This day we were to celebrate at Elizabeth’s house, which though it means travel (a challenge especially to my home-body son), it means less cleaning and clearing. But of course getting out of the house is harder, one more bunch of flowers, one more packet of dried grasses, one more offering.
Driving down the roads of this beautiful place that we live I was struck by this particular light of September. Before the leaves become ablaze with color they have a tint, a hue of brown –yellow or orange-gold and with the angle of the equinox sun path there is a cast of light that is only in September. It is the back to school light, the new notebooks light, the light of the side yard from the memory of the month when the boy was newborn and we sat in bed and watched that autumn light – brilliant but not hot, cool but not icy. The sky is so blue and clear but deep with the knowledge of the oncoming winter. By October everything is reds and oranges and bright yellows and deep browns, and by November the color is windswept and barren and brown and grey, but now it is deep golden like the taste of an apple.
Elizabeth builds a fire and Bryan lights sweet grass from our garden and goes around the circle with the smoke clearing and creating space. I offer petals from every type of the many flowers growing in my garden to the Earth Mother, starting in the east and walking around the circle -2 whole times around before the petals are all used. It has been a good flower year.
We all settle down- feeling comfortable on our Mother, feeling her solid supporting us, letting us balance our weight comfortably on her- Elizabeth and Ted in the East, Bryan in the South, Amber in the West, me in the North and Hudson in the shade.
We feel the darkness of the earth below and the brightness of the sky above. We look up to the sky-shining blue with blinding sun streaming into us and touch the solid deepness of the dark cool earth below us rising up into us and feel these energies mix within us. Breathing in and out and feeling this hot shining sun and this cool dark earth; the fire is small but it is in the center and it is a gate. Calling upon Mannanan Mac Lier, walker of the ways between the worlds, gatekeeper; offering magic potion of syrup from a bottle corked with a branch and strands of sweet grass; and opening the gates. Though there were trees and a large pond we focused on only this one gate- this central fire.
I was struck by the silence of this ritual, only Bryan talked (except for our individual praise offerings); no one offered responses (“let the gates be open” etc.)only birds replied to all his words. This has happened at rituals here before, the birds – many different ones- talk at different times and participate.
Making offerings to the outsiders, just past Hudson in the hedgerow- boundaries defined by potion. Bryan called upon Bridget, grove matron and Goddess of eloquence: asking for our words to be true, our thoughts communicated and our voices heard. More magic syrup and the rest of the sweet grass. Elizabeth’s fire always burns.
Most Honored Dead, our teachers and families and friends- it seems there has been lots of passings lately (a reminder of the coming of Samhain)-so many people to honor- the burning of rose petals, so quickly consumed and faintly fragrant and just a bit of syrup. All these respected people- remembered because of what they have left behind, what they have shared with us, what we carry of them inside us today.
The Spirits of Nature, of this place, where we are now, this land we live on, the insects and birds, all the creatures and the rocks, the grasses and trees- sacrifice of rose petals and barely a drop of the potion falls.
Gods and Goddesses, all of them –who are yours- the eclectic pantheon of the modern age- Kaun Yin and the Celtic River Gods from Elizabeth’s bathroom wall, the Green man with his autumn face, the Moon Grandmother, Mercury, and the grey bearded old man of my grandmother’s God. Everyone appreciates rose petals.
This season of Fall, the harvest and this balance of equinox, silence and presence- lots of magic syrup suddenly pours out with the rest of the roses.
Elizabeth offers gratitude for the easing of the rain, purple asters and small pumpkin and tomatoes – especially rare in this season of scant harvest. She offers a story of her dog Grace waiting for her in the driveway, out of the fence for who knows how long, with dog tags pulled but not choked, safely escaped- and in doggie gratitude burns old dog toys. And finally a basket that has seen many harvests, many gathering of beans and more, catching circular fire and burning through holes.
I offer sage for this year of many things and a full sunflower head, not yet eaten by birds, intact with its mesmerizing helix of seeds in deep gratitude for the many flowers, and, looking forward to new seeds for next year and for next year’s harvest to come. I offer a new pink rose for the deep beauty all around us. And I place a dollar to burn in the fire in gratitude for having a roof over our heads and for the bills to once again be paid and for the balance and sustainability without fear of money in our lives.
From the Ancestors – Daguz- day, vantage point, noon
From the Spirits – Wunjo – Joy
From the Gods & Goddesses – Berkana – beginning
And for the season- Kinwaz- the torch
He also, for the first time in our ritual, pulls an Ogham (a stick from the Celtic tree oracle) and it is Oak. – well of course- it is the druid tree and a symbol of standing up straight and also associated with royalty- but let’s not forget all those acorns.
Ah, giving thanks. There was more food, bits from our whole feast to be, given in gratitude. And then a container of Elizabeth’s cyser, that seemed never ending, as thanks to all of the Kindred and seasonal gods and Bridget and Mananan and the Earth Mother. The birds sang. We processed back to the house.