Gifts of the Season: Autumn

I’ve yet to step into the yard in the early morning, and sense that crispness in the air and in the light and shadow that speaks “autumn” to me in so many ways.

But she is on her way. I know this. The plants are telling me. Their stalks, dappled and dry, say “Any day now…” Yellowed leaves at the bottom of the trees and shrubs join in the chorus, “Soon the rain will come.” The hard ground is not so easy on my bare feet as the sponginess of spring soil. “It was glorious,” say the spent flower heads already dropping seeds onto the soil like precious coins. “Thank you…” say the insects in the yard, their soft songs filling me with delight that I have fed them all so well this season.

In my yard this past year, there have been no distinctions between “good bugs” and “bad bugs.” All are welcome. With the predictions on insect apocalypse and collapse, I treasure every leaf hopper and tent caterpillar. Every slug and every aphid. All are food for something in my yard. All serve their purpose much better than many of us serve ours. Many of us have yet to determine—sadly—if we even have a purpose.

In many native cultures, autumn is the goes-within season, where we look back over the growing seasons of spring and summer. We celebrate the harvest, and grieve the losses. What grew? What shriveled? What idea never made it past the “hmmmm, maybe…” stage, and what ideas became manifest?

In this way, we chart our journey through the year: Spring and summer for creativity and growth, autumn for assessment, and winter for deep dreaming and meditation. Winter is the keeper of the harsh moons of death, restoration, and resurrection—hard lessons, but so needed if creativity has room to burst forth come spring. There is much we need to put to bed in winter—perhaps permanently. But that is for another season…

Now, we are stepping lively toward fall. Perhaps more than any other autumn in my lifetime, there is an urgent need to go deep, to assess where we have been since spring, and determine what we can salvage that was good and strong out of the past two seasons of calamity.

Did we find we have resiliency? Did we learn more about love as we have been sequestered away from family? Did we learn that anger runs us more than we thought? Did we learn to hold hands with patience? Are we stronger or weaker than we thought? Did we seek to be rescued, or were we one of the rescuers?

In my pollywog pond—the small kiddy pool where I keep them—several wogs are still in transition from wog to frog. Most have left the pond now, sporting four legs and bulging eyes. Yet many are still shifting. Were I a wog, I would be one of those still in the in-between stage. I tend to learn and to grow at the rate glaciers come and go: slow. Achingly slow.

I would be saying to my froglet buddies, “You go along now. I’ll be right behind you…” And I’d stay in that water world awhile longer, pondering the big changes to come, the changes I could feel in my wog body, but not quite understand.

Shifts happen. More than in any other year of the 68 I’ve seen so far, this winter remains a question mark not just for me, but for the world. Who will we be come January or February? What challenges will come in the cold moons?

I believe that if we take this season of autumn and honor her by taking the time to deeply take stock of our larder, we will all be better prepared for whatever winter has in store. How can we strengthen—or mend, if needed—our close relationships so that we can support each other willingly and generously? What have we learned about ourselves in these months and what will we do with what we’ve learned (besides just navel gaze), and where will we apply our new wisdom?

Are we stocked up on hope, kindness, common sense, and faith as we head into the new seasons just ahead? I believe that with these precious tools that we each have at our disposal, we can move through the coming cold moons with grace, peace, and tolerance.

This not-quite-frog in my fingers has a level of dignity and confidence I often lack. Soon, his tiny tail will be gone. Soon, the last of my brown hair will be gone to gray, and along with it, my smooth, elastic skin. I am learning to love skin that folds around my neck and upper arms like crepe paper. Froglet will be stepping into a whole new world of vigor. I will be stepping into a whole new world defined by my increasing lack of vigor, but peppered heavily with faith and some small bit of excited curiosity for whatever comes next.

Autumn: season of the bear, the raven, and the thunderbird. Place of the divine feminine and the the goes-within moons. Place where we dance our successes and weep at our losses. Let us all beseech the spirit of the autumn moons to sing to us, down to our very bones, so that we may hear what we are called to. So that we may hear our purpose for this next season. So that we may remember the importance of seasonal energies and rhythms and allow them to seed themselves within us, as it is meant to be. Yes, as it is meant to be.

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