Seeing the increasing brown carpet of falling leaves, I notice that autumn is arriving. There is change in the quality of the air, a slight dampness and heaviness that wasn’t there just a few weeks ago. The air remains quite warm on the skin, but my sense is change is coming.
The change of season can be a powerful symbol for change in our inner world too. One way of looking at the changes is through a version of the native american medicine wheel. There are many versions of the medicine wheel, with slightly different stages, so you may be familiar with a different version.
In the version I am using, where summer is about birth, childhood, sexuality, playfulness, autumn moves to adolescence, introspection, the shadow side, darkness and inner conflict, depression, low mood, anxiety, overwhelm. Winter is adulthood, seriousness, duty, life purpose. And spring represents elderhood, wisdom and rebirth.
Mabon or festival the autumn equinox approaches and we start to turn to thoughts of winter while what is on the surface dies back and what needs to regenerate remains hidden underneath.
The change of the seasons is also a call to take stock of what has been and what is coming. From the lightness and carefree days of the summer we move into the darkness, with longer nights, cooler days. The cycle of life is an extraordinary reminder of our own cycles, of our mortality and urge to live.
The medicine wheel and seasons, give a framework not only to say which season of your life you are currently in but where you are drawn to right now. For example if you are drawn to the summer season of playfulness, childhood, sexuality, is that an area that needs exploring further at the moment in your life?
Counselling outdoors or nature-based therapy gives us a particularly powerful and vivid way to be in touch with the cycle of life. In noticing the coming to life and dying back of the world around us, it can put us in touch with our connectedness with the wider world, fellow beings and nature and also our own life’s journey. The metaphors than nature offers also allow us to capture and frame our feelings in ways that language alone can’t always support. Being outdoors can remind of us the raw animal nature of existence once we strip back all the comforts and distractions of modern society.
So how do you feel about the onset of autumn? Does it bring up feelings of longing, sadness or regret? Is it a time you embrace, as you prepare for winter?
Do you find yourself in depression, or starting to feel in a low mood as autumn deepens?
As the leaves turn and fall see if you notice a change in yourself, how your body responds to the world around it. Perhaps there is a way of marking this change that would resonate with you and take note as you step forward in the autumnal world.
By Matt Fox www.mattfoxcounselling.co.uk Counselling in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott