With the coronavirus and the bad flu season, and our personal mundane nonsense (we’re moving across town), I don’t think we’re going to have much time to really celebrate this equinox with any of our pagan community, and I was thinking on that, and feeling the need to strengthen community ties from a distance, when this prayer sort of wrote itself as I fell asleep. So I jotted it down, and made a few minor edits, and now I’m sharing it with all of you! If you feel moved to do so, please light a candle and read this prayer aloud on the equinox or at your personal celebration. I’ll be lighting a green candle (if they’re not all packed away!), though you could use yellow, or even just white – whatever feels most appropriate to you.
Prayer for the Spring Equinox
There’s a stirring in the breeze Spring is arriving on wing and leaf It is time to plant our seeds They are Hearty and Hale in their sowing As we are Whole and Well in our growing We emerge from our winter cocoons And reaffirm the connections between us Hail to the Folk around us Hail to the Folk farther away Hail to gods, spirits, ancestors Hail to the Spring, today!
The Equinox is the Feast of the Vanir in our home practice, and while we celebrated with friends yesterday and hailed them at a blot, I would still like to share the original prayer I wrote, in the same format as other prayers I’ve shared recently. Feel free to use this at your own home celebration!
The Autumn Equinox has arrived, And the nights are now as long as the days The last of the fruits of the earth are ripening And the harvest is well underway!
The days are still warm and the leaves still green But the nights are beginning to cool Here we are at the balance – Mid Autumn Equinox, between the Midsummer and Midwinter Solstices!
And on this day, we honor Freyr and Freyja, Beloved deities of Vanaheim, and all their kin Come to us now, and join our celebration! We offer you food, drink, and merriment!
We ask in return for your blessings, Help us to harvest what we planted in the spring.
Freyr and Freyja, Hail and Welcome!
Original Prayer by Aleja Nic Bhe Chuille
It was a two hour drive northeast to the friend’s house, as we’ve both moved farther away from where we lived when we first met, and that distance is no easy feat with a toddler who hates car rides. Up was not too bad – down home was much worse as we were hours past his usual bed time. Still, the gathering of friends I have not seen in too long was much, much needed. And that got me to thinking about community, which came up as a theme in the blot.
I spent a long time as a solitary witchy pagan animist something, barely aware of a wider community, until I happened across an ADF Druid grove in Baltimore the last few weeks of 2012. Scott and I both found community there for a while, but the distance became too much as other parts of our life solidified and we stopped going in early 2016. That autumn we met the members of the Fellowship Beyond the Star for the first time at Pagan Pride festivals, and we attended some of their meetings as time allowed – though as I moved into my second and third trimesters we got out of the house less and less, and then for the first three months after the Acorn was born in May we did hardly anything at all but take care of the baby, eat, and sleep.
Still, when we emerged from that cocoon, we found the Fellowship community very welcoming, and we also started attending our local UU church, which soon had a fledgling pagan study group. We were putting down roots, finding community around us both physically locally and also in nearby pagan area groups. We still had friends in Baltimore, but that became more connected by social media and less by actual in-person meetings. That doesn’t make those connections seem less valid, though – they can provide plenty of different kinds of support, even though it’s a bit too far for a “whoops I need a ride to urgent care” call.
Now, both local pagan groups (The Fellowship Beyond the Star, and Fox & Fungi at UUCR) have grown some, and I find myself in organizational roles in both. I’ve begun teaching workshops in the local community, and even down in Atlanta this past July. Acquaintances met at community events are becoming friendships, and I begin to see how my small groups might join in networks with other groups to form woven communities, providing the support we all desperately need.
The Autumn Equinox, the middle of fall in my seasonal paradigm, is a time of harvest and in an agricultural community it would also be a time of the community coming together, pitching in to make sure everything was getting set for winter. It’s a time to check in with those local to you, but also with wider ideas of community in this technologically connected age. For my husband’s Jewish relatives and ancestors, it is also time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time to mend bridges and reconnect. We try to continue some of those traditions in our home as well, so there will be apples and honey on my kitchen table soon. For many people this is also when the school year seems to finally be properly underway, with everything settled from the first whirlwind of Back-to-School.
