With the Fall Harvest just around the corner, I thought it might be time for another lifestyle post, with some fun Mabon family/group-friendly activities.
Mabon is the second harvest and is celebrated at the Autumn Equinox. Mabon is the Welsh God of all things wild and free. He is also associated with the Sun God, whose power dies on this day. During Mabon, we give thanks to the spirit of vegetation for the sacrifices made so that we can live through the winter. The Goddess at this Sabbat is the grandmotherly crone, warm and wise.
- Have a Pot Luck or Harvest Feast and share your harvested fruits and veggies. Give thanks and respect to the harvest and share stories of your plans for the coming winter months. It is good for everyone to share and be part of a group.
- Take some time to prepare your yard for the coming winter months. Clean up garbage and branches. Maybe even extend your clean-up to a nearby park or around your neighbourhood. Kids can help tidy or play outside (fresh air is always great), and everyone benefits from helping our Mother Earth and having a clean space.
- Create a decorative wreath or hanging for your front door using seasonal dressings like acorns, pine cones, and corn bundles. You can incorporate the colours of the season by using red, orange, and yellow ribbons to finish it off.
- Honour the wildlife in your yard by making a homemade bird feeder and watching the wonderful friends it brings to your yard. (Below are basic instructions for making your own, with an easy-to-follow guide for children too.)
How to make a toilet paper roll bird feeder craft:
What you’ll need:
- Toilet Paper Rolls
- Sturdy sticks, 2 per roll, 6-8 inches long
- Bird seed
- Peanut Butter
- String or ribbon
- A Hole Punch
Here’s how to make it:
- Punch 2 holes in one side of the toilet paper roll, aligning them evenly across from each other. This will be used to tie the string for hanging.
- Punch 4 holes into the opposite end of the toilet paper roll, align them evenly. These are for the sticks that the birds will perch on. Try to put one set a little higher than the other so the sticks can be pushed all the way through without interference.
- Insert the 2 sticks into each hole, going in one side and out the other in the corresponding hole. Wiggle and push in sticks gently (you don’t want the holes to rip or get too loose —the sticks might fall out!)
- Center each stick. They should be crossing each other like an intersection and should stick out enough for a bird to perch on either side.
- Holding the lower part of the feeder below the sticks, spread a light layer of peanut butter on the upper part of the toilet paper roll and cover in bird seed. The back of a spoon can we helpful to slather on the peanut butter and press in the bird seed. Be careful not to cover your holes at the top.
- Cut string to your desired length. Tie your string to the top of the bird feeder through the two holes you cut in step 1 to make it hangable. Now you are ready to hang your homemade bird feeder craft and admire!
Enjoy and have a Blessed Mabon!
At the beginning of the month, a small group of us came together to cast away our stresses, relish the cool grass between our toes, and embrace the sun-warmed Earth. For the next few months, as the nights begin once again to lengthen and the shortening days are bright and full of life, we can be present and enjoy this rest before the harvests of Fall.
(It is also a good time for gathering herbs, for both magical and mundane purposes.)
It is a pagan custom to honor the dying God, as the sun reaches it’s peak and begins to wane. So we honoured the gods, the ancestors, and the spirits on this beautiful midsummer afternoon, and then we ate and we laughed and we enjoyed each others’ company.
And we wish for you all the loveliest of summers, filled with the juiciest of berries, the sunniest of days, the warmest of company, and the heartiest of laughs.
(And also s’mores. Because s’mores.)
Beltane is just around the corner and I know you are all looking for family-friendly activities to celebrate. Beltane is a time to celebrate fertility and, while you may not want to beat your children over the head with this (so to speak), you do want them to understand it brings life and all the things they love about spring and summer.
Here are some fun group and family-friendly activities you can do to celebrate.
Make a floral crown or cone. Teach the children to be respectful of what they harvest and to do so mindfully. (Adults, you need to remember this too!) For your pretty flower crown or bouquet, something is dying. If you are not a fan of this, try potting a plant to bring inside, and decorate the pot.
Ribbon is also highly associated with Beltane because of the May Pole (which you can always dance by the way), so why not try braiding some ribbon crowns or hanging ribbons from trees to decorate your celebration.
