Once there was a time before time became time. We feel it still in that moment between day and night, night and day. It is that time when what was vanishes, and what will be is yet to be seen. It was in that moment when all life stirred upon the Earth in sparkling energies of glittering light. The Earth held within Her breast all the mystical and earthen creatures of existence. The Unicorn and the lion were friends. No creature had fear of another for each lived in peace with all things known and unknown. All but one.
The big ones, those that had became lost to the mystical world. They could no longer see the magick all around them. For they could not believe in what they could not touch or hold within their hands. However, there were a few of the big ones that still called to the magick of the mystical world. They placed seed, grain and sweet treats on their windowsills in evening for the sprite and fairy folk. They were the keepers of secrets, for they walked in the shadows of life.
The fairies and earthen creatures would gather these treats and grain, taking them home to store for the time of winter. According to their custom, they would leave gifts for the keepers of feathers, stones, crystals and sometimes, even a bit of magick.
Alicia was learning of all of the changes happening in her world. Her big blue eyes shone with the wonder around her when spring came to the door of her home within the great oak’s twisted roots. She was amazed as she watched the snow melt away leaving soft green grass and sweet honey flowers. In summer she learned to ride the bees and help carry nectar to the flowers to ensure a great harvest. (Whatever that was.)
Now she pinched up tiny nose, noticed a heavy and dry fragrance floating on the winds as if it was a song moving through the trees. Even the energy of the day seemed somehow different. She could feel little tingles across her spirit, as she stretched out her wings. She knew there was something changing, something wonderful, and something she didn’t understand.
Now that Alicia was growing she was able to help in the fairy work. She enjoyed going to gather fruits, corn and even the treats left by the keepers. She could fly pretty good, even though she sometimes would forget to watch where she was going and fly into a tree or bush of blackberries. She was always careful to let the others go first and make sure the keepers were sleeping before she filled her basket. She was frightened that they might open the window and smash her. She had heard how those that can not see would through rubbish out windows and sometimes hit a sprite. How others marched through the woods smashing the homes of the earthen creatures and would even cut down the trees without asking. She was fearful of the big ones.
Alicia who once worried about playing outside because she was so small, looked forward now to playing around the big oak with her friend Pyc Pixie. Often you could find them playing Catch the Glimmer, a game known to fairy children that teach them how to catch rainbow prisms in the morning dew, or leaf sliding across the iris flowers after the warm rain. Sometimes Crone Spider would come down from her high web, to teach them how to weave using sand crystals and pussy willow. Alicia could not think of anything more perfect than playing outside in the long summer evenings.
Soon Alicia’s mom called her into the house. It didn’t seem like the time to stop playing but she did notice the sun was beginning to set. There was a strange coolness moving across the air and a slight purple glow in the sky. She watched as the smoke from the fireplace begins filling the woods like a mist, sweeping low in the air. As she flew into the house she noticed a candle burning atop the fireplace. It had been a long time since candles needed to be a light so early.
Alicia’s dad was carrying in firewood. As he placed it by the hearth he said, “You can feel Her in the air, Grandmother Autumn will be here soon.”
Alicia’s mom agreed as she replied, “Yes, the Fall will bring Her to our door soon, so we’d best be ready for the harvest.” Alicia had never heard of a Grandmother and why was she coming here to their door and what was this harvest?
As the morning came, Alicia could hear her mom and dad working busily in the house. As she peeked over the edge of her walnut-shell bed she was wondering what all the fuss was about.
Wiping the sleep from her eyes Alicia could see the sun was not yet up. “Is anything wrong?” she asked.
Alicia’s mom said, “Today is the day of the great harvest. Grandmother Autumn will be here and we must make ready.”
There it was again. This Grandmother Autumn was coming and something was going to happen so they had to be ready for a harvest.
“What is a harvest?” asked Alicia.
Her parents looked at each other and smiled. “It is the time we have been gathering for. The time we all work together to ready for Grandmother Autumn. So that we might enjoy this next turning of the Wheel without worry” explained Alicia’s dad. “The harvest is the gathering time, that time we lay away all which we can for winter. We do this as a gift to Grandmother Autumn and to carry us forward with a blessing for the next spring.”
