Autumn Equinox- Ellen Dugan: Book Review

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This book is a must-have for Wiccan’s, Neo-Wiccan’s and Witchy pagans who love Autumn!

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 Wiccan’s. The only book I’m missing from the series is the Lammas one by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason. Even though I am not planning to celebrate Lammas I would still like this book for the sake of completion.

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

This book is well-researched from what I gather and goes into the various harvest festivals celebrated by different cultures. A wonderful, albeit small, inclusion is the Southern Hemisphere. We are all Topsy Turvy, and the majority of books that we in the SH are able to purchase are from a largely Northern perspective. When I first started practicing I was confused as all heck as to how to relate the festivals and for about half a year I celebrated the way NH’s do, it felt wrong, confusing and made no sense according to the nature around us. I eventually consented to celebrate my way, and have two Halloween’s, one more religious, the other more secular and to follow the flow of nature.

This book would have been a godsend earlier on in my practice, as it supplies 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.

Contents:

Acknowledgments

Dedication

Introduction

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 actually 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 will be nice for you, 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), Turkey for the non vegetarians and Apple and Blackberry Pies.

I enjoy cooking and baking, and as a kitchen witch, 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 thepurplebroom.wordpress.com unless otherwise stated

Striking out Lughnassadh- more on Sabbat Crises

Lughnasssadh of the Southern Hemisphere is less than a week away and I’m throwing it out.

In a previous post Re-articulating the Sabbats, I stated that the Sabbats were a difficult area in my practice, as the Celtic festivals are a bit hard to adapt to my system. Of course Samhain is a wonderful Sabbat and one I’ll celebrate all the time, but as for the other three, it has always been about merely going through the motions rather than feeling a deep connection. This is of course problematic. 11 years into my practice and I’d actually like to feel something during so-called (holi)days.

My Lughnassadh celebration last year was not awful, but it wasn’t what I’d call worthy of much praise either. So it is going, going, gone!

I know many Neo-wiccans would be very hesitant to throw out a major sabbat, but as a person crafting their own system I honestly feel everything I do should have deep meaning to me, including Sabbat celebrations. Many Religious witches understand the difficulty of celebrating the sabbats the way they are meant to be celebrated due to their own climate differences, so they tend to focus on regional seasonal celebrations rather than ones set out by Wicca.

Even though I secularised and put my own system into Lughnassadh, I didn’t like it. It felt forced, and like I wasn’t being true to myself.

I’ve decided that what I’m going to do is replace Lughnassadh with Valentines day. I know this might seem odd, a bit crazy, a bit fluffy even, but it Valentines day always holds such beauty for me. I already celebrate it every year with fervour, I already employ ritual elements and I truly believe that “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”.

Last year for Valentines day, I made a hearty pasta dish with love for my boyfriend, I also made yummy cupcakes. This year I’ll make some focaccia, and some heart cakes. Bastet and Hathor will look over my ritual space and every act will be done for my love of the gods and my boyfriend.

In my book “Dancing under an African Moon” it suggests working with Ceres and/or Demeter. This is of course not a bad idea but it cannot really be called “Lughnassadh” then either. I also tend to focus more on the descent of Persephone into the underworld and Demeter’s grieving during Samhain.

I’m also throwing out Imbolc, as I don’t worship Brigit, and although a festival of lights seems like a good idea, it just has never resonated with me to work this Irish Sabbat, even with my Irish heritage. I think it would be more appropriate to work with The Morrigan, as I have worked with her successfully before.

Beltane is another Sabbat that really does not resonate with me. Although dancing around a maypole is fun, and I’ve been doing a rendition of this since I was a little girl around the washing line pole, it just doesn’t fit within my system. I tend to celebrate Halloween rather as I enjoy it more and it resonates with me more than Beltane.

I’ve obviously changed since my post on Sabbats, I’m taking bigger risks by listening to what resonates with me and I’m becoming more integrated with my own system, which as Lughnassadh suggests, is a sacrifice of old ways, and outmoded things that no longer serve me.

In keeping with my resolution to celebrate Valentines Day as a Sabbat I’m currently reading:

Aphrodisiacs and Love Magic- Pamela Allardice

I’m also starting to read:

Autumn Equinox- Ellen Dugan

and I’m still reading:

Exploring Spellcraft- Gerina Dunwich

 

All blog content is Copyright © 2012 of Nightshade thepurplebroom.wordpress.com unless otherwise stated

Witchcraft Questionnaire

1.   How did you first found out about Witchcraft/Wicca? How old were you?

Well, I knew what witchcraft was since I was a young child but I found out about Wicca when I was 11 ish 12 ish.

