We’re supposed to get our first substantial rains this week, the rains they call the “season ending” ones. I’ve always disliked that term, since to me, it meant the end of the season of garden abundance, patio tea time, and the light of the Sun that wards off my winter depression.
This year I’m seeing more clearly how the season being ended is also that of the fires, one of which is burning close to us this year. So close that, when I open the bedroom window for just a few minutes to check out the temperature, the warning light on my air cleaner goes red.
This season is about transitions, harvest, and moving from the light into the dark half of the year, and on the Equinox especially, I feel the tension between these two poles. That tension sits uneasily within me as I welcome the end of the fires but mourn the end of the summer cheer.
When Griffin and I go on our morning walk, the air is smoky and he sneezes from it, he’s a sensitive being. I start to feel tired, and short of breath, and a bit untethered from myself.
It’s the toxic mimic of the transcendence I feel in the old coastal forests, that verdant spinning from the deep breathing of clean oxygen carrying the aromatic souls of the ancient trees and filling my mind with (almost) more life than it can handle.
Today’s lightheadedness is from the airborne bodies of those trees, burning to ash that floats on the wind, to fly away along with the life of their spirits.
I wonder if the feeling in my chest is my heart or my Heart, my physical organ reacting to the drop in nourishment, or my Shen center dropping into grief at the loss of so much I hold sacred.
I remember one of the beings I most love from the coastal forest- Western Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa. It grows along the edges of the paths we hike in the Humbug mountain area, near the forests that are burning now. It flowers in early summer, beautiful delicate blooms that look like a heart breaking open.
The early herbalists of this area, especially the Eclectics, revered it for what they called “feminine pain”, and as a Poppy relative, it’s a reliable painkiller for all kinds of cramping. They saw that pain as a physical-emotional tangle, probably for sexist reasons that we don’t need to get into.
But there is wisdom in calling on Bleeding Heart for pain which is both physical and not, and that’s why I think of it now. Sorrow that starts as emotional pain and becomes physical, injury to the body that dampens the spirit, loss that becomes a hole in the Heart and the heart- these are the complex pains that Bleeding Heart can heal.
When we get back inside, I take a few drops of our Bleeding Heart and sit with it for a bit. This very Spagyric was wildcrafted from that nearby park that is so dear to me, and I wonder what the plants there are experiencing as their home is threatened.
I use the distance the plant gives me from my sorrow to work on holding the contradiction of this season a bit more lightly. I remember that even as I will miss gardening in the bright sun, I’m excited about the reading and study that wintertime brings.
As I reach out into the natural world for comfort and guidance, I see that most of the plants out there, left to their own schedule, are seeding right now. The Henbane I posted about last week, the Dill and Yarrow I collected seeds of yesterday, even the Quince turning golden on our trees are big, delicious containers for seeds.
Nature plants so many of her seeds right now because the wet and the dark will hold them and slowly awaken them to rise in the light of the next Spring. I see the whole cycle: the tomatoes I will plant in just a few short months, the zucchini I just harvested the last of, and the beds they all grow in, now bare.
I thank the Bleeding Heart for her wisdom and head outside to sow my winter cover crops, and the cycle rolls on.