Autumn begins early in August, it seems like. There is an underlying chill in the air, a few leaves have changed colors, and the wind whispers, “soon, soon…” I noticed it last year and it happened again this year, so I think it’s safe to assume this is a regular occurrence. Maybe it always was, and I just now noticed.
Around me, my lovely community seems to go mad with glee. All of September is Halloween Eve! Mabon and Samhain are coming! It will be cooler! The lists of autumn activities appear as regularly as pumpkin spice updates. I feel like I stand alone in the swirl, all the energies whirling around me as I’m quietly muttering, “but wait…”
Don’t get me wrong, I love all the autumn “stuff” as much as anyone. I used to not be this way. I LOVED the start of school in September (I grew up in New York City, where we started school after Labor Day, not this North Carolina August earliness). School was important to me, and I know of cold, having spent time in upstate NY, which to my mind is Polar Bear Land. Autumn meant holidays and TV specials, more family meals and visits. Yet, itt seems the older I get, the more I dig in my heels and resist.
I love summer, the heat, mostly all the being outside kinds of things. I know I am fortunate to live in the mountains, where the humidity is not as bad as some places. I also know I can do all these things in the autumn, and the crowds thin out at the beach, so I can go and celebrate the last days of summer there. Right?
But, but, but…change is hard. The trees show us how easy it is to let some things go, as the saying goes. This past year for me has been full of letting go. I have let go of things which no longer serve me, refocused on what is important, embraced changes and family challenges. I should be an old pro at this “change” thing by now.
I am not.
If you share this malaise with me, fear not. I have discovered ways of coping, which can help ease the transition. It has worked for me in the past, and I have begun again as the calendar turned into September:
Be grateful. It’s another day in the life, and from gratitude, all else flows. You know the drill, make a list and see how you feel. It usually helps.
Acknowledge the pain. Oh, I do. Loudly and repeatedly. No doubt my friends are sick of my whining, and they indulge me. Better out than in, so process that pain and grief.
Find comfort in your community. Those same friends keep me busy, inviting me to hikes and workshops, filled with lovely moments and laughter. Back to being grateful. Find your friends, hug them, spend time with them. Even if you would rather spend time alone, curled up and muttering about how much you don’t like seeing summer leave, make an effort to get out a bit.
Find a tradition for this time of year. Right about now, I go to a nearby lake and hug some trees. There are a few that usually change leaves first, so I spend some time with them, just honoring the incredible system of nature that moves through seasons, serene and untroubled. Change is neither bad nor good there, it just is. And I absorb that lesson, which helps.
Enjoy summer while it lasts. There are a still a few weeks until Mabon, and sometimes summer weather lasts longer towards the end of the year. Store that Vitamin D within you, as you will need it for the upcoming winter. Summer is not over yet, no matter how much Halloween candy is already displayed at the stores.
Find an activity related to Mabon and Samhain that gets you excited. I’m helping with a Harvest Festival and ritual for Mabon this year, and that is certainly keeping me busy. Find a festival, a ritual, sign up for classes or workshops in areas that interest you. Want to learn more about crystals? Do so. Want to start a monthly meeting with friends to catch up, read books, perform rituals? Do that.
Honor your ancestors. Mine are certainly a bit loud and demanding this time of year, so you may know whereof I speak. In the midst of changes this year, my ancestor altar had been a bit neglected. Once I set mine up, energy seemed to shift. On the plus side, I do like my ancestors around. I put out a few of their favorite things, and spend my morning meditation time gazing upon their familiar faces. We are the result of much love, and that helps ease my mind during this wistful time. I feel their love across time.
Appreciate the season. Time is a rubber band, so it can feel like its whirling by, or it can seem to move slowly. This time of year can be both, but there is a noticeable slowing down as it gets darker in the evenings. Great time for reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to, or to work on the project that got pushed aside.
Get rid of clutter. Before it gets cold, focus on getting rid of what no longer serves you. Reduce the amount of “stuff” you have in life, either in items, groups, projects, or associations. The burden can be weighing heavily on you without you realizing it. Plus, it will keep you busy and productive. Those endorphins will kick in, and you will feel better naturally.
Crystals and herbs. Find a little cotton bag, fill it with crystals such as smoky quartz, lapis lazuli and jet, add some chamomile (or a scent that lifts your spirits), a bit of ylang ylang oil, and tuck it in your pocket, or somewhere near your heart. That concrete act will help you feel better.
Enjoy the foods of the season. I myself am partial to pie. Sure, you can eat pumpkin pie year ’round, but it takes on a certain resonance this time of year. Same with hot chocolate, wassail, and more baked items in general. Plan your favorite fall meal with seasonally appropriate foods. If you love soup, this is definitely the time to break out the soup pot and experiment, or make favorites.
Sports. Some of you may recoil at this idea, so skip this suggestion. I personally love sports, and there is more to watch this time of year. Nothing like going to your local pub, enjoying a game with the crowd OR watching it online, all cozy in your bed with assorted snacks and beverages.
And finally, pause and remember. It is a wistful time for many of us, and we can’t avoid it. Stand still in the maelstrom of activity and soak up the sun. Remember your summer, mourn and grieve. It is all part of the process, just like the changing of the leaves.
Know you are not alone.
“August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages.” ~Jonathan Safran Foer