The Equinox comes after the first harvest in August, falling towards the end of September. Of course this is a time of balance between the shifting forces of dark and light. After the Autumnal Equinox, the days are shorter and the night lasts longer. This is a time of balance, a time of pause and reflection before moving into the next cycle. Personally, I have always felt a building of this shifting energy during these periods of balance; feeling the building anticipation of the coming transition. During this time of the Second Harvest my Belladonna plants are putting out there last flowers as the multitude of green berries begin to darken. The plant material that has been collected and dried over the previous cycle is used in the creation of various formulas. Offerings are made to the spirits of plants as their fruits are collected for inks and dyes. The chthonic spirits of the wild are awoken and prepared for the looming harvest of Samhain. This is the final harvest of sacrifice that is the beginning and end of the threefold cycle of plant cultivation.
If i am harvesting the entire plant to procure the roots or create a botanical homunculi; I wait until after the second harvest during which additional ceremonies are made to prepare the plant spirit familiar. After collecting all of the leaves and berries desired I will either cut the plant down leaving the root to sleep until next year or I will ceremonially exhume the root in a kind of birthing/funerary ritual. This act is meant to honor and consecrate the sacrifice of the plant, and blesses the newborn effigy.In my personal practice, I associate the festivals of the growing season with the cycles of the green world creating sacred rites of cultivation. During the dark half of the year my focus is on working with the unseen world of spirits and nocturnal journeys aided by the force of the witch’s garden. These botanical allies form the basis of arcane artifacts and formulas utilized in my sorcerous operations, acting as a catalyst for witch power.
The ancient fire festivals and Holy Days of old don’t always correspond to one’s local environment. There are some years when I will skip a spoke on the Wheel altogether. Other years there may be more of a personal connection with the timing of the festival or its themes. Otherwise, I follow the ever fluid cycles of the Moon and Celestial Sphere, as well as the local cycles of planting, cultivating and harvesting.