Tag: Autumn Equinox

A Family Ritual Blessing the Cornucopia

At this time of harmony and balance, we honor all we have and show our gratitude by filling a cornucopia with the family.  

 

           The Cornucopia has long been seen as a symbol of plenty and a representation of the great gifts we receive from nature. For this ritual, there are two ways you can go. 1) Fill the cornucopia with items that you will then use to make the Equinox Feast.  

-or-  

2) Fill the cornucopia with non-perishable foods that you will then use to donate to food banks so that others can share in the harvest bounty. Remember, that yes, the harvest is a literal thing but also symbolic of all the achievements we make and rewards of our hard work.  

 

           Once you and your family have decided what your cornucopia’s purpose will be, you can collect your cornucopia food and family for this blessing ritual.  

 

           Begin by grounding. When doing this with kids it is more important that you find a way to share in the energy with them, than be completely clear in thought and grounded.  A great way to do this is through storytelling. For the harvest, tell a brief story about the grains and how after planting they were nourished by the sun, earth, and farmer and together they created the ingredients for the food we love.  

 

           If you chose to do so with the family, next call corners. If not then call corners before you call the kiddos over so that these energies are present. Here is a simple kid-friendly call.

We call to the North where the trees grow tall stretch your roots here,

We call to the East let your breeze blow its way here,

We call to the South burning in the core make your way here,

We call to the west, run you waters by rain or river over here.

 

           Now fill the Cornucopia, first with energy. Talk about the importance of hard work and the benefits of the work. Talk about where the food comes from and what it takes to get it. Invite each person to share something they worked hard for and are proud of their achievements and success. Also, ask them to share something they are thankful for that is due to the work of someone else. This is a great way to not only share in this energy of gratitude and pride but also teach kids that by working for something you can achieve anything.

 

           Next, fill the cornucopia literally. Have each person add something until the cornucopia is overflowing.  This can be part of the sharing process or a separate stage in the ritual.

 

           Once full, set the cornucopia on an altar or somewhere of importance, like above the fireplace or stove.  This will be its home until it is time to use the food or go to the food bank.

 

Enjoy this time of bounty and balance!         

Hesperides Garden      

 

A Prayer for Gratitude Before We Eat 

 

 

Symbols of the Holiday

          The Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty is a common symbol used during this time of year.  It is filled with the bounty of the harvest, blessed, and often used as an offering to the Divine as a show of thanks for all we have received.  The cornucopia is associated with the Holy Grail, and also the womb. It is an honored as the giver of nourishment and life.

          In Greek lore, the cornucopia is the horn of Amalthea, the nourishing Goat Mother, who fostered Zeus when he was a child.  When Zeus was young he and Amalthea were playing when he accidentally broke off her horn. With remorse and great gratitude for all she had done for him he blessed her horn so that no matter who held it, it would be full with whatever they needed.

          The Cauldron is also a symbol of this holiday, specifically Undry, the Cauldron of the Dagda, which is forever full of nourishment and can never be emptied.  Dagda was charged with protecting the cauldron, and the Great Mother. Like the cornucopia, the cauldron is associated with the womb and giving life.

          Another image that is prominent at this time is the Corn Man or Scarecrow.  They were built from the stalks and grains in the field and made to look like a man.  They were left in the fields as protectors and burned at the end of the harvest celebrations.  The ashes were blessed and used to spread fertility over the barren lands so they may bring a prosperous crop in the year to come.

          The Corn Dolly is also made at this time of year and put in a place of honor in the home, typically above the hearth (stove).  They are made from the corn and grains collected at the equinox, often decorated, and blessed. They bring prosperity and blessings to the home.

 

Corn Dolly Overview 

How to make a Corn Dolly 

Blessing your Corn Dolly

 

 

Blessed Creating!            

Hesperides Garden       

Cooking with the energy of Corn

For those in America and that follow the Native American Traditions, the Autumn Equinox marks the final corn harvests and is a time to celebrate corn and its deities.  

