruits - hedgerow crab-apples

Autumn fruits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Autumnal Equinox, also called Harvest Home, Mabon or Alban Elfed is a time of transition and change, a time of honouring the changing seasons and a time of reflection and thanksgiving. It is also a time of balance. The Autumn Equinox is the midpoint between the summer and winter solstices, when the day and night is of equal length and light and dark are balanced. It marks the beginning of the dark half of the year for the northern hemisphere, when nights are longer than days.

By the time of the Autumnal Equinox, the earth around us is showing the signs of the journey into winter – with later dawns and earlier sunsets, the weather is cooler and the leaves on the trees are turning wonderful colours. The animals are busy preparing for winter – squirrels collecting nuts and acorns while birds prepare to migrate to warmer climates. Most of the grain harvest has been gathered in and its now time to harvest the fruits – apples, blackberries, grapes, squashes and nuts, to preserve them for winter.

Historian Ronald Hutton writes that the end of the harvest was often celebrated in the medieval times with a harvest feast or supper and ceremonies involving the last sheaf of corn. It often involved a lot of drinking. According to Bede, September was called haleg-monath (holy month) and Hutton says “it can be surmised that this was derived from religious ceremonies following the harvest.”

I am not aware of any evidence or mythology to suggest that this day was celebrated by the Druids in ancient Gaelic cultures. However, there are a few ancient Irish temples which line up with the sun at the spring and autumn equinox which suggests they might have considered the day sacred. It is also very close to the time of Michaelmas which may have absorbed previous festivities in ancient Irish culture at this time, for example – picking carrots on the eve before, an emphasis on giving to charity and the beginning of the apple harvest and hunting season.

In modern times, Druids honour the Green Man of the forest by offering cider libations to trees. It is also good to celebrate this time by visiting an orchard to pick apples, making jams and cider or eating a meal of autumnal fruits and vegetables. ADF suggests that this is the time of the harvest, of reaping and gathering in. For Norse reconstructionists, it is the time to honour Thor and Sif as gods of the weather and harvest. Meanwhile Neo-pagans celebrate it as a day of balance, when the night and day are equal and nature is declining.

For me, this is a time to give thanks for the abundance of nature. It is a time to party and celebrate with all the wonderful food that is around. It’s one of my favourite times of the year because its so beautiful at this time as the leaves are turning. I love to decorate my altar with fruits, vegetables, nuts and leaves, as well as making leaf garlands to hang around the house. I will be celebrating by making cider, drinking lots, honouring An Dagda (as he is the god of the earth and abundance in ancient Irish culture, as well as the one who turns the seasons) and making an Ogham set.

Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

ADF. Our Own Druidry: An Introduction to Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Druid Path. Tucson: ADF Publishing, 2009.

Cunnigham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Minnestota: Llewellyn Publications, 2003