Monday, September 21, 2015

Mabon Correspondences

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Now that I have discussed briefly the history and lore of Mabon, I'd like to provide you with a list of correspondences!

Symbolism: fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, abundance, thankfulness, giving, kinship, protection, harmony, balance

Symbols: apples, acorns, wine, pine cones, gourds, grapes, grains, dried seeds and leaves, vines, horns, scythes, sickles, squash

Colors: red, maroon, gold, brown, yellow, scarlet, purple, blue, violet, indigo, orange, autumn colors

Food and Drink: apples, dried fruits, nuts, squash, pomegranates, breads, grains, seeds, potatoes, carrots, onions, wine, grapes, cornbread, beans, mutton, ale, cider

Herbs: ferns, honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, myrrh, pine, rose, sage, tobacco, thistle, wheat, barley, oats, aster, mums, oak, hops, cedar

Deities: Mabon, Morgan, Epona, Persephone, Thoth, Thor, The Green Man, Demeter/Ceres, the Muses, the Wicker-man, Bacchus, Dionysus

Crystals and Gemstones: yellow agate, lapis lazuli, sapphire

Animals: dogs, wolves, goat, stag, blackbird, owls and birds of prey, gnomes, Sphinx

Magic: This is a great time for hearth and home magic, especially for placing wards around your home. Working spells to bring harmony and peace to the home are especially powerful on Mabon. Giving thanks to the Earth and celebrating kinship is the theme of this sabbat, so spend this time giving to others and reflecting on what you have to be thankful for.

Please note this is not a complete list but a brief overview of symbols, colors, herbs, deities, and the like. If I have missed something that you feel should make the list, please feel free to contact me via the comments or through email.

Mabon, History and Lore

sabbat, mabon, fall equinox, witches thanksgiving, witchcraft, wheel of the year, witch, witchy, pagan, neopagan, wicca, wiccan

Mabon, often called the Pagan Thanksgiving, occurs on or around September 21st. This year (2015) it falls on September 23rd. It is the second of the harvest festivals and the fall equinox, where night and day are the same length. From Mabon forward, the days begin to grow shorter while the nights grow longer. During this time the crops have been all but harvested, the earth is "dying" and the fields are turning brown.

The idea of a harvest festival is actually very old. Cultures from around the world have been celebrating this time of year for the last millennia. Ancient Greece held a festival known as Oschophoria which celebrated the harvest of grapes to make wine. Oktoberfest began in the Bavarian counties during the eighteenth century. This celebration continues today throughout the world, especially in Bavarian areas. Helen, Georgia has a an Oktoberfest that lasts for several weeks from September through October. In China, the Harvest Moon is celebrated with a festival honoring family and unity.

Despite Thanksgiving traditionally falling in November in the United States, many cultures believe Mabon or the second harvest, to be the best time for giving thanks and reflecting upon the year. It is during the second harvest that tallies of stores are taken and the success of your crops and live stock is determined. Furthermore, it is the time families figured out whether or not they would have enough food to make it through the winter. By November, there isn't much left to harvest, if anything, and remaining stores are rationed accordingly. So it makes sense to give thanks during the harvesting season in September.

Traditionally this sabbat is celebrated with mid-autumn vegetables like squash, apples, seeds, nuts, grapes, wine, baskets which symbolize the gathering of crops, and sickles and scythes symbolizing the harvesting of the crops. Great feasts were commonly held at this time with lots of drinking and merriment. Hospitality was extremely important, as they may have ended up being the ones to help you through the harsh winter months if your stores ran dry.

Today, most pagan pride festivals are held during this time as a way to celebrate kinship, give thanks, and participate in service work. This is a great time to reach out to local food banks and bless someone less fortunate than you. As any witch knows, there is something special about fall and the harvest festivals that make the world seem magical and it is wise to say thank you and give to others this time of year.

How do you celebrate Mabon? Unfortunately I will be spending it working late, but hopefully I'll have a delicious meal ready when I get home followed by warm Dutch apple pie. (recipe to follow later this week).

To learn more, please read the Mabon Correspondences post.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Craftful Teachers

This is going to be a very honest post and some of you may laugh at my humble pagan beginnings. Honestly, this is extremely difficult to write because I am, well, embarrassed. I started dabbling in paganism when I was in high school. I knew from a young age I did not believe in "God." My family never went to church and the couple times I went with friends I left with more questions than answers. I tried, I really did, to be a Christian. I tried to believe the Bible and it's teachings. I tried to be a "good" person because everyone around me was Christian. Well, that's not entirely true. My mom believes, but she doesn't attend services or read the Bible. My dad doesn't know what to think and probably doesn't care either. But for the most part, everyone I knew went to the same church, attended the same youth groups, and prayed around the same flag pole every morning together. The older I got, the more I despised their practices. I watched as many of my "friends" became obsessed with trying to convert me, telling me I would spend forever burning in hell if I didn't come to service on Sunday or youth group on Wednesday or pray with them each morning. I watched these same "friends" ostracize others, especially those of color or a different sexual orientation. I watched "good" people turn into the exact opposite of good.

