Full Hunter’s Moon: October 20th

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According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Algonquin Native American tribes referred to October’s full moon as the Hunter’s Moon because it was time to go hunting in preparation for winter. As the days grow visibly shorter, perhaps we can use this full moon to contemplate what resources we need in order to make it through the approaching winter season.

We can think of this preparation as either literal or metaphorical. Some of us have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and have to surround ourselves with the people and coping skills we need in order to keep us healthy. Others are feeling like they’re slipping into a winter season of their lives. If this is the case, be intentional about doing what you need to do in order to keep yourself strong and grounded.

Since, the veil between the worlds is also thin this time of year, it’s the perfect night to seek the wisdom of our Ancestors and Beloved Dead who can help us to navigate the perilous journey ahead. Candles, mugwort, marigolds/calendula, pictures, etc. can help us draw closer to those on the other side. We all need to feel their love and encouragement in this stressful and angry world.

So, put the energy of this season and this powerful moon to good use. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Samhain Ritual 2021

INTRODUCTION

Begin the ritual by saying the following:

Tonight is Samhain which, for some, signifies the end of one year and the beginning of another. The Ancestors are very close and they have been journeying with us faithfully through this pandemic. Tonight, we quiet ourselves in order to listen to the wisdom they have to share with us. They, too, faced trials and tribulations. Some of them faced pandemics even more deadly than COVID-19.

And so we pause to gather whatever spiritual and material provisions we need to navigate the dark times we are facing. May the Ancestors and Sister Moon illumine our path so that we may walk into this new year stronger and braver than we’ve ever been before.

CASTING THE CIRCLE

If you have a besom, ceremoniously sweep the area where you’re going to cast your circle in a clockwise direction. While sweeping, say the following words:

Dark Spirits fly away. Let only peace and love remain.

Then walk around the perimeter of your circle with your wand or athame in a clockwise direction. Say the following words.

We cast this circle as a sacred space where nothing may enter that seeks to do us harm. It is protected by the Guardians, Ancestors and Elemental Spirits whom we now invite to join us in the circle.

CALLING THE QUARTERS

All in the circle face each direction as it is called. Say the following words.

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air, keepers of wisdom and mystery, whisper into our ears all that we need to know. May the cool fall breezes that rustle the leaves beneath our feet point us in the direction we need to go. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire, purifiers of heart and mind, burn away all clutter and confusion from our minds so that we may see the way forward with absolute clarity. May the bonfires of fall that give us light and warmth, bring comfort to our weary souls tonight. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water, vessels of peace and compassion, may our thirst for justice and equality be quenched. May the fall rains which nourish the roots of the trees, give strength to grow the dreams you have planted in our hearts. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth, stewards of hearth and home, gather around us the community we need to make us feel safe and loved. As the fall harvest continues, we ask you to bring about a harvest of good things into our lives, Hail and welcome!

Everyone face toward the center of the circle.

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer,
We learn to see in the dark.
We search for the deep, hidden mysteries of the Divine Presence,
And dine at Lady Wisdom’s table of intuition and creativity.
Great Spirit, who is known to us by many names,
Be with us tonight. We are blessed by your presence.
Hail and welcome!

This is the time to do whatever rituals you have planned for the evening. Here are a few suggestions:

Cord Magic—Take three strands of yarn, one of each color (black, white, and red). Very slowly, twine them together. You can braid them or simply knot them together. Tie at least three knots. If you want to use more knots, do so in multiples of three. Work your love into the yarn. Think about the people and resources you need to weave into your life in order to remain strong during this pandemic. When you have finished, hold the yarn between your palms and send energy to your loved ones. They will feel your warmth.

Shamanic Drumming— Drumming is a time-honored tradition in many spiritual paths. For me, it can keep the body busy and focus the mind so that the wisdom of the blessed dead can come through more clearly. There is lots of literature regarding how to do this. Have paper and pen ready in case any wisdom comes through you need to write down.

Inner Wisdom Dialogue— This is a difficult exercise for some people. For others it is life changing.

  1. Begin by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Try to rid the body of any tension you may be feeling and attempt to clear your mind.
  2. When you are ready, open your eyes, grab a pencil and start writing. The easiest way to start is with a question you are struggling with at this point in your life. Write down the answers you receive and continue the conversation.
  3. When doing this exercise, the key to success is you cannot stop writing and you cannot pause to think. You should let the conversation flow without censoring any of it.
  4. Some people ask me if this exercise is only talking to yourself. My experience with this discipline is that is the wisdom gained from this kind of meditation comes from a deep wisdom source that is part us and part spirit. Some people gain incredible insights from this discipline that surprise and astonish them.

CLOSING THE CIRCLE

All in the circle face each direction as it is called. Say the following words.

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Everyone face toward the center of the circle.

Blessed Ancestors who watch over us
In ways both hidden and revealed;
Whose love surrounds us,
And whose encouragement warms our hearts;
Thank you for your presence in our circle tonight!
Stay if you will, Go if you must!
We bid you farewell!

Great Spirit whose hidden wisdom
Has been revealed to us tonight,
We give you thanks.
Give us strength to act upon what we have learned,
And illumine the dark days of autumn
With your insight and creativity.
Stay if you will. Go if you must,
We bid you farewell!

BENEDICTION

The Wheel of the Year is making yet another transit
As we celebrate Samhain.
We are poised at a time which is an ending,
And yet it is also a new beginning.
As it was and ever shall be,
We look back at times remembered,
And we look forward to times yet to come.

And now the circle is open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again.

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com. Please feel free to adapt this ritual for your own personal ritual use but don’t repost an altered version of it online. Thank you!

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Remembering a Man I Never Met…Talking to My Ancestors

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Dia de los Muertos 2014

Henry was my great grandfather who emigrated to this country with his wife many years ago. Together they learned English, lived through the Great Depression and found a way to raise 10 healthy, happy children. Although I never met him face to face, I have always felt connected to him ever since the day I saw his picture on my grandmother’s bedroom dresser. She told me he was a wonderful father who loved music and adored his kids. He had a zeal for life that never faded, even when he and his family were going through the toughest of times.

During the month of October I construct an ancestor altar in the style of Day of the Dead. It has pictures of departed loved ones, with Henry front and center. It also includes fresh flowers, candles and calaveras (skeleton figurines engaged in everyday activities). Every time my family sits down for supper, we light the candles and dine with our ancestors. At other times I meditate in front of the altar, burn a little mugwort (which attracts the spirits) and ask Henry to give me the wisdom and strength I need to face the challenges of the coming year. I know some people might think that’s strange, but I find it comforting and uplifting.

Ancestor veneration is practiced throughout the world in some form in every culture. Unfortunately, it has mostly fallen out of favor in the United States. Yet if there was ever a time for us to revive this spiritual practice, it is most certainly now. Our world is a mess with violence surrounding us one every side. Our environment is also in peril and we need all the advice and strength we can get from our ancestors to help us navigate these perilous times.

As we approach the celebration of Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, or Dia de los Muertos (depending upon your spiritual path), many of us believe the veil between us and those on the other side is thinnest. It is the perfect time to commune with our beloved dead and draw strength from them. If you’ve never constructed an ancestor altar before, start small. Use the top of a dresser or a shelf in a book case. Include pictures of those you wish to remember, along with small mementos, a candle, and maybe some fresh flowers or incense. Use this altar as a place to meditate and pray in the coming weeks and see what wisdom the beloved dead have to offer you!
If you’re like me you will discover that you won’t want to dismantle this altar after the month of October comes to an end. Personally, I reluctantly take the big altar down but I also construct a smaller one in my office where it remains for the rest of the year. It is a visual reminder that our ancestors and Ancient Ones are always with us, building us up and cheering us on every step of the way!

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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October Blessing Ritual

I saw this idea on the interwebs and absolutely loved it. The concept is that each day during the month of October or November you add a few words of things and people that you are thankful for. This would make a lovely centerpiece for a table or fireplace mantle. It’s a simple way to do an intentional, sustained ritual during this powerful season on the Wheel of the Year. Blessed be!

