The Wheel continues to turn, carrying us into Mabon. I find great peace during this season, as the chaotic and busy energy of Summer seems to wind down, allowing a little more space to breathe and truly enjoy the blessings of early Autumn.
It is a wonderful time to clear your altar or other sacred space, completing any workings or cycles that need your attention, and washing away any imprints or spiritual residue that remains; think of it as hitting an energetic system restore button. Refresh your altar with new tools and meaningful trinkets, and set updated intentions and dedications as we begin our journey into the dark days.
If you’re looking for some creative inspiration, look no further than Pinterest and Instagram – I have already seen some of the most gorgeous altar photos shared by others practicing nature-based faiths. I should caution you, though, not to get too caught up in the aesthetics, because you may find yourself spending a lot of money trying to re-create a look, rather than adapting ideas to meet your personal practice.
When you find yourself coveting someone else’s set up, take time to pause and consider if it would truly add to your practice. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with including adornments based on their beauty, nor am I against creating an aesthetic for your practice. In fact, I encourage it! Support Pagan small business owners whenever you are able, and keep the abundance flowing strong.
However, not everyone has a budget that allows for much more than the occasional quartz crystal and bulk package of tealight candles. This should never – I repeat, never – stop you from practicing your craft! Remember, we are the practitioners of a nature-based spiritual path. Nature provides us with everything we need, and asks only that we respect the Earth and offer gratitude in return with an equal exchange of energy.
A walk in a local forest or park will turn up an abundance of tools and supplies for your altar and workings. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Sticks and twigs – can be made into a staff or wand, used as a smudge or smoke stick, used as materials to create sigils, pentagrams, poppets, besoms, fuel for a bonfire.
Stones and rocks – certain shapes, textures or colours may hold special meaning to you, and you may be surprised to find many common healing crystals “in the wild”.
Water – collecting rainwater for ceremony, ritual or workings is always a good idea. Lake, pond, ocean or river water all have amazing qualities, as well.
Dirt – soil is used in many workings, and you can also use it to grow your favourite herbs to use in teas and spells.
Seeds and pods – seeds from any number of wild plants can be used as offerings, or for their magickal properties in your practice. Acorns and pinecones are excellent for this purpose, and they blend well with your Autumn decor.
Herbs and flowers – collect your favourites and then hang them in bundles to dry in your home. They add to the witchy aesthetic, too! (NOTE: Do not consume ANY wild plant until you are entirely certain that you have identified it correctly.)
Bird nests – abandoned nests can be found on occasion, sometimes with pieces of eggshells still inside. It goes without saying that you should never touch or take a nest that is in use. I find several on the ground each spring, having been blown out of the trees through the winter.
Feathers – probably the easiest to find, try to find out which bird each one comes from, and learn the message they bring. The colours also hold meaning, and can offer guidance or healing in various ways.
Deer sheds – these are the antlers that naturally fall off a buck (male deer), caused by a change in hormones after rutting season. They aren’t easy to come by, unless you spend a lot of time wandering forested areas, so feel blessed if you find one!
Bones and skulls – this isn’t for everyone. But if you use these tools in your practice, a hike in the woods may prove fruitful.
Anything else that catches your fancy – only you can decide what is and isn’t meaningful to you and your practice.
When Nature offers you a gift, it’s only polite to return the favour; make an offering that resonates with your connection to the Earth, in the spirit of gratitude. Set up a bee waterer, participate in a composting program, or plant a tree. Perhaps you can pick up three pieces of garbage on your walk each morning. Use a travel mug instead of a to-go cup. Plant an organic garden. Learn to make your own natural cleaning supplies. Get creative with your reciprocity, and you may find that the Lady smiles even more blessings upon you.
I hope that this post gives you some ideas and inspiration, and encourages you to create a spiritual practice, no matter what your budget is. If you go in search of natural tools and treasures, I’d love to see your findings – tag me on Instagram to show off your goodies, so I can share in my stories!