The more I pondered religion, the more I came to dislike it. However, I knew I wanted something. There is very clearly a void in every single human being to ever walk this planet. We want to know why. Why are we here? Why do bad things happen to us? Why do we suffer? Why do we live? Why do we die? And of course, is there something more than this? My husband fills his void by convincing himself there couldn't possibly be anything more than this right now. Like me, he is very scientific, but unlike me, he has absolutely no spirituality. It works for him and many other atheists, and that's great. It doesn't work for me. While I don't believe in divine beings, I still craved filling my void with something. That is where paganism came into the picture.

While in high school I visited Borders (the old bookstore) often. One day while walking to the bathroom a white book caught my eye. Teen Witch. I stopped. "Huh." I thought, "What's this about?" I picked it up and read the back cover. It was as if the sky opened and trumpets sang from the heavens. I forgot all about going to the bathroom and walked straight to the counter to purchase it. Yes, the book that started it all was Teen Witch by Silver Ravenwolf. I know, she is not the best person to take advice from, but at the time she was the most important pagan teacher in my life. I read several of her books. I carried Teen Witch with me everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Despite the criticism Teen Witch received, it spoke volumes to me when I needed it most. Silver did a great job relating it to a religion I already understood: Christianity. Up until this point I had no idea what Wicca was and thought witchcraft was only something practiced in the movies. I knew bits and pieces about other world religions, but my foundation was Christianity. I know many people hate this book for the exact reason I liked it most as a teen. If I had not seen her book that day 10 years ago, I'm not sure what path I would be on.

While I am no longer Wiccan and have made some serious leaps and bounds in my spirituality, I won't ever forget my humble beginnings. A couple years ago I very reluctantly donated Teen Witch to Goodwill. It was hard to drop it in the donation box, but I knew it was time for it to change another teen's life.

So there you have it. The most influential pagan teacher in my life is Silver Ravenwolf, one of the most criticized and down right hated pagan authors on the planet. But it's okay. It's my story, my beginning, and I doubt I am alone in it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Home Blessing

New Home Blessing

Now that I have shared the new house with you, even without seeing the inside, I'd like to share my home blessing with you. Before we moved our furniture in, I did my space clearing spell to get rid of any lingering energies and what not. Since the energy of the house was already stirred up from the past owner moving out just hours before, I did a light cleaning and started the ritual without clapping or ringing a bell. Unfortunately, I was alone during this ritual so I don't have any pictures. I will tell you I bought a beautiful new white sage smudge and a shell to go with it. (Please keep in mind the use of white sage is frowned upon by non-Native witches. Please see Decolonizing Witchcraft: Racism, Whitewashing, and Cultural Appropriation in Witchcraft for more information.)

After clearing the energy from the house I moved our stuff in and we started setting things up in their less than permanent locations. I did not bless the house for almost a week for a couple of reasons. First of all, I just haven't been around. Second, I wanted to spend some time getting to know the house before I blessed it and ask it to accept us. Because we had such little time to buy and move, I didn't get several months of visiting and revisiting to get to know the place. The previous owner was still living here which also complicated matters. Her late husband died here. Not in the house physically, but the house watched the man who had lived here since the day it was built waste away on the front porch from cancer before suddenly disappearing and dying in the hospital within a couple weeks. My husband laughs at me, but I can tell the house was still mourning the loss and was not expecting the wife to suddenly move out either. The previous couple lived here for 32 years. That's a hell of a long time and a lot of energy to deal with. Needless to say, I finally felt comfortable enough to bless the house and ask it to accept us

For my blessing, I used a premixed loose incense from my local metaphysical shop. It's called Blessed Space and contains a mixture of white willow bark, myrrh, jasmine, rose bud and petal, clove, ginger, orris root, dandelion, and blessed thistle. Quite a potent mix. Each of these has very specific qualities to bring to the blessing. Willow bark is a traditionally used in blessings while myrrh lifts vibrations and jasmine and rose to bring love and happiness into the space. Clove and ginger are burned for protection (and also exorcism but we won't talk about that). Ginger also brings success, happiness, and prosperity along with orris root. Dandelion and blessed thistle expel negative energy and purify the space.

     Blessing Incense
     Charcoal (if using loose leaf)
     Censor or fire proof dish
     Match or lighter

    New Home Blessing
  1. To begin I charged all my objects with their intent, including the piece of charcoal I was using. This is the first time I have used charcoal and it took me a bit to get it to light with a match (6 matches actually). 
  2. Once lit, place a spoonful of incense on the charcoal and waft until it billows smoke.
  3.  Proceeded clockwise around the space while chanting "Smoke of Air and Fire of Earth, Cleanse and bless this home and hearth. Drive way all harm and fear; only good may enter here." Visualize the house filling with a warm pink and golden glow of love, prosperity, and happiness.
  4. Allow the incense to burn completely down or douse with water. Bury the remains in your yard or discard them in the trash.
You may want to carry the loose incense with you while you do this ritual. I had to add more twice to make it around the whole house.

New Home Blessing

This incense smelled amazing. I could feel the mood of the house change almost immediately. It was a very beautiful and personal ritual, even if it didn't involve a bunch of work.

Good luck blessing your own home! May it bring you the peace and happiness it is bringing me.