Thursday, September 24, 2015

Autumn Tidings

When I studied Wicca many many years ago, one of the many useful things I picked up was a tie to the seasonal wheel. While I understand that Wicca as with all religions is a kind of story, I loved this imagining of a time when religion flowed with the seasons. Perhaps it also explained my later attraction to Catholicism which also tends to flow with the seasons although in a less acknowledged way. But regardless, I loved how the rituals celebrated not just physical markers of change but the way that we could think about those changes in our inner lives.

Over the years, I lost touch with these shifts and groanings of the Earth. Having been in the South for the last 14 years (I know!), much of that spent in a city, I didn't feel in touch with the seasons as I did in Maine. Mabon came on Wednesday and my plans for collecting Autumn items meet the reality that there were NO autumn items. We've only just begun to feel the promise of cooler days here in Georgia. Autumn really won't come until mid-October. Maybe later. In this different accounting of seasons shifts, it was too easy to lose touch with a cycle that seemed more suited to Maine's rural setting and more definite seasonal shifts.

But this losing touch wasn't a mere aesthetic loss.

I've recently begun to keep a creative journal. I find the process of being able to be artistic in ways not involving writing to be the perfect warm up to writing. In addition, I've become more creative about how I express my emotions, and this Autumn I need that space. I already know it's going to be rough. On Monday, I sat down with the beasties to do some creative journaling which is how we start our work days. Without much thought I found myself planning my ideal Mabon ritual. One that would never materialize because there are no Autumn objects to find. Yet. But more importantly as I  crafted this ritual, I began to think about the way my emotional seasons mirror the physical seasons.

I talked to H about it. I started to think that perhaps losing touch with this circular movement made me lose some of my coping mechanisms.

And then a lovely friend put up this quote on Facebook:

"It is the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings the coming winter, a time of darkness and death. This duality between light and dark exists within humanity, and in the work of spiritual transformation. All things must die before they can be born, all spiritual ascent requires descent first, and all those who long for light must firstly face their own inner darkness and overcome it. The autumn equinox symbolizes a stage of inner preparation in the process of enlightenment - to make way for the Son to be born within the winter solstice." Taken from The Path of the Spiritual Sun

I love Autumn. Of all the seasons, this season speaks to me. I love the coming cold, the ways the leaves flame before they fall, the cold rainy nights. I love the holidays: Halloween, Day of the Dead, and Thanksgiving. There is a comfort in the preparation for the coming dark. The way we shore up against winter's cold winds. But for me it's always a mixed blessing because Autumn means winter comes, and with the shorter days my depression grows. I make it through Yule and Christmas because these are joyous days but January. Oh January.

As I thought about Mabon, and that quote I realized that while I might not be harvesting actual crops, I could be seeing this time as a way to harvest up the things that make the dark bearable. Survivable. What could I plant now in the sleepy warmth of the dark earth? What things did I want to face about myself? Things that I wanted to change? What could I let germinate in the dark and see reach fruition in the Spring?

So many things:

writing with a wonderful hecticness in November
pumpkin spice EVERYTHING
the joy of Yule and Christmas
long days of knitting
the outlines for the other novels  taking over my dreams.
working on my drawing which gives me so much pleasure to improve.
reading. So much reading.

What did I want to get rid of?
my insecurity.
my anger at least when it's not of the righteous kind.
my self absorption.

And I thought how I wanted to not just harvest that above list, those things that give me so much joy but also to plant the seeds they drop. I imagine them germinating throughout the winter and rising in new and unexpected ways come Spring.

And how I want the second list to be cut down like the Sun god or the Son and began to grow new things to replace them as we turn through January.

Last year I took a big step in taking care of myself during the winter. I didn't commit myself to too many social engagements. I warned my friends that I hibernated during these times and that while I loved them I might not be out as much. I accepted that some days a good book in bed beat forcing myself to be productive. I watched too much TV and knitted. And by the time April came, I felt rested. This year I will again do what I need to take care of myself but I'll also remember the things I have planted, and the things I need to face in the darkness of change. A good darkness, I think even if it's a painful one.