The weather here in South Australia is really doing its own thing. February is usually our hottest month of the year, heralding in temperatures in the high 30Cs and even 40Cs (that is around 100F for those more familiar with the fahrenheit temperatures), yet so far this month, the average temperature being only in the low to mid 20Cs. Whilst I am not one who enjoys the heat, I cannot help to be somewhat suspicious as to whether our hot weather is not in fact "lurking" somewhere, ready to appear when we least expect it.
The harvest festival of Lughnasadh (which occurs around 1 February in the Souther Hemisphere) is usually the time when whatever has not already been gathered, is basically annihilated by the hot weather, often leaving little if anything in the garden to offer up as a libation unless it is bought. This year, with only a handful of extremely hot days, the libation altar was overflowing with various offerings including corn cobs from my own garden.
With Lughnasadh now having passed, and with the cooler than normal weather, it is rather evident that Autumn is on its way. Whilst traditionally a time more associated with the harvest of the fruit (as opposed to grain) and here in South Australia, the time of the grape harvest, it is the ancient Eleusinian Mystery rites that centre around the adbuction of Kore (Persephone) and the mourning of Demeter (her mother).
When Hades (the Lord of the Underworld) abducted Persephone, it set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the Earth falling into darkness each Winter as this was the time that Demeter wandered the Earth mourning at the loss of her daughter. Within subsequent Goddess traditions, this time of the year is associated with that of the Dark Mother, the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. The Goddess appears not carrying a basket of flowers, or indicating her bountiful and abundance nature, but a sickle and scythe. She has now arrive to reap what has been sown, to reclaim what is hers ... and there is nothing that we can do to stop her.
Autumn marks the time for the inward journey to commence. It is also the time when the hours of darkness and the hours of light are equal, the time of perfect balance.
Two candles should be lit at this time of duality - one in harvest colours for Demeter, the other in either deep purple or black for Persephone. A perfect libation drink is that of pomegranate juice. You may wish to meditate on the darker aspects of your own soul and ask yourself the following:
Lovely delightful queen, by all desired, who dwellest in Eleusis' holy vales retired.
Orphic Hymn 40 to Demeter (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns c3rd BC to 2nd AD)