Tag Archives: Autumn

Mid-October PotPourri

autumn-virginia-creeper-diane-alexander

* This morning, I drove to work through Autumn fog. Occasionally, the thick moisture would part to reveal asters in mad bloom along the banks of the Potomac River. As I crossed the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, I saw my favorite Autumn tree: a white-barked sycamore, with golden-yellow leaves. A huge Virginia Creeper vine has reached almost to the top of the tree and its leaves are brilliant crimson. The vine really isn’t good for the tree, but, just now, the color combination, shining out of the fog, takes away my breath. If you pay attention to your landbase, it will talk to you. What’s yours saying these days?

* I adore Rima and (full disclosure) am lucky enough to own a few pieces of her art. And some of Tom’s poetry is copied into my own Book of Shadows. And so, in spite of the fact that Jason Pitzl-Waters‘ more-than-worthy campaign got the largest chunk of this quarter’s Hecate Donation Money, I’m going to scare up a bit for Rima and Tom. Come along with me if you’ve paid down your debts and have a few month’s salary in the bank. If not, maybe you can post their plea on your own blog, Book of Faces, Twit thing?

* Leonard Cohen is one of my oldest and most passionate crushes. He just turned 80 and, quoting his old Buddhist teacher, keeps saying, “Excuse me for not dying.” I hope that he’s with us as long as he likes.

I love the lyrics to Come Healing:

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace
O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

Highway 15, Central Virginia

roadside-with-purple-loosestrife-for-web

Highway 15, Central Virginia

~ Hecate Demetersdatter

And Autumn after Autumn,
Virginia’s seeds keep falling
On this red clay.
On this clay made red by iron,
On this iron that ruddies my blood,
On this clay that pentacles the hematite moving through my veins.

First Peoples track turkeys
and sedum falls on clay.
Englishmen rave in Jamestown,
and jimson weed falls on clay.
Settlers light out for the Blue Ridge,
and ragweed falls on clay.
Slaves follow Miss Harriet through bogswamps,
and toadflax falls on clay.

Vultures eat dead deer.
Chipmunks fill their cheeks with seeds.
Raccoons wash paw paws in sleepy creeks.
Mushrooms decay into duff.

As blue and grey collide, brother spilling brother’s blood,
asters, white and blue, fall on clay.
(Iron red blood drips onto iron red clay. One thing becomes another, in the Mother, in the Mother. Perhaps when a thousand Autumns pass, we’ll know what this became. It’s clear we’re still processing this, still working out the story.)
As sharecroppers trade scrip for flour and coffee,
scarlet magnolia seeds fall on clay.
As cotton is king and ragtime plays,
horsenettle falls on clay.

Women make sausage gravy, die in bloody births, wring chickens’ necks, make quilts, and ostracize each other, as colonized people do.
Children skip stones.
Old people eat grits inside log cabins made close with smoke.
Knights of the KKK burn crosses.

As boys go off to die for Duke Ferdinand,
Autumn camellia seeds fall on clay.
As radios play jazz,
withered poke berries fall on clay.
As we all get rich on stocks,
broomsedge seeds fall on clay.
Miz Holiday’s strange fruit drops to the ground and is buried under clay.

The WPA builds damns, cuts roads, seeds fish.
The black diaspora swells. New York. Baltimore. Chicago. Detroit.
Bottle trees sprout outside respectable homes.
Tobacco money grows colleges and gardens.
Segregated drinking fountains stain the land.
Separate is proposed as a synonym for equal.

No one believes it.

Seeds fall.

Weeds grow along the liminal space between pavement and pine forest.
Old women gather cool plantain leaves, ripe blackberries, and the birth control of Queen Anne’s seeds.
Chicory flowers escape from Monticello and bloom blue across the state.
Foxtail and goosegrass feed the birds.

And Virginia’s clay absorbs them all.

Each Autumn, there is a new harvest.

We drive past, drunk on dappled sunlight and shadow, in love with every weed we see. We, too, are made of this harvest. We, too, will fall on clay.

Picture found here.

Loss

cornucopia3

We often speak of Autumn as the season of harvest. It is often represented by an overflowing cornucopia spilling apples, pears, corn, pumpkins, brown nuts, and heads of golden wheat. This is the time when we can begin to rest a bit and consume the fruits of our labors. Winter and Spring may be lean times and Summer may require hard work in hot fields (at least here in the South), but Autumn brings more comfortable weather and (if we’ve been both industrious and lucky) enough to eat. Time to be grateful, take stock of all that we have, maybe even feast a bit with family and friends.

And, yet.

