Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Circle of Fountains August Eve Ritual and Celebration 2017

This post will cover the August Eve / Lammas ritual and celebration held by the Circle of Fountains.

This year's equinox ritual was held by Tamilia!

Tamilia is a devotional polytheistic witch with strong background in trance, spirit communication and psychotransformation.  More about her practices can be found on her blog, Wandering Woman Wondering.  As always, the purpose of Circle of Fountains is to bring together a diverse perspective on what it means to be a witch.  The sabbats give us an opportunity to sample each member's craft, expanding our horizons and our own practices.

As with most CF rituals, August Eve began with a potluck feast consisting of a variety of foods including corned beef, potatoes, chicken, rosemary cookies and more.

Also on the menu was an apple wine that was absolutely delicious!

After the feast, we started on a mason jar craft!  The craft asked us to focus on questions such as "What crops are still growing in your life and require active cultivation?" and "What must you release in order to bring in your crops?"

We were asked to write these on cards provided to us by Tamilia.  These cards were sealed as scrolls with twine and placed inside the jar.

We then created a sachet to add to the jar with various herbs, stones and a golden sickle charm.

Finally, we chose charms that represented our goals and sealed our jars shut.

In addition, Tamilia gave each of us our own personal sickles.

We charged our sickles, empowering them with what we wrote on our scrolls for the jars.

We were then cleansed with water and smoke and asked to enter the ritual room.

In the ritual area, an altar was adorned with candles, bread and wheat along with a gorgeous large-scale sickle.

After circling the altar, Tamilia along with other participants called upon each element, blessing pieces of bread in the process.

We then honored the bread and ate it.

Tamilia then passed about a basket of wheat, asking each of us to take a stalk as we sang:

"A stalk for each sorrow you bear
A stalk for each burden you carry
A stalk for your pain, a stalk for your gain
A stalk for each labor of love"

Each person asked two people within the circle to come and hold their stalk for them.  Tamilia would ask three questions:
What is your name?  This would be a word of power, something that identifies you wholly.  
What is your sickle's name?  This is what you give, what you have to offer to others.
What is the name of the chaff?  This is what you release, what you no longer want.

And when you were ready...

You would cut the wheat with your sickle as everyone chanted "Chop, chop, chop!"

We were then asked to point our sickles at the cut grain, chanting

"Rising and falling and rising and falling
Rising and falling and rising again."

The wheat has fallen only to rise again.

And thus, the mystery of the grain: What falls rises again, transformed by the elements into bread.

The bread and ale were then passed around the circle.

And with that, the rite was complete and the circle was closed!

From my circle to yours, I hope you had a blessed August Eve!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Full Moon in Aquarius

For the August 2017 full moon.  Thank you!

Monday, October 2, 2017

August Eve Altar 2017

A cross-quarter holiday, August Eve, also known as Lammas or Lughnasadh depending on your beliefs and practices, is the first of three yearly harvest festivals.  Falling between Midsummer and the Autumn Equinox, it is an equilibrium of fall and summer, representing a hot, green day with tumultuous storms, yet the cutting of the sheaf and the preparation for the darkness ahead.  That being said, unless you're a farmer or enjoy gardening, it's not likely that you'll be harvesting any food during this time of the year.  Instead, we focus on the symbolism of the harvest as a ritual for creating cycles and focus in our lives.  During this sabbat, we reflect on goals achieved from seeds sewn in the spring, the letting go of what is not needed for the months ahead and strength and fortitude for the work to come.

When it comes to August Eve, I think of greens and golds.  Despite thinking of harvest as a time of falling leaves and cooler days, August Eve is right at the height of the Midwestern heat.  The trees are still full of bright green leaves and the sun is beating down on you if you dare to venture outside.  Gold, in this case, is symbolic of both the hot sun and the wheat we harvest, invoking prosperity and richness.  Green then represents the green leaves of the trees as well as fertility, earth and abundance.  I used these colors at the back of the altar where I placed three candles, a tribute to the three harvest holidays of the year.

I also utilized hints of black in the altar to invoke the darkness to come.  In these gorgeous wheat candle holders, I placed black sand to hold up the thin green candles.  I also used a black pillar candle holder to hold a green and gold leaf candle, again something representative of the life and sun preceding the darkness ahead.

Symbols of wheat lie about the entire altar, from actual grain to shapes of wheat to a cup holding ale, which is, of course, fermented wheat.  Grains are the common harvest for this time of the season and wheat is the most common, so it's the symbol I've chosen to focus on for this altar.

At the very front of the altar sits a green glass acorn.  Acorns, seeds of oak trees, represent potential and strength.  They also happen to be what the squirrel harvests and stores for the winter.  Inside this glass jar, I placed a squirrel's skull in a bed of gold glitter.  We often think of squirrel's symbolism as playful and quick, but squirrels are also incredibly practical foragers who rely on their own means to survive the winter. By placing this skull in a bed of gold, representing prosperity, and closing it inside an acorn of potential, I've created a monument to the potential and strength of the harvest that is August Eve.

Above the altar, I've placed large and thick barren wreath, representing the bare months to come.  As we move forward into the next harvest, that wreath will get thinner, which will represent the culling back of our own bounty to reserve enough for the months ahead.  While we can enjoy what we have now, we must be practical like the squirrel and store for later!

Here's wishing everyone a blessed August Eve!