Autumn Rituals for Getting Your Energy Right

Not gonna lie, it doesn’t really feel like fall. Like, as I’m typing this, I’m also sitting in a tank top and shorts, drinking ice water while I wait for my place’s maintenance dude to come fix the air conditioner because it’s supposed to be near 90°F.  Butts.

Nevertheless, the autumnal equinox has passed, so it is (at least technically) fall. It’s the end of the year, Samhain’s coming, the veil is thinning, and the weather will hopefully be cooling off soon. All of these things make this the perfect time to let the past year’s badness go, cleanse yourself and your stuff, and get yourself ready to face the next season right.

Do a Solid Fall Cleaning

Everyone’s familiar with “spring cleaning,” but I love fall cleaning. Besides, most places seem to benefit from doing a good, heavy, deep cleaning more than once a year, you know? So, let’s get ready to turn this into a ritual that will cleanse more than just baseboards and the dark, forbidden area under the fridge.

In a lot of magical practices, hoodoo especially, floor washes are a pretty important tool. You sweep your house, fill your mop bucket, add the floor wash of your choice, do the appropriate spiritual bits, and mop your home from back to front. You can buy floor washes prepared, but I usually skip them and add lemon juice or herbal infusions to mine instead.

(It should also be noted that my apartment is tiny, so I get by with one of those reusable spray mops more easily than an old-school mop and bucket situation. I feel a little more confident in spray mops if I know exactly what’s going into the reservoir, so I don’t end up with a solution that’s going to damage my reservoir or pads. YMMV.)

So! If you don’t have a ready supply of dried cleansing herbs in your cabinets, here are some purification herbs that are likely ready for a fall harvest:

  • Garlic (Though you might want to skip putting this pungent root in a cleaning solution, just saying.)
  • Parsley
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary

Take some of the herbs of your choice (there is no set amount — choose however much feels appropriate), and steep them in water. After about twenty minutes of steeping and cooling, strain and add to your cleaning solution. If you like, you can also add a few drops of the cleansing essential oil of your choice, or a couple of glugs of white vinegar. Since this is more for spiritual cleansing than physical cleaning, actual soap is not necessary. However, if you do choose to add essential oils, add a little bit of soap to allow them to mix with the water rather than float on top.

Open all of your windows to let the autumn breeze through. Turn on some light-hearted music. Sweep your floors to remove dust, then mop them thoroughly from back to front. When you are done, light some purification incense and carry it through your home, ensuring the smoke reaches every corner.

Note: Some witches specify that you should carry incense or fuming herbs clockwise through your home. I’ve always used clockwise directions to bring things to me, and counterclockwise to banish them. For purification rituals (i.e., getting rid of things you no longer want around), I would walk in a counterclockwise direction.

Light It Up

You know what’s awesome about fall? Bonfires. Sure, they’re great on a beach in summer, but let me tell you, as someone who has often ended up living in places too dry to have a summer bonfire without taking out half a national forest, fall is where it’s at. It’s cooler, so the heat feels amazing. It’s not as dry, so it’s safer. It’s beautiful, and chill, and there can be cocoa and s’mores if you feel like it.

Now, there are roughly a million spells out there that pretty much consist of:

  1. Write a thing on a leaf or piece of paper.
  2. Light it on fire.
  3. Victory!

Unfortunately, this is not always a super idea indoors. Even if you have a fireproof vessel, cinders from burning paper and leaves can be caught on the air and blow directly into your collection of heirloom table linens and then how are you going to explain yourself at dinner over the holidays?

(No, really, I’m asking. I have never owned table linens. I have a studio — I barely eat at a table.)

For this, all you really require is a quite, safe place for a small fire, non-treated firewood, and a writing implement, preferably non-toxic. Build your fire and sit in front of it. Feel the warmth on your skin, and look into the heart of the flames. Visualize everything you want to let go of from the past year — mistakes, hurt feelings, bad vibes. It’s okay if these still resonate within you. It’s okay if you feel angry, or even cry. Pick up a leaf, or, if there are no leaves around your area yet, use a piece of paper. Write down all of the things you want to release. When you are finished, feed them into the flames.

