Join me on a journey to rediscover ancient traditions, seasonal living and wellbeing practices. A theme for each season. Winter: resting, Spring: planting, Summer: abundance and Autumn: harvesting. We will explore them literally and metaphorically.
You may want to get yourself a note pad, as at times there will be journaling prompts. It's good to put pen to paper but if tapping away at your keyboard or making notes on your phone is more suited to you go with that. There are no rules.
I will post in line with the Celtic seasonal calendar (approx every 6 weeks) but there will be no link to the previous post. I want to avoid people feeling that they 'have to catch up'. So if you miss a season or two just start right from where you are.
If you enjoy my scribbles, please share them with those you think would like them too.
How are you easing into autumn? Over in my little corner of the world there has been some emotional trauma that needs processing. I have taken my cue from the season and made adjustments to commitments, have drawn inwards and am working through stuff that I need to at a pace that suits me. Plus I am peppering the time with creative activities and self-care…seemingly frivolous to some but an essential to ensure that I keep myself replenished.
So rather than a posting for the autumn equinox as intended, these delayed scribbles are about the beginning of autumn in general and are written in a more pared down style than usual. So let’s dive in…
The sun is lower in the sky, its light mellow and golden which brings about a dreamy quality. The temperature has taken a noticeable turn. Mornings are dewy and evenings cool. It takes time for the air around us to warm, a reminder that the cold weather will soon permanently set in. So enjoy the last balmy afternoons before the dewy mornings give way to frosty ones. And cool evenings turn cold.
Maybe consider starting the mornings with candlelight, a warm drink and contemplate what will give you a sense of vitality for the day ahead. A fifteen minute practice that will sustain you in the months that lie ahead until we reach the winter solstice.
Activities for October:
Decorate - with seedpods, autumn leaves and branches.
Stargazing - the seven sisters constellation is now bright in the Northern hemisphere.
Plant spring bulbs - they will bring you so much joy when they begin peeping through the earth.
Light candles - their luminosity is soothing.
Make sloe gin - ready for supping at the winter solstice.
Get crafting - make gifts for December, tapping into your creativity is good for mental wellbeing and people love personal creations.
Ground yourself - bathe or have a foot soak with Himalayan salts.
Get cosy - layer your clothes and drape furnishings with blankets.
Light a fire - spend time gazing at the flames or sit around it with others and enjoy time together.
Warm drinks - now is the season for hot chocolate and mulling.
Go for a walk - get a dopamine boost from autumnal colours, go to a local orchard, collect nuts and wood.
We are now at the last harvest. How has your own harvest been? Have your activities produced the results you desired? How have hopes and aspirations manifested themselves? What unexpected curve balls turned out for the best?
Enjoy the fruits of your labour. Take time to muse on what you are grateful for and give thanks to those who have helped you on your journey this year. Gratitude is important as it gives us conscious acknowledgment.
Take stock and be honest with yourself. What could you have done differently? Our actions physically, emotionally and mentally shape our lives. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. Nurture what is healthy and for your greater good. Weed away what is not. This enables us to develop year on year.
As we tilt away from the sun, nature is winding down and so should we. Creatures have prepared themselves for the winter ahead, having departed for milder climes or plumped themselves up. Plants are now dying back, becoming dormant or shedding leaves to preserve energy.
What is about to shift in your life and what adjustments do you want to make? What things do you want to complete? What things do you want to let go of? What can be put aside to be nurtured at another time?
Traditionally this would also be a time for preserving and storing foods to last us through the winter. Do you envisage having all your needs met? If money is tight, now would be a good time to draw up a budget, so not to get swept along with the commercialism of December.
This would also be the time to look out for those within the community. If you are in a position to do so, look at what initiatives are happening in your area that will support people or organisations such as hospices, through the winter.
Take the opportunity to undertake another series of weekly photos. Is there a perceptible shift in imagery with regard to your environment and routine compared to the Spring Equinox?
If you are new here: take daily snapshots of your life for a week. Aim for a photo am & pm each day. Not stylised (unless that’s your cup of tea) but a simple capture of what you are doing at a given moment, it will give you time to pause. Put the am & pm photo together as a diptych, I use the layout app from instagram.