Sweet Corn Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 Can Whole Corn Drained 15.25 Ounces
  • 1 Can Creamed Corn 15.25 Ounces
  • 4 tbs All Purpose Flour
  • 4 tbs Sugar
  • ½ C Butter Melted
  • 1 C Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs Well Beaten
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray an 8X8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the top of the corn browns around the edges.

Autumn Equinox Myths and Traditions

Fall Equinox Altar

           Most modern practitioners refer to the Autumn Equinox as Mabon “may-Boon”; however, the origins of this word are Welsh meaning “son”, and it was in 1970 when Aidan Keller coined the term for the Autumn Equinox.

          Historically not all ancient cultures celebrated this day. For example, there is little evidence supporting that the Welsh are Anglo-Saxons held a holiday marking the Autumn Equinox. Not far away, though, the Druids called this month Mea’n Fo’mhair “Middle of Harvest” and the equinox itself Alban Elfed.  At this time the Green Man is honored, and the harvest celebrated with feasts and merriment. Alben Elfed translates to “Light of Water” and it is a time that honors balance, and the bounty of the summer harvest. It is a time when the Mother Goddess is honored as the great giver. It was, and still is, tradition to pay thanks to the trees themselves with libations, toast, and sharing drinks beneath their branches.

          In Norse mythology, the Autumn Equinox is called Gleichentag “Even Day”.  The second harvest is celebrated by sharing food and drinks with family, friends, and neighbors.  This was a night when the traditional toast was boastful, giving thanks and telling stories to kin.  This is considered a minor festival to honor Thor for his protection of the crops, and Sif the Golden Goddess of the Crops for all she has provided. This day of equality marks the beginning of the cold season and a feast is held to celebrate the bounty saved to get through winter.

          This night is also called Vetrnaetr “Winter’s Night” and a celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia. This is the end of Summer and the beginning of winter when the harshness returns to the land. The exact date varied but most often was held at the end of September or beginning of October. This was a night to worship the elves and also the Goddess Freya.  It was tradition to gather around the cauldron which boiled the first sacrificed animal, quite often a pig and was enjoyed together as a community. The traditional prayer said at this time was Til árs ok Fridar “for a good year and peace”.

Autumn bonfire          In Germanic tradition, the Autumn Equinox is called Haustblot “Autumn sacrifice”.  This was a time celebrated around the bonfire. The first animal to be sacrificed was done so on this day next to the bonfire and eaten with the whole community. The home hearth was extinguished and when people left the celebration they took a lit torch to light their own home fires as a symbol of unification among the people. The harvest and one’s ancestors were the center of this holiday’s gratefulness.

           In Slavic Paganism Dożynki marks the Autumn Equinox and is a day to celebrate the Harvest.  It was a time to celebrate the agricultural deities including the god Svetovid. A man-sized pancake was made for him from the freshest wheat.  If the pancake was large enough for the priests to hide behind it was believed that next year’s harvest would be grand. It was the tradition for the villagers to gather in the fields forming a procession together collecting the last bit of grains, which were made into a wreath and given to the host of the harvest celebration. The wreath is a central part of the celebrations and the one made this year was kept until next year sowing began when it was sacrificed to the land to bring a good crop.  The wreaths were decorated with field flowers, braided grains, and ribbons and were not just the typical round shape, they could be oval, or square also. The wreath was blessed and kept in a place of honor throughout the year.

          In ancient Greece, the Autumn Equinox was called Oschophoria, “carrying of the vine-branches”, and was a celebration of the grape harvest, and Dionysus.  It was traditional for a procession carrying fresh cut grapevines and making music to travel to Oschophorion. The traditional songs were both cheerful and sad for the celebration of the grand harvest but also the sadness of the coming winter. This was followed by races and games along the same path, and a grand feast at Oschophorion.

           This time of year is also associated with Demeter and her daughter Persephone. It is at this time that Persephone must return to Hades and the underworld due to eating the six pomegranate seeds when she had been abducted. She must forever spend half the year in the Underworld and then can return to Earth to be with her mother in the spring.  Her departure leaves Demeter so distraught that she leaves the Earth barren until her daughters return.

