People always mock what they fear or don't understand.
Celtic refers to the people - the culture, while the Craft refers to the faith of the people. The Craft reaches very far back in time and offers magical and personal empowerment. Witches try to leave a trail of blessings wherever we go.
Attend the Witches' Thanksgiving at the Mystery School with Avril & her sister-friends. Don't miss the Mabon celebration!
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Avril’s stomach growled. She was hungry. She smiled as she glanced over at Shanna stir the giblet gravy as it simmered. Her mother stepped away from the counter and asked, “Hailey is the tart cranberry sauce ready?
“Yes, there are jellied berries also,” she answered.
Avril looked over at Hailey. They were dressed alike, in a long black dress floor-length. She smiled. “Merry we meet sister-friend,” she said.
Hailey smiled back. “Merry Meet,” she said. “No time to chit-chat. I’ll join you in the dining area shortly.”
“Okay, sure.” Avril walked passed the cabbage and turnip that sat in cold water in large pots, waiting for the burners to be lit. A wise woman rushed by her asking, “Where’s the yams?” The wise-woman shoved aside the bottled pickles, jams and jellies on the cupboard but had no luck in the search. Avril started checking around. The wise woman seemed to give up for a moment when suddenly she tripped over the baskets full of ripe yams. The wise woman chuckled. “Here they are!”
Avril concerned turned to look at her. “Are you going to be all right?”
The wise woman bent down clinging to her calf. “Far from the heart,” she said smiling.
Avril following her gaze downward, her expression thoughtful she asked, “For real?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” she assured her, picking up one of the yams from the bushel basket.
Avril walked out of the kitchen. In the living area, filled with laughing young people, Fall Equinox adornments were being added to enhance the Mabon celebration. The youngest girls dressed in their best wear placed colorful squash in huge wooden bowls then put them around the room. Cortney and a few children arrange different vegetables from the garden, herbs, fruits and nuts into large hand woven wicker baskets on the floor. A few of the adolescence stood on ladders supported by a sister friend and hung dried ears of corn from the ceiling and on the walls. Copper, yellow and bronze dried fall leaves were scattered onto the altar surface. Corena sat cross-leg on the wood floor. She helped some of the girls tie together acorns, oak sprigs, and pine cones and then adds the autumn decorations to the altar. Avril’s contentment was rudely interrupted when Lilith and Marley burst their way by her in the doorway.
“Move,” Lilith said, unable to keep the hard edge from her tone.
Avril startled, took a step back and turned around. She was in no mood for a battle so she decided to leave. She walked down the long hallway. Large, thick candles burned in their beautifully crafted wooden holders along the wall. The aroma of ambergris, the fragrance to bind all magic, consumed the air.
At the end of the hall, High Priestess Ceserea’s chamber door was open. Avril stood at the threshold and peered in. The bright sunlight streamed golden light through the south picture windowpanes. The curtains were tied back tight to allow every inch of the rays to flow in. The room itself was large and airy. The old stone and sturdy timber made the area a welcoming place. The architecture and mahogany trim gave the room character. Centuries of old Amulets and Talismans hung on the walls. The Book of Shadows, The Mirror Book, and The Book of the Dead, plus numerous grimoire books, ointment and other magical potions in dark bottles rested on large wooden shelves. Exotic plants, big and small, and large green ferns, grew healthy in their indoor pots. Embers glowed in the large granite fireplace as the smoke curled upward.
The High Priestess Ceserea with the aid of her cherry wood cane stood in the center of her chamber. Although there was silver in her long hair and her skin wrinkled she radiated power. The shimmering baby blue fabric she wore flowed to the hardwood floor. Her hands were hidden by the folds. She looked up at the line where the walls met the ceiling. “Do you need advice or assistance,” she asked without shifting her position.
“My visit is just a social call,” she answered.
The High Priestess glanced over her shoulder and met her eyes. “Come in, please,” she said her smile warm with approval.
Avril entered. The footwear on her feet clomped over the polished wood as she walked up next to Ceserea, her eyes on her.
The High Priestess was focused on a spot just above at the seam. “It seems I’ve been invaded by Ladybugs,” she said. “The little red and black spotted insects are everywhere in the mansion. The south and west side has been completely taken over.”
