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Harvest Doll Ritual

Oct 4, 2008 

By Swedishfairy

You may remember from my article about harvest dolls (WitchWay Newsletter, Aug. 2008) that I had two dolls that I had not yet burned.  Well... as of two or three weeks ago, I had three, count them, three dolls. 

This is because, while cooking corn for dinner, I was inspired to make this years' harvest doll.  You know how you get in a ritual or spell-making mood and you've just got to go with it?  Well, then I had the 'power of three;' three dolls.  

It was getting a little urgent to get on with the burning of the previous dolls, or the dolls' spirits would have it out Highlander style: "There can be only one!" 

Today, several members of our group, Mountain Pagans, met at a member's house near Idaho Springs.  It was a gorgeous drive there- what a perfect weekend to visit her!  There were groves of aspens surrounding the dirt road, all brilliant yellow, and tinged with rusty orange or green tips. 

We either brought our harvest doll we had made together 2 years ago, or we wrote out what we were thankful for.  We made a new harvest doll, "wish bundle" or "cumulation of thought" as various members called them.  

There were corn leaves and fibers, grasses, ribbons, embroidery thread, and sewing thread to choose from.  As we made them, some members wrote down their wishes and put this paper into the doll or bundle, and some concentrated on the wishes as they made the doll/bundle. 

I love the creative group energy when everyone is making a craft.  It was also cool to see all of the different things we created.  One person made a dried-grass/flower bouquet with pieces of fabric representing her family members. Some made a doll in various ways, and a couple combined their bundles and wish-papers.  Even a 4 year old got into it, and, with help, made his own little doll, who he made talk for about one minute before he got interested in something else.

Then we moved outside to the fire pit.  We had planned on ritual first, eat later, but time had gone by making the wish-bundles and dolls, and we were famished. 

Our vegetarian host graciously made us wonderful hot dogs, we also had corn, chicken salad, and apple sauce.  Once we had finished eating, we were ready for the ritual.

Before I describe our ritual, please know that our group is very casual and spontaneous.    Also, we don't say "Our way is the only way."  There are many ways to do a ritual, some more liturgical than others. 

As you read what we did, you might take with you some ideas for your own group ritual, or you might not.

Finished Harvest Bundles - Photo by SwedishfairyWe gathered our thanks-papers or old harvest dolls and our new harvest dolls/bundles, and stood in a circle around the firepit.  Taking turns, we went clockwise around the circle, three times. 

The first time, we opened the circle and invited whoever we wanted to invite: deceased loved ones, helpful spirits, deities, element spirits, and so on.  We all have different preferences for who we worship, so this worked very well to individually invite who we wanted. 

The next round of clockwise turn-taking involved our saying thanks for things that had happened for us. After each person said their thanks, they tossed their paper or harvest doll into the fire. 

One of our members yelled out "Thank you!" heavenward, so we all followed suit and yelled "Thank you!" after each person threw in their paper or doll.

The third time around the circle, we took turns blessing our new harvest dolls/bundles by saying our wishes.  By the way, if a person had private thanks or wishes they weren't compelled to say them.  

The same exuberant member who had started the "Thank you!" yell, this time yelled "Bless these wishes!" and again, we all joined in.  Then we ended our circle, going counterclockwise, and saying our equivalent to the common phrase 'go if you must, stay if you will, blessed be' to the spirits we had invited.  Each person said this in their own way, and we were done.

A little tired from smoke and ritual, we went inside and chatted a while longer.  We took a picture of all of our wish-bundles and wish-women.  After some more conversation, we said our goodbyes and traveled home, back through the beautiful aspens.

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