Leafing through Autumn

What you need:: Curiousity, magazines, and art supplies (read about them here).

Candles, music, tea, and company, as well as any other additions you dream up to setting your space, to be with creative practice are optionally limitless!

Rustling leaves dancing with breezes gently landing in ones, twos, and threes. Clear night skies. Early evening moonlit walks. Shooting stars, firelight, oranges and lemons, treetops brightly glowing. Trails in the woods showing themselves now the understory has fallen down, tucking into the ground. Autumn. Gathering to itself the stems, stalks, and leaves from half a years passage. Giving gold in harvests to store and enjoy: apples, pumpkins, squashes, sweet potatoes, gourds, nuts, seeds.

Autumn. Crunchy leaves to rake and tumble in. Turning over. Breaking down. Moving into darkness. Decay: the initiation of replenishment. Autumn feeds the earth nourishment she needs to replenish and digest in preparation for renewal. Rain beats down and wind blows the last ones, the leaves holding on tightly, until only a few remain, dangling from bare branches. Hummingbirds, goldfinches, bees, and butterflies are out of sight. Deer shed antlers. Chickadees and cardinals appear. Ladybirds and stinkbugs move inside. The songs of crickets dwindle to a full stop.

There is richness to autumn that is subtle. An unseen lushness underneath leaf piles, found by digging in, downward, inward, turning over. This is when humus is created, decomposing from natural detritus. Food for the earth. Crumbling composition. Haybales. Manure. Compost. Mulch and s’more. Autumn. An enriching time for digging into our own fertile ground, inspecting bulbs and roots, dividing what’s crowded, pruning and nipping to promote healthier growth. Autumn extends an invitation to examine the leaves of half a solar turn in the pages of our lives, determining what we’ll put to rest as we enter our own season of resting and adjusting.

“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” ~ Graham Greene

Inquiries to ponder and respond to in your notebook, jot down what comes up for you:

Imagine::digging up roots, do they pull out with ease, does dirt crumble away from them with a tap and a shake or are they hard to pull up, stuck, caked with dirt, requiring a shovel, deeper digging? What ‘dirt’ are you ready to tap and shake off now? Is there anything meaningful in the roots as yet or are they devoid of life? What areas are you feeling obstinately attached to that may require loosening of the soil, room to breathe, rest from?

Flipping backward through the pages already written, where do you find deep satisfaction? What evokes gratitude? What will you gather to celebrate? Are their chapters you want to revise, ones that you no longer want to revisit, stale exhausted stories you are ready to close the book on? Did any of them provide unexpected lessons that were necessary along the way, which came as they did even though they may have felt like mistakes, bitter though medicine? Can you honor what they gave you while simultaneously parting with them?

It is hunting season, has what you’ve been hunting found you? Have you found what you’ve been hunting? Did your paths converge? Was your mark aimed true or did you miss it? How can you adjust your sight and aim to kiss it? Or have you been feeling haunted and hunted? Are you prepared to turn around and meet what’s behind you, to face it? What’s restraining you, preventing you from doing so?

Where are you feeling depleted, in need of replenishment? How can you be compassionately nurturing of yourself, as well as others? What nourishment will you feed yourself this season? Are there areas that are asking for attention?

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” ~ Neil Gaiman

In numerous ways, Autumn is a mirror image of Spring. Both begin with initiative, but where Spring is leaping forward, Autumn is retrospective. Yet within the retrospection, Autumn is looking forward and preparing for Spring. There’s a relationship between the two. Spring provides the food that Autumn transforms back into food for Spring, each supporting the other.

If possible, begin the creative process with the Autumn Equinox or a full autumnal moon and play with it ending at a new moon. Should you pause and let it rest a spell, return to it on another full moon, attuning with the waning moon to contemplate and disperse what showed up for you before proceeding.

Imagine:: leaves around you, piles and piles of crunchy leaves, golden brown orange yellow, holey veined skeletal::these are the leaves of you in release and surrender::now flip through the magazines and pull out images that hold the energy of these leaves, as well as the surprising ones, the celebrated ones, the joyful harvest, the ones that rustle with the glimmer of a new story, the ones that feel as food for inspiration and insight gleaming.

Carry on, or leave and turn over after a day or longer. Remember this is your creative process; engage at a pace that feels right to you.

Pick a few colors to begin, and spread them over your paper, as you would manure on a field. You’re feeding the field and tucking it in to rest. Let the page dry and read through what you jotted down in your notebook in response to the earlier inquiries, then gather the visual feast you’ve put together. Is there a relationship between what’s in your notebook and the images?  Listen.

Put the images in a pot or a hat or something you can shake up. Either toss your vessel a bit until images dance out and fall to the ground, or mix them up, close your eyes, and pick out around six to twelve images. What do they say to you? Have you found a new story or has a message found you?

Drop the images onto your paper; you can drop all six to twelve of them or thin them down first. Glue them where they land.  Now you can leave it as it is, or paint around and over and about it. Perhaps some other images that you collected want to be added to portions, this is the time to weave them into your picture. Play with the process for however long it feels you need to until you’re ready to walk away and allow it to rest for the season.  Below is my autumnal creation.  May yours be luscious and inspiring!

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