Have a Bonfire:
The Bale Fire is a long-standing tradition used for protection and purification. It is also a fantastic gathering point for stories and celebrations. So why not grab the marshmallows and have yourself a little roast.
Take a walk though the woods and enjoy some of the new life that is budding up around you. You can take pictures, clip trimmings, or draw what you see and maybe even enjoy a picnic in nature. It’s always good to get some fresh air and commune with nature.
This is a great way to introduce your children to the idea of fertility without having to explain the “birds and bees”, if you aren’t quite ready. The seeds breed life and life is all around us. Children can help by tilling and watering the soil. They will gain a sense of satisfaction and acquire new skills through helping with the planting.
Dance that May Pole:
Beltane is all about fertility and fun. What better way to wholesomely celebrate than dancing around a giant phallic object and decorating it? Try to weave your ribbons over-under-over-under to create a beautiful pattern down your may pole. You can also tie wishes for the next year to the pole before wrapping it. Focus on those hopes as you dance, and watch the magic come to life.
Bake a Green Man Cake:
We all love the Green Man and we all love cake! Lets combine the two and enjoy! (Keep scrolling for a recipe!)
I hope this has helped you in deciding what to do with your May Day celebrations. Enjoy!
- 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1/4 C cornstarch
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 C milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp rum-flavored extract
- 1 C butter, softened (don’t use margarine)
- 2 C firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 C butter, softened
- 2 C confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 package white fondant
- Green food coloring
- Leaf-shaped cutters
Preheat oven to 350, and lightly grease and flour your cake pan. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and blend well. In another bowl, combine milk, eggs, vanilla and rum extracts together.
Add the softened butter to the flour mixture, and beat until it forms a clumpy sort of dough. Gradually add the liquid mixture in, blending it a little at a time until all the milk mixture has been combined with the flour mixture.
Beat until completely smooth, and then add the brown sugar. Mix for another thirty seconds or so. Scoop batter into the pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Once you have it out of the pan, you can begin frosting the cake.
To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese and the butter in a bowl, mixing well. Add the vanilla extract. Finally, stir in the confectioner’s sugar and blend it in. Spread this evenly over the cake, and allow it to sit for an hour or so to firm up.
To make the Green Man himself, you’ll need green fondant. If you’ve never worked with fondant before, it can be a little tricky, but with some practice you’ll be able to use it easily. Roll out the fondant and knead it into a ball. Add the green food coloring in very small amounts and blend it in, until you’ve got the shade of green you want.
Roll the fondant out until it’s about 1/8” thick. Use the leaf-shaped cookie cutters to cut out different sized leaves. Score lines on them, to look live leafy veins. Place them on top of the frosted cake and press in place, layering them to form a Green Man. Roll two small pieces into balls, flatten them down, and put them in to create eyeballs in amongst the leaves. Reminder – fondant tends to dry quickly once it’s rolled out, so only cut off small pieces. The cake in the photo was made using a block of fondant about the size of a package of cream cheese.
“The birds return from the southern lands, bearing spring time beneath their wings. Nature has awoken, seeds are sprouting, tree buds are bursting, the earliest plants are starting to fight their way from the frozen earth, and the birds and animals are preparing to have their young.“
“Ostara is the time when we recognize the importance of planting, growing, and nurturing new ideas, projects, plans, and plants, while seeking to maintain balance in our lives.“
This past weekend, our grove hosted our Ostara ritual. It was a lovely, happy, sugar-fueled, chaotic gathering, with kiddos running around left, right, and center. It’s amazing how in a few short years, our family has grown to include so many adorable little people, each bearing their own unique personalities, wonders, and curiosities. (And also trouble-making capabilities. Let’s not forget that one.)
As a grove, we have come to deeply cherish these young lives, the energies and the laughter they bring into our circle, and our rituals and our traditions are evolving into these family-friendly, kid-inclusive events, where we get to delight in each others’ accomplishments, in baby’s first steps; where we get to marvel at ever-growing vocabularies and unexpected insights; where we get to share stories and experiences and rejoice in each other as friends, as family, as human beings just living this beautiful life.
“The Spring Equinox allows us to step from the dark into the light half of the year and gives us the first signs of spring in the land.[... It] is a time of creativity, growth, and the seeing of new beginnings.“
Let us celebrate this renewal of life.
