The Autumn rains have come, drenching the landscape. In the next few days we will return to the heat and humidity of summer, then, following a brief interlude, plunge deeper into Fall. We are in the early stages of the year’s decline into rest and chill. In a couple of weeks folks all over the Northern Hemisphere will gather to mark the turning year and the Autumn Equinox.
In the Medicine Wheel. as I have been taught to practice it, the Autumn is the time of water and dreaming. In Autumn, here in the Northeastern U.S., the rains come and replenish the streams and wells before the winter freeze. A dry Autumn often means insufficient ground water to get us through the winter.
Living, as we do, by the lake, we are oft reminded of the presence of the spirit of water, a being who appears to us as a woman, often wearing the guise of the Virgin Mary. She sings sweetly of the transitory nature of suffering, the healing quality of pure water, and the promise of rebirth. She is saddened by our behavior, our disregard for the water that fills our veins and makes life on this beautiful planet possible. She reminds us that our species will pass away in time, and even the waters will be healed.
The Fall is also a time of dreaming. The trees and perennial plants draw their energy deep into their roots, seeds settle into the cold moths of waiting for Spring. I imagine the plants sleep and dream. Even the evergreens slow their breathing and slumber. We, too, especially those of us who are older, settle into dreaming. The walls between the Dreaming and the everyday grow thin, and we gather glimpses of the spirit world underlying all we see ad experience. I am reminded yet again of Black Elk’s vision that what we see, although unimaginably beautiful, is but a pale reflection of the spirit world that animates it.
Still, even this “shadow world” is a beloved, unimaginably dear place. As Autumn brings forth the colors that are hidden much of the summer by lush green, so it offers us glimpses of that which underlies the everyday, stripping, over time, everything down to essence. By then, Winter will be upon us. Then, several long months afterward, spring will reanimate the world, clothing it afresh. For now, let’s enjoy the journey into the West, the time of apparent endings, knowing Spring is waiting to renew the dream.