I love autumn, for so many reasons, and yet it invariably manages to make me sad – I’m an autumn child, myself, born at the end of October, and being a watery scorpio, I find that autumn churns the still pool of my nature to the very dregs, and kicks up all sorts of murky stuff while it is at it. Of course, it also unearths the toad with a jewel in its eye, hidden treasure, coals slowly turning into diamonds, the moon trapped beneath a branch, and, like the coming winter, it can also cut to the bone, winter winds that twist and turn and are hard to evade.
Recent events have been hard. A series of disappointments that a few years ago I would have either sublimated into hard physical work, or run away from, or sunk deep into and found it hard to get out of again. This year seems to be different. I am simply sitting with my feelings, even it feels impossible. I’m looking for the jewel hidden in the ordure, the flowers curled deep within the brambles. And I’m finding it.
I’ve gained another tine to my antlers over recent events, so there are now three. I wonder sometimes, does that make me three years old in wisdom, or three centuries, or three breaths, or even three leaves, who knows? Each small new lesson, each experience that stretches me, opens me wide to the elements and to emotion and to pain, each new strand of wisdom, is a spiral on my antlers, etched into my soul indelibly. I wonder sometimes if life is worth living when each breath seems to bring only pain, and yet each small death makes you wake up, makes you learn life anew, breathe in, breathe out, open your eyes and see each tiny detail afresh. I saw a butterfly today on my morning walk – a red admiral that settled on the muddy footpath, churned and turned by farm vehicles. It flittered about, close to the earth as though weighed down by care, and couldn’t seem to lift its way up into the open air, and then it settled, opened its wings to the sun and waited. Just waited. And I waited with it. The sun seemed to fill it, to renew it, colours achingly bright on its wings, and then it picked itself up and flew away, looping and twisting over the fields into a new day. Perhaps that is the lesson that I need to learn here? To open myself to love and pain in equal measure, and trust that whatever happens, the sun will always shine and I will always be able to pick myself up and move on. Autumn proceeds apace, hedgerows turning golden in the sunlight, berries picked up by the birds as they prepare for winter. Sometimes it is hard to appreciate all this beauty about me, but it is always there, regardless, just waiting for me to see it once again and to know myself a part of it, connected to the land even as my feet walk upon it, my mind a million miles away.
Terri Windling’s latest post muses on similar sorts of things, and on the necessity of finding wildness within and without, and using that to both anchor and uplift. It is well worth a read if, like me, you find autumn combines pain and pleasure more poignantly than life’s usual fare.
Autumn puts an ache in my chest,
running through my veins, as my blood
echoes the sunset, a glowing scarlet ember,
painting luminous colours across the skies,
beautiful and agonising in equal measure.
Words are insufficient to frame
the ache in me, my heart expanding
with the sunset, falling
with the wind blown leaves,
rain falling as my tears
silver my face, as the year turns.
Never more aware am I of the dual nature
of things, than in the autumn,
pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow,
yin and yang, the eternal balance,
as day descends to night once more,
and Persephone descends to the Underworld.