Rolling and Tumbling.

It’s been quiet here at Rock of Eye and the other places I write online. The reasons for this are rather complex and many are personal, but the simplified version is that this is a season of death and change. In the last month and a half since I have written, I have been busy dying and changing.

The fall is always bizarrely transformative for me and, no matter how many times I fall into the pattern, I am always surprised to find what is sometimes unwanted change creeping up on me. This year has been no different and it has been a challenge, but, so far, it has been a challenge that I have met with some degree of grace, albeit grace that involves some missteps and utterly lacking in rhythm.

Part of transformation is a change of states. Up here in New England, that is an obvious, concrete process. Leaves change color and eventually end up carpeting the ground, the air gets dry, the weather turns cool, we light our furnaces, and we wait for the darkness that a New England winter brings. It is saying goodbye to the last vestiges of color and green life and preparing for the shades of white, gray, and black winter brings.

The important part of the fall season that my celebration of the Dead and observance of Samhain came together in two parts—laying to rest that which no longer serves us and preparing for the long dark. In New England, this is a very real process. Agriculturally, we plow under what is left in our fields to build the soil for the next season, put up food so that we might have sustenance for the cold night, and gather what other things we need to survive—sources of heat and fuel, clothing, modifications to our living space to keep us warm, and other necessities that guard against succumbing to what otherwise will eat us alive.

That’s a very real concern that we forget about in our current society—that, without proper preparation, we may not survive the cold night. If we do not have enough food, we cannot keep our bodies warm. If our vehicles are not ready for the snow, they may fail us. If we cannot heat our homes, we will both suffer and risk the integrity of our shelter. This is particularly poignant to me, as I have not yet turned on the heat in our apartment because I don’t know how I am going to afford to buy oil. I don’t have a guarantee that I will make it through the darkness and that’s a tangible reason why.

I’ll pull it together somehow, though, since I always manage to one way or another. The preparation for the long journey through the brutality of a New England winter is not just material, however. The emotional and spiritual preparation is just as important, at least in my world, because not all cold and darkness is physical or environmental.

It’s not a secret or a surprise that I am bipolar—I have written about it several times on this blog. One of the traits of many people who live with bipolar disorder is that we are tied to seasonal changes. When spring and summer roll through town and it is warmer and the days longer, I am more prone to be happy and, if my mood is going to slide around, it slides towards mania. When fall and winter ride in, I am much more likely to be withdrawn and depressed. Part of my intentional preparations for winter in New England is increased intentional monitoring of my mental health. I make sure I both schedule and attend all my appointments with my mental health providers. I make sure that I don’t run out of my medication and that I take it. I take a few extra supplements to boost my physical defenses in support of my mental health. I break out the sun lamp. I am even more adherent to a timetable/schedule. This is important preparation to make sure that I make it through to the other side.

Even with all of those measures in place, it’s still a struggle. A New England winter is a literal manifestation of depression. It’s gray and colorless, you’re cold to the bone, and it never seems to end. You slog through slush and snow and pray for the day when the sun breaks through the clouds and warms you just a bit. The season is insidious, though, just like depression. You wake up one day and it’s gorgeous out—upper forties to mid fifties, sunny, and the snow is melting in the streets. The next day, however, the fifth blizzard in the season rolls in and dumps two feet of snow on your doorstep. You think you’re done, but it’s only a temporary break in the clouds and you have to hold on and wait for more than a few days of seasonal peace before you can breath easy, put away your winter coat, and open the windows.

As much as winter is depression made tangible, winter is also a spiritual descent to whatever you believe lays below. For me, it’s a hike through my own personal underworld and that is being pounded home this year. While the Mister does not appear to be attached to seasons, many of the other Powers I work with and for are attached to particular climates. It will be interesting to see what my Work and relationship with Sekhmet looks like when snow covers the ground or how the unnamed Orisha interacts with me when temperature drops. Of course, snow and ice is it’s own desert, so who knows what it will bring.

This year, though, the foray into spiritual darkness is not solely focused on my Gods. They are certainly there and there are definitely obligations and things I must do for and with Them, but this time around is about me. I have some serious Work to do in the darkness and it too carries the message of a New England winter—survival is not guaranteed. I must walk into the darkness and hunt down those things that thrive below the notice of the sun. My Gods are with me, but They cannot come with me. In fact, They wait on the other side.

In some ways, I feel like Hansel. I am dropping crumbs as I walk so that I may find my way back, but those crumbs will disintegrate or be eaten or otherwise forgotten. There is no way back. There is no going forward and then returning to who and what I was before I shouldered my pack and walked into the darkness. The only way out will be through and I need to watch out for cottages set up on chicken legs.

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~ by Alex on November 4, 2013.

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