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Here in Central NY, the trees are brilliant shades of orange, crimson, and yellow. The colorful fallen leaves carpet the ground, squirrels dart here and there carrying nuts to hoard against winter, and a chill wind is stirring the colors of autumn. At night, the full moon rides, large and luminous, over the semi-bare treetops. Samhain approaches!
I realized the other day that the sight of the sun shining on the colorful landscape made me happy inside, and wondered. Why does a myriad of color seem to brighten our spirits so? We have a similar reaction to a rainbow, a field painted with wildflowers, or the various hues of a campfire. What is it about an abundance of vibrant color that is so unexpectedly pleasing to our souls? Is it the shock of the suddenly orange pumpkin in the patch that delights us so, that unexpected brightness against the brown and frost-darkened green?
The brilliant leaves announce the Season of Death, and yet it pleases me to see them. To think that the end, the death of something could be so breathtakingly beautiful is almost beyond comprehension. But Samhain is a time of such paradox, a time when beauty and starkness blend effortlessly, almost comfortingly. It is a time of ending, and yet also a new beginning, as the cycle repeats. It is a time that we need not journey to the Otherworld for spirit communication, for the spirits of the Otherworld can easily visit the living. It is a time when we return the care of the land to the Fomorians, a time when time itself does not exist, a time when spirits walk the land freely and the order of the universe is turned upside-down, if only for a short while.
It is the Feast of Death for Keltrians, Féile an Bháis, and the plants and trees are preparing for their long winter sleep -- and yet I was born in this season and find that this season infuses me with the most energy I ever have during the year (like a rebirth of sorts). Is it the chaos that pleases me? Is there something in the paradox that is Samhain that speaks to my own nature? Perhaps. After all, being born in a time that is not a time tends to bestow some, shall we say, interesting personality traits (as well as unusual abilities).
In any event, the wind has a sharpness that heralds the coming winter, and it is comforting to know that the crops are all inside and under shelter, for what remains outside after Samhain traditionally belongs to the Nature Spirits. Our harvest represents the physical side of our yearly endeavors, something we can point to and say, "Yes, we accomplished this."
But what of our personal accomplishments? What can we point to in our lives that reflects the accomplishment of our goals? This is something to think about as the darkness draws closer, as we wrap ourselves in its solitude. As we sit at fire this Samhain, we must reflect on the year now behind us, learning from our experience in preparation for a future time of action - but that time is not yet upon us. Now is the time of respite before the new push, a time to ponder the paradox that is part of the human condition and see what good we might make of it.
The Topaz Owl
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