It’s early in the days of September and I’m noticing a palpable difference in my overall mood and wellbeing. As the air begins to shift and the darkening days draw near, my soul begins to sing! It’s as though I come into greater aliveness as everything around me takes on new forms. I have learned over the years that I thrive in autumn and my body craves the cool morning air. There’s nothing more revitalizing to me than getting up in the quiet hours of dawn just to taste that first breath of crisp morning air. It’s the same feeling I get when I gather the courage to plunge into cold water. It’s electrifying.
Perhaps the outer changes stir up energy within my own being that is good and necessary. I like to imagine that the winds of change come ahead of the Equinox in time to stir up what is stagnant… old skins hanging on by a single thread that simply need a gust of wind to make them come loose. Things that would be a burden to carry into the dark. So I say, welcome winds!
September 9: Spider Webs
This morning, I’m going for a meandering walk to capture the miracles unfolding all around me in this precious time of transition. The beauty never ceases to amaze and inspire me. I’ve chosen one of my favorite trails to walk in the early morning, Fern Forest trail. What I love most is that by the time I near the end of the trail, the warm golden light of the rising sun streams through the forest, illuminating and blessing every tree and plant. The dazzling light reaches out to kiss my face and I pause for a long while to allow my skin the pleasure of drinking in this waning elixir of life.
By the time I reach the end of the trail I have arrived at the edge of the field where the grass grows wild and the spider webs stop you in your tracks. They glisten with dew drops like jewels hanging heavy on a string. I am captivated by a spider who I’ve now spotted weaving a classic, wheel-shaped orb web. She moves with delicate precision, using each leg with great purpose and care. She makes her way from the outside of her web to the inside, dancing the circle dance. I get as close to her as I can, studying the mastery of her form and am in awe of her.
The orb web consists of a durable silk frame made up of the outer bridge lines with internal anchor lines that are pulled toward the center to create spokes. I’m learning that on most orb webs, the threads that serve as spokes are actually stiffer and aren’t sticky. They create the structural support for the web as a whole. Once they are in place, the spider starts to weave new strands on the outside and spirals inward, attaching each segment of silk and coating the strands with a sticky substance.
This design works effectively because once an unlucky bug gets stuck, killed, and wrapped, it generally maintains its strength, so the spider can make minor repairs rather than having to rebuild from scratch. This is important because web-building uses a huge amount of energy for the spider. Crafting such a web is a highly cognitive endeavor, requiring a spider to size up a space, pick out anchor points and assess how much silk it has available.
I don’t need science to tell me that nature is good for my body, mind and soul. I am affirmed every single time I leave the house and step outside. I take a clearing, deep breath in, and as I exhale I let go of my thoughts for a moment. Already I feel refreshed. I look up at the treetops surrounding me and notice the way they dance and sway with the wind, how they speak to me in this way, reminding me of how to live in this world with flexibility, bending with the winds of change. I appreciate the quiet message and go forward with an open mind.
As I walk through the woods, I move slowly and pause often. I take my time to notice the subtle changes taking place. Today the leaves are yellowing and more scatter the ground than the day before. I hear geese in the distance for the first time in many months. I don’t hear the bullfrogs or peepers anymore and the finches are gone. It’s cooler than it was yesterday, and overcast. Chestnuts and hickory nuts are beginning to fall and I know that we are fortunate because last year they didn’t. Soon we will make hickory nut milk which is my favorite autumn elixir.
Summer is fading and I touch the green leaves still here. I know it won’t be long until the branches are bare again and so I behold this moment like I do precious memories. This time next year will be different. I am growing and shifting along with everything and everyone else. Will I stand here then as I do now? Holding this awareness I am bathed in the ephemeral beauty surrounding me, knowing that all of this is only for right now. I am more present and attuned to life than I was before I stepped outside. I feel purpose in my being here and deeply connected to the living landscape of which I am a part. In nature I am nourished, uplifted, energized, supported and I know that what I do next matters. My relationship to earth is fundamental to my well-being and this truth lies at the heart of all that I do.
When you live close to nature, you begin to perceive with your own eyes how every day is new and different. Earth’s dance around the sun makes it so that even the quality of light streaming through the forest canopy is utterly unique. Certain critters are here today that weren’t here yesterday. The hummingbirds have been here since mid-March and have brought such joy to my heart as they playfully flitter about, and yet I know that today might be their last day here until they come again next Spring.
There is a season for everything and when we pay attention to what is here in front of us now, we appreciate where we are and all that is abundantly given. When we don’t take the time to slow down and appreciate what is in front of us and where we are in the greater cycle of things, life can seem dull when it simply isn’t and it becomes very difficult to connect to gratitude for the many blessings that life offers.
September 20: Moon Gazing
I’m sitting in the dark under the full moon rising. She’s currently sitting behind the tree line, her essence illuminating through the dark silhouette of trees. I love watching her light dance through the swaying pines, as though she’s playing hide and seek. I can’t wait to see her full glory.
I remember that she is a reflection of me, that her cycles of hiding and coming into fullness are reflective of my own inner and outer journeys. There are times when I feel so full I could burst. These are peak moments that I think we all most know to some degree. Moments when we reflect the radiance of life out into the world shining in our brilliance, allowing ourselves to be seen and witnessed in the glory of our own becoming. I love you grandmother moon. Your teachings settle and soothe me, soften and sway me.
