The Cauldron of Autumn

family shamanism story

Autumn used to be the time to savor my most intense feelings. Wrapping them tightly in earthen bundles, I’d carry them into the woods on aimless walks. Planting them a few feet down here and there, I’d wait for Samhain to burst their woven bindings when the moment was right. The invisible creatures of the forest made those bundles into something nourishing and maddening, elixirs that flipped me on my head and made me a stranger and more joyful man. The woods in Autumn encourage neither sadness nor sanity.

I’m not ready for Autumn this year for a lot of reasons. Its been a long cold, wet summer – in fact I wouldn’t really call it a summer at all. We had three weeks of sun and three months of gray. I was shocked to see the sunset after not having seen light in the sky for so long. It was like remembering happiness after being swallowed completely by sorrow.

    Autumn arrived at my home two days ago. It may not have arrived on the same day for you, but you know the moment I’m talking about. The air becomes flavored with the new smells your part of the world lets lose when summer first begins to dissolve into winter. This is usually my favorite time of year: all living things are brought up to the moment of death and rebirth. The Earths cauldron opens wide and accepts all comers into its transformative bubbling brew.    This is the year my Dad died. The grief at his death is buried in me, but not deep. It drifts around just beneath the surface, bumping into my daily life when I’m not expecting it. Dad was never a simple relationship for me, we were too alike and too different most of the time. I will have to grow into a bigger person before all of the feelings I have for him break surface. He died in spring, despite the gray summer I’ve already grown quite a bit since then.
Autumn fire road
Yesterday I had a new vision of him: a passionate man who’s life was on fire in every way. I’d never seen him like that, not in 44 years. What else have I missed?I no longer have to travel anywhere to find soil to bury my feelings in, I’m finding feelings that have been buried in me for decades. I wish it were spring or summer again, so I could have time to be tender with these treasures, let them grow into mighty flowering things that could share their secrets before surrendering to the cauldron of Autumn. But the nights are getting longer, and the gray skies are colder and weighed down with the wetness of distant places.

Autumn must live inside of me a bit more now. I feel its decay and vitality, I yearn for the warmth that comes from a sun so low in the sky. I pray the fires that heat the cauldron of Autumn will burn especially hot this Samhain, so that I will have light and warmth to carry me through the winter.

Image Autumn Fire Road by Lance Rutherford from Flickr, used under 
a Creative Commons license



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