Autumn is nearly upon us. Each morning I wake up now, the air has a coolness to it. Mist settles in the little dells on my way to work. The fall equinox, the autumnal equinox, whatever you want to call it: it’s almost here.
As an Anglo-Saxon inspired Heathen, I tend towards celebrating the full moons in my personal practice. In the Old English calendar, the month of September (most likely the time between two new moons that fell close to September) was known as Haligmonath. It means Holy Month.
For my family, I tend to plan big celebrations around the actual solstices and equinoxes. The fall equinox is a tricky one. In my head, I want it to be a Thanksgiving-like celebration. Lots of delicious food, we give thanks to the land and its spirits for the great bounty it provides, and we enjoy one another’s company.
The reality is that this just doesn’t feel like a celebration to me. I have five kids – every night feels like a feast at my house! And they’re young and couldn’t care less about a fancy dinner, they’d rather have the meatball subs I make every Monday. We can’t invite extended family and still do our spiritual thing; most of my family is Evangelical Christian or Catholic.
It was my 7 year old who came up with a brilliant plan for this year. Back in July, he came up with the idea for a Recipe Day. “I want to have like a big feast! Everybody gets to pick a recipe and make it and we all try each other’s!” I really like saying yes to my kids, but big ideas like that have to find their own time. So I proposed that we use his idea to celebrate the fall equinox.So this year we’re going to give Recipe Day a try. We’ll work together to decide who has main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. There will be a family shopping trip, and everyone will have help with making their own recipe. I’ll also have the children dedicate their dishes. Whatever deity, ancestor, or spirit they’d like to honor, we’ll take a bit of their dish and offer it to Them.
To me, this is a very Heathen way to celebrate. Family coming together, cooking together, sharing the work and the fruits of our labors. And the Gods and spirits will be an integral part, invited to sit alongside us at the table. I’ll probably drop some hints about local produce and use it in my own dishes, but I think the idea works best when the rest of the family is allowed free reign to pick what recipes they’d like.
When we sit down to eat together, the first bite of each dish will go on to our offering plate. It will be placed at the table with us, and we will invite those Gods, beloved dead, and spirits to join us there. I’ll probably model a prayer of offering and invite each of the children to say their own. Probably some of them won’t want to, and a couple are too young, but that’s okay. Giving them the option is what matters.