My favourite time of the year is upon us once again. I love Autumn and it seems to have snuck up on me pretty quick this year. It might be because this Summer has been filled with sparse hot days and mostly rain showers, making it hard to differentiate between when Summer really ended and Autumn began.
But the pumpkins have arrived, the leaves have started to fall and suddenly the cold and dark days have engulfed us, so that makes it time for Mabon.
Mabon wouldn’t be a celebration without an outdoor fire. This year we sat out in the garden all afternoon by the fire and in the evening we were joined with the spirit of the harvest by having a cider.
My partner who is Dutch, spent the week before Mabon in England and so we celebrated together a little earlier than the Equinox.
I love the fact, even though he’s not Pagan, he always joins in and celebrates with me. Can you believe until he met me, my partner had never carved a pumpkin before and now he always loves to do it.
Our yearly Mabon ritual also consists of making a scarecrow with a pumpkin head. For anyone wanting to make one, these are pretty easy to do. All you need is some old clothes, straw, string and a wooden frame to hang it from.
How ever you celebrated Mabon, I hope you had fun!
Blessed Be )O(
The Autumnal Equinox or Mabon is one of the four main quarterly festivals in the Wheel of the Year (Pagan calendar). It takes place around the 21st/22nd September and marks the second of three harvest festivals, the other two being Lammas and Samhain. This is known as the first day of Autumn.
This festival is about bringing balance as the Equinox is when for a brief time there are the same amount of dark and light hours in the day. The Equinox happens just before the balance is tipped, we say goodbye to the long sunny days of summertime and we enter into the darker half of the year.
By the time we reach Mabon, the first few signs of Autumn will have made their appearance. The leaves turning yellow and red colours, which will slowly be falling into an amazing golden carpet on the floor. There’s a cold nip in the air, but is counteracted by the lovely, warm Autumn sun. Speaking of which, day by day the sun will now be making its descent and you will notice the sun will be sitting lower in the sky. The sun is setting earlier and earlier each day and the darkness is now engulfing the early evenings. Wheat, corn and squash you will now find in abundance and let’s not forget the yearly debut of the pumpkins.
Orange, red, yellow, gold and brown.
Cinnamon, cloves, star anise, roses, lavender, sage, rosehips, honeysuckle, marigold, myrrh, frankincense, oranges, bay leaves, thistle, ferns, oak leaves, rue and sweetgrass.
Apples, squash, corn, wheat, grains, bread, pumpkins, root vegetables, cider, beer and wine.
Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, yellow Topaz, Citrine, Sapphire, Tiger’s Eye, Orange Aventurine, Amber, Yellow Agate and Clear Quartz.
Acorns, pine cones, wheat, lavender, cornucopia, scythes, leaves, vines, grapes, corn stalks and pumpkins.
Balance, prosperity, abundance, new beginnings, releasing negativity, releasing old traits, welcoming changes and protection.
The best way to get in feeling with the new season, is to spend time decorating your home with this season’s symbols. Hang an Autumnal wreath from your door, go out collecting acorns, pine cones and leaves as they start to fall for decorations to use as table centerpieces or to use on garlands or mantelpieces.
This goes for your altar too. Place offerings on your altar, symbols like pumpkins, pine cones and leaves. Change your candle colours to those with a more Autumnal theme or display your Green Man decorations.
As the colder season comes, more hours will be spent indoors, inside your home and this is the perfect time to smudge your home. Out with the old, negative energy and start a fresh with a new vibe.
Changing from the warm season to the cold seasons, can really throw people off balance. They rhythm can be disrupted and lots of people can suffer from SAD at this time of the year. For those who have an interest for it, mediation can really help to restore balance and harmony not only to the body but the mind also.
For better use of meditation, place crystals around you to aid in the healing and restoration of balance.
At this time of finding balance, it’s all about releasing the negative energy and celebrating the success.
The best way to do this is write a list of things you are grateful for. You can also write a list of your successes, achievements or even the new adventures you have tried during the Summer months. As this time of year is about planning ahead, it’s a good idea to write a list of things you want to try, achieve or succeed at during the colder months. It’s always good to have something to aim for.
