Deep Magic, Fire: The Gates of Winter

Tuesday November 8th 2016
Autumn Leaves — John Everett Milliais

Autumn Leaves — John Everett Milliais

Bonfire Night, November 5, was perfect this year — cold and crisp and clear.

It gets dark now by about 5.30, and we walked over to the bonfire field through dark streets lit by sulfury orange streetlights. The field very dark, except on the far side where the bright yellow flames from the vast, roaring bonfire, threw silhouettes and shadows, black and rusty. Children climbed flame-lit trees to see the fire; grown-ups stood around in groups, all facing the glowing flames, their backs to the night.

At this time of year, we honour the element of fire. It is our friend bringing warmth and light — but that elemental feeling is missing from everyday life where we rely on central heating and a light switch.

This festival reminds us of the power of fire in darkness. Imagine life long ago for our ancestors hunting in the primeval forest. Fire was life.

It’s Scorpio season — Fixed Water: ice. As the darkness draws in, we gather to the hearth (or screen). Darkness is at our backs, fire lights our faces. There are monsters behind us, and in our minds, but we spin them into stories. The darkness is shared, but lonely; the fire is shared. At once, we are reminded of our solitary existence, the loneliness of being one — and so we gather, in community, to watch the fire.

This year that sacred flame burns very brightly: Vesta, both protector of the flame and the flame itself, is in Leo, the sign of the Sun, and of high summer. And she is at a strong angle to the Sun in Scorpio now.

The bonfires remind us of the summer lost, and the summers to come yet. And what are we burning? The fallen leaves of this summer, the spent ideas, the faded hopes, the outworn fashion. We burn to make way for something new — but between now and deep midwinter, there may not even be any seed sown for the next year. The muddy fields are waiting for the snow. We are waiting for the midwinter festival, when hope may start to burn again. This now is a time, for some, of mourning the year gone; and for others, it’s a time to honour the mysterious, the deep — an ending.


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  1. mike says:

    My favorite time of year! I enjoy Beth Orton’s first two stanzas to her “Last Leaves of Autumn”:
    “Oh the leaves how they shimmer
    Trees lift their skirts and they quiver
    Gently they lay down
    To the dirt and dust and ground

    They lose their innocence to find it all over
    Ain’t nothing missing, they’re just high on a feeling
    All they need is believing, no reason will do
    I’m hanging on like the last leaves of autumn
    But I’m coming through like the first shoots of spring
    I’m standing outside of space and time
    And I’m healing

  2. Beautiful Christina! Thank you.

  3. Dirk Devries says:

    Well said.