Sylvia Plath called August the odd uneven time and September feels like that, too, at least here in the upper middle west of the western half of the northern hemisphere. The end of the summer is that bridge between seasons, where one day there’s a chill rain and the next it’s warm again. Nearly an equal amount of dark and that spun-gold light. But sadness blows in with the autumn breeze, scrapes my bones like the squeak of fingers on guitar strings. I watch the early-falling leaves, take stock of the summer that’s passed.
I hang my flowers up to dry, and sense the days turning toward the dark half of the year. It is harvest time, time to reap what I’ve sown over the warmer months. To pluck from the apple tree and see what I can offer to others and what I need to keep for myself.
Sometimes I need to say leave me be, I’m tired. I feel so damn (c)old. And is there a love at home to share the fruits of my labor with, to listen while I sing my work song? Is there a love who will stay with me even through the dying season, who will forgive my summer sins? What if there is no love, or not enough? (Is there ever enough?)
I will harvest love, my own, for myself, for my friends. I will bake bread and tell myself love stories. I will say a prayer for light. Today I’ll take a walk, feel the sun against my skin. I’ll store up the warmth and the light for the cold, dark season to come. I will watch the falling-faster leaves, watch the scoured fields set upon by crows. I will find the magic in this turning-to-dark time, find someone to tell my secrets to. Even if just my notebook. Even if just the wind, or a scarecrow.
On Mabon, I will set the candles burning on my altar. I will give thanks for everything that has passed through, into, my life, and decide what I will keep. Decide what I will take with me into the new season, the new year; decide what I will leave behind. The old ways no longer useful, the fading ghosts of summer, of long-gone-love.
Here at the crossroads of time, I say a spell for letting go. Sometimes people, places, habits I once needed to survive are no longer relevant in my life. Not toxic in and of themselves, just not good for me. So I’ll set them free, say my goodbyes. And now it’s really Autumn. The leaves are blazing glorious in their dying. It stays dark two minutes longer each day. One last “so long” to summer. It’s time now to keep the tea steeping and the hearth-fires, heart-fires, burning. To tuck inside myself and wait for the next blooming. To be like the flowers that hide from the light on the dark hillsides. In the hidden places.
Dar Williams – End of the Summer
Marika Hackman – Apple Tree
Hozier – Work Song
Tash Sultana – Harvest Love
Jay Som – For Light
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Scarecrow
Sowulo – Mabon
Loreena McKennitt – The Old Ways
Dark Dark Dark – A Spell For Letting Go
The Mountain Goats – In The Hidden Places
Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, zine-maker, and small press owner. She’s also a queer womxn (she/her or they/them pronouns), a mama to two wild kiddos, and a witch who practices a blend of paganism and folk Catholicism. Aside from words, music is her favorite thing in the world. She’s also obsessed with tarot, the Midwest/Great Lakes/Rust Belt, ghosts, and the undying spirit of punk rock. Someone once referred to her as the Debbie Harry of poetry, and she still thinks that’s pretty rad. You can find her website at recklesschants.net, or find her on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie