“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” –Lao Tsu
Tonight, rain fell late–coming down in a hushed, plump-dropped torrent. As I stepped out into the darkness, the scent of water, of moist earth and gently bruised lavender rolled over me like a wave. Bee season is nearly over. Soon, I’ll be tucking the garden beds in for cool weather. Winter is, for the most part, a mild thing here, though we get enough raw cold to let us know which way the earth is tilted.
Autumn is a stretch of ever-shortening days, the light falling in a torrent of fire and honey. The world becomes blood oranges in a cobalt glass bowl. Sense memory–I press my tongue against the roof of my mouth, as if to squeeze the sweetness from the days ahead. It is perhaps my favorite time of year. The gradual encroachment of darkness, the last flair of life and brilliant color before a necessary receding of energy. The slumber of things. It is a season of firelight and hard blue skies, days of silver rain and the bared bones of all that grows. Near the end of this season of drawing back I was born.
A Contrary Vitality
As always, during autumn, I experience a surge of energy. I’ve put this pragmatically down to the fact that I am a contrary being. It would not be unbelievable that “no” was my first word, I’ve used it often enough. Still, while I find things to love about every season, something about those months after the back of summer has been broken is special to me. The strange duality of vibrance and melancholy that has always characterized my inner nature seems echoed in the physical world. I relish this time of dying.
If that sounds a bit macabre to you, perhaps you should consider how our ancestors marked their yearly round. The end of the harvest was the beginning of the time of darkness, harsh weather, and enforced immobility. As well, in the northern hemisphere, the world was, not so long ago, a rather big and spooky place in the autumnal darkness. We forget with our light pollution and our 24-hour television, our work weeks of 80 hours and modern transportation the sheer scope of our planet and the palpable presence of darkness in a world without electricity.
Before we made a habit of sterilizing the night with the alien harshness of artificial light, the turning of the year was a natural part of the cycle. Just as we will each grow old, our gazes turning inward to assess the years we have gathered to ourselves, so the earth turns her eye to matters of laying in stores for the deeper darkness of winter. I find this time of year, with its silver mist wraiths and foxlight sunsets a little magical, a little special. It calls my name. It whispers deep and secret truths to me about myself and my world. It is a time of looking inward, and waiting to be born.
Life, These Days
I find that I left a piece of myself in my little desert town–that part of my spirit that loved the light, the endless horizons, the Sandias and the caldera saluting each other across the bowl of the valley. I may always long for the myriad qualities of daylight that paint my dreams still, as they painted the city. I may always long a little bit for the ghost of pinon and juniper wood smoke hanging in still, icy air like sharp frankincense, walking beneath a hammered silver dome, transfixed by the lingering crucible of the west. There was a flavor of wild magic about that place that the Deep South lost a long time ago.
I have passed a season in a stillness like that of gestation since I returned–the thick, syrupy heat of summer rendering all but the most necessary activities undesired. The garden cupped me in a close hand–stifling in her verdancy, like a clinging, sweat soaked womb–until I fled to the gently stirred shadows of the screened porch, and perspired like the glass of iced tea on the table in front of me. Life has been built of slow movements, carefully choreographed existence, designed to conserve energy. But much self-examination has also occurred. Much cogitation and soul shuffling. I have not been idle, whatever outward appearances might lead you to believe.
The Phoenix or the Fire Drake?
We often see transformation as being accompanied by fire. Since I’m a Sagittarius, I should like that image, shouldn’t I? But I don’t. It doesn’t suit the feeling of the impending change within myself. I have a distinct impression that the next few months are going to hold a boatload of hard work, challenges, and obstacles, because I am finally ready to move again. I’ve been toodling, meandering, sitting and cloudspinning this summer. I have been walking slowly, seeing as deeply as I could, and turning the world over in my thoughts.
But, I feel strange pulls and tugs of an impending transformation, and things seem to be rearranging themselves inside of me. Solar systems of thought and meaning are finally settling into discernible patterns after much colliding and breaking apart. While all of this points to what would ordinarily be something like a meteoric metaphor–fierce and fiery and blindingly bright–that doesn’t quite seem right. Rather, I get the impression of a seed germinated in darkness, bursting through its tough outer seed coat and working its way steadfastly toward light it has no proof of. Still, the fragile green shoot pushes upward–armed with engines that will transmute that light into matter.
Or perhaps I am the koi fish, finally in sight of the Dragon Gate–and if I can leap high enough, I’ll become a Dragon. Whether I see myself as a tiny green plant or as a leaping carp, I think there is something I need to keep firmly in mind. There is no room for being afraid of failure, for deciding not to grow or leap. I would rather die trying than to listen to the demon of defeat and give up before I ever found out how much I was capable of giving myself.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”