Autumn Equinox- Ellen Dugan: Book Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have found some inspiration for the autumn months and the second Harvest Festival, autumn Equinox or Mabon, or whatever else you may call it.

This book forms part of a series of books on the 8 Sabbats, celebrated by many pagans.

As a Southern Hemispherean Pagan we are about to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox, which is March 20 this year.

This book is well-researched and goes into the various harvest festivals celebrated by different cultures. A wonderful, albeit small, inclusion is the Southern Hemisphere.

This book includes spells, recipe’s, myths, crafts and gardening during the autumn months. Since I am creating my own system of religious witchcraft I really found it helpful to add some recipes and crafts as well as review the myth of Persephone and Demeter.





Chapter 1: The Autumnal Equinox and Harvest Home

This chapter is an introduction to the festival of the autumn Equinox, including the various names it goes by, Goddess associations, the problem of Corn/Grain/Maize/Wheat, John Barleycorn and the theme of the sacrificial god, European Harvest Customs, Folklore,Equinox and Autumn festivals, and the Harvest “Down Under” and celebrating the Harvest in the modern world .

Chapter 2: September Sun Signs and Stars

This is the only section that does not apply directly to me as a southern hemispherean, as it is dealing with NH dates only and the Signs of September; Virgo and Libra, while here, as the Equinox is in March our Autumn signs are Pisces and Aries.  Beginnings and Endings of the Zodiac, rather than Scales and Maidens. This year on the Equinox, the sun will be entering Aries, while just moving out of Pisces, the moon will be in Pisces. These balancing energies of beginnings and endings are what I’ll be working with.

If, however, you are in the NH, this section may be helpful, she includes spells for the energies of Libra and Virgo. They would be suitable for both Sun and Moon energies so even in the SH we can work these spells under the suitable moon sign.

Chapter 3- Harvest Moon Magick

She shares a personal experience of the Harvest moon and her son, which I enjoyed.

She has an invocation to Chang-O and includes information on the Chinese Mid-autumn moon festival.

She includes a full moon solitary ritual for the Wine Moon (here the grapes are ripe in early March).

In the full moon faery spell she shares some faery etiquette, like not working with iron tools.

She offers a full moon group ritual for those who have covens or circles.

Chapter 4- Harvest Goddesses

She writes about the goddesses Demeter and Persephone and offers a modern take on the old myth. She includes two spells/rituals that can be done while working with Perspehone and Demeter, one for abundance and prosperity and one when you feel you need to follow your own path.

She writes of Elen of the ways and includes an invocation to her.

Pomona is another goddess she refers to and has a Fall Apple spell for attraction/ getting the attention of someone.

Chapter 5- The Gods of Vegetation and Vine 

Here she talks about Dionysus, the playful god of wine and celebration, and offers a group ritual for Mabon.

The Green man and Herne the Hunter are also focused upon with rituals on facing fears and Autumn Magick.

This section is a great departure from all the Goddess-centric focus in many Neo-Wiccan books.

Chapter 6- The Garden in Autumn: Fall Flower and Foliage Fascination

Here we are in the author’s element. Dugan feels most at home in the garden, and as I myself am a gardener, this section was fantastic, she talks about the various plants of Fall including Asters, American Bittersweet, Morning Glory, Pineapple Sage and more, writing about their properties and what conditions they best grow in.

She includes flower spells and charms which I’d love to try out sometime soon.

In her section on Fall foliage she goes into the scientific explanation of why Fall leaves change colour. In this section she includes the autumn colours, Yellow,Gold, Orange, Rust, Red, Burgundy and which tree’s these colour leaves are most easily found on.

If you are a gardener this section is for you!

Chapter 7- Equinox Enchantment: The Charm of Autumn

“There is something extra enchanting about the Autumn Months. Perhaps it is the snap in the air or the luminous colors of the fall foliage. Apples are ripe, tart, and juicy, and waiting to be made into pies or simply enjoyed for a snack. Grapes dangle temptingly from the vine and are gathered in to make jellies, jams, or wine. There is the spice of the bright jewel-tone colors of the chrysanthemums and whimsy of the scarecrows that guard and add humor to many a home and garden. Of course we have the annual appearance of bright orange pumpkins dotting the neighborhoods and rustling the bundles of cornstalks that stand like sentries around porch posts and entrances” p 130

In this chapter she talks about the folklore, interesting facts and historical information about apples, grapes, ornamental corn, pumpkins, cornucopias, wheat and grain and the scarecrow.

For her Scarecrow Property Protection spell look at my post here.

She also has a scarecrow Abundance charm.

No magical book would be complete without candle magic, and Dugan includes candle magic in this section, using autumn colour correspondences, and some candle spells and rituals including one for the equinox.

Chapter 8- The Harvest Tide Feast

Dugan felt that this section was the hardest for her to approach due to her not enjoying cooking, once she started researching recipes and gaining confidence in her ability she started enjoying cooking and voila this section got written. This section includes the three recipes which I have reviewed and tried out, Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna, Harvest Apple Upside-Down Cake and Apple-Sauce Cookies. Also included are some pumpkin recipes (which I prefer for Samhain and Halloween), and Apple and Blackberry Pies.

I enjoy cooking and baking. My magic and intention is always put into the food I create, whether it is a simple cheese sandwich or a cake I’ve never tried before.

She includes some kitchen hints, an all-purpose food blessing and bewitching tricks and tips like “Instead of using plastic cups to dole out your warm apple cider to your guests, try serving it in hollowed out apples instead. Scoop out the core  and the center of a large apple- try Granny Smith or Rome apples, these are good choices-and fill it with warm cider. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.” p169

In the last section of this chapter she includes Pagan Prayers.

Chapter 9- Autumn Potpourri: Spellcrafts and Magickal Projects

Here she includes crafts like a grape wreath for the autumn equinox, lighted fall garlands, leafy luminaries, and herbal soaps.

In the last section of this chapter she includes correspondences for Autumn, but lists deities in this section. Obviously Deities are not correspondences, so this annoys me a little.

Before the closing she has an autumn enchantment Worksheet for you to fill out your autumn spells, rituals, crafts, to keep track of them.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!

Here you can find some Amazon reviews!

Harvest Witch Blessing- Dugan

This intriguing season brings joy and abundance true,

Remember all of the Magick that I have shown you.

Look to the earth during the fall season of red and gold,

Open your heart and rediscover this magick of old.

May the simple enchantment of these bright autumn days,

Bring you love and laughter in many bewitching ways.

All blog content is Copyright © 2012 of Nightshade unless otherwise stated

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