Avril stepped up for a closer look. She observed the ceiling were ladybugs had swarmed together.
The High Priestess studied the red and black spotted insects. “It is considered a very good omen to be in the company of ladybugs or, known in Great Britain as the ladybird,” she explained. “The coloring has long made it a favorite among those insects associated with superstitions. The redder the ladybugs body, the better the luck. Red is the color of passion and vitality and is valued as a defense against evil. The number of black spots on the ladybug’s back is supposed to reveal the number of happy months that lie ahead.”
Curious, Avril asked, “Is the ladybug harmful?”
“I was told that long ago ladybugs had been imported from Japan to combat aphids.” the High Priestess explained. “I believe they most likely been brought to our country to control the mosquito population. I’m sure the insects are virtually harmless but they were known to bite.” The High Priestess turned away from the ladybugs. “The ladybug is another of Mother Nature’s workings that is regarded as a harbinger of good fortune. The ladybug is known to understand human speech. When one lands on human skin it can be requested to relay a message to whomever it concerns.”
The second ladybug landed on Avril’s finger. She raised the mystical being close to her lips and chanted: “Lady, lady, landers, lady ,lady, landers, take up your coats about your head and fly away to Flanders,” she told her. She waited for the ladybug to move. The ladybug gave a quick wink, opened the divider on its back, rubbed its wings together and then spread them wide, jumped and took flight.
“That’s the Scottish version of the rhyme.”
Just then High Priestess and Avril noticed Corena at the open door. They had a good view of the third ladybug land on Corena’s pointed finger. Corena quickly chanted, “Bishop, Bishop, Barnabee, tell me when my wedding shall be. If it be soon open your wings and fly away. Fly to the east, fly to the west, fly to them that I love best.”
The High Priestess and Avril watched the ladybug fly from Corena’s finger to zig - zag east and west then out the open window.
Corena giggled, “My impending nuptials will have to wait but at least my love will be told I’m thinking of him.”
The High Priestess clutched her cane and asked, “What can I do for you?”
“Mabon meal will be ready in one hour’s time,” Corena announced. She waited for her nod of approval.
“Thank you for the information.”
“You’re welcome.” Corena turned around and walked back to where she had come from.
The High Priestess turned toward Avril again. Please sit,” she said, offering her a seat by the fireplace.
Avril sat in the guest chair, and folded her hands in her lap. The High Priestess sat down in a large armchair with elegance. Between them was a small antique, dark red mahogany table. On the surface was a ceramic tea set. Once they were both seated the High Priestess leaned across the table and said, “We have time for a spot of tea?”
“What kind is it?”
The High Priestess gripped the ceramic tea pot. “The mixture consisted of three herbs which represented the Sun for vitality, Jupiter for luck, and Venus for love. The base herb had a strong flavor and the two less pronounced flavors were added sparingly.”
Avril sat very still and watched Ceserea poured the steamy liquid into two small tea cups. She was glad to see the leaves, stems and bark had been removed.
“Would you like honey or lemon as a sweetener, Avril?”
She took a sip. “No, thank you. The hot brew is delicious just the way it is.”
The High Priestess nodded solemnly. She leaned back into her chair. She sighed peacefully. “Over the past few months you’ve been studying practical crafts, spell casting, to enrich your magical path, to preserve the best of the culture while linking the physical world with the Spiritual world,” she said. “What has craft-work taught you?”
Avril swallowed a mouthful of tea. “From childhood to coming of age, my studies led me to knowledge and understanding of nature, and believing in magick I know energy exists within all things. Magick is the process of building up energy, giving the energy purpose and releasing the energy for a desired outcome. Magick is not good or evil – it is the intentions that make a difference.”
The High Priestess agreed with no hesitation. “The lessons are rooted in the natural wisdom of the Earth. There is an oneness which can’t be denied. From inside to out, humans are manifestations of the Elemental Kingdoms – the four realms EARTH, AIR, FIRE and WATER. We are created from the natural elements and it is a partnership of give and take. From the celestrial realm above or the elemental kingdom below, everything has an impact on everything. Remove one element and something will no longer be.” The High Priestess lifted her tea-cup and swallowed the hot brew, and then asked, “What is the path of the elements that needs to be explored?
Avril thought about that for a moment, and then answered. “The four basic elements that support the material world and being of the spiritual principles, pentacle, sword, wand or candle and the cup are,
EARTH - MATERIAL, CREATIVITY
AIR - SILENCE, SUFFERING AND RELEASE
FIRE - DELIGHT, WONDER
WATER - COMPASSION, HEALING, LOVE”
“Well said, Avril. Did you go beneath the Harvest Moon for a message?”
“Yes, I opened myself to new thoughts and insights as they appeared.”
“Under the radiant midnight moon, Mystical Rites - time of discovery is an opportunity to build ‘lines of communication’ between you and who you wish to contact. Do you remember what was said?”
“Yes, and I appreciate the messages I receive, but,” she said, averting her eyes. “I made an error.” She paused. “I didn’t cast a circle.”
The High Priestess assumed a serious-teacher expression. “The circle provides the necessary protection during Mystical Rites. The circle or sphere is equal in all directions and distributes the energy evenly. To cast a circle you create sacred space, a gateway to the Otherworld. The circle shall protect from all negative forces that may come to do harm,” she said setting her tea cup down. “The circular patterns are important. The circle of life, the circle of the four seasons, teaches that everything has no beginning or end and that everything comes back to the start and keeps going.” The High Priestess expression gentled. “Our spiritual concerns are more central. The Craft’s philosophy is to harm none, do as you please. It’s the way it has always been and will be. The weekly lectures will challenge thought patterns. A well-developed mind is not merely intellect, it’s the heart. Combine the two and there you’ll find your true understanding. The experience you gain is hope for humanity.”
Avril put down her tea cup, sat back and laced her fingers on her lap. “I’ll do my best,” she answered.
“That’s all one can ask for,” the High Priestess said, reaching for the ceramic tea pot. “Refill?”
“Please,” she said handing Ceserea her tea cup.
Ceserea topped up their tea cups. She looked past Avril and out the south picture window. “Fear, greed, or dominance can lead to a superficial life,” she said in a serious tone.
Avril lifted her cup and tipped the rim to her lips, and savored a sip of tea. She glanced over at the High Priestess. “I appreciated your time and words of wisdom,” she said.
“I am an Elder, here to guide and support in your quest. I will always be on hand or to offer advice. The information given will help nourish your mind, spirit, emotions and body,” she reassured Avril.
“Do older woman became an elder after one has grandchildren or when they reach a certain age?”
“The process of becoming an elder is not just about those who carry the knowledge of past, present and future. It is more one of acceptance within the community than tests, examinations and codes. An elder is also based on the type of wisdom one carries, their experience of life and the lessons learned. Not all elders carry the same knowledge but will say they don’t know then instruct who did.”
Avril swiveled her head with a puzzled look. That would be a complete waste of time, she thought. It would do good to try to reason with Lilith. She was small in mind and body, with a mean spirit.
The High Priestess returned her attention to Avril. As she stroked the black cat’s fur, she could see Avril’s mind working.
“No,” Avril said out loud, watching Jezebel’s yellow eyes look back from the cradle of Ceserea’s arm.
The High Priestess looked at her. “Deal with Lilith calmly and rely on your skills,” she cautioned.
“Excuse me,” Corena said, watching the two talking together.
The sound of Corena’s soft voice brought Ceserea and Avril’s attention to the doorway. Ceserea’s eyes on Corena said, “Come forward.”
“High Priestess Ceserea, your presence is requested in the dining area,” she announced.
“Thank you,” she said, putting Jezebel onto the hardwood floor.
Avril rose swiftly, rounded the chair and helped Ceserea to her feet. With the aid of a cherry wood cane crafted with ancient rune symbols important to the wise old woman, she made her way across the floor. When she reached an elaborate cedar chest she lifted the lid. Avril stepped beside the High Priestess. She saw on top to the right, the Robe of Water which represented the reflection of the emotional knowledge and wisdom, lay folded. The Robe of Pure White that symbolized Spiritual Purity was folded neatly on the left. Beneath were a number of robes for various purposes in appropriate color for rituals to aid in channeling thought and energy. Ceserea removed her traditional black robe, and then slipped the garment on. Then she turned and left the room. Corena and Avril walked close behind. They could hear the High Priestess’ old joints creak as they made their way to the dining area.
Ceserea stood in front of the large heavy plank dining room door. Before she entered she changed her form. Without much effort she turned her withered body into a proud and full stature.
The massive double doors opened. Avril scanned every detail of the dinning area. The walls were made of a rustic stone. The sandy surface seemed to dance with the sunlight. She had a clear view of the hardy, colorful marigolds in a multitude of earthenware pots filled the area amongst the many generations of females related by blood or marriage. She saw that the crones chattered on heedlessly, engaged in the latest gossip. Their younger children filled the room with innocent laughter. On the surface of each of the round dining room sets were fall flowers, milkweed pods, and copper, golden yellow and bronze leaves under the platter of a large golden turkey. The lids remained over the side dishes. The entire room wrapped in the magic of the day, and smelled like Mabon.
Ceserea glanced over her shoulder toward Corena and Avril. “Find your place amongst your families,” she said. The two sister-friends parted. Everyone watched the High Priestess walk to the head table.
Avril’s mother handed her, her black robe and pointed hat and asked, “Where have you been?”
“With the High Priestess,” she answered, pulling her robe about her.
Her mother looked at her, repeating, “The High Priestess?”
“Yes,” she answered her eyes on the appetizing turkey. “I’m starving, and this all smells delicious.”
Ceserea knocked her bare knuckles three times upon the table surface. All those assembled took to their seats. “Welcome all who have come to celebrate the Sabbat Mabon,” she announced, “The Rite is intimately linked to the Earth’s cycle of fertility. We give gratitude for the Earth’s bounties and offer the Sun respect. The Earth’s position is relative to the Sun, as it determines the seasons, and the Earth’s rotation measures the length of day and night time hours. On this day the Earth prepares for the departure of the Sun’s abundant light, growth and warmth. Mabon marks the completion of one of Nature’s cycles and the start of a slow change. Leaves fall, the weather gradually becomes cool, and the autumn days grow shorter, the nights longer.
“At this point of the Wheel of the Year,” the High Priestess said, “marks the second (the first was March 21) each year that day and night are of equal length at all points on Earth. Annually, on this date in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun sweeps across the equator on a three-month journey toward the Tropic of Capricorn. It is the official astronomical beginning of autumn above the globe’s center.”
The Autumn Equinox, Equal Night, or Mabon named after the Welsh Goddess of fertility is the moment when wise women celebrate the completion of the second Sabbat Harvest, the Witches’ Thanksgiving. The rhythm of change is spiritual and it balances us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We have sown and now reap the fruits of our actions good and bane.
“In mythology, now is the time the God prepares to leave the Goddess and enter the Other World. At Lughnasadh, the God stood at the threshold, after he had sacrificed his energy into Goddess to produce life. By sacrificing himself into her, he also impregnates her with himself until Summer Solstice when the energy is plentiful. During autumn the Sun’s energy is being drawn back. Today, we acknowledge the bond we have to our planet, mourn the gradual disappearance of the Sun, but immediately rejoice the harvest reaped.”
The High Priestess lifted her arms upward, and then spread her fingers wide. All who sat devoutly bowed their heads. “Goddess and God, we join to give thanks for the bounty we are about to share and enjoy. Ancient Ones we recognize your life force in all that’s offered. Please bless this time and this place and who we are with you.”
The conveners’ rose to their feet. They lifted their hands to the ceiling. Their voices bounced off the sand-colored walls and echoed outward, “Blessed Be.”
The golden turkeys, all roasted, on each of the dining tables, were sliced by their family’s hierarchy. The lids were removed from the hot, buttered turnip, cabbage, potatoes, yams and herb bread stuffing. The steam from giblet gravy rose up then evaporated in the air. As all enjoyed the delicious meal there was great chatter between kin.
A spicy fragrance filled the room as the apple crisp and pumpkin pie was served. Slices were given to everyone. Avril glanced around the dinning room. All appeared to have a happy and blessed time.
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