The Autum Equinox is called the Alban Elfed in Druidry and Paganism, it’s held on the 21st n 22nd of September. It’s a time of balance and harvest, of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth. This season marks the end of the dominance of the summer king and the move towards winters rule. Once again all is equally balanced. The hours of daylight become equal to the hours of night once again. Summer has gone winter is yet to be. The trees begin to shed their leaves getting ready for their winter sleep. The animals hide away their winter stores and start to put on more fat.
This seasonal ceremony finds fulfillment in the collected harvest. This is the time of fulfillment, the time of achievement. On the circle of the year its place is the west. The place of the setting sun, of things dying down, the beginning of old age. It’s time for us to reflect on our personal achievements and what we have personally harvested in our live. We can let go of striving, and enjoy instead the fruits of our lives and our year.
Many ancient rituals were carried out in the British Isles at this time, the last sheaf of corn was often woven into corn dollies and dressed in good cloth then this was placed in a young boy or maidens house until the following year. When ploughing time came in the spring, this was torn up and scattered on the freshly ploughed fields to bring luck to the harvest. Some ancient farmers refused the last bit of their harvest believing it may bring them bad luck, they would toss the last sheaf into neighbor’s fields and the last to harvest their fields would be the one who held the sheaf and the bad luck would be theirs.
Making mandalas of grains and seeds or decorating your circle with leaves, grain, fruit, nuts and wine are all good ways to celebrate the Alban Elfed. This is a good time to make wine or mead, jams and fruit cakes. As it’s a good time for reflecting this is the ideal time to begin a journal or diary. It’s a time of quiet, of patience, of thinking. This is also the time for the chores at home, now the harvest has been gathered, repairs to households would begin to prepare them for the winter season. Also associated with this season is the element water, the color blue, gold, mead and wine.
Performing a ritual at this time we add to our corners some items that represent our harvest from the past year. We give thanks for the journey we have traveled, the gifts we have received and the experiences that we have had.
Madron is a time of balance when both day and night are equal; from now the days start getting shorter, the nights getting longer and the weather starts getting colder. It is a time when we seek balance in ourselves and throw out the old to make way for the new. It is also a time of thanksgiving, healing and justice. Madron is the first day of autumn and harvest, both in the agricultural sequence and personally.
At the autumn equinox, crops are harvested to prepare for the winds and storms of early winter. In the old times, people would find out how successful their crops had been and how much they would have for survival through the long winter months. During battles fought at this time of the year, rarely were prisoners held. Any prisoners from earlier battles usually returned to their families, so that there were no extra mouths to feed and ensuring the safe exchange of their own families. Thus it was also a time to settle any arguments and disputes, a time of less combat because the roads were too muddy and wet to travel and so a time for physical wounds to heal.
Witches also mark Madron with the release of prisoners, but not with people as hostages, but old regrets, arguments and mistakes, culminated over the past season, which hold the person back. This way the person can learn lessons from mistakes and then put them behind.
Madron is an occasion of healing, justice and release helping us to move on.
Ways to celebrate Madron:
Before Madron, gather some leaves and dry them out. Think about prisoners, regrets and any mistakes you wish to release and mark a symbol on each leaf to represent this, for example, a debt that has not been repaid could be a pound or dollar symbol. Consider what you need to do to pay off the debt, settle the argument, apologise for any harsh words etc so that the healing process can begin. If possible, try to settle these before the Madron Sabbat although it may not be possible to complete them all.
At the Madron celebration, decorate the alter and cast the circle, ask the elements of air (east), fire (south), water (west) and earth (north) to join you and protect you in your rite. Next, ask the God and Goddess to be present.
Take each leaf in turn and think about what lessons you have learnt. Ask the God and Goddess to take the problems away and give you strength for the future, so helping to avoid the same mistakes again. Now crush the leaf in your hand. If any remain not solved then put these to one side for a later date, without crushing them, and think about what you need to do.
Now it is time to take on positive thoughts and new habits to start the healing process. Take a length of white cord and tie a knot in it for each new habit you intend to take on, such as, you could try to think about positive comments when someone tries to criticise you or others. Do not try to take on too many promises, which you may find difficult to remember, three or four should do. Do any other magic you need to do for release, healing or balance, complete with eating and drinking to ground yourself.
Thank the God and Goddess for being with you, then say farewell and thank the elements in the order you invited them in. Close the circle. Put some of the wine and cakes outside for the birds and animals and bury the crushed leaves in the ground.