Autumn is also a season of loss. The veils grow thin and we remember our Beloved Dead (and, if your family was like mine, some of our not-so-Beloved Dead, as well). The trees lose their leaves — because they are no longer needed. We pull the now-exhausted squash vines and pepper plants out of the garden and throw them into the compost pile. The warm sun makes shorter and shorter appearances and the birds gather in flocks to head away down South. The landscape becomes sere, almost barren. Fog rolls in and obscures what was once clear.

We don’t do too well with loss, here in the Patriarchial States of Western Civilization. Loss seems a lot like death and Patriarchy has a huge shadow relationship with death. On the one hand, it runs on death, selling bigger and better (and more expensive) ways to kill as many people as possible. Movies, tv shows, and video games show death every few minutes and encourage us to view it as exciting, fun, inevitable, a sign that justice has prevailed. Open-carry ammosexuals flaunt their guns in restaurants, outside schools, at town halls where the President speaks. On the other hand, we hide death. Our old people die in hospitals, away from public view. Millions of dollars are spent to extend our old age even a few more weeks, often at the cost of comfort and humanity. Look away from death, we are told: Go towards light, and life, and love, and joy! (How interesting that it is in Autumn, the season of loss, when we celebrate our fear of death. Only at this time of year do we see pictures of graveyards, plastic skeletons hanging in trees in our neighbors’ yards, headless horsemen (ah, an Americanization of the Wild Hunt!), and ghosts in store windows.)

But to be a Witch is to reject the false duality of Patriarchy, to embrace the dark along with the light, to refuse to make an enemy of our own death. We can use the tools of the Craft to deal with our losses in a responsible, Witch-like way, rather than in the irresponsible, puer-tainted way that Patriarchy encourages.

We can ground and center.
We can breathe.
We can sit with our loss for as long as is good.
We can trance and invite our loss to talk to us, to chant for us, to dance with us as the leaves fall.
We can do ritual around loss.
We can compost our loss, sending it to where “all things become another — in the Mother, in the Mother,” allowing it to make the ground fertile in preparation for the day when we attempt to grow something new.
We can meditate upon the Wheel of the Year and see its cycles in our own lives, reminding ourselves that it always turns and no season lasts forever.
We can create art around our loss, letting Younger Self teach us things about our loss that we didn’t even know that we knew.
We can talk about loss with each other.

How do you deal with loss?

May you enjoy your Autumn harvest and may your Autumn losses inspire you to Witchcraft.

Picture found here.

Autumn

The Essence of Magic is Paying Attention

Blackbird

Blackbird


This morning was misty in a way that only Autumn can be. The edges between things blur and it’s more difficult for the enchantment of forgetfulness to work — the spell that causes us to forget that everything is one. Shapes shift and blur and you can see the fairies and land wights out of the corner of your eye.

My neighbor’s yard was full of hundreds of blackbirds, stopping, I imagine, on their way South for the Winter. Along with the glossy green holly that borders his yard and the brilliant red and yellow leaves that have fallen from his trees, they were glorious, especially as the mist shifted and swirled around them.

C.L. at Whole Life Gardening has been watching her own birds.

What’s happening just now in your landbase?

Picture found here.

November Poetry Blogging

November Trees


November for Beginners

~ Rita Dove

Snow would be the easy
way out—that softening
sky like a sigh of relief
at finally being allowed
to yield. No dice.
We stack twigs for burning
in glistening patches
but the rain won’t give.

So we wait, breeding
mood, making music
of decline. We sit down
in the smell of the past
and rise in a light
that is already leaving.
We ache in secret,
memorizing

a gloomy line
or two of German.
When spring comes
we promise to act
the fool. Pour,
rain! Sail, wind,
with your cargo of zithers!

Picture found here.

Wednesday Night Poetry Blogging: Immortal Autumn by Archibald Macleish

Immortal Autumn

~ Archibald Macleish

I speak this poem now with grave and level voice
In praise of autumn, of the far-horn-winding fall.

I praise the flower-barren fields, the clouds, the tall
Unanswering branches where the wind makes sullen noise.

I praise the fall: it is the human season.
Now
No more the foreign sun does meddle at our earth,
Enforce the green and bring the fallow land to birth,
Nor winter yet weigh all with silence the pine bough,

But now in autumn with the black and outcast crows
Share we the spacious world: the whispering year is gone:
There is more room to live now: the once secret dawn
Comes late by daylight and the dark unguarded goes.

Between the mutinous brave burning of the leaves
And winter’s covering of our hearts with his deep snow
We are alone: there are no evening birds: we know
The naked moon: the tame stars circle at our eaves.

