Kids’ Activities for the Autumn Equinox

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

Look for these illustrated books at your local library to teach your children about the Autumn Equinox and some general traditions associated with it in various cultures:

STORIES

  • Wild Child” by Lynn Plourde (for ages 3 – 8)

ACTIVITIES

  • Help grown-ups with bringing in the harvest (or shopping for it at the farmer’s market) and with cooking the Harvest Feast.
  • Have your own Autumn Equinox ritual.
  • Heathens honor the Álfar (Elves) at Haustblót (Autumn Sacrifice). The Álfar are ancestral fathers and nature spirits. Make a little altar in your backyard with a flat stone and offer baked treats and other goodies.

CRAFTS

  • Make a harvest necklace; soak a variety of large beans until they are soft enough to be pierced through with a needle, and string the beans onto dental floss.
  • With help from a grown-up, make a bread cornucopia. Fill it with local fruits and veggies to be the centerpiece of your harvest supper.

Kid's Activities for Autumn Equinox

nourishing the soul: the magic of replenishment

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Most of us magical folk know what to do if we’ve been feeling spiritually out of sorts or have had negative energies around our home; we do cleansing and purification rituals. Such rituals get rid of negativity, but often something more is needed. A second step after the purification process should be to replenish one’s spiritual energy. The unhappy occurrences that are sometimes a part of daily life (the occasional upset, argument, or near miss in traffic) can have an accumulative effect on one’s soul, and while it’s not as serious as the trauma of soul loss, it is something we need to remedy. It’s not technically  healing magic, though any work of that nature needs to be taken care of first, and purifications as well. Replenishing magic is the work of recovering, building up, and strengthening one’s spirit. Many of the things that I will describe below are things that nourish the body as well as the soul, for as we live, both the body and the soul are one.

  • Using your usual ritual format, perform a ritual to your patron deities and guardian spirits, giving special offerings and libations, and asking them for guidance and strengthening of spirit.
  • Revitalize your ongoing spiritual practice, if you feel it is lacking. Do daily devotionals of your own devising, with grounding and centering as a vital part of it. Include affirmations and chants in your practice, if you find them helpful.
  • Take a soothing balancing mineral bath with Epsom salts and milk.
  • Weather permitting, spend some time amongst trees. The effects of forest bathing are real and profound. Hug a tree and let it’s energy soak in and make you whole. Get lots of fresh air and open up windows to air out your house, if possible.
  • Drink some revitalizing peppermint tea or mint water.
  • Eat some nourishing foods; whole fruits and vegetables (with runes of power carved in), and soups made with bone broth and magic.
  • Use a spiritually reviving woodsy essential oil like cedar, sandalwood, or rosewood, in a homemade room spray and/or personal fragrance spray (2 parts distilled water, 1 part alcohol, enough essential oil to scent).
  • Wear deep red burgundy colors, and rich maroon. Colors that resemble lifeblood attract growth and vigor. Get a shawl or scarf to use for this purpose, and throws for your furniture. It’s even better if you can weave, crochet, or knit it yourself, as you can utilize knot magic in it’s making.
  • Carry strengthening stones or resins (tiger’s eye, quartz, amber, or jasper) as charms in your pocket, a sachet, or as jewelry.
  • During this period of rejuvenation, seek out some wholesome “feel good” entertainment; books, music, or movies/video clips that uplift you.

nourishing the soul: the magic of replenishment

refrigerator dough

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Something I like to do now and then is make a batch of refrigerator dough at the beginning of the week and use it to make small batches of bread stuffs throughout the week. It’s especially nice to have in the fridge when there’s a holiday coming up in a few days, as it can be shaped or adapted to fit any theme. It’s also nice to have on hand for food magic or offerings.

I used to make potato refrigerator dough, but wanted a recipe for when I don’t have leftover mashed potatoes. So I found this recipe and adapted it a little. I like to use unbleached flour (sometimes with a little bit of whole wheat mixed in), but use whatever kind of flour or flour mixture you like best.

A
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter or oil

B
1/2 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 pkg. dry yeast

C
1 well beaten egg
3 1/2 c. sifted flour

Scald together ingredients listed under “A” and pour into a large bowl and cool to lukewarm.

While “A” mixture is cooling, work on list “B”; dissolve the teaspoon of sugar into the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast into this. Let stand 10 minutes. Then stir briskly with a fork.

Add yeast mixture and well beaten egg (from C) to “A” mixture. Beat in 1 cup sifted flour. Then thoroughly blend in 2 ½ cups sifted flour. Knead 5-10 minutes, or until dough begins to resist kneading. Brush with soft butter or oil. Place dough in a lidded container with enough room for it to rise and place in refrigerator. It may be stored for a week, but can be used anytime. When ready to bake, punch down dough. Shape into desired type of bread. Cover and let rise. Makes enough for 1 large batch (2 trays of rolls, or 1 braided loaf) or 2 medium batches. Bake at 350°F. Baking times will vary depending on the size of the bread. Loaves of bread will be golden and sound hollow when tapped when they are done.

