The Goddess Erce
Goddess of the West on the Wheel of Andraste
Reproduced with kind permission of Michael Taylor
The Goddess at Mabon
Meet the Goddess Erce at Mabon (pronounced air-shay).
The Wheel of the Year makes its final turn to Mabon around 21st September. The heat of the sun wanes and the nights bring a chill that creeps into our homes as the mists creep across the land.
This is the time of the second harvest, a time for thankfulness that the last of the crops are safely gathered in, that fruits are preserved and that all is in readiness for the coming darkening days. The fields lay brown, the trees slowly begin to drop their leaves as they turn into glorious colours honouring the Goddess with their beauty. Squirrels prepare their dreys for their long winter sleep, busily collecting nuts to bury for the future as they prepare for the long months ahead. Hedgehogs build their homes, lining their beds with dry leaves, making it ready and cosy. We feel the heat begin to leave the land and the air is filled with the acrid smoke of bonfires and wood burning in the hearths sends a sweet scent into the air.
This is the time of Erce, an Anglo Saxon/Celtic Goddess; Erce is Old English for Earth Mother. As the nights draw in, we nestle in the safety of our homes, the warmth and security that holds us in safety. Erce gives us safety and security. She continues to bring the abundance that Habondia began. The fruit on the hedgerows are ripe and ready to be picked, the orchards give the last of their fruit as late summer roses drop their velvety petals.
She is a fertility Goddess, the fruitful womb from which all blessings flow. She is the Goddess of the second harvest bringing Her blessings on the land during its period of rest and sleep, protecting the animals of the earth as well as the plants that are drawing back into the earth, for Erce rules over Earth Magic………
“Erce, Erce, Erce, Mother of Earth!
Hail to thee, Erce, Mother of Men!
Fields growing and thriving
Increasing and strengthening
Tall stems and fine crops
Both the bread barley
And the fair wheat
And all of the crops of the Earth
Hail may you be, Earth, Mother of Mortals
Grow pregnant in the embrace of God
Filled with food for Mortals’ use.”
Her colours are, Brown and Khaki.
Erce, known as Eri in the Tuatha De Danann was a virgin Goddess. One day she was at the bank of a river when a man in a silver boat floated down to Her on a beaming ray of the sun. Eri was so overcome with emotion at the sight that the two fell into the boat and made love. The man, probably an unnamed Sun God, left Eri pregnant with Bres, who later became King of the Tuatha De Danann. The man also left Her a golden ring, (a sun symbol) to remember him by.
Associated with Erce
Nuts and Berries
Berries and nuts abound at the time of Mabon, the bounty that Erce brings full of nutrition. The colours make the autumn countryside bright.
Honest, positive and cheerful, the beauty of chrysanthemums, originating from China, where many garden plants come from, they are a joyful display as autumn comes in.
Rings are a continuous circle, not a beginning nor an ending. The giving and receiving of a ring symbolises never ending love. Gold has always been associated with the eternal, the incorruptible and the powers of the divine.
Are found in the earth, creating nutrients that bring goodness and nourishment to plants, bringing the circle of life to completion.
Conkers and Chestnut Tree
The nut-brown conkers that are found on the ground, are symbols of this glorious time of the year, the little nuts from which magnificent chestnuts grow. The chestnut tree is the first to come into bud and the first to drop its leaves; a tree of lengevity.
All creatures that live within the Earth. Foxes, badgers and moles, are Her creatures that live in Her earth. The badger was regarded as the keeper of the stories of the animal kingdom, it was revered for its wisdom, strength, courage and persistence and because it is nocturnal, it was thought to have magickal powers.
Foxes are always portrayed as cunning and clever, outwitting stronger and more powerful creatures. It was believed that Witches could turn themselves into foxes. The Celts worshipped the fox for its fiery coat and cunning nature; Lindow Man, whose body was found perfectly preserved in a peat bog after he was ritually murdered during the first millennium BC, was wearing nothing but a fox fur armlet.
Gnomes and Elves
To these animals we can add gnomes and elves, mystical creatures that live in the earth. The most common is the Forest Gnome who rarely comes into contact with people, while the Garden Gnome lives in old gardens and tells melancholy tales. Gnomes that live in the dunes are slightly larger than the woodland gnomes and wear drab clothing, while the house gnomes have the most knowledge of people, often able to speak our language. Gnome kings are chosen from house gnomes. Farm gnomes are similar to house gnomes but are more conservative in dress and manner. Gnomes love animals and will look after them, although they have an aversion to cats!
Elves are supernatural beings found in Old English texts. They are thought to be a group of beings with magical powers and supernatural beauty, and they are often confused with faeries or dwarves. They can be seen dancing over meadows, particularly at night and on misty mornings, where they leave a circle where they have danced. Typically, elf circles are fairy rings consisting of a ring of small mushrooms. It is believed that it can be dangerous if you tred over such a place or destroy anything therein.
The colourful male pheasant is a common site in the fields at this time, as their plumage shine brightly in the empty fields because they are effective in attracting the hens, often three at one time They are a symbol of creativity, sexuality, influence and magick. Three is a magickal number - the union of two to bring about the creation of another (male + female = progeny).
We see hedgehogs more at this time of the year because they are actively looking for food to store and leaves to make bedding. The hedgehog is known for its wisdom. In Bulgarian legend, the sun decided to marry the moon, and invited all the animals to the wedding. The hedgehog was the only one who failed to appear, so the sun looked for the hedgehog. Finding him gnawing on a stone, the sun asked what he was doing. The hedgehog said: "I am learning to eat stones. Once you marry, you'll have many Ssn children born to you, and when they all shine in the sky, everything will burn and there will be nothing to eat". The sun then decided to call off the wedding, and the world's inhabitants were saved from starvation.
All creatures that live within the Earth
Dragons of Earth
Dragons of the elements, when they are needed come together to act in unison. The dragon that protects the earth, keeps it safe. They protect the animals that live within the earth.
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Herbs of Erce
Also known as Witches Herb and Our Herb. Given as a gift, it is said to bring good luck and happiness to a new home. It is believed that carrying a basil leaf will encourage money to come to you. Basil is a herb of death and immortality, bringing courage to those facing death, particularly the symbolic death of initiation.
Benzoin is obtained from trees, also known as Gum Benzoin, Benjamin and Friar’s Balsam. Used in incense, it is believed to drive out evil spirits. It is especially useful for balancing points of the year at the Equinoxes, to recognise the balance of light and dark. It is also believed to energise the physical body during lengthy magickal work.
Known as Bummel-Berries and Thimbleberry, it is associated with Harvest Goddesses. The five petalled flowers of the blackberry, associate it with the Goddess. The fruit, which appears green at first, then turns red and eventually black, and represents the three stages of the Goddess and the completion of the cycle.
A cat born on Michaelmas Day is called a ‘Blackberry’ cat and will be mischievous all of its life. It is also a plant of Fairy folk, and blackberries can be used for journeying to the Underworld. Meditating under a blackberry bush helps to contact spirits.
Parsley is dedicated to the Goddess Persephone of the Underworld and was used in wreaths for the dead and hung in tombs to honour them. In the Middle Ages it had an evil reputation. It was believed that the seed had to go to the devil and back seven times before the plant grew.
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She is the grandmother and preserver, nurturing us all, providing us with food, comfort and protection. Grounding us in the safety of our homes and the land. She loves us unconditionally, rejoicing in providing for us, content in our comfort and we are happy in the security of Her loving embrace.
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