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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in autumn

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I spent a bit of time in my garden yesterday, and one emotion overwhelmed me more than any other: despair, and yearning.

Well, that’s a bit dramatic. But I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the Wheel and how it relates to my practice, and the seasons too, and this season is definitely my least favourite. For me, the seasons are intrinsically connected to my practice, which is indeed earth-centred and intimately connected with the land. Working with, and not against, the land can be a challenge at times. Especially when the seasons turn harsh and the spiritual struggles that accompany, particularly the sense of ‘waiting’ can be the bane of the more impatient amongst us!

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Sorry for the sloppy communication, Lee; in my case, at least, I was referring to ME as the whiner - not you. As I was here in th
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, Greybeard, as a Phoenician I was thinking the same thing. My wife and I have lived here for 30 years - and yes, Lee, I unders
  • Lee Pike
    Lee Pike says #
    As much as this post is a 'whine', it has been confirmed the hottest summer on record for Perth, Australia, including the hottest

Freyr altar with offerings- Shirl Sazynski

Americans still haven't celebrated our secular harvest holiday yet (Thanksgiving)-- which  marks the unofficial change from autumn to winter, even if the official shift falls on the Solstice. So I think it's still appropriate to honor Freyr, especially at lower latitudes.

Some seasonal-appropriate offerings:  

  • alcohol (mead or honey wine, barley liquor, and golden wines work nicely)
  • honey or maple syrup (raw honey with pollen is more potent)
  • grain (barley, cracked wheat, oats, a prepared bowl of oatmeal or a sheaf of grain)
  • late harvest fruits (such as apples or persimmons)
  • bread or baked goods
  • incense (masculine and earthy, can be slightly sweet; cedar and piñon work well)
  • beeswax candles
  • yellow flowers (chrysanthemums, late roses or sunflowers)
  • a "corn dolly", wheat weaving or wreath (golden ribbons are excellent)

Offerings that you've grown or made yourself work best; if you can't grow flowers, potted ones that you can plant later are appreciated. To dedicate an offering, you can simply place it on an altar or private place outdoors and say, "I dedicate this offering of [x] to [x]."

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Give a moment to our Military Dead

Today, heading to school, I caught a glimpse of the most heart-stopping sky: it was a sea of roiling clouds, a dark cantata of a dozen shades of grey, spewing forth streams of silver reminding me, as I shivered in the chill air, surrounded by the riotous crimsons and golds of leaves in their death throws, that the time of the Wild Hunt is upon us. 

With November comes the cold, the first promise of winter. With November comes Odin, for to many of us who venerate Him, this is His month, and with Odin comes the Wild Hunt. With November also comes Veterans Day and hard on the heels of the ancestor festivals of late October, it's a good reminder to take a moment to honor our military dead. 

We all have them. We're here because of them: our military ancestors, our warrior ancestors, those hard-focused men and women who did what was necessary to ensure their people's survival. good or bad, path chosen or taken up out of cruel necessity, each of us has soldiers and fighters in our line. The least we can do is take a day, as the land itself churns up memento mori all around us, to remember those who suffered, sacrificed, died...or who suffered, sacrificed and did not die but returned home to families and communities forever alien to the hum of their people, forever changed and scarred by their experiences in war. It is right and proper, I think, to pay homage to these men and women. Some of them were little more than children. Each year, during the fall term, when I'm hard at work teaching a class of mostly freshmen, Veterans Day rolls around and I think about what it commemorates. I think about our two world wars, and how the first wiped out nearly a generation of men...many younger than the boys and girls sitting in my classroom. i think about what it meant for my grandparents' generation, the absences torn in the fabric of their communities and families and I know that while we may or may not agree with the purpose of a war itself, we can honor those who served precisely for their service. 

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  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    "Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the g

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Samhain Approaching...

As I sit here, writing this, the rain taps at the window, the wind howling down the street, carrying with it the scent of winter and the first of the autumn leaves. The sky is fast moving and furious – low dark grey clouds set amidst a backdrop of pure white/grey.  The central heating has been turned on.  The apples are juicy on the trees.  The starlings are flocking together. Welcome, Autumn.

My favourite season – as you may have guessed. From bright, sunny days where the sun shows the last of its strength, to watery, wind-filled days like these, it is a season of change like no other.  Quick, altogether too quickly, it is over, at least the Fall is, when the leaves change and drop to the ground.  After that, it seems Winter is here – only allowing Autumn a brief time of grace to shine in her beauty before all is blanketed under the dreamy cold slumber of Winter.

It is third week of October – and the hectic days of summer leading to the Equinox have long passed.  I feel I can almost catch my breath – almost.  The main bulk of the harvest is done – both agriculturally and in a personal sense.  I have worked hard this year, and the rewards have been great.  There are always disappointments – from the tomatoes that didn’t do well to the vagaries of life.  But Autumn, with her beauty, captures our hearts and our minds, our attention, and causes us to stop, to listen and watch Her before She is gone.

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Thank you, and to you Lizann! x
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    another lovely post - thank you - and blessings to you in this wonderful season of change

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Wildcrafting Herbs - Know Your Roots!

 (photo of Burdock plant by Christian Fischer)

It is early October as I write this. Farm stands and store shelves are groaning with local produce; glowing pumpkins of all sizes and colors, varieties of apples, apple cider and pies, jams and jellies made from local fruits and berries, broccoli, garlic, fennel and grapes, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, beets, cauliflower, chard, celery, kale, leeks and lettuce, mushrooms of all kinds, onions, parsley and pears, potatoes, peas and turnips. Local fruits and vegetables displayed in rows like rough jewels to be taken home to be cut, refined and processed.

Meanwhile, Nature continues to bestow her bounty in fields and forests, to those who have an eye to see the wealth.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Ms. Hopman, I second that! There is a definite patch of skunk cabbage in the swamp behind our house, but I had no idea that skunk
  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely says #
    Lovely! I enjoyed reading this and appreciated the distinction (and warning) the difference between False Hellbore and Skunk Cabba
  • Beth Sage Owens
    Beth Sage Owens says #
    And another thing maybe someone has some advice for me in? Are monster-truck sized, 3 year old horseradish roots still good for br

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_ID-100112631.jpg

For me, Autumn is far less about the dying away, and far more about the stocking up. Granted, the leaves beyond my window are turning, shades of yellow and brown creeping in amongst the greens. It’s late this year, but then, so was the spring.

 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Looking Back, Dreaming Forward

       Lughnasad has come and gone. The altar was decorated with blackberry vines and wildflowers; fruits (apple, pear and avocado) were placed in a bowl of beans and grain to acknowledge the early harvest. My family gathered at table to celebrate the yield of local farms and fields. A vegetarian feast was prepared: light vegetable soup, zucchini and tomato tart, salad, and for dessert, blackberry buckle, made from berries my youngest son and I picked by the side of the bike path that runs along the river. There is bliss to be found in the smallest acts. I hope your Lughnasad was blessed with abundance and such quiet happinesses as you enjoy.

            Today there is a stillness in the air, a certain sense of waiting, as though nature has taken a rest, leaving everything to watch over itself, if just for this short while. The breeze that is tugging at my kitchen curtains carries within it the fresh breath of fall before it is seasoned with bonfires and mulled cider, candle wax and long-simmered stews.

            Against the overcast sky the green of the trees glows in shades of jade and emerald. They have no thought of changing color, not yet. But they know, oh, they do, that soon nature will be inviting them to drape themselves in ball gowns of exquisite shades: crimson, gold, russet. They will toss auburn and brunette heads as they sway to the wind's music. It is on days like today, the trees green, the breeze cool, that we truly realize summer has had its turning.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
In the Darkness...

The autumn equinox is fast upon us – the time when the balance tips from the light half of the year to the dark half.  Daylight hours are on the wane and soon the night and twilight hours will take precedence, allowing us a time for rest, for thought and for reflection.

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    It is my favourite time... x
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you Joanna - beautifully written and lovely to read. This time of year in the Northern Hemisphere is pretty amazing indeed.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The knife edge of the equinox

Now we are diving deep into the cool waters of the West, into autumn’s light.  The equinox is just around the corner, and the new moon of September passed.  This year we will be blessed by a nearly full moon over the equinox, which is at 21:44 on Sunday, 22 September (where I live in the UK).  The tipping point is near, the balance will shift, and we will enter into the fading times of restful thought, of dreaming in the dark.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely reminders, thank you.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The Autumnal Equinox is almost upon us. In anticipation of the change of season, some Autumnal haiku...

b2ap3_thumbnail_Autumn-Haiku.jpg

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Going Back

There is no place in a regular wheel of the year where it makes sense to talk about going back, returning, backtracking or heading the wrong way. The cycle of the year does of course bring us round the same seasons, reliably, but there is always a sense of moving forward.  Turning, not returning. Time as we experience it only flows one way. However, there are many ways in which we can go back.

 

We can make geographical returns to places that were important to us, and practical returns to ways of being that we have parted from for a while. Paganism as a whole can be seen as an attempt to go back to something that was lost, and like all lost things, raises issue around how much can be reclaimed. Is anything gone forever? Is it possible to return? As the saying goes, we cannot step into the same river twice. Whatever we go back to is not the same as before. It will have changed over time, too, we will have changed.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is poetic and evocative, Nimue; thank you. Here in Phoenix, AZ we are out of touch with the "natural" changing of the seasons

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
A Day in the Life of a Druid

The alarm clock goes off, Aerosmith is playing on Planet Rock.  There is a small white cat lying between me and my husband, her little head resting on my pillow.  A spotted grey cat is curled up against the small of my back, sharing in the warmth.  My husband gets up, showers and comes back to kiss me goodbye.  I sigh, stretch, and slowly extricate myself from the sleeping, furry softness to greet the day.

Standing by the top landing window, overlooking my back garden and the horse paddocks beyond that, down the valley towards the little nature sanctuary, my eyes coming back full circle to see the sun, rising over the North Sea (I cannot see the sea from here, but it is less than a mile away).  I let its light wash over me – sunny mornings have been few and far between, and with eyes closed I drink it in.  “Hail to the Day, and Day’s Sons, farewell to Night and her Daughters. With loving eyes look upon us here, and grant peace to those living here. Hail to the Gods, hail to the Goddesses, hail to the might fecund Earth. Eloquence and native wit bestow upon us here, and healing hands while we live”.  Another deep breath,  and so the day begins.

Headings downstairs, I get food ready for the cats, and boil the kettle for my tea.  The cats slowly make their way downstairs to breakfast.  After getting my lunch ready, I prepare my own breakfast, and sit down at the table with a cup of nettle tea.  “I give my thanks for this food I am about to eat.  To the spirits of land, sea and sky, know that you are honoured”.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
In Autumn's Light

 

Autumn – it’s coming.  The nights are drawing in, and though the sun’s strength is still strong, there is a chill in the breeze that carries the smell of woodsmoke.  The greening is fading, the vegetation now out of room to grow after a hot summer, and is now an almost choking mass, ready to fall back and rest a while.  Deep within my own soul, I feel these rhythms, and will shortly be following the inspiration I see all around me within nature.  The time for rest is coming, but first there is the harvest, with plenty of hard work still lying ahead.  The bees and wasps are still hard at work, soon to be looking for homes to winter through, should that be in their nature.  The swallows will soon be leaving, the fledglings having already taken to the skies.  They are waiting, waiting for the right wind to take them back, once their food supply begins to wane.  

I simply adore the autumn.  The leaves will soon be changing and falling, the sweet smell of decaying foliage and the crunching of dried vegetation underfoot.  The light changes, so beautifully in the autumn – it has that certain slant that makes things seem even more magical.   

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Thank you all for your kind words! Harvest blessings. x
  • Ashling Kelly
    Ashling Kelly says #
    This reads like a hymn to my favorite season; you've made me long for its arrival even more.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your lovely words celebrating the blessings of this time of year!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Weeds inside & out!

Summer is well into full-swing this first week of August. In this part of Illinois, August is usually very hot and miserable.  Even so, the first slight signs of Autumn can be detected.  The sun is setting earlier and sometimes a cool breeze filters through the window at night. First harvests have been happening in actuality for a while The gardens and fields have been planted, fertilized and in way too many cases fumigated with pesticides to keep out the weeds and pests.  Wheat has been harvested for over a month and those fields are currently planted in soybeans to get a second harvest before winter hits.  Corn is in full tassel which means that the grain is now being formed.  In the gardens, tomatoes, peppers, green beans and other summer crops are in full production.  Soon, I will be planting a fall garden to get a new supply of greens and other vegetables that prefer the cool nights.  Now is the time to go venturing into the uncultivated acres to gather milk thistle seed and goldenrod for the herb cabinet. 

This is also the time of year that the weeds in the garden and along the fencerows are coming into full maturity. It becomes obvious that I have not been diligent about keeping the weeds out of the places where I would prefer they do not grow. Well, isn't that the real definition of a weed?  A weed is simply a plant growing where you do not want it.  I have an overabundance of foxtail grass, lambs quarters and ragweed where the abundance is supposed to be blackberries, tomatoes and melons.

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  • Áine
    Áine says #
    Lovely concept, thanks for sharing!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
"Summer is over"

"Summer is over," Odin said to me, a couple of weeks back.  I think it may have been on one of the 95+ degree days of our recent heat wave.

I blinked at Him.

He repeated it: "As I said, summer is over.  The Hunt is on the move."

"Well, They should fix the weather, then," I quipped.

"Oh, They are working on it," He assured me.

I tried to laugh this off, or blame it on a moment of poor signal clarity, but that very same day, or the next, when I repeated His words to a dear friend, she offered that the leaves on her dogwood tree were changing color and that He had called her attention to that.  We both agreed we could hear hoof beats in the still, heavy summer air: the Host is gearing up earlier than usual this year. 

