Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhereThe ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity.–W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”
Autumn came creeping quietly this year. Her scent wafted in on the Westerlies in late August, now her colors begin to show in the sumacs and maples. She spreads her fruit-laden mantle across the land. The oaks and white pines breath sighs of relief at a chance to rest and recover from the relentless onslaught of gypsy moth caterpillars. The mugwort, high as an elephant’s eye, bows low, her crown heavy with seeds. Tomatoes droop heavily on their withering vines, and valerian and horseradish draw their strong medicines down into their roots. Soon the time of the ancestors will be upon us, the first frosts already heralding the ride of the Wild Hunt.
Summer was a time of voyages, extended trips to visit far-flung tribes. It was the heat of growth and expansion, the fires of the sun coaxing abundance from the damp earth. If winter personifies the height of stability in its frozen state, summer is where things fly apart, swirling outwards into new connections and experiences. Indeed, the falcon cannot hear the falconer. The man fears the loss of his bird; does the bird fear the loss of her captivity?
Autumn begins to return us to center. This is the time for the gathering-in, for the harvest. It is the time of the deep and abundant earth. Before the Golden Dawn, the elemental correspondence for the West and Autumn was Earth, and that is the association I still prefer (for many reasons). The ancestors dwell within mounds of earth. Where I live, the largest landmass is to the West. The time of harvest is the time to tend to the body, to feed it well, to experience the sensuality of good food and whole-ing, healing medicine. Celebrations move closer to home as chill breezes curl around the bases of apple and squash.
There is a touch of melancholy to be sure (quite literally if one applies humoral doctrine). Returning to center means leaving behind the frivolity of summer. The opportunity for travel has not ended, but tending to home and hearth takes precedence. Autumn is the responsibility of butchering meat, of reaping grain, of canning and pickling and salting. It is settling into the yoke of winter, and some chafe under that burden.
Fall into finding your center, wherever that may be. Begin courting stillness. Know that your spirit is invincible, suspended in perfect harmony between earth and stars. You are the center of the circle that is everywhere. Connect with community, help each other where help can be given and allow space where it can’t. Celebrate firm foundations and sink into silence and appreciation.
The harvest has begun.