FALL'S SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE +  Harvest Ceremonies Around the World

FALL'S SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE + Harvest Ceremonies Around the World

“A witch does not need to fix problems. She fixes the energy around problems, 
then the problems fix themselves.”
– Dacha Avelin

Welcome to Witchcraft Szn! The air is beginning to get crisp and the leaves are making their final brilliant warm-toned offerings before falling to become one with the Earth. As we also make our way through Libra season (September 23 - October 22), many of us may be feeling the melancholy that comes in the moments just before something or someone flies away. It can be a time of grief and mourning, a time to make peace with past versions of ourselves that we are outgrowing, and while traditionally associated with the harvest, autumn can be both spiritually potent and challenging as we resist or embrace change.

The Spiritual Meaning of Fall

The fiery summer energy is winding down for the northern half of the Earth, beckoning us to honor both the idea and the reality of the harvest as part of this phase of the natural cycle of life. In many indigenous cultures, the year’s four focal points—the Winter and Summer Solstices and the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes—were believed to mirror the individual’s internal spiritual cycles or journeys. If we are attuned to how nature’s rhythms align symbiotically with our own, this consciousness may help us see how the phases of growth, harvest, death, and rebirth manifest in our own lives more clearly.

Shifting our ritual practices to those that honor what we have, celebrate our prosperity, and express our sincere gratitude in a ceremonial way can help bring more balance and harmony to the fertile soil of our personal growth cycles during the early days of autumn. This shift can feel destabilizing for some of us, especially if we’ve been caught up in the desire to hang on to late summer pleasures like rest and play, perhaps trying to push the arrival of the darker season back a little longer in our hearts and minds.

Whether we’re ready or not, things are slipping away as we enter the fall season. The light of the Sun and her warmth on our skin, the pauses from obligations as we basked in summer adventures, and the long-stretching days are now coming to a close. This might be just the right moment for us to invite more balance into our lives to ground and prepare ourselves for how cooler days could try to tip our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance in more ways than one. What’s one thing you could adapt or adjust in your daily routine to welcome a new equilibrium into your life with curiosity and intention?

Autumn Rituals + Harvest Ceremonies

For as long as humans have existed, they have ritualized birth, death, and rebirth through ceremonies and ritual gatherings, evoking magick through spells, potions, and other witchcraft practices. Autumn is a particularly vibrant season for people around the world to share in traditions that incorporate both spiritual and ancestral beliefs. Here are some rituals that highlight how people around the world shower this season in their gratitude and light with feasting, music, family, love, and other sacred offerings.

Mid-Autumn Festival (Throughout Asia + The Asian Diasporas)

Known by many names—Zhong Qiu Jie, Mooncake Festival, Chuseok, and others—the Mid-Autumn Festival is marked by the gathering of families and loved ones to share stories and to hold ancestral rituals. Also celebrated as the Moon Festival, many Chinese cultures view the full moon as symbolic of reunion, which is one of the reasons their families gather to share mooncakes and enjoy a reunion dinner together. To spark some kitchen magick, try these Chinese Mung Bean Mooncakes with pumpkin filling, a high protein, vegan, and magickal dessert for the Moon rabbit and Moon goddess.

Diwali (India + The Asian/South Asian Diasporas)

Between October and November each year, South Asians take part in a festival of lights that has traditionally been associated by many celebrants with the goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi. The celebration is marked by wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts, eating special foods, adorning the home with colorful sand, lamps, candles, and other bright decorations, the exchanging of gifts, and lanterns symbolizing light’s triumph over darkness adorning all of the streets of the subcontinent and beyond.

Festival of the Yams (Ghana)

In the Volta Region of Ghana, Asogli Te Za (the Festival of Yams) takes place on the last day of September annually. Celebrating a good yam harvest is synonymous with giving thanks to the ancestors and the gods for a prosperous harvest and year. This festival involves music and dancing, local crafts and feasting. The cultural celebration is also said to honor farmers, their families, and unity among all peoples.

Mehregan (Iran)

Dating back to pre-Islamic times, Mehregan (also known as Jashn-e Mehr) is an ancient Persian festival during which families and friends gather to welcome in autumn. The ancient Persian goddess Mitra is honored by many celebrants, while others prefer to focus on the light, love, and kindness that radiates throughout their communities. At the start of lunchtime, household members will stand in front of a mirror, sing devotional songs, and pray. Following the meal, loved ones and invited guests exchange presents, embrace, and throw fistfuls of wild marjoram, sugar plum seeds, and lotus in merriment. Other traditions include drinking Sharbat and rubbing antimony around the eyes as a good omen. 

Mabon (Scotland, Cornwall, + Wales)

With Celtic origins, Mabon is believed by some to have gotten its name from Mabon ap Modron, the Celtic god of fertility. Others say it comes from the Welsh God, son of the Earth Mother Goddess. This pagan holiday is one of the eight Wiccan sabbats of the year, celebrating the autumnal equinox and the mid-harvest festival (or second harvest). Apple picking in a ritual of gratitude is a common pagan tradition, as well as rituals to restore harmony and balance, altars that feature symbols of the season, and feasting. 

Autumnal Equinox/Harvest Celebrations (Indigenous Americans)

Indigenous peoples throughout North America observe many different tribal celebrations during the autumnal equinox depending on their unique traditions. In Arizona, native tribes—including the Hopi and Navajo Indians—celebrate the equinox with vision quests during this time of year. Honoring the transition from lightness to darkness, many Indigenous Americans also hold full moon ceremonies, lasting up to several days and concluding with a blue corn pancake feast.

Simple Nature Witchcraft for Fall Rituals

While many people fear and reject the idea of witchcraft as something that falls beyond societal norms, our ancestors often relied on magickal ways of thinking and performing rituals for coming together, marking important occasions, and in times of despair. If words like witch, warlock, and magick don’t resonate with you, you can always think of “magick making” as “fixing energy” or adjusting darkness by pouring light into someone or something. These four ritual practices can be done with few tools and on a shoestring budget, making them an accessible entry point for conjuring magick and personal growth.

The Sun

heals - charges - warms

Ritual Practice: A Solar Ritual to Connect

Moving into this new season, consider how you can harness the energy of sunrise and sunset. The early dawn is prime time for attracting or calling in wealth, fertility, and new beginnings. Sunset can be an ideal moment for purging, binding, or uncovering a hidden truth. Using freshly harvested solar herbs, you can also create a wand for protection and manifestation. Using a red or yellow cord, seal and wrap your fresh herbs somewhat tightly with the cord. As you wrap, powerfully speak (or visualize) your intentions. Every circle is a devotional knot to the intention you hold in your mind.

The Moon

connects - manifests - unlocks intuition

Ritual Practice: Making Herbal Amulets

The words amulet and talisman are often used interchangeably. An amulet is a container that can be filled with herbs, stones, or other meaningful items to promote or enhance magick. A talisman is more of a pendant, disk, or solid item where images are imprinted onto or carved into it. Amulets, as sacred objects, can help bring about positive changes in your life. Perhaps one of the oldest forms of magick, they can be found in all pagan rituals, as well as many modern practices. Full moons are especially excellent times to activate and create amulets. Check out our full guide for how to make an herbal amulet here

The Ocean

cleanses - refreshes - opens energy centers

Ritual Practice: Waters of the World

In the 1980s, a new ritual for connectedness was created by Carolyn McDade and Lucile Schuck for a unique worship service for women’s spirituality. They called it “Coming Home Like Rivers to the Sea”, and gathered eight women in a semicircle around a large earthenware bowl. These women, all from different regions, were asked to bring water from where they called home and pour it into the bowl. As they described its significance, they released their water and joined it with the others to create a harmonious blend of the old, the new, and something uniquely collective and ephemeral. Read more here to get more inspiration and to learn how to recreate your own water-inspired ritual with friends and loved ones.

