Illustrations by Liz Riccardi

Fall Spells To Welcome The Autumn Equinox

the wheel of the year turns.

by Vanessa Friedman

Fall Equinox is upon us, meaning the sun has just moved into Libra and we are at the crossroads of light and dark. This moment of balance is the perfect time of year to gather your friends and cast some spells. Many witches are already part of a coven and have access to formal group meetings and rituals, but don’t be intimidated if you have only practiced as a solo witch, or perhaps not at all. You belong to the witches if you say that you do, so gather your likeminded friends and prepare to make some magic.

Host a Gratitude Circle

This season is all about thanks and gratitude, and it’s powerful to give voice to our most vulnerable and tender feelings. It’s also important to trust the people you make magic with, so this ritual is a good one to start with, whether you consider yourselves a formal coven or simply a group of friends trying something new. Our words hold weight and we can weave strong magic ties just by loving each other, speaking that love out loud and hearing it reverberate and amplify.

Hold your circle in a quiet, safe space and plan ahead so you won’t be interrupted (this is a good rule of preparation for all spells!). The bare bones of your gratitude circle are simply honesty and openness—go around the circle and have each friend talk about what they are grateful for and why they are grateful for everyone else in the room. Listen deeply. Aside from the basic framework, you and your friends should discuss together how you want to personalize your gratitude circle. You can cast a circle, light candles, pass around a cup of wine, create an altar to honor your friendships, or work on a craft together once the verbal sharing aspect is complete. Another popular way to close out a gratitude friendship circle is through group song and a potluck meal.

Protect Your Home

With autumn comes a whole host of new beginnings, and many folks celebrate moving into a new home space as we say goodbye to the abundance of the summer and start preparing for the darker winter days. Whether you’ve just signed a September 1 lease, have moved into a new college dorm room, or are simply attempting to restore some order to your living space, now is an appropriate time to cast a spell that will make you feel safe and at peace in your home.

First, remove anything from the space that has negative energy or associations. You can do this part alone, but it’s less daunting if you invite friends to help. If you’re moving into a new space, this can include removing trash or debris left by previous owners or renters. If you’re cleansing a space you’ve already inhabited for a while you should purge clutter, material objects you’ve outgrown, and anything that holds bad memories.

Next, invite friends into your space and ask that they help you make it a home by bringing over something that makes them feel safe and happy. This can include photos depicting your friendship, plants, harvest bounty, or candles. If you don’t feel comfortable asking your friends to bring material items, you can ask that they bring positive intentions for your space instead. Finally, when everyone is present, have each friend hold their object (or focus on their intention) and walk the perimeter of your home together. If you live in a house, this might mean the entire perimeter of your land, whereas if you’re in a dorm room this might just mean the perimeter around your bed—this spell can be as large or as small as you need it to be. Envision the group casting a protective ring of light as you walk the magical perimeter. Make sure you do this at each friend’s abode so you all feel safe in your home spaces!

Start Learning Tarot

Not all witches read tarot cards, and not all tarot readers are witches, but I, personally, rely heavily on tarot in my daily witchy practices and I know many other witches who do, too. A tarot deck includes 78 cards and is used as a divination tool—not to be confused with a key to revealing the future! My friend Beth, who is my favorite tarot reader, writes on her website: “[Tarot] is not about predicting the future, or digging up secrets from the past. It’s about getting to know yourself—here, now.”

If learning what a deck of 78 cards can tell you about yourself and your life feels intimidating, don’t worry—one of the best ways to learn tarot is with a friend. There are many, many ways to use tarot cards, but when you’re just learning, start small. Find a deck you like (my favorites include The Wild Unknown deck and The Collective Tarot deck, and I’m really excited about the forthcoming Slow Holler deck) and start studying the cards together.

A good beginner’s practice is to pull one card daily and either meditate or journal (or both!) about what that card means for you in that moment, and also in the longer arc of your life. Meet regularly with your friends and share your knowledge. Make a ritual out of it. Once you have more familiarity with the cards and confidence in your skills, learn some simple spreads and start reading for each other. You can find many free spreads available online, and if you’ve got a bit of cash to spare, Beth offers both an Alternative Tarot Course and an e-book of 21 original tarot spreads that comes with printable worksheets (perfect for group work!).

Apple Magic

My friend Sue recently shared this sweet spell with me when I consulted with her about putting together this very list, and now I can’t wait to try it. She explained to me that her coven once did “apple magic,” and described it as such: On Equinox, gather your group and go to an apple orchard. If you can’t make it to an orchard, store-bought apples are fine. Wherever you are, sit in a circle and tell as many stories as you can about apples (Johnny Appleseed, how they keep the doctor away, etc.), say all the things you can make with apples, and partake in an apple craft (for a simple one, stick millions of cloves in an apple and then hang it to dry—there are many more complex ideas floating around the Internet for the crafting queens among us!). At the end of your circle, cut an apple in half side to side to reveal the pentacle, and revel in the fact that apples are magic…“just like us,” says Sue. For bonus points at the end of this ritual, summon the kitchen witch in you and make apple pie or apple sauce as a group.

Blessed Equinox to you. May these spells and rituals help you and your friends make the most magic of this time of year. Blessed be.