Two Faces of Autumn
"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns." George Eliot
Autumn is, without a doubt, my absolutely favorite season. The searing heat of the summer sun becomes a distant memory. The red sandstone cliffs call enticingly, their sagebrush skirts golden hued as though the light were drenched in honey. There is an ease in the desert now that no other season quite holds. Unlike other climates where summer is the true peak of relaxation, I would argue that, in the desert, autumn holds that title. There’s no need to rush when the temperatures are perfectly in the 70’s F. The cool, comforting breezes are too delicious against your skin to be squandered by hurrying back inside. My favorite days are during our monsoon rains, particularly if I get to spend them inside wrapped in a blanket with a steamy cup of coffee.
I am in complete bliss for the first half or so of Autumn, and the days leading up to Samhain are definitely when I feel my “witchiest.” But inevitably, the season shifts and I feel the growing darkness like a tangible, physical creature crawling up into my chest, consuming me from the inside and leaving me hollow. With the time shift at the end of Daylight Savings for the year, sunset comes early. My body and soul exist in some strange state between sleep and waking. Depression looms and I start to withdraw from everything and everyone, including my beloved spiritual practice.
So what can I do when I feel like a fraud, bereft of magic or motivation? Drowning in my innermost thoughts and emotions is the easiest; all I need do is stop resisting. It can be tempting to simply give up. This year, however, I am choosing to fight. I have no true desire to abandon my communities, even if being a hermit is enticing sometimes. I am relinquishing the notion that I need always be involved in ritual and ceremony, and accepting that simply taking a moment to connect with my deities and guides is enough. If I have not the energy for offerings, I have thought for prayer. If I cannot form words, my feelings will speak.
The other day on my way to work, I reached out once more to Hades and Persephone, asking them to teach me to use this darkness for my own growth and power. I felt almost like a lost child, afraid of the lack of light. In my mind’s eye, I saw a strong hand reach out and take hold of my right hand. A more delicate hand rested on top. My right hand actually ached as I drove my car, as though reacting to this energetic exchange. I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt understood. I didn’t feel alone anymore. That and my continual connection with Mother Hekate will see me through today.
And tomorrow? Will come as it does. And I will take it moment by moment, just as I am today. Waiting for the sun to return to my desert home and remembering that no night lasts forever.