Persephone's Descent

The light is slowly changing from green to gold. The crisp air creeps along exposed skin, reminding me to don warmer clothes, such as hoodies, flannels, and fleece. Bees still hum in the fields, ambling from flower to flower in search for pollen. Butterflies flutter here and there, finding a perch on nearby branches, leaves, and petals.

During my recent Sunday wanderings at a local preserve, I felt a pull in my center. Whether recognized in poetic terms as Persephone’s descent or simply as energy moving inward, I acknowledge this shift, both in my body and the natural world. The seasonal wheel is spinning in the direction of the Autumn Equinox, when light will finally yield to dark. I then wondered, how did those from the past observe the cyclicity of the seasons?

Like many Americans, I’m a Heinz 57 — a predominant mix of French-Canadian, Scots-Irish, Lakota, and Danish. My point, simply, is … because my background is varied, most likely, so were my ancestors’ celebrations. What keeps me grounded in the present, while uniting past and future, is the knowledge that the Autumn Equinox is, and will continue to be, the balance point between light and dark; that its energies and the sun’s position meant something to bygone generations. How my family and I embody the recurrent changes will be added to a long spiral of timeless festivities. Our actions are what truly matter.

To me, it’s a time of thanksgiving and great generosity. I honor and share the year’s abundance, the results of the metaphorical and literal seeds planted last spring. My soul, too, recognizes that the days are getting shorter; the nights, longer. As the sun wanes, warmth comes in different forms, from gathering with loved ones to snuggling deep under comfy blankets.

Regardless, returning to the planet’s womb, to the dark, can definitely be an ambiguous transition. When I need a reminder, I remember this prayer:

O radiant leaf! You have made your descent to grassy ground, where the wind will tease your edges or whip you off to a different locale. Wherever your final resting place, you will be food for new growth and springtime dreams. There is consternation in this unknown. People tread carefully along this threshold. When I ground myself in gratitude and your message, wise little leaf, I know that I have found my theriac for fear. May your journey home be filled with blessings.

So I breathe and surrender to Persephone’s descent, choosing to consciously enter the mysterious wisdom and hearth of the Underworld. In your own way, will you join me?