The Forest

grounds - balances - stabilizes

Ritual Practice: Grounding in Nature

Fall is a truly magickal season for (re)connecting with our Earth Mother. Nature’s healing powers are scientifically proven, but anyone attuned to energetic shifts will note the transformational powers of earthing, grounding, walking barefoot outside, moving meditations, or forest bathing. Witchy wellness tip: as you walk, stand, or sit in the forest (or other nature near you), visualize the Earth pulling out of you any negative energy and anything no longer serving you. Infuse your being with new, refreshed energy and express gratitude for the oxygen the plants are offering you, then reflect on what you’ve experienced.

Herbs for Fall Magick Making

Autumn magick offers us the opportunity to tap into our inner witches and warlocks. For newbies to magick, this introductory list provides some plants, potions, and spirit tools that may help you conjure spells and manifestations that will clear out negative energies and prepare you for a season of rebirth. 

Here 7 herbs for fall magick making that anyone can try:

  1. For Kitchen Witches - Also known as the Green Witch, a kitchen witch follows an ancient path paved by herbalists, naturalists, spiritual ecologists, medicine women and men, curandero/as, and healers of all types looking to explore a spiritual conversation with nature. In the fall, you can try concocting magick within your sacred kitchen with Allspice, which has traditionally been used to call in money, prosperity, good luck, and abundance. For more green witch cabinet essentials, check out this list of some classic herbs found in a witch's kitchen.
  2. For Communing With Spirit Guides - Sacred smoke blends are made with herbs and flowers that offer different benefits and spiritual correspondences. Some herbs relax the body and mind, helping to deepen our connection to the spirit realm and open the third eye. Try this Flores Sagradas blend ceremonially and mindfully to conjure and open the crown chakra, or this Heart Chakra blend designed to relax and create feelings of euphoria to tap into the spirit realm. 
  3. For Altars - There are countless herbs for love and fertility, broken hearts and trauma, protection, blessings, purification, and divination. Cinnamon is an incredibly versatile spice beyond the kitchen. In magick practices, it can be burned for purifying purposes, bundled to a tarot deck or other divination tool to charge it, or placed on an altar, among many other uses. Click here to read more about the spiritual powers of cinnamon and to learn how to build altars that work.
  4. For Better Sex - One protection that is often overlooked when considering sex magick is the cleansing, protective magick of a good smudge. Palo Santo, the mystical tree that grows near the coast of South America and translates to “Holy Wood” or “Tree of Life”, has traditionally been used to clear bad energy and spirits that stagnate within spaces. For even more rituals to fuel the shift your body may be craving to make more intimate physical connections, visit the blog here.
  5. For Honoring Your Bleed - Moringa is energy boosting and soothing, a high vitamin C mineralizer, and has the ability to purify water. As a detoxifier and blood cleanser, moringa is essential for keeping the witch within healthy and strong throughout this and other natural cycles. Keep reading for even more herbs and rituals to support your monthly cycle.
  6. For Mystical Seekers - Pau D’Arco is believed to increase spiritual awareness and psychic abilities, among many other mystical properties. Throughout time, many shamans have used it to support astral projection and to aid in spiritual journeys by accessing deeper levels of consciousness. Because it is also said to ward off negative energies and ill-willed spirits, it has also been used to protect against hexes, curses, and other bad spells, while it is also a magnet for good fortune and amplifying luck! All across South America, countless tribes have also employed it for diverse medicinal purposes, strength, and vigor for hundreds of years.
  7. For the Lungs - In Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn is a season associated with dryness, contracting, and going inward. As such, it corresponds to the lungs and the large intestine. It is believed that we are more vulnerable to respiratory “evils” during the fall, so a blend like the Breathe Tea can help support physical and energetic lung health. As the source processing for our grief and trauma, both tender and common in this season, giving extra attention to our respiratory system is wise. Whether stemming from environmental or energetic origins, the lungs are susceptible to toxic intake. Breathwork is a critical component of much magick, so “clearing the air” is one way for us to purify and protect our sacred vessels that channel divine life force.

This season, as shown by many distinct autumn rituals that persist in today’s modern world, is all about the balance of light and darkness. Yes, the Sun may start to offer us fewer daylight hours, but we can create our own warmth and illumination through sacred rituals and other conscious practices. Let’s make time for introspection, intention and appreciation for what is, so we’re ready for what’s to come!

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