          The Equinox marks the battle day for the Holly King and the Oak King. There is much debate on when the official switch in their rule occurs, however, it makes sense that the transition and battle would happen when their powers are equal, and the grand celebration of their power on the Solstices when they are at their height. On the Autumn Equinox the Holly King takes the throne, and darkness begins it reign.

          In Korea, the Autumn Equinox is called Chuseok and is the celebration of a good harvest and giving thanks to one’s ancestors. It is tradition to make a dish that has been in the family for generations and bring a meal to the grave of your ancestors eating it together.

          In China, the Full Moon next to the Autumn Equinox marks the mid-autumn festival. This is a holiday which focuses on the ideas of coming together, giving thanks, prayer, and worshiping the moon.  This holiday has been celebrated since the Shang Dynasty as a time to worship the Mountain Gods of the Harvest. It is tradition to leave out offerings for the lunar immorality Goddess Chang’e. In modern times people light incense for the Goddess and also light the night with lanterns.  It is also traditional to eat moon cakes at this time. Similar to the Pagan Moon cakes these Chinese ones are eaten to honor the Moon Deities and welcome their light through the darkness.

           In Japan, the Autumn equinox is not only celebrated but marked as a national holiday.  At this time people visit the graves of their ancestors and honor the changing of the seasons.  This is also a day to honor the elders. Before it became a national holiday it was called ‘Shūki kōrei-sai’ and was a Shinto tradition honoring the Harvest Deities.   

          In Native American traditions, the Harvest is celebrated anywhere from August till December depending on the area.  The Green Corn Festival is celebrated by the Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, and Iroquois during the first Full Moon after the corn crops had matured. There’s no set date for this because it is dependent directly on the growth of the corn. The Great New Moon ceremony was celebrated by the Cherokee on the 1st October New Moon and was a celebration of the creation of the world.  Families come together for dances, to share the harvest, and for a purification ritual held during this time. The Iroquois Harvest Festival was held in the beginning of October and was put on by the women. There was dancing, songs, and foods filled with sweet corn shared with the Community. This was a time when the toasts and speeches spoke of the good luck that came with the end of the growing season. This was also seen as a time when the energy shifted from the feminine energy to the masculine; from agriculture to hunting.

          In Nigeria, early October marks the Yam Harvest and the Yoruba people celebrate with dances held in honor of their ancestors. This is a time when they bid farewell to those who have died in the past year. Yams are offered in hopes of a fertile crop in the year to come. Yams are a symbol of fertility and used by local women to ensure pregnancy if not twins. There has been research showing that those who eat a plethora of African yams are more likely to conceive twins.

 

Did you miss the correspondence blog? 

If you have a myth or tradition that you know about and was not here let us know!            

Hesperides       

A few Equinox Recipes

Grains are a central part of the holiday and many of the traditional foods at this time include grains.  Here are a couple recipes to celebrate with! 

Apple bread

Ingredients

Streusel

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⁄2 C packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 ⁄2 C butter melted
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Cake

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 ⁄4 C granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ⁄2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ⁄2 C butter melted
  • 1 ⁄2 C milk
  • 2 medium granny smith apples peeled, halved, cored and diced

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F Coat a 9 x 5 x 3-in. loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Streusel: Stir ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
  3. Cake: Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl until blended.
  4. Beat eggs in a medium bowl with a fork just until blended. Stir in butter and milk to combine.
  5. Add egg mixture to flour and fold with a rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Spoon half the batter into prepared pan; spreading even to cover the bottom. Sprinkle with 1/2 the apples and 1/2 the streusel. Spoon on remaining batter, spreading to cover. Sprinkle with remaining apples and then streusel.
  7. Bake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides; invert cake onto rack. Turn streusel side up and let cool completely.

 

Chinese Moon Cakes

Keyword cake

Ingredients

For the dough

  • ½ C Flour
  • 2 oz Golden syrup
  • ½ tsp Alkaline water available at Asian grocers
  • 1 oz Vegetable oil

For the filling

  • 420 g Lotus seed paste
  • 6 Egg yolk
  • salt
  • 1 tbs Rose-flavoured cooking wine available at Asian grocers
  • For the egg wash
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 2 tbs Egg white

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix the golden syrup, alkaline water, and oil well. Sift in the flour, and using a spatula combine all the ingredients. Don’t over–stir. Knead into a dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
  2. Add the egg yolks to a medium bowl and lightly salt, add the wine without breaking yokes, you’ll see the egg whites turn opaque after mixing with the wine for a few minutes. Wipe the yolks dry with a paper towel. Cut each yolk in half and set aside.
  3. Roll the lotus paste into a long tube, and cut into 12 equal portions of 35 grams. Roll each portion into a ball shape, and set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350*F
  5. For the egg wash: Whisk the egg yolk (not wine treated) with the egg white and sift through a fine sieve.
  6. Preparing and filling: Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a small ball shape, cover with plastic wrap and roll into a thin disc.
  7. Take a lotus paste ball and poke a hole in the middle with your finger. Place the egg yolk inside rolling into a ball. Wrap and seal the lotus paste ball with the dough disc.
  8. Spray the mooncake mold and place the stuffed mooncake dough into the mold. Lightly press the to fill the mold, then remove the mooncake and transfer onto a lined baking tray.
  9. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, brushing with egg wash about half way through. Bake until the pastry turns golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. The pastry will become soft and shiny in one or two days when the mooncake is ready to be enjoyed.

Welcoming the Autumn Equinox

September 21-24 in the Northern Hemisphere

March 19-22 in the Southern Hemisphere

 

          The Autumn Equinox marks the end of Summer and the transition from the light to the dark half of the year. On this day the Earth and sun are angled so that day and night are equal. This, like the Spring Equinox, is a large transition in the Earth’s energy. The days begin to shorten and the temperature begins to decline. The plants and animals complete their cycles and preparations for winter. Over the next month or so the God spends the last of his days with the living. The Goddess is ripe with child and is excited for the new life to come.  This is a time of giving thanks and celebrating with a grand feast and merriment with family and friends.


Energy

Balance           The energy at this time is that of balance and harmony. The energy is the balance between masculine and feminine, and the light and dark.  It is a calming moment before the scurrying begins to prepare for the first frost. Animals are busy making their preparations, plants are finishing their growth cycle, and people are cleaning and storing for the coming winter.

 Magick

        Magick around this time is associated with corn, wheat, apples, and other harvest traditions. It is a time to give thanks and honor our ancestors. It is also a time to acknowledge growth and the change that has occurred in the past year. Spellwork surrounds giving thanks, the blessing of the Cornucopia and corn dolly, recognizing that which we have.

 

Correspondence

Deities

Akibimi , Anapurna, Cessair, Bacchus, Dionysus, Dumuzi, Epona, The Green Man, Great Horned God,  Harmonia, Hermes, The Holly King, Haurun, Hotei, Inanna, Ishtar, Kore, Iacchus, Lilitu, Madron, Mama Allpa, Morgan, The Muses, Nikkal, Ningal, Ninkasi, Orcus, Persephone, Pomona, Rennutet, Sin, Thoth, Thor, Snake Woman, Sophia, and Sura.

Colors

Orange, Brown, Dark Gold, Yellow, Maroon, Violet, Blue, Russet, and other harvest colors.

Stones

Agate, Amethysts, Lapis Lazuli, Sapphire, and Yellow Topaz.

Plants

Aspen, Aster, Benzoin, Blackberry, Bramble, Cedar, Chrysanthemum, ferns, Ivy, Grape, Grains, Hazel, Honeysuckle,  Locust, Maple, Myrtle, Oak, Marigold, Milkweed, Passionflower, Rose, Sage, Solomon’s Seal, Tobacco, and Thistle.

Animals

Chipmonk, Dog, Hawk, Squirrel, Swallow, Swan, Wild Goose, and Wolf.

Mythical Creatures

Gnomes, Minotaurs and the Sphinx.

Food

          Apples, bread, grains, grapes, nuts, pomegranate, and vegetables.

 

Stay tuned for more on the Holiday including Myths, Magick, and Recipes       

Hesperides    

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