This also works the other way. For those wanting to release anything that no longer serves you or to free all the negative energy. You can write down any negative feelings, or any situation you were not happy with, then throw the paper into a fire and visualise all the unhappiness and burder lifting from your shoulders.
Saying goodbye and releasing the old is just as important as welcoming in the new.
You could also make a gratitude tree. Finding an old branch with lots of twigs on, where you write down what you’re grateful for on a piece of paper and then hang that paper from a branch. You can decorate this branch with ribbons or cut out leaf shaped paper.
Apples are the most sacred fruit to Pagans, as when you cut open an apple you will find in the center seeds that are the shape of a Pentagram – the most sacred of symbols. Apples are a symbol of wisdom, guidance, renewal, life, healing, protection and divination.
This magical fruit is most associated with Autumn and Samhain. There is no better way than to celebrate the harvest by apple picking. With the apples, you could bake an apple pie, make cider or carve out the top center of the apple and place a tea light inside for your altar.
For me it’s never too early for carving pumpkins. All throughout September and October I have at least one carved pumpkin displayed at any given time. Pumpkins are the essence and the magical ingredient to Autumn. As soon as the first pumpkins have been picked in late August or early September, I bring them into my home. As pumpkins are a part of the squash family, they are the ultimate representation of the harvest.
You could carve your pumpkin and try to preserve it for as long as possible, or you could simply leave it as it is and display it on your altar, make a table centerpiece from it or leave it somewhere outdoors or on your porch as a welcoming symbol into your home.
This has to be the most beautiful and colourful season, with so much to look at this makes it perfect to get outdoors.
There’s lots to see, lots to do. Take a walk around nature, see if you can find some leaves, acorns or pinecones to collect. You could also have a look for that perfect twig to make your gratitude tree from. Go apple or pumpkin picking, get into your garden dig up your vegetables if you have a veggie patch. There are lots of things outdoors, that you can bring indoors for this time of the year.
If you’re much like me – a night owl. The darker nights are perfect for a taking a walk in the cool, crisp air. The evenings are a much quieter and peaceful time, where you can look up at the stars and reflect on any issues that are troubling you. Getting outside at nighttime is also about honouring the darkness and welcoming the change of seasons.
As Mabon is a harvest festival there is no better way to celebrate the harvest than to cook up a feast. Get baking bread, apple and blackberry pies, using lots of cinnamon or even boiling cinnamon, orange and cloves to give your house than Autumnal smell. Using your vegetables, you can make hearty stews, casseroles and soups, to warm you up on a cold day.
Keeping with the apple theme, cider is a much chosen tipple to celebrate this time of this year with. Of course this can make alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Fire is important in the Pagan tradition, as it is a well-used and versatile tool, often a cleansing and purifying aid. Not only is it an aid but it’s also one of the five elements used at an altar and represented on the Pentagram.
As the nights are drawing in earlier now, it becomes darker at early times and this makes the evenings perfect for a bonfire. The warmth of the fire will keep you warm on a chilly evening, it also makes a great event to gather your loved ones around, serve up your food and cider by the fire.
Autumn Equinox is a celebration of the harvest, where the grains, fruits and vegetables are being stored for the upcoming darker, cold and barren days. This is a time of preservation, of offering up gifts for the bountiful harvest and a celebration of success.
Mabon is all about finding your own personal balance. Releasing anything that no longer serves you and welcoming in those changes that you’ve been meaning to make. It’s about your own goals, reflections and achievements. Acknowledge your hard work and celebrate your accomplishments. Now is the time to settle any unfinished business, with the upcoming darker half of the year, planning is key here.
Blessed Be )O(
Lammas or Lughnasadh is another cross-quarterly festival that takes place on the 1st August and is the festival between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.
Summer Solstice has passed, the high of the sun has peaked and is now heading back downwards. The Sun God has ensured a bountiful crop and now is the time to celebrate the first harvest of the year.
