I suppose it’s strange that with the first dusting of snow on the ground, I am writing about Autumn, but here in the north, we often lose track of the seasons as one seems to slip into the next. The Winter Solstice, or first day of winter, doesn’t happen until December 22nd, so we have another full month of fall before us. In order to savor the last days of my favorite season, I wanted to make some space today for some Autumn reflections.
When we are children, we are inevitably tied to the cycle of nature through outdoor play, and school lessons that involve seasonal songs, crafts, games and poems. I loved this, didn’t you? The rituals that mark these seasons are often celebrated by our families, like decorating and dressing up to Trick or Treat at Halloween, or practicing gratitude and enjoying the bounty of the late summer harvest at Thanksgiving. As adults, it’s so easy to move away from our connection to what’s happening with the earth around us, distracted by the busyness in our lives. On my own quest for greater passion, one of the great lessons I’ve learned is this:When I am disconnected from nature, I feel disconnected from myself. Click To Tweet
I was raised with a very easy-going and liberal approach to Catholicism, and as a child I loved the ritual and ceremony of mass so much, I wanted to become a priest when I grew up. As a teenager and young woman, I turned away from what I felt were very archaic and oppressive teachings that I couldn’t reconcile, to embrace a more neo-pagan spirituality. Here, I truly began to discover my connection to the world, and to everything around me.
Somewhere in my later twenties, I left all of this behind, and I experienced some of the darkest moments of my life. Sometimes I think if I had retained my spiritual beliefs, I would have been better equipped to move through this time, or avoid it altogether. It was only when my children came into my life that I remembered the beauty and connection that ritual brought, and ritual is something I deeply want to weave into their existence.Embracing simple ritual is an instant way to connect to Passion. Click To Tweet
In this previous post, I shared how I’m working to build up my spiritual Domain, and part of this will be striving to connect more deeply to what is often referred to as the ‘Wheel of the Year’ – the cycle of the seasons and the deep symbolism connected to each. Because I believe that the beauty of nature is something we can all relate to, regardless of our theological, spiritual or scientific ideas, I have chosen to focus on the Wheel from the perspective of a more neo-pagan approach, derived from my own Celtic heritage. I think it will seem quite familiar to many of you, in a deep and resonant way.
Autumn marks the start of the year, according to many different traditions. It’s a time of turning within, exploring the shadows, embracing darkness, and holding on to the fact that even though the earth is turning colder (at least in this hemisphere) we know that life continues to stir beneath the layers of soil.
Embracing shadows and darkness isn’t just about understanding that we see less sunlight, and colder temperatures. It’s about understanding the sacred importance of honoring the darkness in each of us, and facing our own shadows with loving compassion and curiosity instead of fear and self-loathing. It’s about understanding that in order to truly appreciate the light in our lives, we must be able to sit with our darkness, rather than turn away from it and deny it. We are all deeply flawed, but when we embrace our imperfections and our regrets, our pain and our suffering, we begin the healing process.
Facing our own darkness demands a slower pace, quiet time alone, increased warmth and nurturing as we embrace our own vulnerability and fragility. This balance, this devoted attention to self-soothing and self love is critical when we are feeling a connection to our darker selves. As we explore these shadows, we understand that everyone we encounter feels pain, loss, sorrow, anger, fear and self loathing in the same kinds of ways that we do, and in ways we cannot even imagine. Understanding our own dark places from a place of love helps us be more compassionate people.As creators some of our most inspired moments are born of meeting our shadows head on. Click To Tweet
We know our pain and suffering can inspire incredible beauty – beauty that touches strangers, that connects us to the world.
I believe in the spirit world, and Autumn is a time when I feel most connected to the loved ones I have lost to death. I feel like we leave residual energy behind that can be felt by our loved ones as we channel our dead through the visceral power of memory. November, in particular, is very poignant for me. I believe that we have so much to learn from the legacy of our loved ones. There is so much power in reflecting on the relationships we’ve shared, the impressions that they made on us, the lessons they have taught us. Autumn feels like a natural time for me to perform little rituals to connect with the memories I have of the people I love who are no longer in the world.
Opening up our Spiritual Domain helps us access passion we may not even know we have. It is this striving for connection, for deeper understanding of ourselves, and thus everyone around us, that helps us tend to our passion fires. It is this quiet stillness that we create as we embrace ritual and reflection that becomes a gateway to a greater understanding of what we are passionate about.
Today, I encourage you to think about personal and meaningful ways that you can honor Autumn, and feel your deep connection to nature, to your dear ones who have moved on, and to your darker self. Please feel free to download this list of 5 Simple Autumn Rituals that you can incorporate into your own mindful or spiritual practice. These rituals are simple, and open to all beliefs. I’ve also got a darling coloring image for you drawn by my brilliantly talented 12-year-old daughter. I asked her to create on an Autumn-theme, and she came up with a beautiful harvest goddess, cradling her bounty and radiating love. I like to think that we are the bounty and that there is endless love to feed us all, even through the darkest days.
Share your favorite Autumn rituals in the comments below! I’d love to hear how you celebrate the season.