Cairngorm autumn

Yesterday it was muggy and warm when I left the house.  Then it stormed.  By the time I was walking home the air was crisp and clear.  Being from San Francisco, I’m used to this kind of weather system yo-yo, but here in the Northeast it seems to be a trait of the “in between” seasons, autumn and spring.  These are season of balance, and that balance often comes through fluctuation.  As it goes with the world, so it goes within, and October has been consistently a time of great fluctuation in my life.  Most of the treacherous points in my journey have come in the fall, but so have most of my new beginnings and second chances.  This year is right on par.

When I moved to the East Coast I was warned, as a West Coaster with no knowledge of seasonal change, to purchase a sunlamp to lessen the effects of seasonal depression.  For many years I didn’t think it was an issue, and even now I don’t realize it’s happening until something triggers it, most likely because of the aforementioned turbulence that I already experience.

Pagans of all kinds recognize the fall as the beginning of the dark half of the year, a time when we draw inward for reflection and personal work.  Social structures and holidays we have set up are often contrary to this instinct as we fill our holidays with parties and get-togethers and ignore the need to spend some time alone. In a world where we are constantly connected we very rarely spend quality time within, and sometimes what we find within ourselves is rather intimidating and unfamiliar because we’ve spent a long time avoiding it.

I have mentioned embracing the shadows before, but this inward journey is much more than that.  Yes, there may be shadow work involved, but there is also routine maintenance at hand.  Imagine an old house that needs windows repaired and cupboards cleaned.  It may even need a new coat of paint or some fresh decor to make it a home instead of just an old house.  We also need this kind of regular work, but in many cases we’ve turned ourselves completely outward thinking our houses to be self-cleaning.  While that would be a beautiful thing, I don’t know a single house that cleans itself.  Besides, my house and I have completely different styles when it comes to curtains.

So, while I am tempted every year to plaster on a smile and muck through the seasonal depression and chaos that always seems to hit in the fall, I know I can’t.  To do so would cause further deterioration, and I would lose an opportunity to grow and really get to know myself a little deeper.  Each of those turbulent times I mentioned earlier has been a learning experience and a dip in the forge.  I have survived them and continued my journey with a new outlook and a fresh pair of shoes, and I believe that is the only reason I’ve survived the ones to follow.