Take a bite of the apple. Put the rest aside to share later with the wildlife. Pick up the tree branch and shake once at each direction, starting with North, saying:
"As the days grow colder, and the nights last longer,
May I remember the summer past.
With sunlight fading, and hearth inviting,
My memories will warm my soul.
From a season of hard work and hard play,
I hear Mother's voice calling me forward.
While I rest, shall She lull me, with songs of a dream,
As close to Her bosom I cling."
Face the alter and hold the branch out in front of you with both hands, saying:
"With memories of the summer, least I never forget,
And aspirings for the colder months to come,
Least I never stop striving,
I honor Thee with this symbol of Nature,
Keeping it and Thee in my home and heart,
That I may see it and pause,
To reflect on the Ancient Mysteries,
Leading me to a better understanding of myself,
And of others, and all that is Life."
Put the tree branch on the alter, into the basket of fruit so that it sticks out, back in your direction. Contemplate on the various memory symbols that you have attached to it. Also contemplate on the various projects for autumn and winter that you have attached to it. Close your eyes and feel the seasons pass within the circle from summer to autumn. When ready, say:
"Between the worlds I stand in this sacred place.
All time is here and now.
As I leave this circle, the season shall have changed,
And I will have changed with it.
May I use the short time of Winter Finding
To draw the strength and power from within
As I quest for vision, understanding, and peace."
Pick up the sprig(s) of ivy, and wrap around your arms, from the elbow to the wrist. Pick up the Bell with your right hand, and ring thrice, to toll the passing of the first 3 seasons of the year. Now place it in your left hand and ring once to usher in the 4th and last season of the year. Place the bell on the alter and the ivy in your cauldron (for burning later).
"In Life is Death, and in Death is Life.
The Sacred Dance goes on and on
From whence we came, we shall return,
And come again.
Seasons pass, and pass again,
The circle stays unbroken
Heed the words of your child, here,
Through Your wisdom I have spoken."
It is now time for meditation and spellworking. Associated spellworkings would include those for protection, wealth, security, and self-confidence. If there is no spellworking, celebrate with Cakes and Ale, then release the Circle. Clean up. You are done. Find an appropriate place in your home to display the decorated tree branch.
*Find a fallen tree branch. It need not be a large one, for it will adorn your alter, then go on display in your home. The more smaller offshoots from the main branch, the better. Mine has four, which I think is awesome! Next, take a couple of pine cones, small shells, dried flowers, or any other item that reminds you of the late spring-summer months. With some string, tie each to the offshoots. Also take yarn or ribbon of yellows, oranges, reds, and gold and tie one end to the offshoots. Then, on very thin strips of (colored) paper, write down some projects to work on during the upcoming ' dark ' months. Wrap these around the offshoots (like little cocoons) and tie closed with silver thread. These you will open over the next couple of months when you start feeling lethargic or without a sense of direction. I tie on a couple of small bells, to add some ambiance to my ritual...