Let us breathe in the scents of new blossoms, feel the warmth of a new sun, and hear the songs of the earth below and the skies above.
And, in the spirit of Ostara, let us clean our houses, paint some eggs, and eat some chocolates.
Happy Ostara, from us to you!
(All quotes are excerpts from the afternoon’s ritual.)
“Imbolc is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honour the rebirth of the Sun. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. [...] This is a time for communing with her, and tending the light of her sacred flame. At this time of year, we will light multiple candles or lanterns to remind us of the passing of Winter and the entrance into Spring, the time of the Sun.“
This past weekend, we joined the Pagan Presence Committee in the celebration of Imbolc as part of the 2017 Interfaith Harmony Week, a week which sees groups of multiple and diverse religions, faiths, and spiritualities open their doors to the public, inviting anyone interested in learning about and experiencing various traditions.
The evening opened with our Grove hosting a ritual, and followed with a “meet & greet”, where attendees got to explore a number of pagan tables and ask questions about the different paths and denominations. Snacks (including a chocolate fountain!! —yes, too exciting not to mention) were shared, and wonderful conversations were had. It was a lovely event, and we were pleased to be a part of it.
Happy Imbolc, everyone! <3
(All quotes are excerpts from the evening’s ritual, and photocred goes to Karen.)
“Back at the time of Samhain, the Green Man, old and tired and naked of leaf and vine, bundled himself against the impending long, cold, dark nights and welcomed a deep and well-deserved rest. While he settled to sleep, we cast into the universe our hopes, dreams, desires, and wishes for the new year, before we too pulled our blankets up and waited for the days to once again grow long.
The night of Yule, the Winter Solstice, brings with it the rising of a new sun and the rebirth of the Green Man. We have made it through the darkest time of the year, the longest night, and we rejoice. Through the burning of the Yule log, we invite the light back into our homes, and we celebrate the knowledge that with all endings come new beginnings.”
Last night, we were finally able to get together for the celebration of Yule. There was singing and laughing and the sharing of bowls of homemade chili and cornbread and too many butter-tarts.
And also cat cuddles. (Because sometimes stereotypes are real.)
As spoken in ritual,
“let us take a moment to reflect on the love and respect we share for ourselves, each other, and this family. Let us continue to be present in each others’ lives, and to support one another through whatever challenges we each may face. […] Let us laugh and share, and be grateful for this life and this day, this fire and this food, these precious young souls, our homes, our jobs, our abilities to breathe, to speak, to listen, and to love.”
Happy Yule from all of us here in the GNSD!
The apple is the symbol of the Fruit Harvest. It is the symbol of life and immortality, of healing, renewal, regeneration, and wholeness. It is associated with beauty, longevity, and restored youth. In the Ogham, “Apple”, or “Queirt”, represents health and vitality. It is the heart of the Ogham Grove and the source of life.
The apple also holds a pagan secret: when cut width-wise, it will reveal a pentacle.
This afternoon, the Grove gathered together to celebrate Mabon, or Alban Elfed, the second harvest of the season. There was paint, snacks (coffee!), good weather, and gratitude. There was catching up, joking around, missing, sharing, laughing, and loving. Most importantly, there was friendship and there was family, and for these we are the most thankful.
A very happy [early] Mabon to you all!
Back in October, members of the Grove got together to kick-start some family mead making. While the initial phases were completed that weekend, there was a long wait between that first step and the next (or possibly the third, as I believe Dan may have actually done some extra things on his own to somehow advance the process… I don’t understand how this stuff works haha).
(See pictures from mead making get-together numero uno here.)
The phase completed last week was the final one. It involved filtering the aged mead from one carboy into another and then into bottles, which are then corked and will eventually be labeled (maybe). The whole process is sterile. Small glasses are passed around for tasting.
These three batches passed the test.
The rest of the time is spent catching up, consuming excessive amounts of coffee, and cooing over the babies. We genuinely enjoy each others’ company, so this is actually pretty swell. And adorable. Because babies. (Little Atticus —below— actually tried his first taste of solid food. He did not appear disappointed.)
As always, another lovely time in the company of lovely lovely people.
For an opportunity to actually partake in one of these batches of home-brewed mead, join us at AEGIS, where the Grove plans to share, laugh, and be merry.