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Rite and Ritual

Mabon, the Autumnal Equinox

“And now we stand here, within the shadows of the Fall.

Let me hold you just once more, so I can try to remember it all.

Sing to me my love this day. Sing to me as I fade away,

back to the shadows, where I’ll dream of you.”

With my eyes closed I alone stand apart from my coven sisters and brothers and feel the last waning light of the Autumnal Equinox’s setting Sun fade away. I know that the tops of the old conifers I stand beneath still bask in Summer’s last light, as the forest floor begins to hear the shadows awaken. The dance between shadow and light is always present and ever changing as the seasons we recognize ebb and flow around the Wheel. There are fleeting moments though when we are able to witness and truly feel the energies shift. I am sure that each of us has a special and sacred marked time upon the Wheel’s turning, that calls more deeply to the spirit within us. For me, this is that moment and with each passing year I am blessed to glean something more meaningful. It is said that the true journey of the witch is the path walked alone. I think about that as I stand within the forest envisioning the God. I can see the Lord of the Forest holding the Goddess, looking into her eyes, trying to understand how his seemingly endless time with Her has passed. He hears the ravens calling his name, reminding him that all things must change and that the Earth is waiting for him to return. “You can not out run the turning of the Wheel”, she whispers, “for the Wheel, it turns strong.” “The shadows within await your fires return to open the way for their claim upon the land”, she paused staring into his eyes.  “I need your fire to embrace the deep dark of the Earth and re-ignite the energy that lies hidden within all that shall soon fall back.” “It is your light that shall push forth the veil of the Crone I must become to rule the night”, the Goddess continued.  “Remember my consort that the Wheel still strongly turns back toward you and your days will come again. Until those days though, know that I will walk though forest and field cloaked in my dark mantle and set them afire with your colors to honor your sacrifice”, she passionately finished. The Lord of the Forest kissed her one last time as his tears fell to the earth and turned to walk away. The ravens grew silent in the trees that lined the edge of the worn path as the God began walking into the west and listened to the Goddess sing. With each step he faded further from this realm, until like the setting Summer Sun, he was but a memory.

The Goddess now stands alone. As this first night deepens I see her tears wash away the aspect of the Mother and summon forth the dark wisdom of the Crone. In my eyes, Her total transformation will take a while longer, until the heavy grey clouds gather and the smell of damp decay drifts over the forest floor. Until the shadows creep across all those forgotten by the Sun and the trees’ splendor fades to gloom, only then, when Her walks grow evermore long pushing night into the day, will she stand fully as the Crone.

As I slowly make my way out of the forest and back to our Circle, these are the thoughts and visions that stir my spirit. No matter how many times I enact this ritual, I am moved to tears. This is the only ritual of the year where I am not present when our ceremony is closed. After casting the complete Circle, calling to the Quarters and honoring the Goddess and the God we talk about all that has transpired since Imbolc. We talk about our Summer experiences and what we are looking forward to regarding the rest of the harvest. Then we ask to feel what the Goddess and God of Nature experience and do our best to reenact the visions I described earlier. When the moment comes, I ritually open a small door in the Circle and walk away. As I leave I trail a long piece of black cord behind me attached to the altar. When I have disappeared into the dark, my wife pulls back the black cord and opens the small pouch that I secured to my end. I have never seen this next part of our ritual but I have been told by those within our Circle that it is beautiful. My wife then sheds her red shawl as she pulls the dark veil from the pouch and places it over head. She turns back to face the Circle and says,” know you this, the God is dead. Let us keep his fire sacred within each of us until he is reborn at Yule. As it is willed, so mote it be”, she ends. For all that is given, something must be returned. There is always a cycle, a sacred journey of energy that moves through all, entwined with the dance of shadow and light. Mabon, to me, is so truly reflected in the movements of Nature. I see it in the way the Sun’s light now falls more soft and golden within the forest. I see it in the slowly dying Chinook salmon who have kept their long promise and returned home to give back all that remains of them. I see it all around me when I take the time to be still, to breathe, to remember to see with open eyes and to listen……….

“The Wheel turns and I feel my fire has burned away

I feel the Earth holding me tight

I know the Crone will rule through the night

And I know the Wheel still slowly turns,

Back to me to make me burn,

With the love I forever hold for thee.”

Blessed be