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September Full Corn Moon

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According to the Farmer’s Almanac the September Full Moon, Sept. 20, is called the Full Corn Moon by many Native American tribes because it traditionally corresponds with the time of the harvesting moon. Other tribes call it the Barley Moon for the same reason. Living in the mountains of North Carolina, however, the corn harvest is long gone but there are many things that are being harvested including apples, squash, gourds and pumpkins.

No matter where you live, the energy of this moon corresponds to harvesting. It’s a good time to reflect on what is ready to be harvested in our lives. What project can be completed with just a little effort? What relationship can be nurtured with a little more time and attention? What idea has been rolling around in our brains that come to fruition if we focus our energies on it?

These are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves this full moon. and as we soak in its powerful energy, perhaps, we’ll find the energy and motivation to manifest something good in our lives and in our world. Blessed be!

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Seasons of a Magical Life: Book Review

Byron Ballard lives and breathes Appalachian culture and magic. Her roots in this region run very deep with many generations of her ancestors calling this land home. She pours her depth of knowledge and experience into what may well be her finest book to date. Seasons of a Magical Life takes us on a journey through the Wheel of the Year. Byron expertly weaves stories, history, magic,herbalism, gardening, seasonal activities and humor into a rich stew that you will want to savor slowly and enjoy every bite.

The first part of the book is a series of essays that set the stage for what comes next. Then Byron takes us through the Wheel of the Year starting with Samhain and ending with Mabon (the fall equinox). The framework which holds it all together is not only the Wheel of the Year but also her journaling which occurred over the span of a year as she spent time in her garden which is located at a remote cabin she calls her “small forest farm.” It is, indeed, a magical and mystic location that is full of awe and wonder (and a lot of hard work). Her enthusiasm for it is contagious, and it’s the perfect literary device for exploring all the themes attached to each spoke on the Wheel of the Year.

The other thing Byron does really well is reference Christian history and spiritual practice throughout the book. This, of course, is of particular interest to me and to the readers of this blog. She does this with great ease and challenges us to look at the ways we’re tied together rather than focusing on the things that make us different. This definitely sets her apart from other authors. It’s also the reason why she and this Christo-Pagan have forged such a deep friendship. We need more people like Byron in both the Pagan and Christian communities!

I don’t want to spoil the joy of discovery that awaits the reader of this book so I’ll end my review here. If you are not familiar with Byron’s writings, what are you waiting for? She’s the real deal and walks a spiritual path that many of us who know her personally love and admire. It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to earth based spirituality or you’ve walked a Pagan path for decades. Everyone will find something in Seasons of a Magical Life that will make their spiritual practice sparkle. I highly recommend it!

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Reaping an Abundant Spiritual Harvest Ritual

Here is a small group ritual (socially distanced, of course) that can be done as we move toward Mabon/The Fall Equinox. If you are a solitary practitioner, simply change the pronouns to singular. Please feel free to adapt this in order to bring it more in line with your spiritual path/practice.

REAPING AN ABUNDANT SPIRITUAL HARVEST

MABON INCENSE—Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials: Mabon

Pinch dried marigold/calendula
Pinch dried spearmint
Pinch dried sage
2 to 3 cloves or a small pinch of ground clove

Mix together and store in a jar in a cool, dry place. Use a pinch of it on a charcoal briquet as we journey toward Mabon.

CASTING THE CIRCLE
Incense all four directions with the following chant. Use a feather or feather wand to waft the smoke in each direction.

May the harvest be plentiful in our lives
That we may be agents of change and transformation
In our community and in our nation.

CALLING THE QUARTERS—David Taliesin

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air, keepers of wisdom and mystery, whisper into our ears all that we need to know. May the cool fall breezes that rustle the leaves beneath our feet point us in the direction we need to go. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire, purifiers of heart and mind, burn away the clutter and confusion from our lives so that we may have absolute clarity regarding your will for our lives. May the bonfires of fall that give us light and warmth, bring comfort to our weary souls tonight. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water, vessels of peace and compassion, may our thirst for justice and equality be quenched. May the fall rains which nourish the roots of the trees, give strength to the dreams you have planted in us. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth, stewards of hearth and home, gather around us the community we need to make us feel safe and loved. As the fall harvest continues, we ask you to bring about a harvest of good things into our lives, Hail and welcome!

As we draw closer to Mabon, the Fall Equinox, things come into balance, day and night, light and dark, God and Goddess. As we journey into the dark time of the year, May the Divine bring balance into our lives and into this Circle. We are honored by your presence and draw strength from you.

Hail Demeter and Lugh, Mabon and Osiris.
Hail Parvati and Tammuz, Pomona and Dagon,
Hail all harvest gods and goddesses
Who see us into the dark half of the year,
We bid you welcome!

The Circle is cast. We are in protected space.
May we use this time to gather what we need
For the journeys which lie ahead. Blessed be!

MEDITATION ON BALANCE [Mabon Activity Sheet and then discuss if in a small group]

CLOSING THE CIRCLE—David Taliesin

We ask the Divine Presence, who is known to us by many names, to help us find balance in our lives May the Fall Equinox inspire to to take the steps necessary to accomplish this task. We also thank the Divine Presence  for the wisdom and insight we have received tonight. Blessed be!

We turn to the North and give thanks for the Guardians and Ancestors who dwell there. May the Spirits of Earth keep us grounded in the days ahead and surround us with people who make us feel safe and loved. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

We turn to the West and give thanks for the Guardians and Ancestors who dwell there. May the Spirits of Water calm our fears, and increase our ability to be compassionate to the struggles of others. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

We turn to the South and give thanks for the Guardians and Ancestors who dwell there. May the Spirits of Fire give us the energy and motivation we need to accomplish the goals we have set tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

We turn to the East and give thanks for the Guardians and Ancestors who dwell there. May the Spirits of Air blow through our lives, filling them with magic and mystery. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Our Circle is now open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again.

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Oktoberfest, Rally Day and Mabon

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Hofbräuhaus Hall Oktoberfest in Munich

Several years ago, while I was on vacation in Munich, I got the opportunity to attend the city’s infamous Oktoberfest. The best way I can describe it is a county fair on steroids! There are amusement rides for the kids, booths selling all kinds of yummy foods and trinkets and, of course, the beer halls. These halls are enormous and can seat thousands of people. I had lunch in the hall sponsored by the Hofbräuhaus which is one of Munich’s oldest breweries. The place was decorated with hops from floor to ceiling. Beer flowed freely, the band played traditional German music, the food was incredible, and there was lots of singing and celebrating. Oktoberfest is a celebration of life in all its exuberance. It’s a time to give thanks and enjoy the company of family and friends. A German friend of mine remarked that Oktoberfest and the Christmas Markets are the two times of the year Germans give themselves permission to set aside the formalities of their culture and really let their hair down. Trust me, they know how to throw a party.

No matter what culture we are a part of, there is something about this time of year that calls us to come together as a tribe and give thanks. Perhaps, it’s because in older times the harvest was mostly completed and the hard work of farming was coming to an end. It was a time to preserve and store food for the hard winter months ahead as well as give thanks to the Divine for the bounty of the land. Unfortunately, this year we’re going to have to get creative due to the coronavirus. Large gatherings are not even a remote possibility. They even cancelled Oktoberfest in Munich so you know these are dangerous time we live in.  Hopefully, we can all find a way to observe this changing of seasons even if it is on a smaller scale than usual.

Historically, both Christians and Pagans have their own forms of some kind of fall ritual observance.  Many Southern Churches where I live celebrate something called Rally Day.  It’s usually held the first or second weekend after Labor Day and is a time when most churches kick their activities into full gear. Sunday School resumes after a summer break and attendance goes up in worship because vacation time is over. Many churches have a Pot Luck lunch on Rally Day or a special time for celebrating and catching up with friends. It’s the antiseptic version of Oktoberfest that has been filtered through our American Puritan heritage. It also has its roots in our Pagan past as is reflected in a familiar hymn of the season:

Come ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home:
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide for our wants to be supplied:
Come, to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

Harvest Home, which is also called the Ingathering, is a traditional English harvest festival that has been celebrated for thousands of years. Like Oktoberfest, it’s a time of singing, dancing and decorating the town with symbols of the harvest. My Wiccan friends call this festival Mabon which is named after the Welsh God, Mabon, the son of Earth Mother goddess Modron.  They mark the holiday with feasting and enjoying seasonal foods like apples, pomegranates and root vegetables. From a spiritual perspective, Mabon is a time to reflect on the previous year, giving thanks for our successes (i.e. the things we have harvested) and assess which crops, projects, or dreams didn’t come to fruition. It’s a time to let go of that which no longer serves a useful purpose in our lives, so that we create space for something new to grow.

There is tons of information available on the origins and celebration of Mabon, so I won’t repeat it here.  What interests me the most is how the Fall Equinox calls us all to give thanks and celebrate, no matter what our culture or spiritual path. It’s one of the times of the year when nature’s message to us appears to be heard and received by all.

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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August Full Moon: Sturgeon Moon

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According to the Farmer’s Almanac “Some Native American tribes called the August Moon the Sturgeon Moon because they knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this Full Moon.”

Since the habitat of sturgeon is water, perhaps we can use this full moon (Sunday, August 22) to reflect on our emotional life which is commonly associated with the element of water. Even though Lughnasadh has come and gone, the harvest continues. In fact, we have two more harvest festivals to go! With this in mind, what “emotional harvest” do we want to reap in our lives at this moment? Is fear preventing us from pursuing our dreams? Is anger alienating us from others? OR do we want to cultivate more peace in our lives? Do we have the courage to feel love again?  I think you get the point.

If this sounds like a worthwhile activity to you, my suggestion is to go outside Sunday evening and find a place where you will not be disturbed. Soak in the energy of the full moon and let Divine, in its feminine form, whisper to you the truth about your emotional state at this point in your life. What needs to be cultivated? What needs to be uprooted?

As a side note, several species of sturgeon are harvested for their roe which is processed into caviar.  This is a rare and expensive gift that symbolizes the rare and expensive gifts each of us possess, some of which are emotional. What gifts do you want to reveal this full moon? Claim your power and let your light shine!

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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Lessons Learned During the Pandemic: Simplicity

Today, on the eve of the celebration of Lammas/Lughnasadh, I spent the day in the garden and in the kitchen. I harvested herbs, flowers and fruit which where then prepared for drying or infused in oil/alcohol on their way to becoming ingredients for homemade soap or tinctures. I also brewed a batch of blackberry elderberry mead which is now happily bubbling on my kitchen counter (a sign that formation is, indeed, taking place).

During this time I left social media behind and was fully focused on the tasks at hand. By the time I sat down to eat supper, I felt so relaxed and content. This reminded me that one of the lessons I learned during the pandemic was the power of choosing to live a simpler life than I did before the coronavirus forced us to “shelter in place.”

Last summer, while on lockdown, my husband and I tore up part of our front lawn and built a raised bed for vegetables. It was an experiment in urban farming and we quickly learned what grew well in that spot (green beans) and what did not (cucumbers). We also grew lots of tomatoes in big pots that we placed in a sunny spot near the garage. Much to our surprise and delight, we had a good harvest and enjoyed our “yard to table” lifestyle.

This year, we increased what we planted and applied the lessons we learned last year. Not surprisingly, we had an even bigger yield which we transformed into sweet pickles, spaghetti sauce, fried green tomatoes and lots of pots of beans for supper. I have no doubt this is the “new normal” for both of us. We’ve found great joy in a simpler lifestyle that includes less eating out and more eating in. I don’t think this would have happened without the pandemic. It is one of the hidden blessings that has come out of this difficult time in the life of our planet.

Blessed Lammas! David T

Copyright ©2021 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com

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