In a few days the Autumn Equinox will be upon us, for the majority of Contemporary Paganism, though not all by far, it is a day of feasting often described akin to a Pagan Thanksgiving. For the Witch though, there is also traditional lore and rites through the practice of which will act as the catalyst of specific mysteries. Sure there is still feasting, but for the Witch there is at least an additional reason for the feast that is directly related to the cycle of our Gods at this time. This is not to say that much of the same lore is not shared, it doesn’t have to be an either or paradigm, only to say that as a mystery based Craft the focus of the Witch is upon such Work.
This festival is Second Harvest, the first was at Lammas and the third is yet to come. The First Harvest, amongst other things, is the reaping of the Sun’s Heart Harvest when our Lord sacrifices his worldly presence to descend into the Underworld. The Second Harvest is the revealing of that which lay within the Shroud ; that which is without the Jewels and Regalia of this world.
The feast laid upon the table consists of the foods common to the harvest at this time, and these too are symbolic of this tide-time. The first food that is traditional at this time is wine and the second is harvested food from trees (think fruit and nuts).
Primarily, wine is a harvest food that relates to our Lady (though not always). Wine, especially Red, as is traditionally used in rites related to the Moon is symbolic of the Blood of the Moon Goddess. This is not a reference to Her moon-tide, at least in this particular context, but is a reference to blood in the same manner as one might say that family is of the same blood. You see the Blood of the Moon Goddess is keyed to the Daughter of the Moon, the earthly aspect of our Lady, the personal immanence of the Celestial Her. The harvest of wine is the harvest of our Lady as She manifests on the earth. It is Her harvest as it relates to the seasons, the cycles of life. This is relevant because it is at this equinox when this face of our Lady descends into the Underworld to join the Lammas King now turned Lord of the Tomb. Not to mention, wine is also a food associated with the dead, think Underworld.
The second category of harvest foods at this feast speak of Him. One of the faces He shows us is the Face in the Greenwood, the same face formed in the branches and leaves of the Tree. These foods are the fruits and seeds (nuts, etc). Fruit is the end result of labor and sacrifice and here it is implicative of His past Lammas sacrifice. More so though, the fruit is the provider of seed. Seeds then are symbolic of the forthcoming rebirth made possible by death. In fruit the Witch is reminded of His harvest, but in seed reminded of the continued turn of the Wheel as a herald to the eventual dawn of Yule-tide and reemergence of our Lord from the chthonic unto manifestation. The flesh of fruit or husk of seed are as the veil is; a Shroud.
Our Lord at this time sits upon His throne in the Mound. He is a seed in the belly of the earth standing between the worlds of potential and manifestation. He at this time is as the Veil is that covers the radiance of the Sun.
Our Lady presides over the feast whereby our own inner Sun under death’s shroud is honored, revealed to the eyes, and promised to dawn. Then She descends into the cavernous gates unto the Underworld. She is the Hand turning the Wheel and Her mystery is the other half revealed. She is as the Underworld is; She is the grail, the cauldron of immortality.
Along seven gates She must pass, each demanding a harvest of Her worldly ties. Having laid aside a small collection of jewels and garments our Lady on Earth will stand bound in the presence of the Shrouded Dread Lord under the Mound. Stripping Her seven stars from the Crown was but only the first mystery, a bearing of the naked inner. It is a harvest of revealing. When we have descended into our own labyrinth and come to stand before what is shrouded there, the Sun found there will burn away everything of this world. As with Her own descend, what is revealed then is the true harvest revealed and it then that She is unbound and able to ascend the Throne.
This is the Feast of the Shrouded Dread Lord, it is the Feast of Her Seven Fallen Stars, and it is the Feast of Revealing. Happy Autumn Equinox! Welcome the Harvest Home!
“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”