What a summer we have had this year, with our green land turning brown, then subsiding into wet-weather catch-up and brown land all turned green again but everyone should have definitely built up their Vitamin D. Normality has now resumed and weather is all to pot once more. Oh well, good whilst it lasted! Now we approach the end of the light nights as we hit the Autumn equinox, when light and dark become equal and the night takes back control as we head off on our annual journey once more to the shortest day. Some good weather usually helps us on our way, but even as I begin this newsletter, I have already been shocked by the trees beginning to turn brown and the hawthorn and rowan trees covered in bright red berries! Will watch and report but my holly tree is covered!
What to do at Mabon…
The Equinox brings a chill in the air, morning mist and falling leaves, the kids have gone back to school and every home has returned to normal. This is time to review your year and what you have achieved. Review your wish box and make any updated adjustments that are needed. Decorate your altar with Sun and Moon symbols and colour it with seasonal gold and yellow, and maybe even some colourful fallen leaves. Time to get the slow pots and pressure cookers back out and have a go at making spicy root soup to warm and boost the system, and have a bonfire in the gardento tidy before the winter, using the soup to warm and some fruity mulled wine to comfort. This is a busy time for us with real fires, cutting wood and splitting logs, stacking and drying them ready for winter. Some will fill the kitchen with the aroma of fruit pies and jams, pickled onions and spicy mincemeat, making the most of the seasonal glut of ripe fruit and vegetables and storing for winter. Get the children watching the horse chestnut trees and bring home the fresh conkers, not only for childhood games, but also to leave in those rooms prone to spiders …they hate the aroma of fresh conkers and will take their web elsewhere.
When dark and light are equal and we are heading to the darkest days, this is a good time to do those things a fun-filled summer stops you from doing, like learning a new skill, trying tarot or dowsing, maybe learning to make jam or bake cakes, pies or biscuits, or make wine. Or maybe you can spend your winter nights learning a life skill like knitting, sewing or crochet. In years gone by, the winter was when the clothes were made and jumpers knitted. I certainly remember my school jumpers all being made by my mum during the winter. Every tv programme we watched was accompanied by the clicking of needles!! Since the birth of my grandson, I have re-taken up knitting to provide him with hats, scarves and jumpers to see him through the winter, something that grannies have done since time immemorial! What will you do this winter rather than just fester in front of the tv? Time to decide…
A couple simple Autumnal spells just for you…
I mentioned spiders previously, but here is a simple thing to change how you think of spiders…even though they aim to trap flies and wasps etc and are very useful to us, some just hoover them up or kill them. Firstly, any spider sat in the open is simply a female looking for a mate…yes, it’s a horny spider, so leave her alone, poor girl! If you want to set her free, then catch her under a glass, place cardboard underneath and take her outside. Spiders are a symbol of connection, creation and all things communicative, so can help you weave your web of destiny!
When you take her outside to a nearby tree or bush, whisper the following:
“Mrs Spider, go run free, and weave a wish in your web for me”
As you introduce her to her new home in your garden, whisper your need/wish/goal and know, as you work to achieve your goal, there is a little friend out there helping to weave your wish for you too.
Autumn to us as kids meant bramble picking, free food for the winter, which mum made into pies and crumbles with apples. Brambles bring good health and abundance and apples protection, so traditional, bramble and apple pie would be weaved with a little magick to help you survive the winter in good health, with enough coal for heat and food to eat. My nan used the leaves as a tea for an upset tummy and the fruit to make blackberry rob to fight colds, and to dye cloth or wool, so helpful free berry indeed. As you pick, wash and prepare the fruit, simply say:
“Fruit dark and sweet, and so good to eat, bring us good health and abundant wealth”
Keep repeating as a quiet affirmation during preparation, cooking and serving and let the bramble do its best!
Rosemary…plant of remembrance…
On setting up my new front garden a couple years ago, I planted rosemary and lavender either side of the entrance, and looking out this year, the rosemary has grown much beyond the lavender. This made me smile, as when rosemary grows strong in the front garden, it depicts a strong woman lives inside!!
Like lavender, rosemary is a Mediterranean plant, its name meaning ‘dew of the sea’. It has been used for centuries to restore the system from ‘worry and despondency’ and keep sickness at bay, being burned in hospitals and homes of the sick to fumigate the air. It mostly gained it reputation from being a key ingredient in Hungary Water… a remedy given to Queen Isabella of Hungary. She was 72 and suffering from Gout, but her physician steeped a pound rosemary in a gallon of wine, and after a year of both applying the infusion to her limbs and drinking the remedy, she recovered both health and beauty, and Hungary water was so named. Research into rosemary in modern day has shown it to be a powerful anti-oxidant with an ability to slow down the ageing process. It certainly can heighten concentration and stimulate the brain and circulation.