This harvest thing sounded like fun, and Alicia didn’t mind working with the fairies, pixies, trolls and sprites for they were her friends. She also understood that everything sleeps in winter, but she was not sure what it meant to “make ready for winter.” She remembered winter, how it was cold and covered with snow and ice. She couldn’t play outside as much because her little wing tips would frost over and it was hard to fly.
Alicia’s mom asked Alicia to fetch her basket, her gifts to Grandmother Autumn. It was already filled with acorns, grain and small cakes of herbs her mother had made. They closed the door to their house in the great oaks twisted roots and began walking down the path to the great harvest. Alicia was very excited about the harvest and learning all that it was.
The path was slowing being covered by leaves of all colors glowing like a gleaming carpet before them. As they walked they were joined by other mystical creatures; some that Alicia did not yet know. Soon, the forest creators, deer, fox, rabbits and even the wolf walked with them. In the sky, Alicia could see the raven, sparrow, and hawk flying above them watching over everyone as they journeyed on.
While they walked Alicia could not help but notice that the trees were changing. No longer were the leaves of deep, dark green; but they were changing into the bright colors like those held within the fire in her hearth at home. Deep golds, red, purple, orange, yellow and pink. Acorns and nuts weighed heavy on the branches bringing them low enough that she could pick a few along the way. She carefully selected leaves in every color of the rainbow putting them in her small bag of secrets tied around her waist.
There it was again, that smell, like something heavy and sweet all at the same time. The air was mixed with cool and warm as if the two were children dancing and playing in circles just out of sight. As they reached the clearing Alicia recognized this place, it was the place of the great feast. The place where they all come together for the Turning of the Wheel. Alicia knew this was going to be important but she didn’t understand how she was going to work to help this magickal wheel turn.
Once they had reached the glen everyone begins rushing past her to make ready and set their gifts upon the large table for the feast. One of the muskrat kittens was in such a hurry he didn’t see Alicia and knocked her to the grown. The basket of harvest gifts Alicia had carried were spilled and trampled by those going past. Alicia could feel her tiny heartbreaking. She could no longer see from her teary eyes. She had no gift for Grandmother Autumn so now she surely could not help with the turning of the wheel.
Then from behind her Alicia heard a soft voice saying. “Alicia, you don‘t need to cry, there is nothing lost”
Shaking her head as the tears begin to fall on the ground. “My gift is gone and I have nothing for the harvest or Grandmother Autumn.”
As Alicia turned around to see who was taking in the soft voice she heard, “No dear, your gifts are still good, just different than they were before. Like me.”
Standing there was a beautiful woman, with silver hair and a face careworn by love and time. She wore a long green dress covered with robes of different colors like the trees had become in their changing as they walked to the glen. Stars hung around her neck and a band of silver with feathers shimmering as a crown upon her head.
Her voice was soft and gentle and she glowed like the sky at sunset. Yet there was something familiar about her: her eyes. Eyes that beheld all life and the wisdom of understanding.
The woman knelt down and brushed the tears from Alicia’s cheeks saying, “See? If you look very closely, with the eyes of magick, you can see that the grain and seed will give way to new plants come spring. The acorns will grow great oak trees. Even thought you did not set them on the table, you have still given them as gifts.”
Alicia looked at the woman’s smiling face and asked, “Are you Grandmother Autumn?”
“Yes I am, ” said the woman laughing. “I am now Grandmother Autumn. But as the wheel turns, I will leave and return again. Each time different but still the same.”
Alicia was beginning to understand that magick was all around her. Each season in it’s changing had a life and spirit all its own. The truest gifts given come from the heart; not what we can carry.
As they walked to the harvest table covered now with food and gifts, Alicia reached into her bag of secrets. Closing her eyes she pulled that which was precious to her. They were the gifts of Grandmother Autumn, the leaves, and nuts she had picked walking to the harvest. With the helping hands of Grandmother Autumn, she placed them in the center of the table. They became the heart of the harvest, the light that gives energy unto the turning of the wheel.
So, as you place a harvest or Autumn basket of flowers on your table this season, remember that it is in the changing that we find the magick around us. For from our hearts we give the greatest gifts of all.
Blessed be our Lady Grandmother Autumn and of the Changing times.