A celebration of grain, all things cereal and The Harvest.
In the Northern Hemisphere at Autumn Equinox, we begin the movement into darkness. Equinoxes are days of equal light and dark. After today, days will get shorter as we descend into the dark time, beginning to emerge only after the winter solstice when the light begins to return.
Now is the time to begin to gather, reflect, store and harvest. Take all that into the darkness with us, to ruminate on and further alchemize through the dark moons, readying for rebirth in the spring. What do we still need to work through, what are we yet metabolizing, what seeds are we harvesting to turn into wisdom, to refine into soul flour, to cook with in our future goals?
Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere
Autumn Equinox seems to come fast on the heels of summer, the ascent. It is always shocking when it arrives, cascading upon us quickly in shorter and shorter hours of daylight. And yet we have been building toward it it all year.
We will gather to honor and worship the Goddess Ceres, her grains and what we have been made to or willingly gathered this year, what we are forced or willing to harvest. She propels us into the darkness with her grief of having to part with her daughter Prosperina. What will we take with us this year?
What will we offer her in return?
What is this? Read about why I am creating an Abruzzo-Italiana Wheel of the year here.
Ceres and Cereal and Grains
“Ceres was the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain, and the love a mother bears for her child. She was the daughter of Saturn and Ops, the sister of Jupiter, and the mother of Proserpine. Ceres was a kind and benevolent goddess to the Romans and they had a common expression, “fit for Ceres,” which meant splendid. …Ceres was the goddess of the harvest and was credited with teaching humans how to grow, preserve, and prepare grain and corn. She was thought to be responsible for the fertility of the land. Ceres was the only one of the gods who was involved on a day-to-day basis in the lives of the common folk. While others occasionally “dabbled” in human affairs when it suited their personal interests, or came to the aid of “special” mortals they favored, the goddess Ceres was truly the nurturer of mankind” (https://www.ceresva.org/Goddess/Ceres.htm)
Most cultures have a harvest or Grain Goddess. In Italy it is Ceres.
There is also Scottish Cailleach, Greek Demeter, Hebrew Asherah, Slavic Baba Yaga, Aztec Chicomecótl, Native American Corn Maiden or Mother.
The word cereal is derived from Ceres. Our ancestors in all cultures learned how to modify local grasses into dependable crops of grain, which gave so much to our diets and nutrition. But more than that, our planetary ancestors learned how to grind and refine grains, nuts, seeds—to process them in a way that allowed them to turn them into other foodstuffs. They learned to make and use what we refer to broadly today as “flour.”
Once humans figured out how to grind and refine plants, seeds and nuts, they could be more creative and store things for longer.
Mortar and pestle
The mortar and pestle are tools that are found the world over. This technology began by grinding seeds, nuts, roots and grains on a nearby rock with another heavy stone. Some of these stones were used so much that small holes were formed into the grinding rock, which then became even more efficient. Remnants of this ancient technology are found in archaeological remains of cultures the world over.
In Old World Witchcraft, Raven Grimassi names the mortar and pestle as one of the main tools of the Streghe. He recommends a central place for it on an altar with the pestle held in the upright position.
Then there is Baba Yaga, flying through the air in her mortar and pestle. She grinds up the bones of those she kills and eats in her mortar and pestle.
This reminds us that we must eat, digest, process, metabolize that which we harvest. Everything becomes food. We have to face the truth that The Grain Goddess is also the Reaper. To harvest is to reap. She eats and devours as she leads us into the darkness.
Harvest means to gather, reap, garner, glean—to cull. This aspect of the Grain Goddess must not be forgotten or glossed over. What needs to die, what needs to be culled, what needs to be ground up and eaten?
Is there anything in or our own shadow that needs harvesting as well?
In this ritual, we will bring the act of grinding, reaping and culling front and center. We will anoint and activate our mortar and pestles to the Grain Goddess of our choice before using them in this sacred rite.
What does a harvest festival mean in 2022?
What does it mean to harvest in these times when most of us do not grow our own food? What are we harvesting? What do we offer the Grain Goddess in acknowledgment of what we are harvesting?
Most of us can witness harvest happening around us in some form. We may see the leaves changing color or orange pumpkins everywhere. We may notice grapes are being picked and wine is being made.
But as for grain and cereal, for most of us this is happening far away on huge farms. Therefore, for this ritual, we will acknowledge that which we are harvesting metaphorically in our lives that the Grain Goddess is helping us with. We will then ask her to continue to assist and guide us in the continued harvest as we move into the dark moons.
Participants are invited to bring
- Decide what you are harvesting, reaping or culling at this time in your life
- Bring something (or some things) organic that represents that to grind in your mortar and pestle
- Mortar and pestle
- Spirits of your choice
- Hibiscus juice
- Choose which Grain Goddess you will dedicate your mortar and pestle to
- A harvest item/offering for the altar
- Something to share in the feast after
The Ritual: The Goddess Ceres — Grain and Harvest Festa (Autumnal Equinox)
An altar is set up with :
Harvest gifts and offerings to the Grain Goddess
A candle for each participant
Space for each mortar and pestle
- Call in the 6 directions
- Invocation: each participant invokes, calling in the Grain Goddess of their choice that they are choosing to work with tonight and dedicate their mortar and pestle to as they light a candle to Her
Dedication and anointing of the mortar and pestle
One at a time each participant dedicates their mortar and pestle to the Grain Goddess of their choice:
- Place it on the earth
- Surround it with an ash circle
- State the dedication aloud while tapping on the mortar with the pestle
- Pour hibiscus juice and vodka over it
Reaping and harvesting
- We take time to be silent to write or meditate on what it is we are harvesting, reaping, as we move into the darkness of this year
We grind and offer our “grain”
- Together, all at the same time, we will grind our grain in our mortar and pestle, letting the movement lead us into trance to receive any additional information.
- We process to the fig tree, mortar and pestles containing our harvest in hand
- One by one we will offer some of our “harvest” to the Grain Goddess of our choice under the fig tree, while speaking aloud what it is we are harvesting, reaping.
- We save the rest to take home to our altars to work with throughout the dark moons.
Closing of the 6 directions
Celebrate and feast to follow