Saturday, September 1, 2018
The Rise of Fall: Sensing the Seasons Shifting
Fall is my favorite season, and it's coming soon! Within a couple weeks if I had to guess. I can smell it in the air, I can see it in the sky. Sure, the calendar says that Autumn doesn't start until the end of September, but the calendar can't control the seasons. The weather is a wild thing - it reminds me of a rebellious 17-year-old girl. She is so close to adulthood she thinks she knows everything, and so she does whatever the hell she wants. The calendar says we have another three weeks of summer, but I think Autumn started taking over ever since that full moon looked like a pumpkin in the sky. Is it odd that I have a better gauge of seasons by characteristics of the night? In the summer time, the air is warm and even stale at times. The crickets chirp lazily, and the frogs sing in chorus. The moon is brilliant white or red, and the wind at night often carries with it the smell of rain, as humid summer days brings a lot of rain. Ever since the last full moon the world around me has started to change, and at an exponential rate. I've had to dig out my closed toed shoes and my son's fleece jacket. I find myself waking up in the middle of the night to close windows in bedroom, and while I used to set the air conditioner to keep the living room at a nice 69 ℉, I've been shutting it off completely - one morning of walking downstairs and freezing my ass off is one too many. (It's ironic that I love fall when I hate being cold, and anyone in New England knows that fall can bring some pretty chilly weather). The days are still hot as hell of course, but once the sun starts to fall, so does the temperature. It hit me that fall was right around the corner just this evening when I had to cut my son's playground time short because it was getting too cold.
I never used to give it much thought - sensing the shift of the seasons. But then I read an article by Stephanie Woodfield (who could have guessed - she's only my favorite author and mentioned in almost every blog entry I've posted). She has an article in the Llewellyn's 2019 Magical Almanac called Rethinking the Wheel of the Year, and in it she talks about establishing your own Wheel of the Year based on the world aruond you. She moved from Connecticut to Florida, and was at a ritual celebrating Beltane. The leaders of the ritual were talking about "welcoming warm weather once again" and all she could think was how ridiculous this was. She was in central Florida, where warm weather stayed year round. The priestess talking about how the land was dormant and would grow fruitful once again was pretty much the opposite of the truth - it is during the winter months that fruits and vegetables grow the best because they aren't cooked by the sun, and now that the weather was growing warm and dry the harvesting was done for the year. They were celebrating Beltane how they were "supposed" to - they were doing what all of the books and experts instructed them to. But why should they follow those rituals and say those words and celebrate those events when it doesn't apply to them directly? She goes on to explain how you can celebrate whatever you want to during these times. And speaking of times, that was another thing she said was just regurgatated by Pagans simply because it was in print. But the Pagans of old didnt' adhere to a strict calendar - they celebrated the holy days based on the phases of the moon, or the blooming of certain plants, or the shadows of the sun. She made the very reasonable point that we are told to make witchcraft our own but then mindlessly follow the same rituals that were designed for those living in the same climate as Britain and Ireland.
So I started paying attention to the weather - more than the temperature so I knew how to dress my kid. I started focusing on smells and sounds as well as what I saw. When I saw that great big orange moon the other night all i could think of was Autumn. That raised my suspisions that the seasons were starting to shift and I was right. Why should I believe that it's still summer time just because it's printed on a calendar? If it smells like fall, looks like fall, feels like fall, then it's not summer! I know this isnt' exactly what Stephanie was tlaking about but it follows along the same lesson: Pay attention to the world around you, and follow your intuition over what is written in a book. Since this week has been dramatically different from the weeks past, I have started shifting my subjects in my paintings to fall and Halloween themed things - pumpkins, dark reds and browns, trees with multicolored leaves. My mother had said smething like "a little early for autumn deco isnt' it?" Well mom, no, not according to the weather.
Start thinking about the world around you, and key characteristics of the different seasons, followed by the themes of the Sabbats. Many of the Sabbats talk about either planting crops or harvesting them, but this doesn't apply to me - I'm not a farmer. I could never be a farmer - the work is incredibly hard, and I don't have even a hint of a green thumb. (My flower garden did grow beautifully but I am sure it's because I had given the local Faeries a number of offerings so they would care for my garden. I barely remembered to water them, I never weeded them, and only once they hit jungle status do I prune them. But they never became overrun by weeds and the soil always managed to stay moist. If that isn't Fae at work I don't know what is!)
Sorry, got a little side tracked. Where was I? Oh yea - pay attention! To the smells, sights, sounds, even how the air feels on your skin. If you start paying attention now, you will know the instant there is a shift. TBH, I will probably continue to celebrate the Sabbats on their calendarical day, but never again will I celebrate what I'm told to. I will reflect on how the season past went, and what my aspirations are for the season to come. I will read the myths associated with them, and draw my own conclusions on what they are about. This is what witchcraft is all about people! It's about creating your own world through sheer will! That doesn't always mean spells and charms and potions. Sure they are fun and certainly come in handy, but they are not the main focus of being a Witch. It is magickal to take control of your life, and it is even stronger magick when you transform your lfe to reflect who you are and what you truly desire. It is hard to do what you're told all the time, but it is couragesous to say No, I'm going to do my life like this because it's what I want. You will piss people off by doing this - trust me I know first hand - but there is something freeing about not giving a shit anymore. When you used to care so deeply about what others thought and then when you disappoint them for the umteenth time and for the first time you do not give a flying flock of pigeons.
What does autumn look like in your part of the world? What kind of magick do you associate with that time of year? Is there anything you don't like about autumn? What is your favorite part? I'd love to hear from you - my readers! please comment or email me! I have learned more from talking to people than I have ever learned in books, and my mind is always ravenous for knowledge.
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