it starts in Death
Scrolling through my social media feed last week, I saw these words and paused: “If winter is the death, then autumn is the dying” (One Willow Apothecary).
It struck a chord in me, these simple words. The concept was not new, and the words were not complicated – and yet.
Somehow, for some reason, they have been dancing through my mind ever since.
Today is Samhain. October 31. For me, and for many other witches and pagans, it is the end of the old year and beginning of the new.
It is the day when the veil between the world is thinnest; when spirits dance and caress our faces on the wind; when we reflect the road we have traveled, and look ahead to what the turning wheel may yet bring us; when the darkness feels deeper, its downward pull stronger; when our secret selves call us to turn inwards, call us home.
It is my favorite time of year.
I love the delicious pull inwards, the autumnal call to come back into myself, to turn my mind towards self-reflection after a season of flurried activity under the summer sun.
I love the knowledge of the coming darkness. The feeling, the knowing, that soon that expansive energy of the warmer months will turn shift directions. That our growing period has now transitioned – after long months of outward growing, it is now time to see what needs tending within.
And I love knowing that during the long cold darker months ahead, this is what my spirit most wants me to do. Wants me to focus on.
Not to the exclusion of the outside world, but as a means of stabilizing my center – a means of grounding me, anchoring me into myself.
This inner rootedness is the wellspring of all my strength, my creativity, my capacity to take on a world that keeps telling me that I should not exist.
This is where my dragon dwells, and they need my attention.
Without a strong center, I cannot support my community or myself. I cannot navigate my own mental health path. I cannot help myself heal or help others heal. I cannot hold hands with accomplices to challenge systemic oppression of many axes. I cannot move with intention, when I am so busy reacting with survival instincts.
Autumn, especially October, truly is the time of gathering darkness. It is the time for last harvests, for gathering berries and roots for the coming winter.
The leaves are falling and fallen; birds have flown south; squirrels are busy gathering up the last of the acorns before the cold sets in.
October truly is the dying.
Such wisdom in the words, “if winter is the death, then autumn is the dying.”
But while I have spent a lot of time relishing autumn’s dying, feeling and thinking and sensing deeply the changing world around me, I have given little thought lately to what is coming next:
Although the wheel of the year has guided me for some time, I have not fully let myself sink into the concept of the regenerative power of death.
Of the need for death.
Of the need for deathing.
If Samhain is the end of the year, then the New Year begins with death.
And so on this Samhain, I sit here holding that concept.
I sit here in awe of that concept, really.
The first stage of life, the first stage, the first season of the new year, the first step in all things – is death.
It is the composting, the laying aside, the leaving behind, the letting go, the laying down, the deathing of things and beings and ideas and feelings.
It is intentionally letting holes grow in spaces that used to be filled.
It is removing things by the root that have started to rot inside.
It is killing that which needs to be killed –
all in order for new life to grow.
For new ideas to take root. For new patterns to emerge. For new powers to flourish. For new ways of being to take center stage. For a new path to be taken towards an ending of our choosing, towards the goal that we desire.
What do you desire?
What needs to grow to take you there? To take us there, as a community?
And before that can happen –
what needs to die?
What do we, individually and collectively, need to death in order for us to build the lives and futures we envision? For ourselves? For our loved ones? For our ancestors and descendants?
What powers do we need to pull out by the roots? What ideas and patterns and ways of thinking and moving need to be deathed, in order for room to open up for us to plant seeds?
A new dawn cannot be ushered in if there is no place for its fundamental elements to grow.
What spaces can be open up inside ourselves and inside our community?
So much has hurt my heart lately. As a trans nonbinary persxn, the news lately has been especially hard.
But things have been bad for a while; while new toxic growths have been given what they needed to flourish lately, the entire garden bed has been built upon systematic oppression that needs to be dismantled entirely.
We need to pull up white supremacy, settler colonialism, cis-hetero-patriarchy, transphobia, queerphobia, classism, racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, anthropocentrism, and many other toxic patterns of thinking and being that underlie the foundation of the so-called United States.
There are many things inside me – internalized dangerous and awful ways of thinking about myself and other living things and the world – that need to be uprooted.
Not everything can be transformed as it is.
Sometimes, things need to be gently, loving, firmly, deathed.
Together, in the growing dark, as the wheel turns toward winter & death, I invite us all to consider what we can do to help what needs to die, die.
I invite us all to dream and feel and communicate and take action to death what needs deathing, in our interpersonal lives and in our communities.
How we can show up for each other? How can we truly be accomplices in challenging dominant oppressive paradigms? What actions can those with capacity and more privilege take to help death some of these very real systems of violence enacted against our kin?
For it is only with deathing that a new world can fully take root, utilizing that newly opened up space.
So on this Samhain, as we look to the past and into the future, I invite you to consider:
What in you, in your life, in your community, on these stolen lands, needs deathing?
What ways of being, thinking, communicating, acting merit deathing?
And what first steps can we take, to begin this very necessary work of remaking the world?
Blessed Samhain. Blessed deathing, beloveds <3