A Witch’s Thanksgiving

#autumnequinox #mabon #albanelfred #fall

I love this mild, in-between temperature. I don’t crave A/C or heat – no correction, just nature as-is. There is an evenness in the air that encourages me to sit still and think. From this gentle place, I wonder if I can soften to honesty. What can I see with both eyes open?

The Autumn Equinox: Balance and Release

Another time of change is here. If we were recent ancients, we would watch our fields empty and our barns fill. Even far from the fields here in Brooklyn, the trees begin to release their leaves and the street lights wink on a little earlier. At the same time that we savor that last tomato, the time comes to let go of what we’ve held, to open our hands, and to trust emptiness as a part of the cycle, not incorrect or bad. Emptiness is clarity.

“Mabon” may be a made-up, Neo-Pagan word, but is one of the names for the Autumn Equinox, which nobody disputes occurs tomorrow. This is the harvest, the time of both gratitude and analysis. Solstices are extreme, celebrating the “most light” or the “most dark,” climatic moments of switching directions from one to the other. Equinoxes are the reverse – equal light and dark balance each other. It’s an otherworldly equilibrium that encourages a dynamic stillness, fully awake, but not leaning too far to the left or right. The Druids call it Alban Elfred. And while I relish a world of light, I carry darkness around too, don’t I? My personal darkness takes the shape of resentment, judgment, bitterness. Darkness is growing, but maybe I don’t have to flee. Maybe dark and light coexist, and I can turn judgment to compassion and control to patience. If I embrace all of the seasons, how can I fail to embrace all of myself?

Paused on the tipping point of fullness to emptiness, I hope I’ve used the light well! It’s time to settle up: How went the turning of the wheel? At Yule, I honored the dark, and welcomed the invisible rebirth of light with gifts and candles. At Imbolc, I cleared clutter to make a space for the newly conceived and silently growing. At Ostara, I brimmed with potential on the tipping point from dark to light. On Beltane I bloomed, and by Litha, my ripeness burst. On Lammas I lamented, but took nourishment from all that was newly grown.

The time comes to harvest what I’ve sown, and to channel abundance through community and generosity. Whatever my personal gains or losses, we are all in this together. We may need each other when the windows are drafty, the neighbors down with the flu and the parked cars all buried by the snowplow. It’s time to pull together everything I’ve made, to feed myself and others. It’s Witches’ Thanksgiving – I’m roasting a chicken. I’m also making fire cider – soaking the sunlight out of onions, garlic, turmeric and horseradish. When everyone gets sick, just ask me for a spoonful. Today’s abundance is tomorrow’s remedy.

The light is getting precious, meaningful. I want to savor every last minute of it while I kick fall leaves on a Brooklyn side street, and secretly enjoy that tacky inflatable jack-o-lantern that pops up every year in the same yard.

The dark holds the “other.” It’s an invitation to deepness, the unseen. Mysteries await, brave adventures. If we undertake the quiet journey to the deepest part of ourselves, what might we bring back to offer the light when it comes?

The dark is always the home of stories, so here’s one:

Long ago, the Sumerians worshipped Inanna, a goddess of love and war. Inanna’s sister was Ereshkigal, goddess of the underworld. One day, Inanna heard her sister cry. She set out to go to her, but was warned that no one who goes to the underworld ever returns. Nevertheless, she prepared for her descent, wearing robes, a crown, beads and jewels. At the outer gate of the underworld, she gave up her crown in order to enter. At the second gate, she gave up her beads. At subsequent gates, she released her bracelets and her rings, and finally her measuring rod, which she’d brought to help her find her way back. Defenseless, she met her distraught sister, who struck her dead.

Inanna’s servant waited for three days, and with no sign of her mistress returning, she finally convinced Enki, the God of Widsom and Water, to help. Enki created two new creatures out of dirt to help Inanna. Disguising themselves as flies, the two creatures slipped past all the gates, and finally reached Ereshkigal, whose mournful cries they echoed, understanding that what Ereshkigal craved most was compassion and understanding. In gratitude, Ereshkigal offered them any gift they desired. They asked for Inanna’s body, which they fed with the food and water of life. Inanna rose, and returned to heaven and earth. Her husband Damuzi agreed to take her place in the underworld for six months of each year, returning to join Inanna every spring.

So turns the wheel. Welcome, Fall.

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Originally published at www.psycho-girl.com on September 21, 2016.