Last weekend I held my annual HerbFest – a celebration to honor the closure of the growing season here in South Central Pennsylvania. Not quite autumn by the calendar – nature has her schedule which has included softer, fragrant days and cooler nights. Every evening for the past two weeks I’ve noticed that there is less music in the woods and fields as insects and toads slowly let go of summer’s vibrant energy. In the twilight, I can smell the smoke of wood stoves on the mountain, and I know that frosted nights and crisp, glittering mornings aren’t that far away.
When autumn gently glides into my world, should I have been lucky enough to have weathered the growing season (we had far too much rain this year), I like to share my small harvest of herbs with my friends and family. We have ourselves a picnic feast, raise fun energy, and bring all the herbs we can into the circle, where they are bundled, blessed and shared. The remainder of the herbs hang on an old laundry rack in my craft room, where they will dry before for use in my magickal powders and conjure oils.
This year, we washed all the roots from the plants in a large cauldron of blessed water and passed them over the flames of the fire. These gnarled roots will function as guardian herbal dollies. Some practitioners will place the roots on their altars throughout the winter season. Many will decorate them, turning them into poppets and herbal protectors. This type of spirit doll can be burned in the spring or at next year's autumn herbfest -- passing the power through the flames to a new doll.
This year’s theme of the herbfest was Celebrating Adjustment. You know, we slog through the bog of our daily lives, struggling to fulfill our dreams while still finding purpose and sometimes we are so focused that we forget that we need to make adjustments to ensure we get to where we want to go! There are times where, due to whatever (sickness, unhappiness, cruelty from others, or plain ignorance) that we retreat...cut ourselves off...and fail to realize that a prolonged disengagement from life digs our wounds deeper. What we thought would be a step back, a moment to breathe, in reality, became a coffin for the mind!
As part of our Celebrating Adjustment, we got out a compass and corrected the directional markers of the ritual circle I built this summer. We moved all the quarters beginning with east taking apart the bricks and stones and setting them in their proper positions regarding the compass information, realigned the altar, and rebuilt the entrance area to the circle. We voted. Did we want the entry guarded by the Gods? Or did we want the pathway into the circle protected by the dead?
They chose the Gods.
Each change we made was a group effort.
Some of us drummed. Some of us hauled. Some of us moved rocks. A few of us went looking for wood along the forest line because I forgot to buy the logs for the ritual fire. And, in honor of friends from the past who are no longer with us, we gave more power to our fire with splashes of white lightning.
Witches in the woods.
Gotta love us, right?
Happy Harvest Season to all!
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