Friday, August 26, 2016

A Clean Sweep With A New Broom

Can you feel it? Even though we're a few weeks away from the  Equinox that designates the Autumn season, there is a vibration growing closer. It's coming from that place where the Veil is thinnest, heralding the sabbat of Samhain.

But before Samhain, there will be Fall. While most of use will be in the mindset that Fall is the end, many Pagan folk believe it's a beginning-our version of New Year according to the ancient Celtic calendar. It's true the leaves will soon be turning color and dying (actually, they have already begun to turn here), a parallel  to the mythic story of the Dying God. Either the year ends with a spectacular blaze of orange, yellow and red glory, or it begins with one...depending on your personal belief. Some traditions celebrate Pagan New Year on October 31 and some at Yule (December 21); others wait to celebrate with the rest of the world and have a Happy New Year on January 1, when Janus looks back at the old year and forward into the new. Personally, it doesn't matter- as long as I get a nice, long period of cool nights, morning frost and a million colored leaves.

For me, Autumn is the time to make a clean sweep with a new broom-literally and figuratively. I start cleaning a few days prior to the Equinox because that's when I  begin to put out the seasonal decorations. I wash windows, clean the cobwebs out of the unseen corners, and give all the floors a good solid scrubbing. There are some cleaning agents I am particularly fond of, but for magickal purposes I use either white vinegar or Florida Water. Both clear out negative vibrations. I follow that by smudging my whole living area with white sage, being sure to get the smoke into all the little nooks and crevices by gently fanning  it with a feather or blowing. Afterward I move all the furniture back into place and tidy up. Clutter blocks energy by trapping it. Cleaning and de-cluttering opens up the energy of a space.

At this time of year I try to have a few folks over for a quiet Harvest celebration consisting of finger foods and mulled wine or cider. Of course apple and pumpkin based recipes are traditional, but anything fruity or earthy will do. I love making a spread for nut bread out of creamed cheese and dates; simply blend the two together, adding a little white wine or apple juice if it's too thick. A bit of nutmeg, and it's ready to spread. I especially like to make apple cake for this kind of evening event, it's wholesome and expresses the Autumn theme ( I add black walnuts and a little rum glaze to mine).
The celebration itself is more of a gratitude circle than a harvest festival: in a cast circle we give thanks for friendship and each other and share light refreshments. We talks about our lives, and about all the new people in them....and we aren't afraid to laugh and tell stories about those who have gone across the Veil before us. In fact, we call them in as a part of the circle casting, leaving a gate for them to enter and leave at will. Sometimes we sing, or use this time as an introduction to a potluck dinner. We keep the lights low after we close the circle, drink more wine, and talk about our plans for the rest of the year. It's truly a celebration of friendship.

Because Autumn is an ending and a beginning, I try to purge my life of things that no longer serve me, especially material items I've outgrown and bad memories. I take in that which is new and different and makes me happy and incorporate it into my everyday. If this includes new items, they can be blessed and/or dedicated. I like to bless and anoint new altar tools at this time. In these days- because when I am alone I stretch this celebration out as long as I can-I do card readings for myself,skry and use my pendulum as a presage of what is to come. I write out what I get from these mediums and analyze it into what my Jungian training calls, " The best story", that is, what is the most positive outcome. This is also a good time to cast runes or bones.

I love to collect dew from the morning frost because it's a natural form of water; I use it to wash my house crystals. Afterward I take them to my personal altar and dedicate them to their specific work for the season ( I do this after every sabbat, but you can dedicate them for the year or however long you like). I also collect fallen acorns and oak leaves to decorate and use in later spellcasting. This is the time of year when I find the most feathers when out for walks in the woods around my home. I also collect seeds and pods ( even if I'm not familiar with them-I identify them later. Be careful of collecting potentially poisonous specimens and wash your hands thoroughly after handling them).

And do burn some wood! There is nothing like the smell of burning wood; pine and hardwoods are my favorite. (Again-know what you're collecting and do not include any woody parts of poisoned ivy or sumac, which can also spread their poisonous properties through smoke.) By burning wood you are combining all of the elements" earth, air, fire and water (even dry woods has some moisture in it contained in any remaining sap deposit that will liquefy in the heat). Remember to be mindful with fire tending and have some way to extinguish the flames on hand such as a bucket of fine earth or water. You may also collect the ashes and find a use for them later ( I am not a wasteful Witch!)

You may even try your hand at creating the physical representation of that 'new broom' by cutting some little twigs and binding them to a small branch with inexpensive twine. I have use the bush parts of marigold plants; the broom is temporary and can be burned in a larger fire at Samhain. Use your imagination!

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