As I worked at my computer, a notification appeared on my screen. Frost Advisory in Effect. Clicking on the link, I read the information, then got up to attend to my flower beds, garden, and herb planters. Summer’s End is nigh. Let the second harvest, preparation, and gratitude of the Autumn Equinox begin.
Second Harvest. Maybe Third. Fourth?
Harvesting has been going on for quite some time now for experienced gardeners and farmers, depending on the types of vegetables, fruits, herbs, or crops that have been planted. Our local Farmer’s Market has been chock full of colorful bounty.
In my own green space, I have a large container herb “garden” that resides in my kitchen as well as on the porch. And I’ve harvested as needed for brewing herbal infusions or adding a fresh seasoning while cooking dinners throughout the Summer.
This has not been a great growing season for my first vegetable garden (squirrels, rabbits, a hedgehog, and a chipmunk have seen to that), but I’ve learned a lot. Plans are already underway for next year’s attempt (raised beds, more effective fencing, etc).
However, I have managed to grow healthy chives, lettuce, a few purple and green peppers, and a handful of jalapenos. I even managed to grow three tiny ears of corn which brought me an absurd amount of satisfaction.
Even so, I have a sense of finality as we move from Summer to Autumn. Nature is buttoning up as the local flora and fauna begin preparation for the cold weather. Those living in temperate climes may not have the same experience as the Equinox approaches. Their growing season lasting longer (or goes on indefinitely?). And folks in the Southern Hemisphere are on an opposite calendar from the Northern Hemisphere.
Harvest is a continual process throughout Summer into Autumn, featuring a variety of fruits and vegetables most prominent in each. In fact, one can become a little blasé about the process, especially if we have a lot of produce to can, freeze, preserve, share, or sell. However, even with the second (third, fourth?) harvest of Autumn, we can still invigorate the celebration and gratitude of the changing season.
What To Keep Or Cut Away
Going out to my flower beds to add a protective layer of mulch, deciding which blooms might be useful to dry and add to my apothecaries (mundane and magickal), or which ones should be cut back to return in the Spring, etc. A similar exercise occurs with my herbs as some plants go dormant, some “soldier on” as kitchen companions, and the rest die back in time to be returned to the Earth Deity.
There is a lot to learn from these activities and the necessary changes a seasonal shift brings. For me, the Autumn Equinox is also a reminder to take a look at my emotional, spiritual, and magickal self. What do I need to keep, what can go dormant for a time of rest, what no longer serves and needs to be cut away?
As a Green Earth Witch, the change of season has become a signal for the transition. I find this to be a good time for focused self-care, to plug deeper into one’s practice (especially in the time of COVID), check-in with others, or allowing one’s self to exist in a necessary fallow period. Preparation may mean engaging in Shadow Work. Intuition has always been my best guide in such matters.
Moments Of Gratitude To Precede Winter Solitude
Traditionally, it is in the colder months we hunker down (at least in places such as where I live). The bounty has been brought in, stored, and now it is time to relax, celebrate, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. This can be true in our emotional/spiritual lives as well. And I guess, I have always been a “look for the small gifts” everyday kind of person. I’m just more keenly aware in Autumn. Especially this year.
It’s an understatement to say 2020 has been rough. Between COVID, Black Lives Matter protests, raging wildfires, social instability, and unrest, not to mention the upcoming contentious election, well, there are reasons for Americans to be cynical. As a result, I imagine many people are finding “gratitude” a bit hard to swallow.
But I figure “Harvest” kicks off a whole bevy of celebrations. Because let’s face it, the last four months of the calendar are meant to be a party. Between Autumn/Mabon, Halloween, Samhain, Thanksgiving, Modraniht, Yule, and Christmas alone there are so many options. And that’s just the list of holidays celebrated in my family. Look at The Holidays Calendar, and you can find the festivals, holidays, and celebrations that go on throughout the world by country, religion, month, etc.
And by the Gods do we need to celebrate this year. Dig deep for the gratitude that will allow us to enjoy the small things even as we deal with the losses and grief associated with so many tragedies. Parents are saying “This year will not steal my child’s Halloween, dammit!” Well, I’m saying that about all the reasons we can find to be grateful, at least for me and my family.
Because soon enough, the cold will descend on our little corner of Michigan. Snow will blanket the ground and we will be in the dark half of the year once more. Seeing as how the previous one lasted much longer than it should, I want to gird myself with the gladness that Autumn (and all its celebrations) brings.
Let Autumn Be What You Make Of It
So, I feel I got off on a ramble. But I do hope you will find a way to embrace the energy of celebration that Autumn brings with it and throughout the next four months. While we do have to adjust how we do things because of requirements such as masks and social distancing, there are still ways to honor the spirit, energy, joy, preparation, and gratitude that Autumn brings.