Living seasonally is so nourishing. The sacred, unbroken circle of life and death – light and dark, sun and moon, summer and winter – has much to teach us. There is a time for battle, and a time for healing. A time for sowing, and a time for reaping. Our ancestors took cues from the earth all the time, as a distinct matter of survival. But as less and less of us carve out our living from the land, it seems we’ve forgotten how to honour the natural way of things. There’s been much talk of eating seasonally, which is such a healing and wholesome practice, but I think we can extend the idea of honouring the season to the rest of our lives too.
Autumn is my New Year. It’s a time of reflection, of letting go, of clearing out, of exploring mysteries, of remembrance. September brings the bittersweet beauty of death and decay, the byzantine-gold sunshine, the chilly, woodsmoke-scented winds that send leaves dancing across the sidewalks. It’s full of endings and beginnings. Warmth and comfort.
Autumn’s bounty inspires a reckless sort of hedonism in me. The smell of turkey in the oven, stuffed with sage and whole onions. Pumpkin soup with bourbon, cranberries and sour crabapples. Spiced apple pie. Maple butter, honey-roasted carrots, juicy pears, seeded pumpernickel. Thick, sugar-glazed scones and pumpkin spice lattes. Spicy, milky chai.
Chase the impeding chill from your bones with a steaming bath. Halve the last of summer’s lemons and toss them into the water with sprigs of woody rosemary. Rub warm jojoba oil into your skin to combat dryness. Hike into the mountains in the crisp hours of the early morning, bicycle through crunching leaves.
Break out your sturdy old boots and oversize cashmere sweaters, your favourite worn-in jeans. Wrap yourself in (faux!) furs and vintage leather. Throw a cozy pullover over summer’s linen dresses. Dark, ankle-grazing skirts, dark lipstick. I’m obsessed with NARS Audacious in Liv – the perfect vampy, witchy shade.
Autumn evenings hold the most magical hours. Light a few candles (my fave is Pumpkin Souffle from Boulangerie), put on a record, and curl up with a book and a mug of tea. Now isn’t the time for summer’s frenetic, light-hearted playlist – turn on something folkier, darker, something with a story. I love The Staves, Laura Marling, Mariee Sioux. Anything introspective and warm. In the spirit of the season, read fantastical tales steeped in magic and mystery. I recently read Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and loved it to pieces.
The season also calls us to remember those who came before. Research your ancestors. Attempt to tell the stories that have been lost or forgotten, the stories that have been written in your DNA. Visit graves if you can, sit quietly and feel the unbroken thread leading you back through the fog of time to hundreds of thousands of people who share your nose, or the way your eyes crinkle when you laugh, or your stubbornness. Name them. Mourn the loss of their voices. Thank them. They are the ghosts that live in your bones. If your blood ties pain you, or are an inaccessible knowledge, remember that family is more than genetics. Claim spiritual ancestors, historical figures that light you up with inspiration. Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Cleopatra, Hypatia. Artists, adventurers, scientists, political powerhouses, wise women. They are yours, just as much as a fifth-great-grandmother might be.
Autumn teaches us to turn inward. What is no longer serving you? What can you release? What can you shed? Face your darkness with honesty and compassion. Name your pain, honour your battles. Write them down and throw them into the hearthfire. A symbolic transformation from words on paper to smoke and ash. Remember that everything is impermanent. Everything is a cycle, just like the seasons. Gently release people, experiences, and thoughts that do not honour and uplift your soul. Feed your spirit with prayer, meditation, pilgrimage.
For everything there is a season. Listen closely to what autumn knows. When she finally draws a blanket of snow over herself and sleeps into winter, you’ll be prepared for the long nights, to draw each other close to your blazing campfires.