For years I’ve heard around the campfire how triggersome October and November are. Folks struggle with the shadows this time of year more than others, it seems. My guess about why this happens is because the transition is from active and warm to cool and inward. As opposed to Spring, which so many are “ready for”, the promise of new life, Fall promises death. The garden has come down, leaves are falling, trees stripped bare, cloud cover looms. If it’s causing you to feel broody and shoe-gazey, there are likely lattès in seasonal flavors to cheer you. Entire marketing schemes are designed to stimulate our senses in a way which takes us out of those depressing post-Equinox feels, like Christmas decorations already being in stores weeks before Halloween to give us something to look forward to which is merry.
Death presents us with emotions we don’t want anything to do with, such as acknowledging our mortality and taking responsibility for the kind of life we’re leading, how much time we do or do not have left with loved ones, and making sure those left behind in the event of our own death are set up (Why the hell haven’t I set up that retirement fund yet, living will and trust, filled out the Five Wishes paperwork??) properly.
Additionally, the issue of noticing how the children in our lives have grown produces the bittersweet feeling of time passing too quickly. Back-to-School is a neverending reminder of how much the classmates grew over the summer and that the kids are another year older.
The inward seasons of Fall and Winter tend very naturally to cause a bundling, not just of the torso in cable-knits, but a bundling of the emotions for protective reasons. The fears and sensations which come up can drive you mad with uncertainty and discomfort, or you can greet them gently by the hearth and investigate. In fact, the wintry times provide us with the perfect setting for doing the restorative work of the soul-making things with our hands (cowichan, anyone?) while processing unresolved issues or making decisions, baking (check out Beth Kirby’s Pan de Muerto), and writing, writing, writing it all down (look no further for expert prompts and coaching, I’ve done my best work with this woman).
What’s important to me during this season is that I allow all that is flooding to me which matters meet with the part of me which knows, not just the part of me which is frightened by the unknown. It’s my last SouLodge course in the format I’ve been teaching in for 6 years without much change, and Honoring Grief with Owl (while holding hands with over 200 women who are going bravely to the Graveyard of Untended Sorrows to pay homage) calls me to the kind of ritual I love the most: courageous, reflective, reverent, balance-bringing, sweet, cathartic. It might sound a bit intense, but it’s not too scary when surrounded by like-mindeds.
Imagine how the trees feel: Releasing those leaves is easier to do in the company of those doing the same.