Atonement

In October, as the world descends into the dark half of the year, Mother Earth draws her energy back into her womb to protect the sleeping seeds (and the dead) that lie within it, deep in the earth. It was for this reason the ancients made offerings and poured libations into caves and chasms at this time of year, to nurture the regenerative underworld.

The old myths show us a world in which everything is alive and connected by the great matrix of Nature and demonstrate that the relationship between us and the Gods, between us and Mother Earth, should be a reciprocal one. This was the covenant the old Pagan religions recognised – a sacred agreement to maintain the balance. This is a covenant that the modern world has broken [1] where Mother Earth is seen as a commodity, raped and pillaged for her gifts. We should take heed, because the old myths also tell us what happens when the covenant is broken and balance is lost, when the scales tip too far for the balance to be restored, we see the final triumph of chaos, of Ragnarök, [2]  the Apocalypse,.  With the climate crisis, the impoverishment of soil through modern farming methods, and the mass destruction and pollution of habitats causing mass extinctions, we are at that tipping point.

When the work of the growing year is done and we move into the reflective period of winter, it is time to take stock and examine what it is in our lives, and in the world around us, that has slipped out of balance, and strive to return it to equilibrium. This is when we make atonement, a word that has come to signify making reparation for a wrong, but which originally meant at-one-ment, the state of being at one, in harmony, with the world and other people, and moreover, with the Gods. Where we have strayed, we must bring ourselves back to the path.

The relationship between us and other people, between us and the Gods, us and the Earth, should be a reciprocal one. There is a sacred agreement between us and the Gods to maintain the balance.  October is the time we renew our covenant with the Gods.

Ritual of Covenant

Spend some time in meditation, reflecting on what you may be doing or thinking that puts you out of balance with the Gods, with other people and with Mother Earth. What thoughts or actions might you take to put you back in harmony? What actions might you take to restore harmony to the world? This is at-one-ment, making yourself at one with the Gods.

Write a covenant between you and the Gods. This should not be long, complicated and too detailed, but might say something like:

“I will honour the Gods and listen to their guidance. I will honour Mother Earth as sacred. I will honour and protect all life, whether human or of fur and feather, scale and fin, leaf or shoot. Where I take, I will also give, and thus maintain the balance. This I vow.”

Or perhaps:

“I pledge allegiance to Mother Earth, who sustains us, treading lightly upon this sacred world, treating all the Mother’s creatures with compassion, uniting us all in harmony.”

Go to your altar, hearth or sacred place. Light a purple candle and call your Gods to be present. Make an offering of incense to them and call upon them to witness your covenant. Read it out loud.  Roll it up and tie it with a red ribbon and place it on your altar or in another safe place. Take it out periodically during the year to re-read it, and reflect how well you have kept your promise, and what you can do better. Renew it each October, rewriting your vows to account for changing circumstances and insights if you wish.

© Anna Franklin, The Hearth Witch’s Year, Llewellyn, 2021


[1] Alex Evans, The Myth Gap, Penguin Random House, London, 2017

[2] This myth does say that two humans will repopulate the world, after the destruction.

Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: