Summer is gone. Long gone. It’s over.
The light is getting low. We haven’t even ended daylight savings time yet, and already it’s dark at what seems an impossibly early hour.
The light is getting weak, too. Even the warm days that still roll our way have no staying power. The moment the sun begins to hang low in the afternoon sky, the chill creeps back.
Some leaves still blaze upon trees a brilliant golden yellow, the last brilliant gasps of the year that was before plunging into the Void. Some other brown leaves yet cling to the tree-branches in defiance of the minimal breezes they’ve encountered so far, blissfully unaware of their own status as already dead, unaware too of the brutal winds and snows to come. But most of the leaves have hit the ground already. Maybe they’ve been raked up and carted off and maybe they’re just sitting there. Either way, they’re done. Their trees are nearly bare.
The last days of apple picking are drawing to a close, and the corn stalks and pumpkins—carved and natural, lit and unlit—that decorate the homes and porches of the mountain and the valleys serve as reminders that the harvest has been completed. The last crops have been removed from the ground. Whatever work that was done this year was done.
There are meteors streaking across the sky to fill us with awe, minor earthquakes, and major storms—storms too late for hurricanes and too early for blizzards.
The significance of all of this is nothing—or everything. It is simply the way things are. Isn’t it? Just our current phase of the cycle. It’s just what time it is. But the fundamentally ordinary quality of all of this doesn’t mean that one should ignore it, proceed on as usual, without allowing any of these seasonal changes to affect one on the day-to-day. There, we cross the line from rational to absurd, for these are changes which will affect you whether you like it or not. They already are.
And, after all, why not just like it? Not merely because all of this is inevitable but also because it’s necessary. Without the death of the light, we would be bereft of its resurrection and renewal. Without the death of the plants, we don’t eat. The animals don’t eat. And then we don’t eat. Without the broad death of the winter season upon the landscape, there is no new and fresh life in spring.
Without night, there is no day. Without death, there is no life. Even on a strictly biological level, life depends upon death in order to survive.
So death is great, then?
All of this is great. Flawless. So let’s celebrate it together.
This week, we enter into a period of the year, what is most easily described as the Middle of Autumn. In accordance with this, as we go forward, we shall embark on a small-scale exploration of Life Rites. As the Wizard, I will put forth suggestions for marking this time on a daily or every-other-day basis. This circle, however, is not closed. I encourage anyone with imagination and enthusiasm to contribute parallel or alternative suggestions. All ideas have a space here—wizards are patient people. Below is a loose outline of what we are looking to experience here:
- Recognition. One of the primary benefits of consciously recognizing the changing phases of the year is that it allows us to reflect, to pause to take stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going, to organize our thoughts and our days and our lives instead of just wandering aimlessly (we’re going to do plenty of that regardless). The ascendancy of the darkness and of the cold forces us inward—into our houses for more of our free hours and into our minds more perhaps than we were in the glow and the warmth of days before. Now is the time to look around. Look around your home. Who is there? Could you do it without them? Can you suffer the winter without the aid and company of your kin and your friends? Recognize. Looking around within yourself, can you see that you’ve already harvested the crops of your life that you planted in spring and nurtured all summer? Can you see where you are and the reasons why you are there? Recognize.
- Gratitude. No reason to wait for Thanksgiving—we’ll deal with that when the time comes, and in a different manner. Now is the time to thank the earth for your harvest and the cosmos for your life. It’s the time to be grateful to those individuals and any force you can name that helped you throughout the course of the year. It’s been a year, hasn’t it? 2012. Strange and wonderful and fiery and chaotic. There was a winter, a spring, a summer, and now the season of Reaping. How can we best show this gratitude? That remains to be explored.
- Solidarity. The warmth and long days of summer often enable us to believe that we are in this by ourselves, acting for our own interests, separate from the others. (Fractured, maybe?) The winter is much less inclined to afford us this luxury. Best to realize this now, rather than later, while there’s still time to prepare. While there’s still time, let’s recognize our interdependence upon one another, commit ourselves anew not just to our families, nor even just to our friends and fellow tribesmembers, but to our colleagues, to our fellow man as a whole. While there’s still time, before the light goes out entirely, let us send positive thoughts and vibrations to those around us in need—and let us do more than that, where we can.
- Release and Resolve. The past year has shown us, inevitably, things that disappoint us. This year’s harvest is this year’s harvest. It’s time to let go of anything that bogs us down. But lest this turn into an unbridled and mindless show of bland positivity, we are also required to steel our resolve. We always benefit when we prepare our minds not merely for the leanness (and further death) of the winter ahead, but to begin to formulate our vision for the planting of the year to come as well.
- Wonder. Every season holds it. We embrace it to our benefit, and to the benefit of all around us.
Did I leave anything out? Do you want to tackle this in a different way? Don’t stay silent. Talk to your Wizard.