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Autumn Returns

Autumn Returns
Sherry Jennings

Autumn has come once again in the round of the seasons. And what a wonder! Pumpkins have come to their fullness, glowing bright vermillion and orange out from the dying leaves. Trees are laden with crisp, juicy red apples promising pies. The deep blue sky accentuates the golds of corn shocks, fading grasses, sweet pears. Sparks of color paint the horizon as milkweed feathers float in the air. Acorns sound a drumbeat for summer’s departure. At dusk the angle of the sun has shifted so that the shadows deepen.

As Autumn delivers her vast store of wares there is much to savor. A new fragrance is in the air. There is a sense of excitement and impending change. For the young child so much is happening outside to excite and delight them. Adults engaging with them in the out-of-doors offers time to connect and share the delicious wonders of this season.

  • Apple picking can be a delightful activity as the children toddle beneath the trees laden with shiny red orbs, wandering as they go, picking up one then another, then another, filling a basket to take home.
  • Choosing from a field or farm stand just the right pumpkin or two to bring color into the home.
  • If possible, digging up a few potatoes or carrots, finding something to harvest.
  • Picking the last flowers in the garden, grinding them with a rock, adding water to make some soup for the dollies.
  • Crushing leaves, adding water, and dying bits of cheesecloth.
  • Walking in the forest gathering leaves, lichen, and bits of bark — the stuff of future projects or objects for the nature table.
  • Catching a falling leaf and making a wish on it.

Even though nature is fading, decaying, dying, Autumn is a season filled with color and beauty. Who of us can fail to feel joy and a sense of well-being at this time of year? At the same time, as adults there can be another stirring in the soul. An awareness of changes yet to come.

Waldorf schools worldwide celebrate fall and Michaelmas — bringing attention to inner strength and courage, reminding us that human beings have free will and can overcome any obstacles we encounter.

During the warm days, the souls of human beings have been drawn outward. Their hearts have been nourished by the season of growing, ripening, and harvesting and joyful gatherings of family and friends. Summer has been a time of expanding and giving in to warmth and fun, of dreaming through the hazy summer days.

But what of the soul of the human being at the time of the equinox? Is the fading of nature a portent of the fading of human awareness also? Will we, like the plants, fall asleep? For centuries this turning point has been marked with the festival of Michaelmas. From out of summer's dream Michael calls us to wake up, not to go to sleep as outer nature is doing. Something within each one can stir, and that which is truly human — the soul-spiritual element — can awaken. With a renewed consciousness and new energy, as the activities of outer nature fade, there is the possibility for humans to turn inward and allow the deepest parts of their beings to awaken once again.

However, in this awakening something new appears — sharper shadows — and there the dragon lurks. In our thoughts and deeds can be shadowy dragons of harsh judgments, lack of commitment, unkind words, fear, greed, thoughtlessness, or apathy.

The form of each dragon is unique to each individual. However, it is important to remember that the dragon is not to be feared but is our friend; the dragon gives us information about the true human being beneath the spines and prickles of our shadow side. By looking at the shadow there is the possibility to see in what direction to head in order to find our true selves. By shining the light of consciousness on the dragon we can be the vehicle for the dragon’s transformation and take away its power over us.

At this time of year, Michael calls us to wake up, to look around, to look into the shadows, to welcome the dragon for what it can tell us about ourselves. At the same time, Michael is our helper and sends to human beings the courage to take on the dragon if we ask for his help. If we can begin to transform our dragons through our conscious deeds, Michael will come to our aid. Now can be a moment to take up the call of Michael and with clarity in thought and courage in heart seek to understand the truth, mystery, beauty and wonder of life.

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