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  • aought
    aought says #
    My Forsythia bloomed twice last year, and twice again this year. Not the usual course of events. A year ago when I was hiking in t
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    And then there's this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/25/alaska-summer-weather-2013_n_3495850.html
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    And saw this today as well. Thought it was interesting, given your post: http://www.climatedepot.com/2013/08/03/unprecedented-jul

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Quiet Time

In the little corner of the world where I exist, on the small 13 acre plot I call home, it is quiet. The hurly-burly of 'the shopping season' is far away from us, and that is something for which I'm very thankful. By-the-by, 'hurly-burly' is one of my favorite words picked up from reading Homer. At our place, this is not a time of holiday shopping, frenzied consumerism disguised as 'needing to stretch my money further'. Our families know that if we give any gifts at all that they were made by our hand. No, this is a time for something much different..

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I’ve been busier than planned in mundania for the last few weeks—hence the lag in my blog posts. I’m going to try and make it up to you by posting a couple more times during November, in hopes of restoring my blogger cred.

RedHere in Oregon (that’s Ory-Gun to you non-US-west-coasters), autumn has arrived for real, with the trees dropping leaves and nighttime temps creeping toward freezing. We’ve had some wind and rain, but we’ve had glorious weather, too—including a recent handful of days near 70 degrees.

Every year, when we have these postcard-perfect fall days, I hear people start talking about “Indian summer” this and “Indian summer” that, and I grimace a bit, because their use of the term isn’t quite right. Indian summer—the real deal—is something very special, and it’s more than simply a nice autumn day.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Hoofbeats of the Hunt

The weather is turning crisp here and the falling leaves are brilliant shades of orange, red and gold. The afternoons are still warm but evening is coming earlier.   The rains have not started yet, but winter's shadow is on the land.  We are finally in October, which for me means the onset of the busiest season in my spiritual year: the season of the Wild Hunt, which begins now and reaches its height at Yule.  Samhain forms a major milestone along the way, but for me (and among Heathens in general) the time when the veil is at its thinnest, and the Hunt at its most active, falls during the twelve nights of Yule.  After January 1st, things calm down somewhat, although there are still occasionally forays during the springtime, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, where our springs are often stormier than our winters.

As some of you may be aware, the story of how Odin claimed me is all bound up with the Hunt.  Although I am not a hunter myself in an in-this-world way, the Furious Host seems to have lodged itself in my blood somehow, and two years ago around this time of year I formally agreed to ally myself with them and act as a doorway for them into this world.  

Some of you are likely sputtering by now, reading this; I hope you haven't spilled your drinks on the keyboard!  For those whose keyboards are safe (and are thus, I assume, unfamiliar with the Wild Hunt), the core of the legend is that a spectral band of creatures in hunting garb (be they dead, undead, never human, or all of the above) rampages through the night sky at a certain time of year (see above).    This story seems to be deeply rooted in Indo-European culture, and most European countries have their own version of it; it is unaccountably ancient, and just as with the roots of Yggdrasil itself it's impossible to say exactly where or how it began.  What this band is hunting is never completely clear in the folk tales, and can range from a woman, to a troll, to a kind of half-woman, half-forest creature known as a moss maiden.  The leader ascribed to this band of ghostly riders varies with the country, but in Scandinavia, England and Germany the leader is traditionally Odin, and the Hunt includes, in this particular incarnation, the spirits of long-dead heroes and Odin's dead in general.   The Hunt is accompanied by black dogs with red eyes, undead noblemen, and Odin's gigantic eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.  Jagermeister, Wilde Jaeger (Wild Hunter), Draugrdrottin (Lord of Ghosts), Valfather (Lord of the Slain)--these are all among Odin's many names that have to do with His function as Leader of the Furious Host.  Most of the stories agree that it is dangerous for humans to see the Hunt or be seen by it.   Some of the tales advise throwing oneself face down onto the path when the sound of the hunting horns is heard, others suggest various offerings--a piece of steel, a sprig of parsley--that might be useful in deterring the Hunt, or at least distracting it while you get to safety.  At first glance and at last, this is a story to frighten not only small children but sensible adults too.  The Hunt (along with the frigid Scandinavian winter) is the reason why Yule is traditionally a time for family to gather together behind closed doors by the fire, and to not go out after dark, and to allow the hospitality of one's home to visitors without question, especially during the twelve nights of Yule, when madness reigns in the skies.

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  • Beth Lynch
    Beth Lynch says #
    I'm so glad some people could relate to this post! It's honestly such a personal topic for me that I hesitated to post it here rat
  • Natalie Reed
    Natalie Reed says #
    Interesting post - I am familar with the tales of Gwynn ap Nudd and King Arthur with regard to the Hunt - nice to hear the Heathen
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Hurrah! I love this post. I've been thinking about the Hunt for a week now and have been drafting a post about it for my blog. Spe

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Yes, I feed my Ancestors.

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    As part of their Samhain celebrations, my wife and her coven always do a Dumb Supper. I don't partake myself, as my faith has its
  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    I enjoyed this Byron. What you do sounds very similar to the kispu rite in Canaanite and Amorite tradition. A living family would

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