ROLLS, BUNS & BREADSTICKS
Shape as desired, let rise 20-30 minutes and bake about 20 minutes or until golden.

CINNAMON ROLLS
Roll dough out into a large rectangle, spread with butter, add cinnamon & sugar. Roll up, slice, and place in round baking pans. Let rise, bake about 20 minutes or until top appears dry and lightly browned. Drizzle with icing.

DOUGHNUTS
Roll out dough, cut out doughnut shapes, let rise, and fry in oil 325°F until golden. Dip in sugar or add icing, if desired.

SOFT PRETZELS
Shape ropes of dough into pretzel shapes. Dip in a baking soda solution (½ c. baking soda + 4 c. hot water), sprinkle with coarse salt, and bake 7-10 minutes in a 425°F oven, turning halfway through cooking.

PIZZA CRUST
Skip extra rising time, press and stretch into a crust shape. Top with pizza toppings. Bake about 20 minutes.

refrigerator dough

constructing an ADF ritual for your group

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In our group, we like to offer the opportunity to all members, the chance to write and host a High Day ritual. Many times, when a member agrees to do so for the first time, it may be overwhelming. It need not be so, if taken one step at a time…

STEP 1
Decide what the hearth culture will be, and the patrons of occasion. (Our group is Pan Indo European, so the first part of this step may not apply if your group has a specific hearth culture.) Try to choose hearth culture and patrons of the occasion that historically had something to do with the holiday or seasonal theme. Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh are Celtic in origin, though cultures close to them celebrated related holidays.

STEP 2
Jot down an outline. For an ADF High Day rite, it will need to follow the Core Order of Ritual, including the “musts” listed therein. Your group may have an outline they use often. Look at scripts from past rituals to get an idea.

STEP 3
Look over the abundant collection of liturgy in the rituals section of the ADF website. Pick your favorite wordage and adapt it, or write your own. Read what you’ve written aloud to see if it seems like something you’d say; notice if the words flow naturally from your lips. Re-write sections that don’t seem to have that flow. Be sure to include opportunities for group participation; times for individual prayers, invocations, and offerings. Also include a tradition to commemorate the holiday (for example, sharing fruit/bread for a harvest ritual, or blessing seeds for a Spring ritual).

STEP 4
Strategically place songs or chants at logical points in the ritual. You may want to pick some songs that your group has done before and you know they like. Notify the group of which songs will be in the ritual, so that they may listen to and practice them before the ritual.

STEP 5
When you are satisfied with the ritual you have written, share the script with the group using dropbox. It’s free, and I hear it works well with the screen readers used by sight-impaired participants.

STEP 6
Enlist help! Your load will be lighter with the help of a couple other officiants, plus people taking on smaller roles. You may want to use a system like the Hallow Keepers. Invite the group to help in decorating the ritual altar and setting up the site. Relax and let the Kindreds inspire you. You are among your grove, your friends.

constructing an ADF ritual

Hallow Keepers

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The Hallow Keepers is a system of roles for participation in ADF group rituals. It makes it easy to remember who is in charge of what (and takes some pressure off the host/officiant if it’s usually just one person doing everything). Plus it’s just fun, so it’s good to use in family rituals as well, if you have participants mature enough (and willing) to take on such roles. The host of the ritual can choose to also be a Hallow Keeper, if need be, but will have plenty to do without taking a Hallow Keeper role.

The Well Keeper is in charge of…

  • water purification
  • Well Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Well
  • Ancestor invocations and their offerings, and thanking Ancestors at the end of ritual
  • the waters of life; filling cup, blessing it, passing it around the circle

The Tree Keeper is in charge of…

  • the Two Powers meditation
  • Earth Mother prayer
  • Tree Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Tree
  • Nature Spirit invocations and their offerings, and thanking Nature Spirits at the end of ritual

The Fire Keeper is in charge of…

  • lighting the Fire and keeping it burning safely
  • fire/incense purification
  • Fire Hallow opening and closing
  • offerings given to the Fire
  • Patron of Occasion invocations and their offerings, and thanking Patrons at the end of ritual

hallow keepers

sweetening spells

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Sweetening spells are not necessarily love spells. On the contrary, they are mostly used to soften the heart of someone who may not like you so well or who may potentially cause you trouble, or someone who has power over you like a judge or employer. Imagine that you have an enemy. Well, maybe not exactly an enemy, but you don’t like them and they don’t like you. But also, they have some kind of power or authority over you, so you can’t hash it out with them without great risk to your livelihood or well-being, nor can you avoid them. So you turn to magic. You could work some kind of curse on them or similarly try to drive them away. This would take some time and a great deal of effort. Your negative feelings for that person would grow and grow… and perhaps you too would be effected by your own negative efforts. Unless this person has committed heinous crimes against you, perhaps it is best to hold back on making war water and consider another option…

