Summer is quickly coming to a close here in the northern hemisphere and all I can think is, “Thank Gods.” If you know me, then you know that I am not a summer person. I don’t do well with the heat and my feelings of depression seem to pop up more frequently during this season than any other (strange, I know!). But here we are on the doorstep of the autumn tide. The temperatures here have dropped into the 50’s and 60’s. The leaves on the sumac trees have already turned crimson red. Sunset is arriving earlier, painting the sky a golden orange that mirrors the pumpkins already being picked from the vine. As magical people we love autumn because it’s the season of the Witch, heralding the arrival of ancestral ghosts and spooky nights perfect for casting the most potent of spells. I love autumn because it’s when I come alive, when I slough off my summer melancholy and step into my power.
We are just days away from the autumnal equinox, a magical day which many of my fellow Witches and Pagans refer to Mabon. In my practice, the timing of seasonal celebrations is subject to fluctuation as they are based around what is happening in my local landscape. This means that some years my rituals line up well with the equinox, while other years they come earlier or later. I honor the arrival of autumn when I’ve noticed the signs listed above: temperatures dropping into the 50’s, the first leaves changing color, and the waning hours of sunlight. Of course, there is also my favorite sign of seasonal transition – the migration of our local geese.
Typically, the first indicator of summer’s end is when I hear the squawking of geese in the early morning or late evening. Where I live we have a lot of geese. But they are usually most active and present in the local landscape during the autumn and spring. During this time, don’t be surprised if you find your front yard overrun with these loud but lovely birds. This is because they are either preparing to fly south for the winter or are returning from their warmer vacation destination. In the autumn you will find them soaring across the sky in their classic V formation, taking with them the last of the warmth and sunlight.
Geese are sacred to the Germanic goddess Holda (also known as Frau Holle) who has been linked to the beloved fairy-tale figure Mother Goose. In Holda’s lore, it is said that when she plucks her geese or shakes out her feather-bed that snow falls down to earth. While we are still a month or two away from our first snowfall (we can have snow as early as October here), the movement of Holda’s birds is a reminder to start our preparations for the darker half of the year. For me, part of this preparation is shedding my summer skin and letting go of any unnecessary clutter (physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual). To help with this process, I like to use the following spell which appeals to both Holda and her geese for assistance.
Holda And Her Releasing Geese: An Autumnal Spell
Required Items: A pen and paper, cauldron (or fire safe dish), lighter, and a mixture of powdered cinnamon (prosperity), clove (protection), and ginger (love)
Begin by meditating on all that you wish to let go of as you head into the autumn tide. Just as the leaves fall away from the trees, what is it that you would like to fall away from your life? Write your answers on a loose piece of paper. When you are finished, fold the paper in half (making sure that the two ends are facing away from your body). Taking a deep breath, repeat the following incantation:
As the sun fades and earlier is the night,
While red leaves fall and geese take flight.
As days become cooler and Holda settles in,
I release the old as autumn tide begins!
Carefully light the paper on fire, dropping it into your cauldron. The smoke carries that which you’re letting go of heavenward and the geese brush it far away with their mighty wings. All stress, worry, and clutter fade as Holda’s birds fly south. As the paper burns, sprinkle the mixture of spices over the flames – encouraging the arrival of blessings as the new season unfolds. Take another deep breath, knowing that as you move forward into the days of autumn, you do so with a clear mind and open heart. Finish the spell by thanking both Holda and the geese for their magical assistance.
Happy autumn tide Witches!