“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
Autumn is often associated with ageing and depress. With the last of the summer days waning away, a feeling of loneliness can often creep into our minds and souls during autumn. Such sentiments are more often a reaction to the diminishing sun and its blazing warmth, and the passing of the summer days of long and fun, rather than a reflection of what autumn actual represents and brings to our lives. This article will look at the mystical and mythological roots of autumn and their impact on the emotional, mental and physical spheres.
The earthy colours, the cool wind creeping in, the chill in the morning air, the feasts and fires, are but few of the charms of this season. Autumn’s mysticism not only grounds and re-connects us with nature and the earth, it also takes us on an introspective journey of deep discovery, inner reflection, self-knowingness and a sense of belonging. When the golden sun-rays of the afternoon sun flow into the red of the evening sky, amber manifests to remove unspoken words stuck in our throat chakras, unexpressed emotions bubbling in our solar hearts, and tinkling desires hidden in our naval.
Personal growth entails wisdom and gaining wisdom gives us strength of character and mind. When we are stronger we can love ourselves and others deeper and without attachments. In his Sonnet 73 Shakespeare starts off by using autumn as a metaphor for ageing, but later reminds us that in the face of mortality, love not only endures, love becomes stronger:
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Apart from the healing benefits of colours, autumn also offers the magic of its fragrances and flavours. The taste of roasted chestnuts and freshly baked bread, the whiff of the morning wind and the scent of burnt dry leaves sharpen our senses and warm our hearts. Pick a packet of roasted chestnuts walking back from work along the busy roads. Go for a day in the countryside to celebrate the local life-style. Start meditating at night listening to the approaching wind. Take part in all festivities.
Beyond its mystical gifts, autumn has deep mythological roots apparent in its numerous festivals around the world. Usually connected to the autumn equinox, the end of the harvest and the cycles of the moon, Navratri is one of the most powerful Hindu celebrations dedicated to the universal Divine Mother, commonly referred to as Durga. Literary meaning “nine nights”, it symbolises the purity and power of the dormant female energy within each of us, the “shakti”, which once awakened is a powerful force of creation. Durga is the remover of misery and suffering from life, the destructor of dark forces, and the doer who pushes God in his work of creation, preservation and dissolution. As the creative aspect of the absolute, energy is imperishable, it cannot be created or destroyed, it only flows from one form to another but it is always there.
With the change of seasons, there are changes in nature and the biological cycles of living beings. When the warm light-hearted fun and sunshine of summer are replaced by the cooling evenings of autumn and the falling tree leaves, people often feel low and associate these changes with autumn. Navratri represents an opportunity to worship the divine and ask for blessings to give us strength to deal with the changes our body and mind goes through. It is an opportunity to harness our own shakti energy so we can realise its creative potential for personal growth, to maintain our physical, mental and emotional balance. On a bigger scale, Navratri is to also show gratitude to the Divine for maintaining the right balance on a cosmic level when changes in the world and nature occur.
The festival worships three different aspects of the Divine mother. The first three nights are dedicated to worshiping and meditates invoking the power of Durga to destroy within us that which slows us down on our spiritual progress, our impurities and self-harming habits, and to protect our spiritual practice from the many temptations that divert our attention away from it. The second three nights are dedicated to the aspect of the Divine Feminine which grants spiritual wealth and abundance known as Lakshmi. She bestows the aspirant with the qualities of compassion, kindness, forgiving and integrity. The final three nights of the festival are dedicated to the Goddess of Wisdom, Saraswati. Her boons are achieving self-realisation and understanding deep universal truths such as our divine nature and the interconnectedness at the level of consciousness. Observing and meditating on all different aspects of the Divine Mother bring an all-round success in life.
These nine days are an auspicious to utilised to harness the feminine energy and power within us to achieve prosperity and success in all aspects of life, while releasing us of our worst enemies - anger, resentment, procrastination, regret and guilt. Like a baby in the womb of a mother, we evolve in the womb of the Divine Mother to be born again as better versions of ourselves. The ageing of autumn symbolises our inner death only to be reborn again stronger, wiser and more content. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we rise to know ourselves better. This is an endless cycle of human development, the seasons of life that push us throughout our days towards self-development and growth.
Another popular autumn festival is Halloween (All Saint’s Eve) - an introspective time of remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs and the faithfully departed believers. Argued to be partly Christian and partly pagan (Celtic) in its origin, the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve has become popular across the globe. Its focus is on using humour and ridicule in the face of death. Trick-or-treat, Halloween costumes and bonfires are all part of the tradition. Indulge in the fun, the tricks and the games, warm your body and soul by the fires, challenge death.
Numerous other celebrations across the globe are connected to autumn marking the end of harvest season. Mid-Autumn Festival in China, Taiwan and Vietnam (also known as the Moon Festival) is symbolised by three fundamental concepts. First it is the gathering of family and friends and harvesting crops for the festival, second thanksgiving for harvest and harmonious union, and finally praying for good fortune, children, spouse, good health and longevity. Through this celebration we have an opportunity to be together with loved ones, to aspire to happy life and fortunes and to ask for one’s heart’s desires. Autumn is an auspicious time to express gratitude for all that we have received in life.
These are only few of the mystical and mythological roots of autumn. Take part in nature’s cycles and merge with the flow of life. What more beautiful and enriching than a time, a season to look inward, to reflect, to harness one’s energy, to discover one’s deepest heart desires, to re-connect with oneself, nature and others, to remember and forget. Autumn gifts us an opportunity to find one’s inner balance, peace and strength.
Formerly in international diplomacy, Snezhina works as an executive search consultant in the City of London. She teaches regular workshops on Babaji's Kriya Yoga and Siddhanath Surya Yoga. To deepen her work with people Snezhina reads and teaches esoteric numerology and spiritual tarot. She is a freelance writer publishing poetry and articles on spiritual and political topics. Snezhina loves dancing Salsa and Flamenco.