The bright dawn of the Autumn Equinox showed a promise that we here in the UK hadn’t seen in a few weeks. The early mist heralded a bright and wonderfully warm day that was like a jewel amongst the damp days preceding it. With it’s usual contrariness it seemed that the UK weather had jumped straight from ‘summer’ to ‘winter’ and skipped autumn completely, but in one of those gifts from Spirit that lift and sustain you, today has been a Good Day.
In the warm morning sunshine the Red horses were groomed and mucked out, enjoying a rare day of peace since they’d worked hard the previous day, I admit the mucking out took rather longer since the bramble bushes are laden with fruit and the path to the stables and facilities involves going past a few….it’s amazing how many handfuls of sweet fruit you can eat without really realising it! A sudden flash of joy as I caught sight of a rare butterfly for our area, I thought they had begun their winter sleep with the cold and wet weather, but apparently not, on a bramble bough sat a bright spot of colour amongst the autumnal greens, blacks and grey. A Comma, bright and shining like he’d just emerged from his chrysalis!
Partner and I came home to some time spent listening to the latest Druidcast podcast while I cleaned and readied several pounds of ripe elderberries that are destined to become the Coven’s supply of elderberry syrup. It wards off colds and sneezes better than most of the chemical remedies available over the counter. The gathering of them has become one of those seasonal jobs that I look forward to, although it’s a bit of a race to fit harvesting them in around other commitments, too early and they look ripe but aren’t juicy enough, too late and they go hard and wizened within what seems like hours!
The day progressed, necessary chores were completed, in bright sunshine and warmth that had everyone smiling, for me this year it’s very much a time of balance and knowing that the scale is about to tip, that something is afoot and the path is set, change is coming and all focus is on that future point where things are completed and the family can sit back and relax, but for today it was time to put my energy and time into my Spirituality, a time for Me, for gathering and honouring the turning wheel with our wonderful group. The ritual was due to be held in the early evening to accomodate as many people as possible as some had to work. Setup began as the sun was sinking towards the horizon, which added to the magic. Bright sun slowly waning to a warm golden glow as it sunk towards the horizon, the quarter banners were hung, and the bright coloured altar cloths laid over the table. Incense placed ready and brass candlesticks reflecting the dying sun.
The candles were inscribed and consecrated, the quarters and Altar decorated with corn (the harvest being so late here in some fields are still the pale gold of stubble rather than the uniform ploughed brown they usually are by equinox) and with fresh apples and blackberries, wildflowers still bloom by the quarter posts adding their own colour and joy to the celebration. Those who set up the space sat and enjoyed a quiet cuppa while waiting for the rest to arrive, the quiet moment a time for inner reflection, preparation and readyness. We just *look* like we’re sitting and drinking tea!
One by one they arrived in the deepening dark, making their way across the land to the circle, carrying robes and equipment, food, athames, chatting and picking their way with care (the red horses having done a particularly good job during the deep mud months and the year being such that we couldn’t get the roller onto the land much less the ramp to the top field!)
Once we had all gathered, caught up with our news, reforged those all important connections between our coven family, and put the finishing touches to the circle by adding the firedish, a wonderful artefact that has come down to us from it’s creator, a previous High Priest – trust me you can’t beat a firedish in circle, big enough to build a fair sized fire, and safe enough not to have to worry about scorching the ground – we changed into ritual robes and gathered in the Circle.
The night was perfect, the sky clear enough to see many stars, and bright enough to able to see outside the reach of the flickering candle light, the moon would bathe us in her silver light later in the evening as our high, protective blackthorn and hawthorn hedges take her a while to rise beyond their shadow. Not a breath of wind, the uncovered altar candles flickered many times but burned with a strong flame that never faltered.
As night descended further, reminding us that from now the scale tips towards the encroaching dark as we spiral towards Samhain our ritual progressed, blessed by inspiration, the energy of the fire, the bright sky and the spinning universe. We chanted, we danced, we spoke of balance and sacrifice, the seasons and the turning wheel, we remembered the creatures of the land and the spirits that live in this place. We celebrated the Sabbat.
Once it was over we laughed, we feasted (and drunk more tea!) and we talked, but most of all we sat together under stars and moon, and spent our time with our small community of coveners, reweaving our connections to each other and our path, and once more remembering and keeping alive the Old Ways.
…and then, because no one really wanted to leave, but needs must we parted and I came home and blogged it, because the magic of the season is here and I don’t really want the day to end!