Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. As I grow in my practice, I’ve come to love winter almost as much. I enjoy the darkness, the forced isolation the weather brings. I look forward to having more free time and less responsibilities. I can get back into making sacred art, and meditating – things I think I don’t usually have time for.
In Wicca, the winter is associated with death. Nature is hibernating, and it can look like the world around us is dead. Everything takes on a gray, monotone hue. The trees are the barest of skeletons. The Crone has taken her seat at the cauldron, and it is time for some introspection.
Although I do appreciate the changes that winter brings to both myself and my environment (the skies are never as clear as a crisp winter’s night), my new fascination with winter has more to do with its association with death than anything.
I’ve been researching death doulas. It’s an amazing new concept that calls to me, and to some of my friends as well. Death doulas are there when people are at the end of their life, and the doulas offer help to both the families and the dying. Very similar to a regular doula, except instead of ushering in new life, death doulas help people meet the last phase of their life.
To some of you, that may sound a bit strange or uncomfortable. And that’s okay, it’s not for everyone. And keep in mind, I’m the weird one in our little group. But being bombarded with articles, emails, and other advertisements for death doulas, during this particular season, cannot be a coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidences anymore.
We have just passed Samhain. Many of us view Samhain as the end of a cycle, and Samhain has become known as the Celtic New Year. Which makes this a great time to put things to rest in our lives. Because the weather makes staying home and indoors so appealing, this is the time of year when we spend more time alone. This is the time of year when there’s not much else to do except think.
I encourage you all to embrace winter, and spend some time with yourself. Be the Hermit from the Tarot; ruminate, re-evaluate, ask yourself the hard questions. How have you grown? Are there areas in your life that you’ve been stagnant in? What is important to you? There is a chance that your answer may different this time from the last time you considered these things. As we grow, our lives change, our priorities change, and we need to be aware of that so that we can steer our life in the appropriate direction.
While you’re doing a sort of self-evaluation, you will likely find things that you don’t like, or that you know are unhealthy for you. Bring the winter into you thinking. Get rid of those things, bury them. Winter is the season of the Crone, and although She is wise, she can be harsh and unwavering in her knowledge. These things aren’t always easy, but they are necessary. Pruning helps the plant to be healthy, and we don’t want dead leaves and branches weighing us down.
So as the fall approaches (finally), and we look towards winter, don’t dread the cold and the bleakness. This is a time that can be empowering if you harness winter’s energy. Get to know yourself again, and clean out your metaphorical closet. Actually, go ahead and clean out your bedroom closet too. It’s a good time to donate unwanted clothing to local shelters or clothes closets that help the needy.
With wisdom and empowerment,