My Midsummer celebration earlier this year was fantastic: Friends gathered, the kitchen filled with dishes for our feast, and libations of blood-wine seeped into fertile soil. I left the party feeling joyful, pleased with our rituals, and looking forward to the next holiday. But as Alfarblót approached, I felt less and less inclined to plan another party. Mostly, I was mentally and socially exhausted; September is Pagan Pride Day season and work had been stressing me out.

Fortunately, I learned that Alfarblót is supposed to be a private affair, celebrated only by the family–not the community–and led by the women of the house. Suddenly, I no longer felt guilty that I couldn’t plan a party. My spirits lifted, and I strove to celebrate to the best of my ability, despite other responsibilities.

Normally, I make quick meals during the week so that I have enough time to relax before bed. But this year, the autumn equinox–the time when I celebrate Alfarblót–fell on a Friday! I got home and, without delay, popped 3 pounds of extra meaty pork ribs into the oven. My recipe for oven-baked barbecue ribs takes at least 3 hours, so Dan and I took part in our weekly ritual while we waited: we cuddled under blankets on the couch and watched a new movie. It was my week to pick, but we couldn’t find any copies of the 2016 Russian movie, Viking, with decent English subtitles. Which is a pity, because it would have been so appropriate.

So we settled on Shaolin Soccer.

During the ribs’ last half-hour in the oven, I got to work on the rest of the meal. First, though, I lit a candle for Frigg. For a while now, I’ve been thinking about Her a lot more whenever I clean, do chores, or cook meals. It’s the same feeling I get whenever I sing and feel close to the divine poet, Bragi. This past week, I decided to manifest that connection I feel with Frigg by buying a candle and setting up a small, innocuous shrine for Her in the kitchen. Since it’s autumn now, I bought an appropriately themed candle–Autumn Wreath. I’ve also commissioned an online acquaintance for a small serving board to go with the candle, on which I can place offerings of the food I’ve cooked.

Another thought that’s been dominating my mind lately is the idea of eating more consciously. Most people go to the grocery store and eat whatever is available there, regardless if it’s seasonally appropriate or not. But people who grow their own food–especially farmers–are more in tune with that natural cycle. Even though I live in suburbia, between the shadows of two cities, I want to respect and observe that natural cycle more closely. So I downloaded an iPhone app called Veggie Base and picked out vegetables appropriate for autumn. Next year, I want to try signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, which will turn out to be cheaper than buying groceries every week! There are a couple of local farms near me that offer it, and I’d love to support them.

We ended up eating pretty late in the night, but I thought the meal was a huge success. We had plenty of leftovers, too. I had some mead and some wine, Dan had some whisky, and then we collapsed into food comas that lasted until morning. Unfortunately, that means I didn’t get to do any tarot or runes reading that night, but I still felt happy and proud of myself for pulling off such a celebration despite how draining the week had been. With the success of Alfarblót, I’m actually really looking forward to Yule now!

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