In my work with the Fair Folk, this is also usually the time when the Wild Hunts and Fairy Rades begin. I’ve been learning that the acronychal rising of the Pleiades happens around the Equinox, and that feels significant, though I’m still not sure what exactly that means for my personal practice. I mentioned that this is the Feast of the Vanir for us, and while Freyr and Freyja are usually my focus, with Njord and Nerthus included as well, I also deliberately include the alfar of Vanaheim, whom I believe to be culturally distinct from the beings of either Alfheim/Ljossalfheim or Nidavellir/Svartalfheim. I try to spend a bit of time around this day with my allies there, checking in and just enjoying their company. So far I haven’t attempted to join their seasonal celebrations, but perhaps this year I will ask. Perhaps they can help bring me clarity about the timing of the Pleiades and the Hunts.
Autumn is underway. Communities are pulling together. And Samhain will come faster than we expect.
Lughnasadh season is busy in our house because it also usually coincides with the start of the Kemetic Epagomenal Days, and this year it also coincided with my return to Priestessing for the Morrigan.
This year, our main ritual was celebrated with the Fox and Fungi group at our local UU Church, which I co-led with another group organizer. We did a druidic style ritual based on a liturgical outline I’ve devised for the group, which sort of splits the difference between Wiccan ritual structure, UU service structure, and the ADF Core Order of Ritual that I became accustomed to when I was previously a member of an ADF Druid Grove. (Yes, those work together better than you might think!) We called upon Lugh and Tailtiu as the deities of the occasion, and a friend and very good storyteller regaled us all with her version of Tailtiu’s story. Our main working was done with leaves placed in baskets. We each had two leaves. On one, we wrote something we were good at or something we’d accomplished that we were proud of. On the other, something we hoped to learn to do, or something we hoped to achieve. As we listened to musical accompaniment, we each came up to the altar to put our leaves each into the appropriate basket. Later, the leaves were taken outside to our ritual space.
It was nice to be with our community, but it did mean that our home observance went largely undone – I wrote a prayer and Scott poured Lugh and Tailtiu each out a shot of whisky, but we didn’t do a large family dinner. I’ve copied the prayer below, for those interested.
Lughnasadh has arrived, And the days begin to grow shorter Fruit is ripening on branch and vine And grains are golden in the fields
Summer heat still hangs in the air But we have begin the harvest We are standing on the cusp of autumn And soon the nights will be chill
On this day we honor Lugh and Tailtiu His foster mother, who cleared the land So that the people might plant grain She gave her life for her people’s needs
Come to us now, and join in our celebration! We offer you food, drink, and merriment! We ask in return for your blessings: Help us to bring in the first fruits of our labors
So, some Political Shit went down recently, and part of my reaction to it included this pair of prayers to a local cultus aspect of Athena that I consider to be the Patron Goddess of both Washington, DC, and of the American Government more generally (the ideals, more than the failures, that is).
The first prayer was pretty much a knee-jerk reaction to watching states pass laws that blatantly challenge Roe V. Wade and restrict the rights of the approximate half of their citizenry that have uteri (women, but also some trans men and nonbinary folx).
The second prayer came after the other part of my reaction, which mostly consisted of banework. I realized that the representatives fighting against this wave of BS might need a bit of protection against the baneful workings of the anti-reproductive-rights crowd. (Yeah, I’m not going to call them “pro-life”. They’ve been pretty clear that they don’t actually care about life.)
Also, on the topic of sending protective or blessing magic to representatives, which when unwanted I usually consider a type of banework, Gwendolyn Reece’s recent blog is worth reading. I tend to agree that this type of work is both ethical and needed, but I leave in my usual disperse-if-truly-unwanted clause, leaving acceptance up to them and their guide(s)/god(s)/ancestors. Banework does not mean a working is unethical, just that it may be potentially harmful. However, what I consider ethical and what my fellow travelers consider ethical may not be identical – one should always stick to their own code.
Athena Columbia! Hear the Prayers of your supplicants! Lady of American Democracy, we are in crisis! Oligarchy and Theocracy reign and Freedoms are denied: Athena Columbia Eleutheria, Lady Liberty, we have need of your Light! We, the oppressed, will fight in the ways we can: Athena Columbia Nike, Lady Victory, shine upon us! We will oppose unjust laws, and promote equity: Athena Columbia Dike, Lady Justice, guide us! We will search for facts and oppose lies: Athena Columbia Aletheia, Lady Truth, show us the way!
Pallas Athena Columbia, Protectress of the United States, Bright-eyed Goddess, Dread Maiden and Glorious Queen: Hold us to the promise of our ideals, Make us ever aspire to your righteousness, Keep us on the path towards equitable governance, And destroy those who would privilege only themselves.
