Monday, September 29, 2014

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins

As the year comes to a close and Samhain approaches, the Ivy moon rolls in at the end of the harvest season. Ivy often lives on after its host plant has died -- a reminder to us that life goes on, in the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. The Celts called this month Gort, pronounced go-ert. This is a time to banish the negative from your life. Do workings related to improving yourself, and placing a barricade between you and the things that are toxic to you. Ivy can be used in magic performed for healing, protection, cooperation, and to bind lovers together.

Celtic Tree Months

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Inner Realm – The Physical or Terrestrial Realm

The inner realm is the physical realm, composed of the four Platonic elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. These are the basest realms, comprised primarily of matter with very little spiritual essence. However, these realms are still important to occultists because they are the realms we can most easily comprehend and with which we can most easily rate. One must understand their physical nature before he can hope to elevate himself beyond it.

Nature of The Realm

The Physical realms are considered both material and perishable. Material things do not last forever, and they are frequently subject to compositing and/or mutation into new forms.

Rarified Elements vs. Composite Physical Material

Furthermore, even these base realms function at a higher level than what we generally consider physical reality. Rainwater is not the same as the element of Water, and a match flame is not pure elemental Fire. Everything that we can physically interact with is a composite of elements, comprised of elemental combinations.

Hence, even the realm of earth, the basest of the Terrestrial realms, is still more pure, more rarefied than the physical soil beneath our feet or the flesh from which we are made.

Earth, Water, Air and Fire

The Terrestrial realms are ordered in a scientific fashion: through the application of heat (Fire), solids (Earth) can transform into liquids (Water), which can in turn evaporate into the air (Air). Fire, being the catalyst and strongly associated with the divine light, is then naturally placed at the top of this hierarchy.

Spirit: The Fifth Element

Between the Terrestrial and Spiritual realms lies a fifth element known by a number of names, including Spirit, Quintessence (Latin for “fifth element”), and Aether. While numbered as an element, Spirit was generally accepted to be something more rarified than any of the four physical elements. Also, while all physical matter is comprised of combinations of the four elements, Spirit was beyond matter, and it served such purposes as connecting body to soul and, in a cosmological sense, the Terrestrial realm to the Celestial one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Vilokan: Vodou Spirit Realm

Vilokan is the home of the lwa in Vodou. It is synonymous with the spirit realm, as opposed to the physical realm in which mortals live. It is depicted as a submerged island.
Legba is the gatekeeper of Vilokan and thus he is always approached first in Vodou ceremonies in order for participants to be granted access to the other lwa. The traditional chant is:
Atibo Legba, open the gates for me, Papa Legba, open the gates for me Open the gates that I might enter When I will return, I will salute the laws Vodou Legba, open the gates for me WI will return, I will thank the laws

Ties Between Physical World and Vilokan

Vilokan in many ways mirrors the physical realm, and this is frequently represented in ritual through such things as double handshakes, pairs of people mirroring each other's gestures, and a variety of gestures in ritual being the opposite of how it is commonly done in the mundane world.

The two worlds are connected, and it is represented in Vodou temples by a central pole, the potomitan, around which ceremonies are performed. This pole is often touched at the beginning of ritual to reinforce the connection between priest and spirit world.

As an Afterlife

Vilokan is also the realm of the dead. Ancestor worship is an important aspect of Vodou and are honored in ways similar to the honoring of lwa.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall Equinox or Mabon Tomorrow

Mabon or fall equinox is tomorrow, its a day of reflection and thanks

Have a Happy Mabon

-The Crafty Witch!

Friday, September 19, 2014

How To Honor the Dark Mother at Mabon

Demeter and Persephone are strongly connected to the time of the Autumn Equinox. When Hades abducted Persephone, it set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the earth falling into darkness each winter. This is the time of the Dark Mother, the Crone aspect of the triple goddess. The goddess is bearing this time not a basket of flowers, but a sickle and scythe. She is prepared to reap what has been sown.

