The weather in this town is a betrayal of my religious sensibilities. It’s all bright and warm and sunny without ceasing.
This is the Land of Perpetual Summer.
This town resists death at all costs; be that the death of youth, the death of popularity, the death of green. Death is frowned upon in Los Angeles.
This town is in denial of Autumn.
Autumn is my favorite season. It’s just cold enough for two shirts, but not so cold that you can’t enjoy an evening walk through the neighborhood, through the urban grove, sharing in the soft, gold-filtered light.
I find comfort in the dying. It relieves the pressure to be beautiful, to be productive. I need not grow these leaves anymore, says the tree. I can rest. I can go out in a blaze of red-purple-yellow glory, and then be still for a time.
There are orange and amber leaf decals on the windows of the local Starbucks on Santa Monica Boulevard. They approximate Autumn. They are the simulacrum of a season, but they come nowhere close to touching on it’s meaning, or its majesty.
I’m in a town that does not rest. It persists with a fierceness that runs contrary to the sentiments of Autumn. Fall is a time to make tea or soup, and to remember the comforts of flannel and fire. At least, that’s what the season is in my imagination. It is a time where the world, herself, slows down the pace of our movement, and we are given more time to be in the dark, to be in meditation, in contemplation, in prayer as we understand prayer.
Autumn is misunderstood, as is the darkness. It is a gift to be given reason to stop moving in a frantic world. Autumn provides us with that gift.
Los Angeles is always at work, always in preparation for the next season of television shows, of fashion lines, of press releases and album releases. The sense of season is so different here; so fixed in movement and the creation of things, and consumerism. Everyone’s always jumping ahead, planning for two seasons forward, getting a good start on next year’s holidays, on a new collection of Spring beachwear, on anything but what is happening right now — stillness, release, beautiful dying.
It’s curious to be a wandering Druid in this concrete city, trying to keep mind of what is natural in the midst of what is not. One has to start accepting nature as omni-present; available and existing in even the starkest, most man-made environments. There is no part of the Earth that is not a part of the Earth, after all.
Even here, in Los Angeles.
The equinox provides us an opportunity to re-examine ourselves and take a closer look at our place in the world. I had cause to ask myself recently, “What is it to be a Druid, anyway? What is it to feel aligned with aspects of a distant culture and yet be completely rooted in modernity (or post, or ex-post-modernity)? When I walk through the city in my wingtip shoes and black bluejeans, how am I like the Druids dancing at the foot of The Long Man of Wilmington? How are we the same? How are we different?”
My mind drifts to the British Isles on the Equinox.
Alban Elfed, a phrase loosely translated to mean, “The Light Of Water,” is used in many Druid traditions to name the celebration of the Autumn Equinox. Druid teachings and titles can be cryptic poetry, for sure. It is a mystery tradition, after all. But today, in this foreign place, where the flowers continue to bloom and the mountain side shows no sign of letting go of the light, I read something different into the Welsh words.
I read “Light of Water,” and I look outside at the swimming pool, quintessentially Los Angeles, drenched in morning sun and shimmering beneath a thin steam, and I see in that interaction of heat and cold, of pale yellow light and deep blue darkness, a message that Autumn is here, regardless of what Los Angeles thinks. The shift of the world happens even when we pay it no mind; a power so great as to lead one to reverent worship.
Harvest Home, Indeed.
I board a plane today and return home, and this seems perfectly timed to occur on the Autumn Equinox. The sense of returning back to our dens, to our hearth, is symbolic of the season. Autumn is a time to savor the dying sun, to relish the mid-day warmth, to walk through the world in layers, and then to return home and prepare.
The season of deep reflection is upon us. Take a moment to think about the meaning of Autumn. If the colors are already changing around you, gaze at them. If you’re in a place where there is little outward change, imagine what subtle signs you can sense in the atmosphere, in your body, that point to the shift.
Take these thoughts and emotions and, if you are willing, put them together as a poem or short verse and post them in the Bishop In The Grove comment section. If you have your own blog, post them there, and then share a link with us here. The words need not rhyme, and you don’t have to explain why they are relevant to you, unless you feel moved to do so.
It would be an honor to share in your experience of the Autumn Equinox.
May the Awen flow through you on this blessed day.