Autumn: The Drawing Down
Now that the equinox has passed, things seem to be happening more quickly, somehow. The days are markedly shorter (here in the northern hemisphere), and there is a chill in the air at night despite wan, warm days. Growing global heat means that the coastal fog cycles that cool us off in the mornings have persisted long past when they used to–to see that fog at the end of September used to be unthinkable. I light the candles on my Focus each evening at dark and it seems so early now; touching the flame to the wick of the candle in the World section of the Focus with the words the Sacred Earth and to the candle in the Underworld section with the words the Honored Dead each evening, I repeat my commitment to the sacred each day, remind myself that this journey is, if I choose it to be, a holy one.
It is a quiet time. Birds are packing in the last calories before taking flight south, and nights are now black instead of summer’s midnight blue, with the recent show-offs being bright Jupiter and Saturn, low on the southern horizon. Decimated by drought and heat, the September salmon run nonetheless makes its way up the creeks and rivers to do what it has always done: find a spot, spawn and die.
There is, overall, a sense of drawing down, packing it in, taking care of those last errands before the dormancy of winter. There will, of course, be a burst of witchy energy among the humans in October as we celebrate the mortality that so frightens us. We will decorate our home and prepare for trick-or-treaters this year, as our new neighborhood appears to have many children in it.
Ritually, I seem to find myself revisiting Old Favorites: incenses I haven’t used in years, tools and Focus decorations I may not have paid much attention to recently. Feeling a bit sad that I can’t brew a Yule metheglin this year, as I had intended earlier in the year–my brewing equipment was loaned to a friend and burned in the 2020 wildfires, and we can’t afford to spend $300 on such a luxury right now. Next year.
But I gaze around my wizard’s workshop of a bedroom and feel contentment and deep joy at my life, though it has its hardships.
I must find work soon. Must.
But I wasn’t going to dwell on that in this post, and so we move on, to the liquid ambar trees aflame with color, the oaks heavy with acorns. It’s a banner year for them, for some reason; I would have expected the drought to prevent accumulation of the starches they need to make the fats in the seeds, but even without much water an oak tree is a huge deployment of photosynthesizing panels cranking out food. Maybe the drought encourages them even more to make a giant crop of seeds, to serve not only their own reproduction but the survival of the many creatures that depend on them for life.
I am not a person who does well with contemplative traditions like meditation. I have ADHD and my focus just wanders all over the place when I try. But this time of year seems well suited to that going-inward practice. Perhaps I will spend some time with my accommodated adaptation, the Atheopagan Rosary, which gives me something to fiddle with and a scripted set of reflections to repeat, and keeps me thus focused on the work at hand.
I think of this time of year as representing Elderhood, the year’s equivalent of old age. Reflecting: these are the last Harvest and Hallows Sabbaths I will celebrate in my 50s. This is steadily becoming my time of year.
And that could be fine, if I didn’t feel I have so much more to do. I’ve got a second Atheopaganism book outlined and want to do an audiobook of the first one, and I still haven’t seen the aurora borealis.
That said, we’re coming up on the time of year when I contemplate mortality, and it really has been a good life, all in all. So many adventures, so much love, so much opportunity to express and to help. Whether paddling down the Grand Canyon or sipping cappuccino in Venice or building an environmental advocacy group or simply being with dear friends–awaiting the sunrise in May, perhaps, or gathering in the dark at Hallows–the moments have been, as I wrote once, “jewels strung on a lace of days, chiming in morning sunlight”.
So my thanks to you, reader, for taking this time to spend with me, to make a new moment. It matters to me that people are listening. See you again soon.