The golden fields of crops are ready to be harvested and Lammas is the first of the three harvest festivals; grain is harvested at Lammas, fruit is collected at Autumn Equinox and finally the nuts and berries are gathered at Samhain.
Lammas is all about abundance and giving thanks for the harvest. This Celtic sabbat celebrates the Goddess as the Grain Mother and the Sun God who sacrifices his life so that the harvest can be cut and gathered.
There is no better way than to celebrate the harvest festival by using the gathered wheat to bake bread with.
Once the grain has been harvested the last few strands of the corn husks and wheat are used to make Corn Dollies. This is honouring the God by giving the corn spirit a vessel to live in once the grain is gone from the fields. The Corn Dolly would be left in the home until Imbolc, where the first seeds of the year are sewn and the corn spirit can once again return to the field to bless the upcoming harvest.
Anything from fruit to flowers and herb seeds are gathered around this time of the year. These seeds represent the future harvest and is a celebration of prosperity and abundance. It’s also a nice idea to store these seeds in a little pouch around a Corn Dolly in order to give thanks.
For Lammas you can decorate your altars or sacred spaces with sunflowers, Corn Dollies, wheat or bread offerings and besoms. Brooms and their natural representation of sweeping are not only a gesture of cleansing but also one of gathering. Sweeping in order to collect is a symbol of abundance and also makes a nice little decoration.
Blessed Be )O(
Dacre is a small village located in Cumbria, just a few miles outside of Ullswater and not far from the stately home of Dalemain.
This quaint and untouched village still has remnants of forgotten times, like the old school house which is now a private home.
This village consists of houses, a pub, a church and the remains of an old castle.
This village is surrounded by countryside and hills, as it sits behind the beck of the same name.
Dacre castle was built in the 14th century and was used as protection from the Scottish raiders. The castle fell into disrepair and in the 17th century the castle underwent a full restoration where it was transformed into firstly a farm house and later on a private home. After the death of Lord Dacre in 1715 the castle and its lands were purchased by Sir Christopher Musgrave and through the marriage of his daughter to Edward Hasell, the castle and all its lands now belong to the Dalemain estate.
The castle is said to be haunted by a former owner’s wife and lover, whom the owner murdered.
Like any village it is centered around a churchyard – the parish of St Andrew.
The church was built on the site of a 7th century Saxon monastery.
The churchyard is relatively small, with an obvious division between the old and the new.
The old side is swamped by high trees, woodland and long grass that is almost covering the gravestones.
I often visit churchyards and burial sites, this by far is one of my favourites. I love the way the old gravestones have been left, almost frozen in time and engulfed back into nature.
There is definitely an air of mystery about this churchyard and there’s just something special about walking through the narrow pathways trying to spot the hidden stones.
There’s a huge variety of different shaped headstones here.
My personal favourites have to be the ones tucked away hidden underneath the trees, overgrown by grass and flowers.
But what makes this place really special is four stone bear carvings that can be found in the old side, one on each corner.
No one really knows the purpose of these or why they were placed here, so it’s a bit of a mystery. There’s speculations that perhaps they had something to do with a Pagan shrine, as we know all churches were Pagan burial grounds before Paganism was Christianised and it was the Druids that planted the Yew trees (where one of these trees can be found in every churchyard). Or it is suggested that these stones had something to do with the monastery, of which some of the remains were found here. However it’s more than likely these stones are pre-Saxon that would make them nothing to do with the monastery and the likelihood is that they were the markers of some Pagan ritual site.
There are some other noteworthy things about this churchyard. There is a lock on the south door from 1671, that was given by Lady Anne Clifford, who is well-known in the area. She presented keys to people she had become friends with.
This is definitely a beautiful churchyard with lots of history and hidden meanings, as well as lots to look at. There’s an air of magic about this place and I highly recommend a stroll around to look at all the gravestones.
Blessed Be )O(
Summer Solstice takes place on June 21st and it marks the first day of summer. It is also known as Midsummer as this is when the sun reaches its peak, resulting in the warmest and longest day of sunlight of the year. After this day the sun loses its strength and slowly begins to descent back from the height of the sky as the days begin to slowly shorten once again.
Also known as Litha to some, Summer Solstice will find people gathering around the most famous place of Stonehenge to watch the sunrise and sunset.
The Solstice is about the celebration of light defeating darkness, and about honouring the longest day of the year.
Get those bonfires roaring, get those barbecues on or light a candle – anything with fire will do.
Ash remains from the fire can be used in protective talismans and this the best time of year to create or renew your talismans with the strength of the sun.
Watch the sunrise, watch the sunset, use the longest and warmest day of the year to your advantage by planning an outdoor trip. A day at the beach, go swimming, a walk in the forest, flower picking or some light gardening. Whatever it is just enjoy this time.
Since Beltane we entered into the popular time of the year to get married. The strength and warmth of the sun is a symbol of love and fertility, this is of advantage as it can bless the marriage with prosperity, love and fertility.
Decorate your altars or homes with flowers and sun symbols, lavender is common and oak leaves are often used to represent the Sun God. Gather your family and have a feast or find solitude in meditation, give thanks and use the abundance of herbs and flowers of this time of the year to your advantage.
How ever you choose to celebrate, remember to stop and smell the flowers. Each day is a gift and every moment should be embraced with fresh eyes and an open heart.
Blessed Be )O(
Beltane or May Day takes place on May 1st and is another cross-quarterly festival that marks the mid point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. This is also exactly six months since Samhain and is the half yearly festival.
Beltane is the Pagan Spring fertility festival. This is the time of year when new life in the ground and the trees are taking hold and flourishing. The early Spring daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops have now all gone without a trace of them ever being there. Instead they are being replaced with the glowing green hedgerows, new shoots on the trees, woods full of bluebells, colourful tulips and most symbolically are the cherry tree blossoms showering the ground with their pink snowflakes.
This festival is all about honouring life and this is the time when the Earth is starting to reach its peak of fertility.
Fires represent the sun. To light a fire is to give energy to the Sun God, for him to bless the harvest and the fertility of the crops and land. Fires are also very cleansing and to jump a fire is said to purify oneself. Fires support fertility and couples use fire jumping or running around fires to bless the marriage with prosperity and children. Charcoal and remains of the fire would be taken to light the next one.
Beltane is the union of the God and Goddess who bring life to the land. Therefore this is the season of handfastings. Marriages are blessed with fertility, prosperity, good fortune and new beginnings.
The Maypole is a fertility ritual. The pole representing the phallus, sticking the pole into the ground is a symbol of the God giving potency to the Earth. The flowers and greenery represent the Goddess and the spiralling of the ribbon around the pole represents the union of the God and Goddess.
This festival is a celebration of love. Flower collection is abundant, headdresses of flowers are made and hawthorn is collected. Beltane is the only time Hawthorn is brought into the house for decoration. Throughout the year it’s thought to be bad luck except for Beltane where it brings good luck.
As I mentioned Beltane is exactly six months since Samhain, where Samhain is said to be the most important festival in the wheel of the year, Beltane is the second. This is because like Samhain, Beltane has the thinnest veil between the two worlds. Let’s not forget Paganism is a nature religion and going by the seasons then Samhain is celebrated on 1st May in the southern hemisphere. Thin veils make for mischief. Beltane is all about the faeries and fae magic.
Blessed Be )O(
The Pepper Pot is an old Victorian monument that was built at the summit of Eaves wood.
Eaves wood is located in Silverdale and is known as the Victorian wood. The woods itself is incredibly beautiful. There’s lots of paths hidden within this dense woodland, as well as there being some steep paths there are lots of limestone scars and cliffs.
The summit is known as Castlebarrow and there lies a circular stone tower which is now called the Pepper Pot but used to be called the Pepper Box.
This stone monument was constructed in 1887 by a local man to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.
The views from the top are pretty breathtaking. Overlooking the local town of Silverdale there are some clear views of up and down the coastline too.
Blessed Be )O(