It was also an ingredient in Four Thieves Vinegar. The story goes that a gang of thieves took to robbing graves, as it was a lucrative business, around Versailles or Marseilles during the Black Death in the 14thCentury, but they never contracted the plague themselves. When they were caught, they exchanged the recipe for their lives! This vinegar can be homemade and is still used in magick today, though I have never needed to make it.
In days gone by, mourners carried rosemary en route to the cemetery, and would throw the branches onto the coffin in the grave before it was filled with earth and today, it is certainly a good herb to plant at a graveside for remembrance of your loved one.
Making your own smudge sticks…
As with my rosemary and lavender above, plants need trimming and cutting back. So, why don’t you use some of the cuttings to make your own smudge sticks? They really are quite simple and can be done with the minimum of fuss or tools. All you need is fresh herbs and twine or string,
But what herbs? Sage, normal garden sage, rosemary and lavender are great to include but you can also add pine or eucalyptus if you have trees nearby, and even mints and thyme can be included and you can roll rose petals or other flowers within. To begin, put several branches together at the base and cut so the ends are together and the tops finish together…it just makes binding the stick together easier.
Cut a piece of twine 4 times the length of your bundle Tie the bottom of the bundle together with a knot at one end of the string, tighten around the bundle, then bind the bundle together, spiraling the twine up to the top of the bundle, then wrap back down crisscrossing the twine back to the base and tucking in any stray leaves. Tie the loose ends at the bottom. Hang your smudge up in a warm place to dry for about 3 weeks. You will then be good to light and smudge away, following tradition going back through the centuries and the ritual practices of the past!
Wedding Anniversary traditions…something new
As you know, last year I eloped to Gretna with our kids and married my partner, so thought I would look into Anniversary traditions for something new to cover. Each anniversary has a gemstone, gift, colour and flower associated with it, so thought it would be fun to feature for those getting married in the future.
The 1stAnniversary traditionally is Paper, and represents the frailty of early marriage, the strength of the paper being in its threads. Beginning your new life together is symbolized by a blank sheet! How strong is your connection and your relationship? Will it crumple easily or stand the test of time? The story is yet to be written. Clocks are often exchanged by couples on their 1stanniversary to represent the relationship and the test of time!
The colour associated is yellow or gold (dawn of marriage), the flower, some say Pansy, some say Carnation and the stone is Mother of Pearl. So how will you celebrate? Hold an anniversary dinner with people/family who witnessed your wedding, and maybe use the top layer of your wedding cake, if you had one (I didn’t) as your anniversary cake! You could have paper flowers decorating your table or fancy designed and named napkins.
Your first anniversary sets the trend for future anniversaries so this is when to begin a memories box or album (both will involve Paper inside) so you can reminisce on your marriage journey. Make sure you celebrate in style with a day or weekend trip, plan a city break somewhere you both would like or a luxury dinner somewhere special. If you exchange gifts, it can be a jigsaw puzzle, a book of things to do together, a sundial, magazine subscription, tickets to a show… the list is endless as to how you can celebrate your Paper anniversary. If money is tight, then spend the day having a picnic and make “Love tokens” for later, or make a paper trail with clues round the house. This is your first anniversary so make it special…I know we are…!!
New Moon: Sun 9 Sept @ 19.02 hrs Full Moon: Tue 25 Sept @ 03.53 hrs
New Moon: Tue 9 Oct @ 04.47 hrs Full Moon: Wed 24 Oct @ 17.46 hrs
A New Adventure…
Start as you mean to go on! We had chatted about what to do for our anniversary and decided on a city break each year, as there are lots of fabulous cities yet to see. Well, hubby did himself proud as he surprised me with a trip to New York followed by New England! I know… that means Salem too! Another item from my bucket list to honour the history of my path. What a lucky little witch I am to have finally found such a lovely, caring man!
Check our FB page during my break for any shop closures. I have covered my shifts between Helen and Chaz, but the best laid plans… there are things up in the air that we cannot account for at the time of writing. Helen will post an update if things don’t quite go to plan and we have to close for a day! I am also planning a Mabon wishing weekend, so watch for more details on that. The Equinox a little later this year so let’s make magick & mischief!!
Bright autumnal blessings from Chris (alias the Green Witch)