When I lived in the United States, autumn was my favourite time of the year. Summers in Miami are brutal and although the autumn equinox did not bring immediate relief from the heat and humidity, it ushered the promise of cooler temperatures. Autumn is also the season of spiritual harvesting, of blood and bones, of ancestors. And of pumpkin spice and scary fun.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, the spring equinox has made the sun stronger. This weekend, you can almost forget what a long, cold, grey, and rainy winter it’s been. Hopefully, it’s the promise of summer.
While I was at my local shopping centre this weekend, I passed Dusk, a store that sells candles. Their two newest collections were displayed side by side. On the left, the outdoor summer collection popped clean white lines and vibrant yellow, blue, and red motifs inspired by the tropics. On the right, the Halloween collection highlighted orange jack-o’-lanterns, black candles, and skulls.
The Wiccan holiday calendar that I followed when I lived in the U.S. was linear. It followed a seasonal pattern of spring birth, summer growth, autumn harvest, and wintery death. Holidays that were rooted in seasonal occasions but had long been married to calendar dates felt connected to their origins. Easter is in the spring alongside Ostara. Halloween is in the autumn alongside Samhain and the Day of the Dead. Christmas is in winter alongside the winter solstice and Yule.
In Australia, Easter happens in autumn, Halloween in spring, and Christmas in summer. These holidays are divorced from their seasonal origins. I don’t celebrate Easter, but I notice the backdrop of pastels, bunnies, and chicks. I’m quietly observing the return of spring while thinking of what kind of pumpkins I’ll carve for Halloween next month. I observe the summer solstice as a decorated Christmas tree stands in my home.
I used to fight this. I wanted boundaries between my holidays. I wanted this to make sense. But nature doesn’t draw boundaries and people don’t make sense. If you look through the mirror of Beltane, you’d see Samhain. On the other side of life is death. The seasons may appear linear if we look at them within the narrow lens of a year. In the grand scheme of things, it’s circular. It’s beyond circular; it’s spiral, but even that’s not the right word. A spiral’s curve revolves away from its centre point. We revolve and return. The balance of the solstices and equinox is only nearly and short-lived. It’s a constant dance of life and death.
When I lived in the U.S., I used the autumn and winter to turn inward, to work with my shadows, with blood, and bone. Now my ancestors are the foundation of all my spiritual work and I move up and down the spiral of darkness and light all year long, every season, every month, every day.