If you can, after the bonfire has burned, scatter the ashes either in your garden, or somewhere else where the earth will appreciate them. (Wood ash helps increase the pH of soil. Many plants love it, but avoid using it around those who prefer a more acidic environment.)

Just as a forest fire is sometimes needed to help clear away deadfall and encourage new growth, let this fire clear away what no longer serves you and allow you to grow. Let your past regrets, hurt feelings, and negative energy be transformed by the flames, and used to nourish the things you want to bring into your life.

Let the Wind Carry It Away

For this, you need a clear place to stand. You might have to go to a park, or on a hike, to find a suitable hilltop. You might live in a place with roof access, which also works. You just need a space where you can stand and let the breeze blow around you.

This can be performed any time, but there’s something particularly magical and transformative about autumn breezes. The feeling of the last of the warm summer sun on you, interrupted by a cool breeze just feels like change. If you live in a cooler area, you might even smell the faint perfume of a fireplace heralding the approach of winter.

Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, arms held out at your sides. Close your eyes, and visualize all of the energy you want to let go of as dark smoke clinging to your skin. Wait for a good, strong breeze — as it blows past you, let it carry that dark smoke away. Let it lift that energy from you, carrying it into the sky, into the trees, into the sunlight, where it can be made harmless.

If you do this in a wild place, leave a little token of thanks to the spirits of the area. It can even be something as simple as a shiny rock, some flowers, or a sip of water poured on the ground.

I really love fall. Summer is beautiful, but the heat means it’s far from my favorite holiday. Now, if only the air conditioner guy could get here sooner…

 

… And this is why I shouldn’t rush.

I celebrated Mabon the other day. Like most of my celebrations, it was small, short, and simple — lighting candles at my altar, sitting quietly, giving thanks, remembering the meaning of the season.

All of which are actually super difficult to do if I’m feeling anxious.

I have a tendency to try to push through things when I’m not feeling well. (Let’s be real, though. If I waited until I felt well, I’d never get anything done.) I’ve long held that rituals are not necessarily for me — true piety is observing them even when I’m not personally getting anything out of it. Prayer does not always have to be a refreshing, uplifting experience to have value. Sometimes even meditation is difficult work, but it’s work that I have to do.

The thing is, the ritual structure I follow has a kind of built-in way to tell if I’ve completely effed it or not. Tripped over my words too badly? I’ll get told. Unacceptable offering? Oh, I’ll hear about it. This isn’t something that’s been a problem before, luckily — even when my offerings have been small and simple, I’ve always been given signs that they were good enough.

It doesn’t help that it’s a structure I’m not entirely familiar with yet. It’s a bit more complex than what I used for most of my life (read: winging it), and the formality of it trips me up on occasion. To be honest, if you had come to me a little over a year ago and said I’d be doing things this way, I probably would have asked what you were smoking.
I digress, though. That’s a story for another time.

Anyway, for this ritual, I was confident! I had these fancy little cakes, I placed them in the offering bowls, I sat and said the words… and I rushed through them because holy butts anxiety sucks super hard and I felt like I was about to die.

And then came the divination.

I use tarot cards for the divination portion of my rituals. The particular deck I use (the Animalis Os Fortuna deck) is pretty helpful here. In addition to standard tarot meanings, the animal imagery of this deck gives it extra layers of meaning that allow the cards to be interpreted in a way that’s more conducive to this particular type of ritual divination.So I shuffled, drew, and…

Not only did I get called out, I got called out with The Moon. The warning, anxiety-indicating Moon, of all things. Like a big, black-and-white finger pointing right at my clenched hands and racing heart and going, “WTF?”

Crap.

I concluded the ritual, now wondering what I’d done. Sure, I had tripped over my words, but corrected myself. I’d said the wrong words at some points, but corrected that, too. But, while I’d been willing to offer fancy cakes, there were two things an impending anxiety attack kept me from offering — my attention, and my time.

I ate something, drank a little water, and waited for the feeling to pass, resigned now to having to repeat the ritual. I had no cakes to offer this time, just clean water and some sweet oil. But I took my time, I spoke well, and I let the anxious feelings dissipate.

And this time, even with my offerings as simple as they were, it was accepted.

There is no physical offering valuable enough to make up for an unwillingness to give my time and attention.