15th September 1987
Dear Tessa and Glyn,
The time of the harvest is almost here, time of the weighing-up of both gains and losses. Concurrently, the Sun is about to enter the sign of the scales, Libra. So balancing is a strong theme, as well as thanksgiving. Day and night will be equal, as at the spring equinox, but after this festival, the dark gains. The days grow shorter, right through to the winter solstice.
This is the autumn equinox. It is Harvest Festival, the time to celebrate and give thanks, and to throw out and clear away unwanted things, the chaff and rubbish. A double-sided festival, even double-edged.
The universal symbol for reincarnation, the double spiral, is the special symbol for this time of year. The meaning of this is that a breathing out is always followed (balanced) by an indrawn breath, as sleep is followed by awakening and death is followed by rebirth. So the double spiral brings a message as we wind in towards the still point, or darkest night, the winter solstice. You may wonder from where the double spiral derives? Well, spirals have been used symbolically in many lands and at all times, right from the Stone Age. They are carved onto standing stones and burial chambers. The double spiral shows both a going-in and a returning, hence rebirth. Interestingly, it is also the shape of the DNA. But that could not have been known in the past, except perhaps intuitively. It seems to be an underlying pattern of all life. Researchers into geodetic force have discovered the spiral’s associations with electrical energy created by blind springs and underground streams.
The Goddess is Lady of Abundance. Her cauldron, cornucopia, produces all good things, an abundance of blessings. The God is Lord of Harvest. Their union is fruitful and has made all things on Earth.
You could begin an autumn-equinox rite by decorating room and altar with autumn flowers and fruits. Cast the circle and invoke the Lady and the Lord of All Abundance.
An unlit candle should be in the cauldron, at the centre. Round the candle’s base should be ears of corn. Light the candle, saying:
Welcome now to the autumn equinox, time of the double spiral, of the winding-in upon the thread of fate, towards the still point in the darkness, where there is rebirth of light and life. Thus, all must journey through the realm of winter. And the harvest, the grain that has been reaped, sustains us through the winter season, holding seeds that shall be planted in spring. For the circle of life is unbroken.
I light this candle to the waning Sun.
Walk widdershins (anticlockwise) around the cauldron seven times. Then spiral in towards the centre. Kneel or sit cross-legged beside the cauldron. Take from it the ears of corn, saying,
Times of waning bring a harvest.
Towards endings, there are fruits.
As we journey through winter, realm of death,
the fruits of life sustain us
and contain the seeds
of new life. This mystery is seen,
is everywhere revealed,
and yet is sealed
in silence and in darkness.
Gaze at the corn. Close your eyes and picture it as the essence of Sun and Earth, containing the new life. Here, in the harvest, are the seeds of the next cycle. How does this reveal the mysteries? Ask the Goddess to show you now, if she will. You may see visions of cycles, circles, or of the dark journey to the Underworld and back again, a labyrinthine journey. Ask to understand the purpose behind this, or within it, the true purpose of creation. If you are blessed with understanding, this is an inner harvest. Give thanks for anything you see, and open your eyes. Carrying the corn, spiral out deosil, and walk seven times around the circle.
Place the ears of corn upon the altar. Later, they can be tied with a red ribbon and hung throughout winter somewhere in the house.
Standing before the altar, say:
I celebrate the gain, the fruits,
and all of the Earth’s abundance,
dancing the outgoing
and the incoming spiral.
Every end is followed by beginning.
Pause for a moment, then continue:
The incoming flow
in seeds that shall grow
lies hidden till spring.
The unbroken ring of rebirth.
The harvest sustain,
till spring comes again.
Season of gain.
The seeds shall remain!
Repeat the last two lines as a chant. Dance deosil, joyfully, building creative power, a dance of life. (You should not be wearing any swirling robes or cloaks for this, because of the naked flame.) Earth the energy into three cords or ribbons, which you will have placed inside the cauldron. Plait the cords, in a length long enough to be worn as a necklace. Then the ends should be fastened, creating a circle.
As you plait, visualize that you are weaving in the harvest richness of this year, anything and everything that gives hope for life on Earth. Name, as you weave, the victories, even small and local ones, on environmental issues; any inspirational books you have read; any changes of public opinion about exploitation of natural resources; any ending to any war; any successful creative effort by any person or group; any justice or any resolution of conflict anywhere on Earth. These are the seeds of new ways. They are stars within the Circle of Rebirth.
As you fasten the ends and complete the circle, say, The unbroken circle. Life shall never die.
Hold the necklace high above the altar, then put it on. Later, it should be kept in some safe place until the spring equinox, when it may be buried and thus magically returned to Earth, for Earth’s continued being.
Sit quietly for a while and think about the spell you have cast. Visualize the Earth healed. See life continuing.
When you are ready, return to the altar and give thanks to the Goddess and the God for your personal harvest, for what you have reaped in your own life. Place an offering — perhaps a poem or picture or something you have made — upon the altar. Next, visit each of the four quarters, just as you did at the spring equinox. This time, bring an offering to each quarter, in thanks.
At the east quarter, meditate upon your harvest of ideas, your concepts and realizations. Close your eyes and think of all the new ideas you have received in the last year. Give thanks to the Guardian Spirits of Air, and then place a handful of incense on some smouldering charcoal, or light some more joss, in offering.
At the south, close your eyes and think about any improvements in health and vitality, or any successes or adventures, any ’high peaks’. Give thanks for these, or for any beneficial changes, and then anoint the candle with an essential oil, in offering. Rosemary or frankincense are suitable.
At the west, meditate on your emotional fulfilment and give thanks for this, for friendships, skill in magic or experiences of enchantment and beauty. Pour a little wine or apple juice into the water, in offering.
At the north, see and give thanks for the manifest blessings which you have harvested, the physical results of work done in the home or the garden, artistically, creatively, or in your job. Make an offering of bread and leave it on the altar by your stone, or on top of the dish of earth, or pentacle.
At the centre of your circle, by the cauldron, visualize the way in which the elements of your life interweave to create the whole essence of your being. Give thanks for any way in which you see new integration in yourself, your life. Is there any one principle or activity which seems to uphold the rest? Name it. Then take a white cord from within the cauldron. As an offering, tie in it five knots, one for each quarter and one for the centre, the still point. Tie the ends of the cord together and keep this also until the spring.
Meditate for a moment upon the loss and gain in your life. What is slipping away? This is the time to let it go, with thanks for what has been; or purposely to cast aside what you don’t need, the chaff. But your harvest, for which you have just given thanks, contains the seeds of the next cycle. See the balance.
After a communion, the circle is ’open but not broken’. Then you step outside the place between the worlds, and on your way into the autumn.