Autumn rituals

Continuing on with my challenge, now that September is almost over I wanted to recap some of my recent autumn rituals.

The fall equinox fell on a Thursday, but my partner and I couldn’t do our ritual until that Saturday, so I marked the equinox itself simply by turning over my seasonal shrine for my spirits from light to dark half of the year. I have one set of items there during spring and summer to express Their manifestation during that part of the year, exemplified by May Day and the fairy rade, and another set for fall and winter, exemplified by All Hallows Eve and the Wild Hunt. So that set the tone for the coming festivals.

This year our equinox celebration had a Johnny Appleseed theme – his birthday being September 26 – because I have long wanted to honor him as a sort of modern avatar of Dionysos (those seeds grew apples suitable for making alcohol, not eating). Our sumbel was done with hard cider rather than mead, we went on a walk around the neighborhood hunting for apples to glean, and our dessert was an amazing apple crisp with a topping of local hazelnuts and honey. And my first toast after Dionysos was to John Chapman, of course. The ritual itself was very simple – I cooked a lovely pomegranate-glazed chicken and some other dishes and we brought the meal out to a wooded area nearby called Edgewood, where we found a suitable spot, shared the meal with the local spirits, made other offerings, and held our sumbel accompanied by libations (as he is Heathen and I am Hellenic).

Next up was Michaelmas, which was yesterday. Over the past few years I’ve found myself drawn to celebrating certain medieval holidays, and just sort of re-paganizing them, as they make potent seasonal markers and cover a lot of the European territory my gods and spirits are connected to. I consider Michaelmas the very beginning of Hunt season. The day before, I baked beer bread from scratch – often the only time each year I bother to make my own bread – in preparation. Yesterday I spent about an hour working on some very special animal remains I am processing, because these seasonal holy days are also when I pay special attention to my animal dead. Then just before sunset, I took the bread, a bottle of beer with an appropriate image on the label, dried apples, hazelnuts, some coins, a deer bone, and incense, and headed out my usual spot for this offering on a butte on the edge of the city.

Except…just as I got to the bus stop that would take me there, I felt a strong pull to change course and instead continue walking to the cemetery a bit further down the street. I immediately got a confirmatory omen of this urge, so I followed it. One of the good things about solitary practice is the ability to make such sudden last minute changes! I think part of the reason I needed to do this was because of my recent exploration of super-local polytheism, where the gods and spirits have been pushing me to focus solely on a very tight radius around my house – no more than, say, a 20-25 minute walk.

Anyway, the cemetery – which is one of my favorite places in the city – was absolutely the right choice. I wandered a bit, reading tombstones, acknowledging the founders and important people of our city’s history (who are almost all buried there), encountering a crazy gathering of stellar jays, and I even found a little corner of it I had never been to before, which was perfect for the ritual. Just as the sun disappeared below the trees, facing west, I laid out all my offerings and sang my Hunt song (I’m on a strange path, I don’t generally recommend people invite the Wild Hunt to them!). Like many of my important rituals these days, the actual thing itself took only a short time, but the preparation and journey there was a significant part of the process.

Once home, I lit fir and cedar incense and went through my house, smudging and singing to all of my animal spirits, of which there are very many.

Tonight is Hekate’s deipnon, and then it will be October! I am putting up Halloween decorations tonight, and am excited for what is, for me, the most wonderful time of the year. The entire month of October is dedicated to one of my spirits and I am looking forward to spending that time deeply engaged with him. Also, for those of you who follow, or aspire to follow, the lunar calendar, we have a neat synch happening where the lunar and civic calendars will align for the month – October 1st is also the Noumenia, and so on.

Happy autumn!

~ by Dver on September 30, 2016.

7 Responses to “Autumn rituals”

  1. how beautiful! thank you for sharing this!
    i’m behind on blogging about my september rituals, i hope to catch up.🙂 khairete

    • So sorry to hear about your Apollon statue. Was that the one I had originally? I loved His fierce expression. Good that you paid attention to the omen, though. Does it indicate a change in cultus or in understanding of Him is imminent? I think sometimes They destroy our images of Them so that we will stop being attached (either to that specific image/idea, or to any at all).

  2. I like your idea with Michaelmas…I have not heard that term used very often outside of when I was in Oxford, where they’re on the trimester system, and the three trimesters are called Michaelmas term (which goes from early Oct. to early Dec.), Hilary term (mid-January to mid-March), and Trinity term (late April to mid-June). Few people, outside of Brits, Waldorf school kids, and a few others have heard of Michaelmas, and I think having it kick off the Wild Hunt season is a very interesting and appropriate development!

    • Well that makes sense, a lot of my practice in that area is influenced by British customs! I do Michaelmas, Martinmas, and Candlemas, the latter two relating primarily to bear cultus. I love all the symbolism and tradition of these days, and how inherently, unselfconsciously pagan they are.

      The big thing on Michaelmas is to cook a goose, and the first year I did this I did cook a big goose and offered portions to Odin, who has received goose sacrifices in the past, but I can’t always do that. Another Michaelmas tradition is the bannock, which is how I got started on always baking special bread.

  3. How do you calculate when to do the deipnon? I’ve started doing those recently and I feel like I never get the timing right. I’ve read that it was done just as the first sliver of the new moon is showing but you seem to do yours at the true dark of the moon.

    • No, the first sliver of the new moon is the Noumenia, which is the first day of the lunar month. The dark of the moon, which is the last day of the lunar month, is when the deipnon is left for Hekate. So I just look up the dark moon date for my time zone, which is easily found, and that’s the deipnon – and I consider the following day to be the Noumenia, since I need to plan ahead and can’t actually go out and look for the first sliver.

    • By the way, here’s some more info (and suggestions for further reading) on the deipnon if you’re interested and haven’t seen it yet:

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