Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Reflection of Autumn's Fire

The leaves are mostly gone from the trees, the final push coming from a couple of hard frosts the past couple of nights. It has not been cold enough for long enough to put ice on my tiny pond, but small pots with water in them have frozen. Today is one of those windy days too, though I believe the wind map making the rounds on Facebook today did not indicate that our winds here in Wisconsin were a result of hurricane Sandy which just beat the snot out of NYC and New Jersey.

Samhain ("sow-in"), as the Pagans mark the holiday more commonly known as Halloween, is an observance of change, of the final harvest. In the Pagan calendar it marks the beginning of winter, a time generally of drawing in. It is believed that the veil between our world and the world of the departed, our friends and ancestors, is thinnest, and it is a time to reflect or commune with those who preceded us in death. The Wikipedia entry for Samhain has this to say:

Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them, as at Beltane. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.[2] Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the 'door' to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. People also took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, which is thought to have led to the custom of guising. Divination was also done at Samhain.

Memories of Autumn 2 (DS3_4077)

My image today is shaped by thoughts of Samhain. The loss of the color of nature as we slide into winter, which typically means snow here, feels like an end. Yet there are still the last remnants of color to be found in a few late trees, a few hardy flowers are still blooming. It is almost like a reflection of autumn that remains. Soon we will have the gray and brown of November, and then white/gray/brown from December through March. Today I still savor the reflection of autumn's fire.

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