“So here are you, and here am I,
Where we may thank our gods to be;
Above the earth, beneath the sky,
Naked souls alive and free.
The autumn wind goes rustling by
And stirs the stubble at our feet;
Out of the west it whispering blows,
Stops to caress and onward goes,
Bringing its earthy odours sweet.
See with what pride the the setting sun
Kinglike in gold and purple dies,
And like a robe of rainbow spun
Tinges the earth with shades divine.
That mystic light is in your eyes
And ever in your heart will shine.”
The Pagan- George Orwell
The twilight of the year has finally approached. Day time shades of ruby reds, blazing oranges and sparkling golds bleed into midnight navies, inky blacks and iridescent silvers. The moon and sun greet and share the dominion of a darkening blue sky. People wander through a dream-like atmosphere whilst they remain awake and we know the time of the Equinox has come. We are betwixt and between, dancing a tightrope upon the day of balance, where fae and men gaze into the other’s world through the murky autumn veil. Life and Death bow before life parts and Death takes the throne. The dreaminess is oppressive and beckons us to close our eyes and open our other, animals begin to den into hibernation and leaves descend in a carousel to the floor and leave twisty, spiralling, spiky trees.
Autumn is one of the most picturesque of seasons, laced with nostalgia it speaks of pumpkin spice, long nights, sweet sticky toffee apples, home made stew warm jumpers and wellies, assaults of crashing wind and heavy rain, splashing in puddles, kicking through leaves, fairy tales and early nights, bonfires and fireworks, a thinning veil and a feel of the people who have passed before. Autumn is a transitory time that symbolises transformation in itself in the most visually recognisable way. As a Pagan, one honours the cycles of life and death, and how they are paramount to existence and are a cosmic dance here upon earth, it is how Gaia rejuvenates herself and how we pass from one existence to the next in order to learn and grow; Therefore Autumn is perhaps one of, if not my most, favourite times of year. As a child I would be conflicted, one part of me would resent the coming shortness of nights meant I would have to be home earlier but another loved the extra hours of night as my imagination would come out to play more, and as an adult that part of me has never died.
Witchcraft and autumn seem to marry so easily when one conjures images of both witches and the seasons. As Mother Nature cleans house as dead leaves and plants fall and wilt and group together in the street, one then pictures a housewife, bent over her creaky brush sweeping the leaves and debris from her porch, not too dissimilar to the older crone and her broom as a symbol for a witch. The powerful and meaningful symbol of the Celtic cauldron, another common symbol of the witch, also harbours images of Autumn too; collecting in food, root vegetables and boiling them in the pot to make substantial warming meals for the cold nights ahead.
Autumn Fairy- Anne Stokes
Some NeoPagans and Wiccans celebrate the passing of the seasons for example the Wiccan Sabbats, also known as the Wheel of the Year. During this season the God in the form of the Oak King is sacrificed for the harvest, and in some traditions, the Holly King or the Dark God rules in his stead, therefore Autumn marks the succession, the passing from one rulership into the other.There are a few events in the season of Autumn including Mabon or Harvest Home, Feast of the Ingathering, a time of giving thanks for the harvest and for gathering new fruits of the season, and the last crops of summer and feasting in merriment. Oktoberfest took place in September another festival of drinking and feasting in merriment as well as Oschophoria, Ancient Greek festival rites held in honour of Dionysus (God of the Vine). The Norse festival of Fallfeast takes place in September and Winter Nights towards the end of Autumn. Modern Druids celebrate Alban Elfed and mark the balance between day and night, light and dark. The Christian festival of Michaelmas also occurs in Autumn and includes a lot of Pagan harvest themes such as corn dolls and harvest celebrations.
For personal craft now would be a good time to harvest natural ingredients and food from your own home if you are a gardener, or a good time to participate in home baking, experiment with breads, soups, stews, pies. The apple tree is sacred to Autumn so why not bake an Apple pie during this season and share it in festiviy? It is a season of transition so is time to get creative, sweep out and clean away the old in your home and decorate in crafty ways, use a lot of the falling foliage to make wonderful household designs from twigs, branches, acorns, nuts. towards Halloween carve your own Jack-o-Lantern with pumpkin or be extra traditional and use turnip! As Harvest is a time of celebration to wine deities why not try brewing your own mead or do some wine tasting, be merry and thankful for all you have received so far in the year. Collect some acorns, they are of the Oak which is a sacred tree connected to the God who is in his transition during Autumn so use acorns to attract good luck and fairy blessings.
Autumn is also the time for introspection. The veil is said to thin during this time and the Otherworld becomes more tangible. In mythology the Goddess descends into the underworld. In Sumerian the Goddess Inanna journeys into the underworld and so the world starts to wither and nothing grows until she ascends back and so the world is brought back to life and Spring has arrived. Similarly in Greek mythology Persephone a young fertile Goddess is kidnapped to the underworld by Hades and her Mother Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest and grain, mourns her daughter and so the earth is no longer bountiful. An agreement is made with Hades that Persephone can return to the world each year but she must return back to him for a time. When she returns the earth is fertile again and so we have the cycles of Spring and Autumn.
So as the nights get darker there is more time for rumination and meditation. It is a time to venture into the darkest parts of our mind, as Persephone and Inanna venture into the underworld, we should journey into our subconscious, and reflect on the lessons there, what in life can we give up on which no longer serves us? What can nourish us in the coming year? What have I learned this year? How can I grow? Use this time of year to learn much about yourself and your emotions and connect to the darker, or underworld deities that guide this darker half of year, and honour your own life and death cycle of inner and outer transformation. Be creative and use these reflections to inspire stories, painting, designing, sewing, anything that gets your inner artsy juices flowing. Why not try scrying? A pool, a bowl of water, crystals even a mirror are all good focus points to allow the mind to concentrate, focus and eventually lose sense of the material world to journey into the next to gain lessons and visions from the Otherworld. Always remember to ground yourself first! I like to visualise roots growing from my feet and reaching down through the floor and tying to the earth’s core so I can feel Mother Earth’s energy channeling through the roots into my veins and know that I am safe and rooted to the earth.
As the boundaries between here and the Otherworld breakdown towards the end of Autumn, culminating in Samhain, when the ancestors walk among us, use this time of year to honour your family, your ancestors, give thanks that you are here because of them and try connecting with their energies and have a feel of them. Why not make an ancestor shrine? Light a candle on Samhain and guide them home. Spend time with your relatives, especially the older ones and learn some family stories about the past, honour your lineage, and immortalise them into the stories we pass on.
Take this time to walk in nature, use the solemn solitary atmosphere of Autumn to connect with the spirits of the land, the fae, the ancestors of the Land, and sit out beside them in their energies. Leave some offerings giving thanks, home baked offerings are great for Autumn, some cakes or baked bread. Find some fairy rings and leave offerings, get to know the spirits around them. Pay attention to the birds you see, the animals that cross your path, signs or unusual feelings you feel, get to know spirit, during this time of year our perception opens so much more so you may find the spirit world seems more vocal!
I hope this article has inspired your love for autumn and given you some crafty Fall ideas!
“Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o’er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven’s o’er-hanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer’s prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!”
Autumn- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow