|Painting by Vincent Van Gogh|
Around here, we have both a Pumpkin Festival and an Autumn Jamboree. As you can guess, I'm all about Fall Festivals, and I spend a lot of time going to them to get in the mood for the season. Fortunately, most of Appalachia still celebrate its agrarian roots, so we are awash in apple cider, apple and pumpkin butter, pumpkin pie and cake, apple pies and other seasonal treats. The scarecrows and chrysanthemums begin to appear, sunflowers not given up to seed are tucked here and there, and even an occasional early pumpkin makes its appearance.
And then...There is the sound of the Veil opening. If you are attuned to it, it's a unique sound that begins as a nearly undecipherable thrum increasing in intensity and pitch and is lost in the late October/early November winds. The signs of it are subtle: unexplained gusts of frosty air which clatter the bare bones of tree branches, whirling dervishes of dried leaves around your feet. The is the
cognizant feeling of not only the end of Summer, but The End, the Great Step we will all face one day...welcome Death. The eternal circle of Life that is the seed coming into fruition, blossoming, and dying. Autumn is the time of gradual winding down to the Great Sleep of Earth and Men. Even animals know this a prepare for the change in seasons with increased eating and thickening coats of fur. Boo the Cat, a ragdoll variety who is already fat and fluffy, becomes gloriously lush this time of year; she grooms for hours, stopping to fix me with wise eyes that seem to say, " We need to cuddle more, the nights are growing long and cold."
With the windows open less, my space needs refreshing more often, and the way I do this is to make a heavenly potpourri of apple peels, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves boiled in water. I leave a pot on the back of the stove, and find that adding a bit of rum or vodka to the mix preserves it well enough to be saved in a glass jar and stored in the back of the refrigerator for multiple uses. Keep adding water and refreshing the peel, which may mold ( you don't want those spores in the air!), and it will keep throughout the season.
Another thing I do is gather fallen acorns for spell crafts and decorating. I have also made acorn flour from them, but it is very time consuming, and if not done exactly right, is a waste of effort. If you really want acorn flour for yourself, purchase it online from a reliable source such as Amazon-it is very expensive, but the unique nutty flavor should be experienced at least once.Use it in Native American and Korean recipes. My adventures with acorns is limited to using them in magical preparations where the protective properties of oak are needed, and for decorating. Acorns painted with metallic paints are especially attractive ( gently pry the caps off, pain the nut, then glue the natural colored cap back in place). Or, spraying them with sealer such as Krylon brings out their natural color and gives them shine. Use these nuggets scattered on your altar during the Autumn months, but especially during Mabon and Samhain, to take advantage of the divine energies of Cernunnos and Diana. Acorns are considered a a sacred food in the Otherworld, so leave them in a bowl as an offering.
The unique colors or this time of year can be had by preserving fallen leaves by dipping them in hot liquid wax ( be very careful as burns are common and wax is flammable at high temperatures!) or in a glycerine mixture which can be found here:https://www.todayshomeowner.com/how-to-preserve-fall-leaves-and-branches-with-glycerin/. The preserved leaves/branches can be used to decorate through the Autumn season up to Thanksgiving in November; some work them together with evergreens during the Yule season, too. Leaves can be strung as garlands to hang around your altar, or placed on the altar itself to represent the dying God and Summer.
I love the scent of burning leaves, but more and more there are burning bans against this practice, so I have found several varieties and brands of candles that make a satisfying substitute, such as Autumn Leaves or Fireside by Yankee Candle, and Feu du bois by Diptyque (which smells like burning wood); Goose Creek Candles also has one called Under the Oaks that is slightly sweet. I've found that sandalwood and pine candles burned together give a wonderful vibe.
This is also a great time of the year to start collecting those elusive black candles: Walmart carries them in votive size and eight packs of tea lights for Halloween. Since I use black candles throughout the year, I start buying them as soon as they hit the shelves in September ( don't wait for them to go on sale after Halloween, they're usually gone!) The same goes for any really nice black fabric you may want for decorating or clothing. I actually found a rather nice small, black table runner last year at Dollar Tree, and with the addition of black and dark rainbow beads, it made an outstanding altar cloth for Samhain and my Ancestor Altar.
And so now I will leave you, with September's siren voice calling, to back to my workroom and get on those things to make the season beautiful...remember to listen to the wind. The Veil, too, calls...