Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Season of the Witch

From the Autumn Equinox until just after the Wild Hunt rides out around Samhain is the Season of the Witch.  People all over the United States seem to know that this is true without being told so.  The stores decorate for Halloween, reporters develop stories about local Witches, and Witches themselves feel a certain thrill in the chilly autumnal breeze that stirs something wild and magical within them.

We honor this season by flying out as much as possible during this time, in preparation for the Wild Hunt.  We also begin our Samhain season preparations, which include: changing over to black robes from white, ancestor contact, a dumb feast, pumpkin guardians, deep divination, and, of course, flying to the Sabbat.

Our friend and mentor Pythia Blackthorn, of the Classic Witchcraft Blog, has a wonderful excerpt from Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes that sums up the Season of the Witch beautifully:  The Autumn People:
“Beware the autumn people. … For some, autumn comes early, stays late, through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the only normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No, the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks through their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.”

- Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Our totems for this time of year reflect the themes of this dark tide. The Autumn Equinox is the time we honor the early face of the Black Goddess: The Grail Queen.  We see her as the Silver Queen of Castle Perilous, whose treasure is the Holy Grail, the Cauldron of Cerridwen to which we must all return.  It is also the bloody Cup of Babalon, who collects blood offerings of sacrifice and transmutes them into magic.  Her totems are the swine, the chicken, and the grapevine, all of which offer forth their flesh and blood to feed and nourish us.  Early October's totems are those of deep wisdom: the salmon, the hazelnut, and lapwing.  These symbols of sacrifice and wisdom prepare us for our journey into the underworld to seek the heart of all magic at Samhain.  Samhain's totems are the toad, the crane, and the elder tree.  It is the time when we honor Tubal Cain in his dark aspect as the Lord of the Dead, keeper of the Quench Tank, the Deathhelm, and the West Gate.

Witches all, we hope to see you at the Sabbat, be it atop the Brocken, under the Walnut of Benevento, at the hill-top cromlech, or around the well-worn Mill Grounds.  Celebrate the coming of the Season of the Witch!

The Descent of the Goddess

In Ancient times our Lord, the Horned One, was, as he still is, the Consoler and the Comforter. But men knew him as the dread Lord of Shadows. Lonely, stern and just.

Now our Lady the Goddess had never loved, but she would solve all the Mysteries. Even the mystery of Death, and so she journeyed to the Underworld.

The Guardians of the Portal challenged her thus: Strip off thy garments, lay aside thy jewels, for naught mayest thou bring with thee into this our land.

So she laid down her garments and her jewels, and was bound, as are all who enter the Realms of Death the Mighty One.

Such was her beauty, that Death himself knelt and kissed her feet, saying: Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways. Abide with me, but let me place my cold hand on thy heart.

She replied: I love thee not. Why dost thou cause all things that I love and take delight in to fade and die?

Death replied: Lady, 'tis age and fate, against which I am helpless. Age causes all things to wither; but when men die at the end of time, I give them rest and peace, and strength so that they may return. But thou! Thou art lovely. Return not; abide with me!

But she answered: I love thee not!

Then said Death: An thou receivest not my hand upon thy heart, thou must kneel to Death's scourge.

It is fate - better so, She said. And she knelt, and Death scourged her tenderly. And she cried: I feel the pangs of love!

And Death raised her, and said: Blessed be! And he gave her the Fivefold kiss, saying: Thus only mayest thou attain to joy and knowledge.

And he taught her all his Mysteries, and they loved and were one. And she taught him her mystery of the sacred cup which is the cauldron of rebirth. And he gave her the necklace which is the circle of rebirth and taught her all the Magics.

For there are three great events in the life of man: Love, Death and Resurrection in the new body; and Magic controls them all.

For to fulfill love you must return again at the same time and place as the loved one, and you must meet, and know, and remember, and love them again.

But to be reborn, you must die and be made ready for a new body; and to die, you must be born; and without love, you may not be born; and this is all the Magics.

Traditional, from the Gardnerian Book of Shadows.

Note: although our tradition is not Gardnerian, we are informed by it, among other things.  This piece of liturgy is not a part of our own tradition, but is appropriate to this season and the concept of the Lord of Death as a beneficent being.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Autumn Equinox 2012 Photos

Autumn Equinox 2012 altar.  At this Sabbat we celebrate the Grail Queen of the Silver Castle -- Castle Perilous -- as Cerridwen-Babalon. We drink deeply of her bloody cup, and rejoice in the coming of the Season of the Witch.

Altar detail.  The lovely stone sphere is Chimera Stone (tm).  The large gold and scarlet chalice is the Cup of Babalon, used each year during the Feast of the Beast at the Babalon Rising Festival.
At the base of the altar are L-R: coven chalices, the Spiral Castle, Tubal Cain & his anvil, coven member totems, salt water, sterile lancets, and our Grimoire.
The Housle Song
To the tune of Greensleeves

To Housle now we walk the wheel
We kill tonight the blood red meal
A leftward tread of magic's mill
To feed the Gods and work our Will.

Red, red is the wine we drink
Red, red are the cords we wear
Red, red is the Blood of God
And red is the shade of the Housle.
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