The last of the harvest holidays always hold a special place in my heart. Our eldest daughter was born on Samhain and our youngest almost made it to Mabon*, which I was able to attend just days after her birth. For years I enjoyed celebrating Mabon out at our local UU Fellowship, where we walked a contemplative path. That year, a storm was brewing, so the wind was strong, and a deer went crashing across the path in front of me. There I was, walking this wooded trail barefoot, hair streaming about in the wind, just days after giving birth, and this incredible, strong animal just goes dashing across the path in front of me. It was the very definition of magical. **
Pagans at the Fellowship no longer carry out this particular ritual. It was a lot of work setting up the luminaries we used to light the path, let alone keeping them burning. And most of the folks who helped pull it off are no longer there. However, I’ve drawn on the spirit of the ritual to create this one. I’m going to give you pretty much the bare bones of the thing in the hopes you’ll adapt it as you need because, let’s face it, rituals that you can tailor for yourself are usually much stronger workings.
This ritual is meant to be worked outside, such as at a park, porch, or deck. Heck, you could probably even do it at the beach if you really wanted. If the weather decides not to cooperate, then find a comfortable quiet spot inside, preferably near a window that you can look out of.
You will also need a candle. A bug repellant candle will work, if mosquitoes are a concern. I would suggest a candle in a container that helps protect the flame from going out in a breeze. (And if you’re in the right location and can do so, a small bonfire is absolutely perfect!)
Finally, you’ll need a small container with water. For this, you’ll want at least a suitable bowl, although a small cauldron, if you have it, is ideal. It needs to be big enough and wide enough that you can easily stare into the water, so a cereal bowl might not be the best option. (But if that’s all you’ve got, go for it and figure out how to make it work.)
To begin the ritual, call or create sacred space, if you so desire. I don’t personally feel it necessary for this one, but some people aren’t comfortable without it. Also, if you want to take a small walk around the area first, go right ahead. Finally, settle yourself at your chosen spot and get comfortable. Take a few deep breathes to settle your energy down and get your mind in a more contemplative mode.
Light the wind-proofed candle. You now want to give yourself several moments to contemplate each of the 5 elements in turn, thinking how each element pertains to this balanced moment in time as the wheel tips over towards the darker half of the year. How does it speak to you, or perhaps influence your relationship with the coming season (or the season past)?
Once you feel satisfied with your contemplations, just sit in the quiet for a moment, listening to the world around you. Then, move your container of water to where you can comfortably stare into it’s depts. You could light a floating candle or two if your container is big enough. Otherwise, move the lit candle to where the flame can be reflected in the water.
We’ve now spent some time contemplating the elements and what their energies have meant to us this past season or two. Now it’s time to try and divine what they will mean in the coming fallow time. Spend some time staring into the water, perhaps watching the candle flame dance, and think on what it is you should be nourishing and incubating in the coming dark months. When you feel enough time has passed and you have hopefully received some guidance, snuff or pinch out the flame. It is done. Feel free to stretch and enjoy a snack. And remember to dismiss what sacred space you may have created.
This is the ritual I’ll celebrate the night for the equinox, although I haven’t decided on my location yet. It could be our front porch, because the ritual actions are so innocuous. Maybe I’ll use our side deck, which is sheltered from the front of the house. Or, I might just drive out to the nearby state park, find a spot near the lake (maybe the beach?), and enjoy the atmosphere of the forest. All I’d need for that would be a candle or two, well protected from any wind. The other elements are already there!
Whatever you do, and however you observe the day, I hope it’s a good and fruitful one.
*Instead, she chose four days after her father’s birthday and nine days before Mabon. Don’t get me wrong, she was still a month before her estimated due date, but babies have their own timeframes.
** Another time, while waiting my turn to walk the path, I saw elves standing behind us in the grove. I’ve had the most incredible experiences at Mabon.