The time and effort put into a sweetening spell is far more pleasant and far less detrimental to your own well being. Here is a traditional method for the classic “honey Jar”:
Find a clean small glass jar with a metal lid and some good honey (or other sweetener of choice– your target’s favorite sweetener, if you know what it is). Fill the jar nearly to the top with the honey or other sweetener. Write out a petition paper with your goal and target. Fold it toward you, turn it clockwise and fold it again. Now plunge the petition paper into the jar of honey until it’s covered. Lick the honey off you fingers and say; “As this honey is sweet, so shall ________ be sweet to me.” (Alternatively, you could place the petition paper in first, then pour the honey over it.) Seal the jar with the metal lid.

At this point a lot of folks do some kind of candle magic on the top of the jar to add to the power and seal over the top, (and the whole thing later to be buried at a crossroads) but this isn’t necessary and perhaps not even desired if you want to actually use the sweetener inside for food magic. If you do want to use it for food magic, make sure all the ingredients you used are clean and edible– some people use herbs, oils, and personal effects in their honey jar spells, but I believe this was something that was added on later (inspired, perhaps, by the use of herbs and personal effects in other spells) and not a part of the original honey jar tradition. There may be some historical precedence for using the honey in the jar (besides, poor folk magic practitioners would not have wanted to be wasteful).

So if you want to use your honey jar for food magic, simply serve your target a food or beverage you made with your (clean, untainted) honey from your honey jar. This could be a little over a long period of time, like in tea, on biscuits, or you could bake a batch of honey cakes or other treats and give it to them as a gift. (Just don’t pour the petition paper into the batter!)

Another sweetening spell is the sugar cube spell: place a sugar cube over a petition paper or picture of your target. Wrap it all up in foil and carry on you or in your bag.

You can also use sweetening spells as preemptive magic (enemy preventing/friendship promoting) with people you’ve just met… Keep a small pouch in your bag stocked with gum or candy, with it a general spell paper promoting friendship and goodwill. Offer a piece of gum or candy from the bag to persons you’ve just met, or even before you introduce yourself.
Bring a sweet treat to new neighbors soon after they’ve moved in, one that you have put loving energy into making. Who can make enemies with someone who brings sweets?

Something you may have already figured out- the sweetening spell will sweeten you as well.

sweetening spells

magical decorating on the cheap

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A person’s home (or apartment) is an extension of ones-self, and if you’re Pagan, you may want your home to subtly reflect that aspect of your personality. When first starting out on your own, you may lament your bare walls and long for a non-existent decorating budget. It’s been many years, but I’ve been there. Through necessity I learned the beauty of simplicity and developed a love for junk chic. So if you’re just starting out and are dirt poor, embrace the eclectic look.

furniture
You will be surprised at what you can find for free if you know the right time and place. Go dumpster diving when school lets out in a college town. (Okay, you don’t have to actually “dive in”, most folks put their unwanted furniture on the pavement outside the dumpster.) Rich college kids don’t want to bring their furniture home with them for the summer. Keep an open mind. Found an otherwise perfectly good dresser, but it has a missing drawer? Use a large basket in place of the drawer, or put a board in the bottom of the empty drawer space and use it as a bookshelf. Old entertainment centers can be converted to bookshelves as well. Check for sturdiness, that’s what counts, then paint or sand to get the look you want, if necessary. But remember- rustic goes along nicely with a Pagan-ish theme. Find a nice strong table and miss-matched chairs if you have a dining area. Find what you can for free first, then look in thrift stores and yard sales for everything else. Or if you’re handy with tools, and have access to free or cheap pallets, make pallet furniture. The more items you can make or find with built-in storage, the better, especially if you’re living in a small space. Don’t over do it with the furniture, though. Make sure you pick things that suit the size of your space.

Some things you probably don’t need…
If your only computer is a laptop, you probably don’t need a desk. Use the kitchen counter or table for such things as paperwork and put it all away in a storage box or shelf when finished. You may not need a coffee table unless you think it would be handy for storage, and in that case, consider using a storage trunk for a coffee table. If you watch movies and shows on your computer, or other device, you don’t need a TV. That will free up space on your wall for other things, such as…

DIY faux fireplace
True, you don’t need a fireplace, but they are so classic and appealing, and you’ve made room by not getting a desk or TV, so why not? If you can’t have the real thing, at least you can have some of the beauty of one. Making your own fake fireplace can be a simple or elaborate project. One way to make one is to fit a smaller wooden box into a larger wooden box, cut a sheet of plywood to cover the space between, attach it, add molding, then paint the entire thing and tile the inside. Another way would be to take all the shelves out of an large heavy bookshelf and attach a board or wide molding to the front just under the top, and on the front sides. Still another method could be to attach a heavy shelf or mantle to the wall, and place thick boards under it on either side to help support it. In the center, place a cluster of flame-less candles, logs wrapped in string lights, or other decorative items. Use the top mantle-shelf as your household altar/shrine. The good thing about this kind of “fireplace”, is that you can take it with you when you move, or even move it when you rearrange furniture.

