October is here, if you can wrap your mind around it.
Times like these, when it seems like the year has run away without my noticing, remind us that in order to live in balance, we must work with the seasons, not only among them.
When we cling to summer with sprayed tans and tropical getaways, or hurry winter by closing our windows and refusing to expose our skin to the cool, we neglect the life cycle, and therefore neglect a part of ourselves.
The duty of autumn is to restore balance. After the burst of green life that sustained us through summer, we slow. We root downwards, and inwards. This time of year, plants drop their leaves and move their life force down into the roots. Likewise, we are called to turn inwards, to shed the performative beauty of summer’s broad blooms and to harness the still, heavy, powerful energy of the earth.
We would be foolish to neglect the invitation from Mother Earth to connect. As the school year ramps up and we see the stress of deep winter peering in the distance, we should redouble our efforts to stay warm, grounded, and hydrated.
~ Drink plenty of fluids during this transition. Spend time outside in the rain, if that happens where you live—take hot baths in the evenings if you’re in the desert like me.
~ Carve out time in the early morning or late evening to meditate or take gentle stretches for the neck, shoulders, and hips.
~ Be happy and lighthearted to release your attachment to summer. Take time for yourself in the still-warm afternoons to plant your feet on grass or soil. Do your heavy exercise in the afternoon or evening, if possible.
~ Before bed, take a warm drink like a turmeric latte or herbal tea. (Keep your eyes peeled for a yummy recipe coming your way soon!)
~ Some of my favorite herbal allies for this time of year include ashwaghanda, burdock, cinnamon and milky oats.
~ I recommend eating seasonally as a rule, and even more so when it comes to eating roots in autumn. Eat root vegetables like medicine, allowing their grounded, rooted nature to become part of you as you pull energy from the sugar in its flesh.
Slow down. You have nothing to do, but cook, till Spring.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books of all time. Judith Berger’s Herbal Rituals guides us through the pagan year with an herb per month, and a series of beautiful reminders that Nature works mindfully—as should we.
“Before each act which ends life, the Crone* carefully considers how a particular death will affect the pattern of the natural world… The leaves she has touched remind us that death can be breathtaking and inspiring when the moment of letting go comes in its proper course. As fallen leaves grow quiet, we too can slow and settle ourselves down, creating or finding an inner ground; in this soil, we can prepare for ourselves a bed we can dream in, tuning our rhythm to that of the October earth which begins to harden and draw its heat and substance inward and downward. Following the pattern of the trees, we slowly and steadily shed our outer ornaments, thickening our skins like tree bark and pulling our energies within.”
*Berger uses the images of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone to describe the energies of creation, preservation, and destruction. These three energies are recognized across cultures—as Father, Son, Holy Spirit + Brahma, Visnu, Siva + etc.
By: Ellen Humphreys