Prayer to Athena Columbia: Protect our Representatives
Athena Columbia! Hear the Prayers of your supplicants! Lady of American Democracy, protect our laudable representatives! Those who uphold the ideals of freedom and an end to oppression: Athena Columbia Eleutheria, Lady Liberty, bathe them in your Light! Those who fight for our rights and for a better future: Athena Columbia Nike, Lady Victory, show them your favor! Those who seek to create an equitable legal code: Athena Columbia Dike, Lady Justice, guide their pens! Those who are informed by factual reporting and science: Athena Columbia Aletheia, Lady Truth, help them see clearly!
Pallas Athena Columbia, Protectress of the United States, Bright-eyed Goddess, Dread Maiden and Glorious Queen: Help them hold fast to the promise of their ideals, Encourage them to aspire to your righteousness, Usher them down the path towards equitable governance, And protect them from those who would do them harm or lead them astray.
This year for Imbolc, we helped to organize a ritual at our local UU church. At home, our deities of the occasion are Cailleach and Brigid, and the group agreed to honor them for our ritual. We used a shortened version of the ADF creation of sacred space and ritual center, honoring of the Hallows (Fire, Well and Tree), the Kindreds (Shining Ones, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits), and a short meditation to help us connect to the space between the worlds.
Then we invoked the Cailleach and Brigid. Another participant read a prayer they’d found called “Prayer to Brigantia, Keeper of the Forge“, by Patti Wigington, substituting “Brigid” for “Brigantia”. I wrote a poem for Cailleach following the same pattern, and Scott read it during the ritual. I’ve reproduced both, below.
We also tied raffia to pussywillow branches for our hopes and intentions for the spring, similar to cloutie ties, and we sang Kelianna’s song Brighid’s Flame together.
It was a simple ritual, but poignant for many of the participants, and it’s proof that we can pull something together in less than a week. Still, I think we’re going to plan farther ahead for the Spring Equinox!
Imbolc Prayer for Cailleach, by Aleja Nic Bhé Chuille
Hail, Cailleach! Bringer of ice and snow,
She who blankets the world in white,
She who freezes the world so time seems to slow,
She who encourages us to rely on each other,
She who is called the Blue Crone,
And teaches us the true meaning of survival.
Hail, Cailleach! Queen of Winter,
She who frosts the ground with her staff,
She who dropped rocks and made mountains,
She who shaped valleys and hills,
She who flies over the land as a great winter storm.
Prayer for Brigantia, Keeper of the Forge, by Patti Wigington
Hail, Brigantia! Keeper of the forge,
She who shapes the world itself with fire,
She who ignites the spark of passion in the poets,
She who leads the clans with a warrior’s cry,
She who is the bride of the islands,
And who leads the fight of freedom.
Hail, Brigantia! Defender of kin and hearth,
She who inspires the bards to sing,
She who drives the smith to raise his hammer,
She who is a fire sweeping across the land.
[Feel free to use my prayer to Cailleach for your own rituals, with proper attribution!]
This is a prayer I just wrote for my 3-day Solstice working for Na Morrigna. It’s a little rough, still, but it was written in a fit of inspiration a few moments ago. I may edit it later, but this is the version I used today, and will be using tomorrow and the following day.
Originally, Glasreo and I had hoped to be part of a small group doing a working in DC today, but that did not pan out for us. While we hope those colleagues of ours manage to pull off their grand endeavor with the help of the Theoi and other gods, we are home, and adding our power to the tide in our own small way.
A Prayer for the 4th of July
Today, I pray to the gods of War – that peace may be sought and maintained.
Today, I pray to the gods of Truth – that lies may have no power and be silenced.
Today, I pray to the gods of Justice – that the disenfranchised may be heard and provisioned.
Today, I pray to the Mighty Dead of this nation. I call out to them, and I pour them libation, that they may maintain their legacy, and that the founding principles of this country – the ideals of the Enlightenment – may prevail.
Our Mighty Dead dreamed of a country where all could be free to be who they truly were, without fear. While we now think many more aspects of individual identity should be protected, and we acknowledge that society does not give us all equal power, we continue to strive in the same ways that they did: increasing liberty and justice for all. May those ideals unite us, where others would divide us.
I honor also this land – from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, to our northern border with Canada and past that to the Alaskan arctic, to our southern border with Mexico and the Gulf as well as the south Pacific islands. The land contains many different biomes, innumerable ecosystems, and a great diversity of life beyond humanity. Land, Sea, and Sky: these, too, are citizens, and they, too, must be protected and cherished.
So Hail to the Gods, Hail to the Mighty Dead, and Hail to the Natural World!
Tonight, my prayers will be lit in sparklers, not incense.