May I bathe in the water of your Piscean essence.
May I receive the blessing you are bestowing on us all.
May I receive your love as I look into your light-filled face, letting it wash over me, clearing any debris, old branches or dead skins that are hanging on by a thread.
May surrender into your arms, into the cycles, into rhythm, the sway, the pulse…
I begin to sway in my seat, gently feeling how good it feels to rock myself.
May I receive from the wellspring that is my own inner source, where I can drink from the elixir of life, drink from the cup of eros, the cauldron, and the waters of the cosmic womb.
Diving into the darkness, I give myself over to the Crone within me, to my intuition, to my dreams, to the angel of my soul calling me home to union.
September 22: Autumn Blessings
Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the moment of the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator marking the end of summer and the first day of fall. On this day, may we acknowledge and honor the cosmic forces of light and dark coming together in perfect harmony, standing in equal power and proportion.
May we consciously attune to this seasonal shift, sensing the same sacred rhythm at work within our own lives; the dark and light interweaving within the depths of our own being. May we sense the inner stirring, the instinctive longing for return, and give ourselves faithfully to its turning inward. Let us look forward to the quiet opportunities that lie ahead to nurture and sustain the fire within our own hearts.
As we cross over into a new season of our lives, may we celebrate the light of the sun and the gift of illumination that has led us to this potent moment. May we open our eyes to all that is abundant and prepare our bodies for energetic release. Let the weight of dead skin fall away; old patterns of the past that keep us from being all that we are here to be. We give thanks for the lessons learned and the revelations that will continue to guide us on our way.
May we trust ourselves to life unfolding and prepare the inner hearth for the cold months that lie ahead. May we surrender to the darkness of divine mystery as we celebrate the turning of the wheel and the great love story that embraces us all.
Here are some sweet photos of the Equinox altar from our Forest Temple gathering which we held on Sunday, Sept. 19th. It was a beautiful community event that brought new and familiar faces together.
For some, gathering in this kind of intentional way was new and edgy. For others it was as natural as the turning of the seasons. In the circle, there is room for all of us in our wholeness. It was multigenerational from as young as ten years old all the way up to seventy. It was co-creative and emergent allowing for spontaneous inspiration to flow through each of us. Some brought songs and readings, others offered up a mediation and meaningful objects for the altar.
We spent time in solitude with Earth, each finding our way to a special place that called to us. We spent time cultivating presence in our own unique way, beholding the beauty of a single expression of nature. We came back to share our stories, to talk about this time of transition and our relationship to it as we welcome fall and the coming dark time.
All of this to say that we are humbled, we are nourished, we are grateful.
September 25: Befriending a Groundhog
I’ve recently learned that there is a groundhog living beneath the Grandmother Oak Tree - the oldest on this land - who offers a meaningful place for community members to gather. Life happens in and around Grandmother Oak. Birds make home in her branches, she provides ample food, a place to rest, and offers refuge to those who seek shelter. The image of a groundhog making home among her roots fills me with delight. I begin to imagine what it must be like to live nestled within her embrace beneath the soil, tunnels weaving around her root system.
The more I deepen my bond with earth, the more poetic and romantic life is as I witness the inherent beauty that all creatures seek. It reminds me of the time when Michelle and I went looking for the perfect place to watch the sunset one night while visiting the Red Woods in Northern California. It wasn’t until we veered off the path that we stumbled upon a deer trail among the grasses. We had a hunch that we’d find our way to a special place that only deer could guide us too. Sure enough, the trail led us to a deer bed tucked at the edge of a cliff overlooking the most beautiful bay and breathtaking sunset. I felt sure in my heart that it was the beauty of that place that had drawn the deer there.
A similar feeling arises in me as I contemplate the home of the groundhog, who lives at the heart of the Oak. A couple weeks ago, after discovering this I decided that I would like to become friends with the groundhog. So I made it a part of my morning practice to walk there and spend time sitting close by. This evening, while making my way to the tree I spotted the groundhog in the distance making a meal of grass. I knew I had to be stealthy in making my way toward the groundhog because they can be scared off very easily. They became aware of my presence immediately but I stood in complete stillness until it felt safe to continue munching. I edged closer. Again, it watched me closely with a keen eye for sometime before determining that I was still a safe distance away.
We played this game for about 30 minutes until I was running out of time. That’s when I started to slowly make my way toward it. I think what surprised me the most was that it didn’t dart off as I had imagined it might. It actually moved very slowly, with cautious curiosity perhaps having sensed that I wasn’t a threat, but still not quite sure. As I came closer it eventually sought safety within the entrance of their tunnel. I finally reached the tree and stood still, hoping to catch a closer glimpse. Sure enough the groundhog lifted their head out of the entrance and into the light. There we caught each other’s gaze and looked into each other’s eyes for a long time. As I looked into the soul of my new little friend, I whispered words of gratitude, feeling a wave of deep emotion wash over me. I see you.
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What miracles are you bearing witness to?
How is nature teaching you?
What forces, practices, awarenesses, or insights have shaped you over these past several weeks?
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Yours in wonder & beauty,