In the month of September I attended two Pagan Pride Days (I taught a workshop at one, met Selena Fox at another), attended an Equinox ritual, officiated a same-sex Pagan wedding, finally started my new career as a child and family therapist, and co-facilitated a ritual for World Goddess Day (to list just a few things). In these past four, glorious weeks, it seems like my life has moved forward by leaps and bounds, but really, I feel like everything is spinning out of control. Rather than celebrating, I find myself freaking out, closing myself off, and retreating....
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Greetings, fellow Witches and Pagans, and welcome to our annual marking of the time when light turns to dark. Though Samhain gets more of the attention, Mabon’s an important festival as well, marking the final gasps of summer and the beginning of the long descent into winter. It also marks the midpoint of the traditional harvest season, which begins with Lughnasadh and ends with Samhain.
As we are wont to do, we’ve gathered all of our content about this special time of the year as well as content from elsewhere we thought you’d find interesting. We hope you enjoy and wish you a merry autumnal season!
- Items from nature for a collaborative nature mandala: leaves, stones, acorns, seeds, twigs, feathers, and other items from nature (mindfully collected and ideally found on ground). If a group ritual, ask each person to bring a quantity of something to add to the mandala. If it is a family ritual, go out together before moonrise to collect your items. Note: Depending on size, composition, energy, and patience of the group, you may wish to create the mandala together first before beginning the rest of the ritual and then gather around it for the rest of the ritual itself.
- Paper leaves (can be simply cut out ovals using scrap paper) or dry, fallen leaves + markers to write on them.
- Optional: drums, rattles, or bells
- Optional: a candles for each participant (place around outer edge of nature mandala)
Before the ritual: ask each person to respond to the prompt: “my bounty is” and collate the responses into a collaborative bounty poem. If you are working alone, respond to this prompt on your own and form a poem for yourself (example poem)
1. What is it?
A mix of spices used in autumn harvest celebration foods, including pumpkin pie, apple pie, apple pastry, apple crisp, squash pie, pear crisp, and things that are supposed to taste like them, for example, spiced cider, spiced hard cider, spiced coffee, spiced wine, spiced mead, and spiced ice cream.
The basic spices are:
So, for those of you outside the USA, it's basically the same spices as Lebkuchengewürz except without the coriander and star anise. When one sees a Facebook meme mocking pumpkin spice that starts with "white girls be like" they are referring to the fact that this holiday spice mixture is similar to a German holiday spice mixture. The idea behind those memes is that only Germanic descended people go nuts over this flavor, but that's really not true. All kinds of Americans like pumpkin pie and apple pie.
2. Why is it a seasonal flavor?
It's used to flavor things made from seasonal produce like pumpkins and apples. The harvest seasons for pumpkins, squashes, apples, pears, and so forth in the USA extend from August to December, since different vegetables and fruits come on at different times and the USA is so large that it has many different climates with different dates of the onset of frost.
3. Why are people mocking it?
Americans have been conditioned to time-police our holidays by observing the practice of our large corporations to start selling holiday related merchandise while another holiday is still coming up (for example, putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween), and in the case of Christmas, the practice of piping holiday music into the stores starting so early that it is nearly universally acknowledged that it reaches homicidal levels of annoying by the time the actual holiday rolls around. Americans think September is too early to start selling harvest celebration flavors. The people are attempting to time-police our corporations over it and shame each other into not supporting the practice by purchasing the product too early. The purpose of this social shaming is to cause the public to wait to make holiday purchases until the correct holiday season, and thus to cause market pressure to influence corporations to wait to attempt to sell holiday products until the correct holiday season.
4. Why are people saying it's "too early"?
To understand why Americans think selling a harvest celebration flavor almost precisely on the date of the autumnal equinox is "too early" one must first realize that the USA has an official national holiday to celebrate harvest in November, Thanksgiving. It's not celebrated in other countries at all, but it's actually our biggest national holiday -- at least for adults. Kids get a week off for Christmas and Easter, but adults only get 1 day for those if they work at a place that closes for national holidays, or if they work at a place where they can request religious holidays off and have requested the Christian set of holidays, but we get two days for Thanksgiving, a Thursday and a Friday, making for a 4 day weekend for those who get weekends off. It's the only national holiday that's more than one day.
5. Where can I learn more?
To read more about the origin, functions, importance, and modern practices surrounding Thanksgiving, and other holidays celebrated in the USA, see my book American Celebration.
I learned something fascinating this weekend. I learned that as women, when we are in our mother's womb, we already have all the ovum (eggs) that we will release during our fertile years. So, to put that into context, when my mother was in my grandmother's womb, I was also there, partly, as one of the eggs that would be fertilised by my father. This link only occurs in women, and it just blew my mind. I was in my grandmother's womb.
Our lines of ancestry can be glorious and transformational journeys of discovery. Not only in a historical sense, exploring records and genealogy, but also connecting spiritually with our ancestors. As the darkness creeps in and the days get shorter, in the cooling air with the harvest being taken in the fields all around me, my thoughts turn to my ancestors and to the self, releasing into the approaching autumn and finding great comfort and joy in the letting go.
In order to release that sense of self, however, we must first come to know our self. Exploring who we are, where we came from, what makes us "us" is key to this work. Understanding circumstances, experiences, lines of ancestry can enrich our lives and help us to uncover depths of our own soul that may have previously escaped our notice.
Welcome brethren, to the annual celebration of the growing season’s end and the harvest season’s beginning! Although perhaps not as widely known or celebrated as Samhain or Beltaine, Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas), remains an important component of the wheel of the year and an integral part of the annual sabbats, commemorating the point at which summer begins to transition to autumn.
As always, we’ve brought out a collection of content we thought would be of interest to all of you who follow us, some from Witches&Pagans, some from elsewhere. We hope you’ll enjoy!
Last weekend, the first pumpkins showed up at the farmer's market.
The first pumpkins, scarecrows and Halloween decorations appeared in the neighborhood....