On a withered branch
A crow has alighted
Nightfall in autumn
– Bashô, Japanese Haiku Poet
The mountains have dustings of snow here in the Pacific Northwest. The air has its chill jacket on and darkness throws its curtain over us earlier each day. The aspens and maples wear their orange and gold cloaks while Canada Geese practice their flights for heading south. Autumn has opened her doors to us.
I take a walk in the garden of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Sonoma, California where I am teaching. Golden Bosc pears hang heavily on the tree while tall cocoa brown cattails stir in the breeze.
I surprise a wild turkey who is sleeping in the tall grasses. She squawks and shuttles away in the fallen red leaves.
For our grandparents, and even our ancestors in the Northern Hemisphere, autumn was the season to prepare for the winter. Cutting firewood, salting fish, drying meats, canning vegetables and fruit and making sure the roof had no leaks and the lodges were watertight. It was also the season to get the harvest in. Without the corn, wheat, oat and beet crops, families starved.
What meaning does autumn carry for you?
Time to get your car winter-ready with antifreeze, new wiper blades and rotated tires? Time to get your firewood stacked and the chimney cleaned?
Memories of Autumn
What memory surfaces for you when you recall autumn in your lifetime? Perhaps there were special foods served then or you participated in a different sport in the autumn. Did your family harvest apples to store through the winter or did you harvest tomatoes and can them?
Honoring the Autumn Season
There are marvelous autumn ceremonies to connect more deeply to the meaning and power of this season. Thanksgiving is a phenomenal ceremony you are most likely familiar with. Just thinking of it may evoke the delicious aromas of cranberries, yams, potatoes, gravy and a steaming turkey.
Would you enjoy creating your own celebration during this colorful season?
You may choose to create a ceremony with others or with yourself.
One of the most important features is the intention you bring into your ceremony. Your intention may be to play and have fun with friends or family, or you may wish to connect with the spiritual power of this season. Your intention may be to honor and celebrate the beauty of Fall. Your intention may be to harvest the power of Autumn by doing some deeply personal, spiritual work.
Here are some suggestions for ceremonies you may wish to create:
1. Engage in a longed for creative project
2. Create a family gathering and special meal together
3. Invite friends over to screen a new DVD or Netflix film
4. Together, rake fallen leaves into a pile for a bonfire with friends and then roast marshmallows together
5. Write a Haiku poem. This powerful poem format, developed by Japanese poets, is a short, 3 line poem that captures a moment of beauty or a powerful experience. It may capture and distill a fleeting natural image and may reference a season, such as autumn.
Think of an experience you had recently. Write it down in a few lines. Include any sounds, smells, textures and descriptions of what you saw or experienced.
6. Autumn and winter often bring a deepening of remembered night dreams. Prepare your sleeping room for dreams to come to you. Clean your room, put on fresh sheets, and place your journal and pen on your nightstand. As you fall asleep, hold the intention to remember your dreams.
7. Create a Gratitude Ceremony
– write in your journal, ten things you are grateful for
– cut out pictures from magazines and make a Gratitude Collage of the people and events you feel grateful for at this time in your life
– make a Gratitude Shrine in your home or garden. On slips of paper, write the names of people and events you are grateful for and place them in a bowl or basket.
As you prepare for your chosen ceremony, you may want to purchase some candles that shine the colors of autumn – red, gold, rust, orange and green.
As you begin your ceremony, light your autumn candles. Think of this glorious autumn season and engage in your chosen activity with relish!