Out and About:
Throughout October you may hear sounds of the rut of the deer at dawn. They signal the beginning of the mating ritual, whereby the males compete to be the dominant stag that will mate with the majority of the females.
Visually the world is currently looking a little scruffy around the edges before the season’s swan song. Seeds have fallen to the earth to lay dormant until spring. Annuals start dying back and retreating into themselves. Some will be shedding their leaves.
There is still plenty of green which is just starting to give way to gold, copper, reds, purple. The obvious will be the changing colour of leaves. Look out though for the more subtle cues of autumn: fungi, mosses, conkers, rosehips, sloes, rowan and elderberries to name a few.
Observe the last flurry of activity. Mating season…beautiful spider webs suddenly seem to be everywhere and money spiders spin a fine thread called gossamer, launching themselves in the air to be carried along by early morning breezes.
There is the last feast on high energy foods as hedgehogs, bats and dormice fatten up for winter’s hibernation.
Squirrels are frantically gathering nuts.
Migrant birds that have arrived from Scandinavia, Russia and Canada where their food supplies will soon be frozen over, take their fill of berries and windfall fruits. The latter also delight small mammals, butterflies and insects who enjoy the sugar laden juices as the result of fermentation due to rotting.
Ivy is now in bloom supplying one of the last sources of nectar attracting butterflies, hoverflies, wasps, hornets, honey bees and of course the ivy bee. All of which in turn are food for spiders and birds.
Although the cold weather stops growth above the earth, roots are still growing beneath. And autumnal rain (that is the result of the tail ends of Caribbean hurricanes that come across the Atlantic) encourages the growth of fungi and mosses. Overnight Fungi spring up everywhere in woods, fields and lawns to release their spores on the wind. Easily damaged by rainfall and frosts, they are only visible for a short period of time.
Last but not least, peer closely and you will see green berries on holly bushes.
In the Garden:
- Clear away dead foliage.
- Pull out any weeds.
- Brush up leaves into a pile somewhere sheltered as a hibernation space for hedgehogs and dormice.
- Prune bushes and hedges but leave space as a habitat for wildlife.
Beech nuts: use as pine nuts, can be roasted or eaten raw.
Blackberry: as they are getting past their best, now is the time to pop them into puddings and use in cooking.
Bullace: use as would damsons; crumbles, jam, preserves and fruit liquors.
Chestnuts: roast or boil, then puree. Score a cross in them to stop them exploding.
Damsons: crumbles, jam, preserves and fruit liquors.
Elderberries: puddings, jellies and pontack sauce.
Gages: puddings and jam.
Gooseberry: puddings, jams and cook into savoury dishes.
Hawthorn: jelly to go with cheeses and pork products.
Hazelnuts: raw or roasted.
Juniper: crush and pop into casseroles or use as a garnish in gin.
Rosehip: containing x20 more vitamin c than oranges. Make into a syrup for flavouring, cordial, jelly and jam.
Rowan: jelly to go with game and lamb.
Sea beet: blanch as spinach.
Sloe: jelly, sloe gin or flavoured vinegar.
Walnut: raw, roasted or pickled.
What’s in Season:
It is time: to start embracing homemade soups, casseroles and roasted vegetables. Some of my favourite autumn recipes: cauliflower and stilton soup, game pie with port gravy, onion soup, pig cheeks in cider, sausage and lentil stew, venison casserole.
At their best: apples, beetroots, Brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celeriac, chutneys, cider, damsons, endive, figs, gages, gooseberries, Jerusalem artichoke, juniper berries, leeks, marrows, mushrooms, loganberries, medlars, onions, parsnips, pears, plums, potatoes, salsify, sloes, squashes, swedes, sweet potatoes, turnips, quince.
The last of: broad beans, broccoli, chard, chillies, courgettes, fennel, French beans, kale, peas, peppers, radishes, runner beans, spinach, tomatoes.
Hunting season provides: duck, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, hare, pheasant, rabbit and venison.
Autumn Fires, Robert Louis Stevenson
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires,
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
Next scribble: Samhain, 31 October.
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