2.   When you first heard about the Witchcraft/Wicca, what attracted you to explore it more?

The connection to Nature, a less constricting view of god, magic.

3.   What does the Witchcraft/Wicca symbolize for you?

The power of transformation in daily life and the deep spiritual connection with the universal energies that allows for that transformation.
4.   Did the belief in Witchcraft/Wicca change your life?

Not really the belief but the experiences, yes.

5.   How did your parents react after they have heard about your choice?

Fine with it.

6.   Do you take part in rituals and use magic or you just believe in it?

As a witch it is integral to actually practice witchcraft, that is one of the biggest components of being a witch. Belief in magic maketh not the witch.

7.   What ritual and ceremonies do you do?

All sorts, Sabbats, Esbats, devotionals, and spell oriented ones.

8.   How do people react when they find out about your belief in Witchcraft/Wicca?

Most people really don’t care.

9.   How do you perform the rituals? Do you do it alone or in a group?

I’m a solitary although I sometimes work with Earthdragon.

10.    How did you meet Witches/Wiccan people? 

Haven’t met many to be honest, people are usually tightly in the broom closet, I mostly interact through online forums and networking systems.
11.   What attracted you when you first heard about Witchcraft/Wicca? Why did you carry on with it after you found out what it really is?

The self empowerment that comes from being a witch as well as the transformation inherent in it and the mysteries that I’ve experienced.

 

All blog content is Copyright © 2011 of Nightshade thepurplebroom.wordpress.com unless otherwise stated

Re-articulating the Sabbats

When you are no longer following a Wiccan structure but you are still celebrating Wiccan Sabbats, then how do you adapt the wording, even the ritual itself to suit your own personal needs?

I have for some years now, not worshiped a mother goddess and father god. As has been told in a number of blogs I worship Anubis and Hekate, both coming from different cultures and both not being consorts.

Wicca, especially Wiccan ritual is based on fertility. The god and goddess are consorts. They are mother, daughter, crone, son, father, dying god.

So how do I reconcile this conflict in my beliefs?

I throw it out.

Yes, it is hard to let go of prior notions of beliefs to just say, NO- This does not work within my system.

But as a non-wiccan and as a religious witch attempting to create a new system that is exactly what I had to do, what I still have to do.

It still surprises me when I see myself cling to traditional notions of Sabbat rituals, because what I am ultimately doing is appropriating rituals from Wicca and Celtic religions. The word appropriation is often a dirty word, especially in art, theology and cultural studies. But I do think that there is a time and a place for certain forms of appropriation. We do live in a global age after all. Globalisation is rapid, for good or not, we have to deal with it in various ways. A more positive way of dealing with this era is to learn as much about different cultures as possible.

Does this mean that we are losing culture? Are we betraying our roots? Are we becoming an homogenized society?

Not necessarily.

From the beginning of time cultures have been borrowing, appropriating, destroying and adapting. Society and culture do not exist in a vacuum, there will be counter-influence, because a society or culture that does not change or grow or learn new ways of doing things or different ways will die. Adapt or die- that is nature, that very thing that we depend upon.

The point is, that although I tend to celebrate the 8 Sabbats, I do not celebrate them from a very Wiccan or even Celtic perspective. Have you ever tried celebrating Imbolc or Lughnassadh when you do not worship Lugh or Brigit? Although I recognise both Lugh and Brigit as Gods in their own right, they are not gods that I personally feel a connection with. So Imbolc becomes a celebration of lights, of the beginning of the end of winter and Lughnassadh becomes a festival of self-\sacrifice and the reaping of rewards from that sacrifice.

Samhain is the easiest of the Celtic festivals to work in my system. As  both my patron deities are psychopomps, it allows me to work with them in a manner which they are both familiar with.

Beltane is another difficult one, but I like to work with the energies of fairies and sexuality at this time.

Of course the 4 minor Sabbats (the equinoxes and Solstices) are much easier for me, as they become celebrations of the life cycle of the earth itself, they have been the ones that I have been able to re-articulate the best.

In many ways I have secularise the festivals- meaning I have to remove any symbolism associated with the Wiccan god and goddess, and instead insert symbolism that is personal to my gods and symbols of nature at the time of the ritual. in doing so I re-”religisise”(nope that is not a real word).

More can be said about re-articulating witchcraft, religious witchcraft specifically but since this about the Sabbats specifically I will leave it at that :)

 

All blog content is Copyright © 2011 of Nightshade thepurplebroom.wordpress.com unless otherwise stated