cinder blocks and boards
Did you use your only bookshelf to make a faux fireplace? Don’t worry, cinder blocks and boards make cheap, versatile shelving. (Just make sure your floor is sturdy and level.) You can vary the length of your boards to any size shelving system you need, and use for not only books, but for shoe racks, pantry shelving, and other kinds of storage. Cinder blocks come in a variety of styles now (and you can paint them, if you like). If you place the blocks with the holes facing out, you can place holiday string lights inside the hole in the block, or little nature collections.
If you later decide you don’t need the shelves, use the boards and blocks to make patio furniture; stack the blocks upright, and lay one down over the top of them both (with holes facing to the sides), then repeat with another set of blocks at the other end of what will be a bench. Thread 4X4s through the top holes. Cinder blocks also make nice planters, raised bed gardens, and fire pit/grill bases.

small shrines
In addition to (or instead of) using shelves or a faux fireplace for altars or shrines, you could use small hanging shelves or boxes for shrines to your deities, house spirit, or hearth spirit. Just attach a small crate to the wall, and fill it with devotional objects. You can wrap string lights around it, or seasonal greenery. You can also use a cardboard school box or cigar box for a portable shrine. Keep you ritual supplies inside and paint or decoupage your deity imagery (or tree hallow) on the inside of the lid and just open it up to have your ritual or devotions. You can make several for different purposes.

getting crafty with nature
If you have access to the gifts of Mother Nature, and I hope you do, bring a little of the outdoors inside. Bend an old wire hanger into a circle shape and tie greenery to it in layers, working your way around the circle. Another way to make a wreath is to trim some excess honeysuckle or grape vines and shape it into a circle, twisting and weaving until you get the thickness you want. Change decorations on it with the seasons and hang on your front door. If you really liked making that, make some for inside too. Make garlands by layering and tying greenery in layers to a vine, rope or heavy string. Hang your garland from your mantlepiece or shelf. Arrange nature collections in clusters or small baskets.

more crafts
Though a not so permanent decoration (they will deteriorate if the weather is too humid for too long), salt dough sculptures can add life and dimension to your walls and shelves, and are very inexpensive to make. Check out some of my past salt dough projects for inspiration.

You’ll not find a decorative art cheaper than toilet paper roll crafts, which can range from looking very natural and rustic to looking like wrought iron.

If you have old Pagan magazines or calendars, cut out your favorite pictures and decoupage them to wood scraps or nice sturdy cardboard, using thin layers of modge podge. Prop them up on a shelf and change them out seasonally. Try decoupaging pictures onto blank seven day candles for use in magic and devotion. Decoupage works best with small pictures.

Check out some of my suggested kids’ crafts for the holidays, even if you don’t have kids. You’re never too old for such things, and the beauty of simple crafts can add a lot of warmth to a home.

kitchen
If you have a small kitchen, you’ll need to go vertical with storage. Hang your cooking utensils above the stove, and install a peg rack or cuphooks near the sink for coffee cups. Use raised thumbtacks for hanging light items like strainers and flat graters. (In fact, I use raised thumbtacks for hanging pictures all throughout the house. You only need a nail or screw if the object is heavy.) You can even use tacks to hang herbs for drying, and for garlic ropes. Keep the grain dolly you made in the fall, hanging in your kitchen.

window sills
Save your glass bottles, especially blue ones. To make your own blue bottles, mix together some white glue and blue food coloring and paint the bottles with this mixture. Set the bottles in the windowsills of your front-facing windows. Not only are they pretty, but haint blue is traditionally known to ward off evil spirits. Also, keep crystals or a jar of salt in your windowsill for the same purpose. If you break a mirror, put the shards in a jar and put that in your windowsill as well. All these things make an interesting and shiny arrangement but also serve a magical purpose.

mirrors
Strategically place small inexpensive mirrors in the dark corners of your home to dissipate any stagnant or negative energy that may collect there. You can buy tiny mirrors by the package-full at craft stores. Glue them back to back on filament string interspersed with beads and hang as mobiles. Glue tiny mirrors to vases, planters, or small boxes, as you would for making a tiled surface.

thrift store finds and finishing touches
Over time, you will find items to fill your walls at thrift stores and yard sales. You’ll find nice frames to fill with pictures of friends and family. You can update just about anything with a little paint, and sand it down a little for a vintage look. Don’t forget to look for a horseshoe to go over your front door.

magical decorating