The earth dies a little each day, and we must embrace this slow descent into dark before we can truly appreciate the light that will return in a few months.

This ritual welcomes the archetype of the Dark Mother, and celebrates that aspect of the Goddess which we may not always find comforting or appealing, but which we must always be willing to acknowledge. Decorate your altar with symbols of Demeter and her daughter -- flowers in red and yellow for Demeter, purple or black for Persephone, stalks of wheat, Indian corn, sickles, baskets. Have a candle on hand to represent each of them -- harvest colors for Demeter, black for Persephone. You'll also need a chalice of wine, or grape juice if you prefer, and a pomegranate.
If you normally cast a circle, or call the quarters, do so now. Turn to the altar, and light the Persephone candle. Say:

The land is beginning to die, and the soil grows cold.
The fertile womb of the earth has gone barren.
As Persephone descended into the Underworld,
So the earth continues its descent into night.
As Demeter mourns the loss of her daughter,
So we mourn the days drawing shorter.
The winter will soon be here.

Light the Demeter candle, and say:

In her anger and sorrow, Demeter roamed the earth,
And the crops died, and life withered and the soil went dormant.
In grief, she traveled looking for her lost child,
Leaving darkness behind in her wake.
We feel the mother's pain, and our hearts break for her,
As she searches for the child she gave birth to.
We welcome the darkness, in her honor.

Break open the pomegranate (it's a good idea to have a bowl to catch the drippings), and take out six seeds. Place them on the altar. Say:

Six months of light, and six months of dark.
The earth goes to sleep, and later wakes again.
O dark mother, we honor you this night,
And dance in your shadows.
We embrace that which is the darkness,
And celebrate the life of the Crone.
Blessings to the dark goddess on this night, and every other.

As the wine is replaced upon the altar, hold your arms out in the Goddess position, and take a moment to reflect on the darker aspects of the human experience. Think of all the goddesses who evoke the night, and call out:

Demeter, Inanna, Kali, Tiamet, Hecate, Nemesis, Morrighan.
Bringers of destruction and darkness,
I embrace you tonight.
Without rage, we cannot feel love,
Without pain, we cannot feel happiness,
Without the night, there is no day,
Without death, there is no life.
Great goddesses of the night, I thank you.

Take a few moments to meditate on the darker aspects of your own soul. Is there a pain you've been longing to get rid of? Is there anger and frustration that you've been unable to move past? Is there someone who's hurt you, but you haven't told them how you feel? Now is the time to take this energy and turn it to your own purposes. Take any pain inside you, and reverse it so that it becomes a positive experience. If you're not suffering from anything hurtful, count your blessings, and reflect on a time in your life when you weren't so fortunate.

When you are ready, end the ritual.

Celebrate the darker aspects of the Goddess at the autumn equinox.
Image by paul kline/Vetta/Getty Images

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mabon Balance Meditation

A Time of Positive and Negative Energy

Mabon is one of those times of year that affect people in different ways. For some, it's a season to honor the darker aspects of the goddess, calling upon that which is devoid of light. For others, it's a time of thankfulness, of gratitude for the abundance we have at the season of harvest. No matter how you see it, Mabon is traditionally a time of balance. After all, it's one of the two times each year that has equal amounts of darkness and daytime.

Because this is, for many people, a time of high energy, there is sometimes a feeling of restlessness in the air, a sense that something is just a bit "off". If you're feeling a bit spiritually lopsided, with this simple meditation you can restore a little balance into your life.

Setting the Mood

Now that fall is here, why not do an autumn version of Spring Cleaning? Get rid of any emotional baggage you're dragging around with you. Accept that there are darker aspects to life, and embrace them, but don't let them rule you. Understand that a healthy life finds balance in all things.
You can perform this ritual anywhere, but the best place to do it is outside, in the evening as the sun goes down. Decorate your altar (or if you're outside, use a flat stone or tree stump) with colorful autumn leaves, acorns, small pumpkins, and other symbols of the season. You'll need a black candle and a white one of any size, although tealights probably work best. Make sure you have something safe to put them in, either a candle holder or a bowl of sand.
Light both candles, and say the following:

A balance of night and day, a balance of light and dark
Tonight I seek balance in my life
as it is found in the Universe.
A black candle for darkness and pain
and things I can eliminate from my life.
A white candle for the light, and for joy
and all the abundance I wish to bring forth.
At Mabon, the time of the equinox,
there is harmony and balance in the Universe,
and so there shall be in my life.


Meditate on the things you wish to change. Focus on eliminating the bad, and strengthening the good around you. Put toxic relationships into the past, where they belong, and welcome new positive relationships into your life. Let your baggage go, and take heart in knowing that for every dark night of the soul, there will be a sunrise the next morning.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mabon Prosperity Candles

Mabon is a time to be thankful for all the things we have -- a garden full of crops to pick, full apple trees in the orchards, and the bread we've been baking with the grain already harvested. Although this is a time of balance, it's also a time to look at what you have and be grateful for it. Celebrate the abundance of the harvest season by inviting prosperity into your life. These simple candles can be given as gifts, burned on your altar, or placed around the house to bring abundance your way.
You'll need the following items on your workspace before you begin:
  • An unscented candle in a harvest color -- yellow, orange, brown, or in green to symbolize cash in hand
  • Your choice of Money Oil or essential oil of cinnamon, orange, or ginger
  • Something to inscribe the candle with -- a pencil, stylus, etc.
  • A pinch of dried basil, sage or dill
If you normally cast a circle or invoke Deity before a working, do so now. Using the stylus or pencil, inscribe your intent upon the candle. For example, if you need money to pay the bills, carve that on there. If you just want extra fun money, write that on the candle too. If you're not sure how much you need, you can use symbols of money such as the $ dollar sign or a runic symbol. In traditional runes, Fehu is the sign of prosperity.
Once you've completed your inscription, anoint the candle with the Money Oil. If you don't have Money Oil, use another essential oil that brings prosperity -- cinnamon, orange or ginger are all good to use. Focus your intent into the candle, drawing abundance to you. Rub a small amount of the dried basil, sage or dill -- all herbs connected with money -- into the oil. As you do, clearly visualize how you will be using the money that comes your way. Will you use it to pay off debt? Buy a new car? Take a class for personal growth?
Light the candle, and meditate on the flame. Continue focusing on your intent, and imagine it building, first as a small spark, and then growing into a large ball of light. Maintain this image as long as you can, and then release it into the candle flame. Make sure the candle is in a safe place so as not to be a fire hazard (a bowl of sand is perfect for this) and allow the candle to burn out on its own.

Use a green candle, or one in a harvest color, for prosperity magic.
Image by cstar55/E+/Getty Images

Friday, September 12, 2014

How To Make a Mabon Cleansing Wash

  This herbal infusion can be used as a skin wash or a cleanser for your ritual space. By infusing the herbs in water, you can take advantage of the medicinal properties as well as the magical ones. A quart-sized jar, like the type used in food canning, is ideal for this because it allows for a tight seal, and they hardly ever break.
To make this cleansing wash, we'll be using herbs that are in full bloom in the weeks before Mabon.
You'll need a handful of each of the following:
Place the herbs in the glass jar. Pour boiling water over them until the jar is filled. Screw the lid on loosely, and allow to steep for four to six hours. Strain out all the plant material. Cap the jar, and store in a cool place. Use as a skin wash or to asperge your home or sacred space.

How To Make a Mabon Cleansing Wash
Use fresh herbs from your garden to make a cleansing wash for Mabon.
Image by Maximilian Stock Ltd./Taxi/Getty Images

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 Easy Decorating Ideas for Mabon

Need some quick and affordable decorating ideas for Mabon? Here are some tips on how to bring the season into your home without breaking your bank account!

the season into your home without breaking your bank account!


Image by Patti Wigington 2009
At Mabon, the apple season is in full bloom. In addition to being delicious, these beautiful fruits - available in so many different colors - are perfect for Mabon divination and magic. A symbol of the goddess Pomona to the ancient Romans, apples can be used in your home for decoration during the autumn equinox season. Place baskets and bowls of them around your home, as well as on your altar.
You can also use apples in a Mabon Apple Harvest Ritual. This harvest ritual is designed with solitary Wiccans and Pagans in mind, and uses the apple and its five-pointed star as the focus.
In addition to being tasty and sweet, apples are perfect for craft projects. Try one of these to decorate your home with magical apple energy:
  • Apple Candleholders: Make a set of decorative candleholders by coring out the top of a pair of apples.
  • Apple Garlands: This easy-to-make craft not only looks pretty, but will leave your home smelling delicious and welcoming!
  • Apple Butter: Brew up a pot of delicious apple butter to celebrate the harvest.

Grapevines, Leaves and Acorns

Image © Patti Wigington 2007
Much like the apple, the grape is one of those fruits that has a significant amount of magic associated with it. First and foremost, the grape harvest -- and the wine that it produces -- has been associated with fertility deities like Egypt's Hathor, the lusty Roman Bacchus and his Greek counterpart, Dionysus. By the time of Mabon, grape arbors are flourishing. Vines, leaves and fruit are all usable items -- the leaves are often used in Mediterranean cooking, the vines for craft projects, and the grapes themselves are extremely versatile.
At Mabon, the leaves are beginning to change colors for the season, and look magnificent. Collect leaves from around your neighborhood in a variety of colors, and use them to decorate your altar, or make wall hangings and table runners.
If you have oak trees nearby, collect acorns - in the absence of acorns, other nuts such as hazelnuts or buckeyes are a great option - and store them in pretty glass jars tied with ribbons, place them in bowl, or string them together to make a garland.


Image by Dimitri Otis/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Although they haven't always looked the way they do now, scarecrows have been around a long time and have been used in a number of different cultures. Put one in your front yard or garden to keep the crows out of the crop, or make a smaller one to place on your altar: Scarecrow History.


Image (c) Patti Wigington 2007
Mabon is a time of balance, prosperity and renewal, and it's a good time to tap into your creative talents to decorate your home. Take advantage of the season and make:
  • Mabon Incense: Make this magical blend of harvest incense to use during your Mabon rites and ceremonies.
  • Make a Mabon Cleansing Wash: Brew up a batch of this cleansing wash using herbs from your fall garden -- you can use it as a facial cleanse, or to purify your ritual space.
  • Mabon Prosperity Candles: Mabon is the second of the harvest festivals, and a great time to draw abundance into your life. Celebrate the blessings of the season with a little bit of candle magic designed to bring prosperity your way.
  • Make a God's Eye at Mabon: God's eyes are popular decorations to make in nearly every spiritual path. By using harvest colors like reds, oranges, yellows and browns, you can create one for Mabon to hang in your home or to adorn your altar.
  • How to Make Pokeberry Ink: Want to make your own ink to use in magical workings? Try the toxic but lovely pokeberry, which blooms around Mabon each year!

Pumpkins and Gourds

Image by Patti Wigington 2007
Although carved pumpkins, in the form of Jack O'Lanterns are typically associated with Samhain later in the fall, the pumpkin patches are overflowing at Mabon. These and other gourds and members of the squash family make a great addition to your equinox decorating. Place pumpkins on your porch and baskets of squash in your kitchen, or place miniature versions of them on your altar or workspace.
Also, be sure to check out some of our pumpkin and gourd themed craft ideas:
  • Easy Pumpkin Candles: Everyone loves candles, and with Mabon coming you can make your own candles out of small pumpkins and squashes.
  • Painted Pentacle Pumpkins: Paint up some festive pentacle pumpkins for your Mabon celebrations!
  • Kitchen Witch: Use a baby butternut or any other fall vegetable to make a kitchen witch to watch over your hearth and home.
Be sure to read up on some ideas for decorating your Sabbat altar here: Decorating Your Mabon Altar

Monday, September 8, 2014

Full Moon - Harvest Moon

September brings us the Harvest Moon, sometimes referred to as the Wine Moon or the Singing Moon. This is the time of year when the last of the crops are being gathered from the fields and stored for the winter. There's a chill in the air, and the earth is slowly beginning its move towards dormancy as the sun pulls away from us. It's the season when we're celebrating Mabon, the autumn equinox.
  • Colors: Browns and greens, earth tones
  • Gemstones: Citrine, chrysolite, peridot, bloodstone
  • Trees: Bay, larch, hawthorn
  • Gods: Demeter, Brighid, Freyja, Vesta
  • Herbs: Wheat, valerian, witch hazel, skullcap
  • Element: Earth
This is a month of hearth and home. Spend some time preparing your environment for the upcoming chilly months. If you don't already have one, set up a hearth or kitchen altar for those times when you're cooking, baking and canning. Use this time to clear out clutter -- both physical and emotional -- before you have to spend the long winter days inside.
Also Known As: Wine Moon, Singing Moon

Friday, September 5, 2014

Origins of the Word Mabon

In Welsh folklore, there is a figure known as Mabon ap Modron, or Mabon son of Modron. He appears in some of the Arthurian legends, as one of Uther Pendragon’s loyal servants, and as a follower of Arthur himself.

Also of note, there was a female Cornish saint named Mabyn, to whom the founding of St. Mabyn’s Church is dedicated, although there is speculation that the church was actually started by the Welshman, Mabon, rather than the female martyred saint. Mabyn’s festival is celebrated on November 18, approximately halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.

There is much discussion in the Pagan community as to whether one of these figures provide the name of the autumn equinox holiday, Mabon. Interestingly, it appears that the tradition of calling the autumn equinox by the name Mabon goes back only to around 1970, when author Aidan Kelley wrote was gathering information for his 1991 book, Crafting the Art of Magic, and assigned new names to the Sabbats, most of which were rooted in Celtic lore. The purpose, Kelly has said, was to conceptualize modern Pagan religious ceremonies.

Historian Ronald Hutton has pointed out that there is no academic evidence indicating that ancient Celts called their equinox celebration Mabon.

In Druidic traditions, the autumn equinox was referred to as Alban Elfed, meaning the light of the water. This name refers to a time of year in which the balance of light and dark shifts, so that the darkness begins to take over.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mabon History: The Second Harvest

The Science of the Equinox:
Two days a year, the Northern and Southern hemispheres receive the same amount of sunlight. Not only that, each receives the same amount of light as they do dark -- this is because the earth is tilted at a right angle to the sun, and the sun is directly over the equator. In Latin, the word equinox translates to "equal night." The autumn equinox, or Mabon, takes place on or near September 21, and its spring counterpart falls around March 21. If you're in the Northern hemisphere, the days will begin getting shorter after the autumn equinox and the nights will grow longer -- in the Southern hemisphere, the reverse is true.

Global Traditions:
The idea of a harvest festival is nothing new. In fact, people have celebrated it for millennia, all around the world. In ancient Greece, Oschophoria was a festival held in the fall to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine. In the 1700's, the Bavarians came up with Oktoberfest, which actually begins in the last week of September, and it was a time of great feasting and merriment, still in existence today. China's Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the night of the Harvest Moon, and is a festival of honoring family unity.

Giving Thanks:
Although the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving falls in November, many cultures see the second harvest time of the fall equinox as a time of giving thanks. After all, it's when you figure out how well your crops did, how fat your animals have gotten, and whether or not your family will be able to eat during the coming winter. However, by the end of November, there's not a whole lot left to harvest. Originally, the American Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on October 3, which makes a lot more sense agriculturally.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued his "Thanksgiving Proclamation", which changed the date to the last Thursday in November. In 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt adjusted it yet again, making it the second-to-last Thursday, in the hopes of boosting post-Depression holiday sales. Unfortunately, all this did was confuse people. Two years later, Congress finalized it, saying that the fourth Thursday of November would be Thanksgiving, each year.

Symbols of the Season:
The harvest is a time of thanks, and also a time of balance -- after all, there are equal hours of daylight and darkness. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.
Some symbols of Mabon include:
  • Mid-autumn vegetables, like squashes and gourds
  • Apples and anything made from them, such as cider or pies
  • Seeds, nuts and seed pods
  • Baskets, symbolizing the gathering of crops
  • Sickles and scythes
  • Grapes, vines, wine
You can use any of these to decorate your home or your altar at Mabon.

Feasting and Friends:
Early agricultural societies understood the importance of hospitality -- it was crucial to develop a relationship with your neighbors, because they might be the ones to help you when your family ran out of food. Many people, particularly in rural villages, celebrated the harvest with great deals of feasting, drinking, and eating. After all, the grain had been made into bread, beer and wine had been made, and the cattle were brought down from the summer pastures for the coming winter. Celebrate Mabon yourself with a feast -- and the bigger, the better!

Magic and Mythology:
Nearly all of the myths and legends popular at this time of the year focus on the themes of life, death, and rebirth. Not much of a surprise, when you consider that this is the time at which the earth begins to die before winter sets in!

Demeter and Her Daughter
Perhaps the best known of all the harvest mythologies is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter was a goddess of grain and of the harvest in ancient Greece. Her daughter, Persephone, caught the eye of Hades, god of the underworld. When Hades abducted Persephone and took her back to the underworld, Demeter's grief caused the crops on earth to die and go dormant. By the time she finally recovered her daughter, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and so was doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld. These six months are the time when the earth dies, beginning at the time of the autumn equinox.

Inanna Takes on the Underworld
The Sumerian goddess Inanna is the incarnation of fertility and abundance. Inanna descended into the underworld where her sister, Ereshkigal, ruled. Erishkigal decreed that Inanna could only enter her world in the traditional ways -- stripping herself of her clothing and earthly posessions. By the time Inanna got there, Erishkigal had unleashed a series of plagues upon her sister, killing Inanna. While Inanna was visiting the underworld, the earth ceased to grow and produce. A vizier restored Inanna to life, and sent her back to earth. As she journeyed home, the earth was restored to its former glory.

Modern Celebrations
For contemporary Druids, this is the celebration of Alban Elfed, which is a time of balance between the light and the dark. Many Asatru groups honor the fall equinox as Winter Nights, a festival sacred to Freyr.
For most Wiccans and NeoPagans, this is a time of community and kinship. It's not uncommon to find a Pagan Pride Day celebration tied in with Mabon. Often, PPD organizers include a food drive as part of the festivities, to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and to share with the less fortunate.
If you choose to celebrate Mabon, give thanks for the things you have, and take time to reflect on the balance within your own life, honoring both the darkness and the light. Invite your friends and family over for a feast, and count the blessings that you have among kin and community.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Celtic Tree Month of Vine Tomorrow

The Vine month is a time of great harvest -- from the grapes of the Mediterranean to the fruits of the northern regions, the Vine produces fruits we can use to make that most wondrous concoction called wine. The Celts called this month Muin. The Vine is a symbol of both happiness and wrath -- passionate emotions, both of them. Do magical workings this month connected to the Autumn Equinox, or Mabon, and celebrate garden magic, joy and exhilaration, wrath and rage, and the darker aspect of the mother goddess. Use the leaves of the Vines to enhance your own ambition and goals. during this month. The month of Vine is also a good time to get balanced, as there are equal hours of darkness and light.