It is the human season. On this sterile air
Do words outcarry breath: the sound goes on and on.
I hear a dead man’s cry from autumn long since gone.

I cry to you beyond upon this bitter air.

More Macleish here.

Picture found here.

Landbase

There’s a lovely song in the musical Camelot, where Lancelot sings to Guennifar that he could never leave her in Summer (Your hair streaked with sun-light,Your lips red as flame, Your face with a lustre that puts gold to shame!), nor in Autumn (I’ve seen how you sparkle, When fall nips the air. I know you in autumn, And I must be there.), nor in Winter (running merrily through the snow? Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire’s glow?) nor, inevitably, in Springtime (If ever I would leave you, How could it be in spring-time? Knowing how in spring I’m bewitched by you so?). Lancelot concludes:

Oh, no! not in spring-time!
Summer, winter or fall!
No, never could I leave you at all!

Which is a long-winded way (have I any other?) of saying that there is no bad time to get to know your landbase. But, today, I’m going to make a case for Autumn.

Here in my landbase, the magical MidAtlantic, Summer can be a pretty brutal month to be outside. If you live here long enough, you can kind of get acclimated to the heat/humidity/bugs. During Victorian times, British civil servants posted to Columbia’s District used to get extra pay for the tropical conditions, just as did those posted to equatorial stations. But Summer is the season most likely to make us chuckle that the only problem with nature religions is nature.

Winter, too, can be a difficult month for those of us who want to be outside. It’s cold, grey, often snowy or icy, and, even when there’s a thaw, Winter in D.C. can be muddy, posing the risk of broken hips or ankles for old women.

And, so, that leaves Spring and Autumn. My advice: go outside in Autumn. You can see the fruits, the results, the growth of everything and you can watch it die. Often, at this time of year, mist will wrap the land, making it unmistakably clear how magic everything is. And, developing a relationship with the land in Autumn will set you up perfectly to go outside again in Spring and see if you can find the same plant and watch it come alive. To go outside in Spring and see what that same patch of Earth does when the Sun begins to energize it. To go outside in Spring and see how that same liminal patch of pond-edge or river-bank or swamp-land slips slowly from brown to green.

Whether you are a new Pagan, just looking to being a magical relationship to your landbase, or an experienced old Witch, looking, here, while the veils are thin, to renew you connection to the Earth, go out and see the Earth sparkle, when Fall nips the air. If you’ve seen it in Autumn, then you must be there.

1,000 Words

If you don’t follow Old Moss Woman on Facebook, you don’t know what you’re missing. Here, to help celebrate Autumn, is one of her latest offerings:

The Horned Lord, He Comes! He Comes!

Thrills


My grandma used to say that it’s a gift to be easily amused and, fortunately for me, I am, indeed, amused by almost everything and especially the smallest things. But I also think that it’s a gift to be not too easily thrilled — as opposed to amused.

Today, I am thrilled.

I’ve spent today at a garden brunch (INTJ that I am, I hated the very thought of going, until the very moment when I got there, did the Gemini-ascendent-thing of making the conversations all around me move and grow, and had a wonderful time. You’d think that I’d learn.) and, then, out on my own screen porch in my own garden, which is in its beginning stages of Autumn dishabille and splendor (“upon one tether/and running beautiful, together”). We, my landbase and I, are in the middle of a major weather shift, the kind of dramatic and glorious shift that happens when Autumn shoulders its way in and sends Summer offstage just so. It’s, no surprise, the most gloriously, blatantly liminal weather you can experience and it reaches way down into the dangerously Witchy part of my body/soul. (A Summer thunderstorm coming in is a close second in the gloriously liminal category, and may spray more ozone around the secret nooks of the room to entice the guests, but Summer thunderstorms are part and parcel of Summer, not shifts of entire seasons. What can I say? Autumn cold fronts make audible “ckthunks” on the Wheel of the Year.)

The wind! The clouds! The acorns hitting the roof! The way that the turning leaves dance, are torn off their branches, twirl free for the first time ever, and land on the cold Earth, to begin the process of becoming the Earth! Oh, and, the wind! Working on mysteries without any clues.

I live so much of the time in my head. I’ve made an art form out of being controlled, measured, careful. It’s such a gift to make a deep connection with that part of my soul that is so wild and uncontrolled that it has required a lifetime of learning control, measurement, and care to live with it.

I’m going to stay and be present to this influx of Hecate. It feels to me, as it has for so much of my life, as if it somehow matters for me to stand witness. I can do that.

I won’t be gone long, you come, too.

What thrills you?

A Witch’s job it to turn the Wheel, and round and round the Wheel must turn. What lets you know that it’s turning?