As the Autumn Equinox approaches, I am planning my rite and celebration for this, the Witch's Thanksgiving and the second of the harvest festivals. Unlike many Pagans, I do not celebrate Mabon because it is a Celtic-inspired celebration. As I am dedicated to the Dianic Goddess path, I choose to honor those Goddesses whom I feel represent the mysteries of this time of year - Hekate, my matron Goddess, Demeter, who has given us the harvest and Persephone who begins Her descent into the Underworld.
In Ancient Greek religious rites a flame was always lit for Hestia first and extinguished last - for Hestia, thine is the first and last. Leaving the patriarchal overtones of Hellenic Greek religion, I keep this honoring of Hestia who blesses hearth and home. I am the keeper of the flame in my home, she who nourishes and sustains my little family guided and blessed in this role by Hestia. Both the hearth and stove are kept sacred to Her - a reclaiming of woman as Queen and Mistress of the Home. A woman may do anything she chooses today, any profession or none, being a mother and wife or remaining single, independent and free even when sharing her life with a partner. This includes honoring herself as the priestess of her home.
Before beginning any rite and also once weekly, I light a special flame for Hestia, to honor Her and show my devotion. For ritual workings, this becomes my witch fire; for the blessing of hearth and stove, a simple prayer and offering. I share here the invocation I use for the Equinox.
Invocation to Hestia For the Autumn Equinox
(recite and light candle or lamp before beginning the main rite)
You, Hestia, the Keeper of the Sacred Flame,
I light this flame in Your holy name.
(light the candle or lamp)
Come, be honored here in the home temple
of a Priestess of the Olde Ways.
Gathered together in this temple are those who
honor and revere You.
Receive our praises, Beloved Hestia.
As time stands still and the light fades,
Bring to this hearth and home Your warming fire.
Lady, light the flame in our hearts and hearths.
(an offering of incense such as cinnamon and clove or other such
kitchen herbs should now be made)
Hestia, Light of Heart and Hearth,
We offer sweet spices, we offer our praise.
(from the forthcoming, A Book of Artes & Charms, copyright 2011 E A Kaufman)