Autumnland: Pagan Path and Paradise
I’m aware that “Summerland” is an ancient and commonly held concept of the Pagan afterlife. I suppose that’s because many Pagans imagine Paradise as a land where everything is perfect: Nature in full-bloom, wildlife in abundance, beautiful weather, and so forth. However, my idea of Paradise is Autumn, not Summer.
For me, Autumn is the most beautiful, exhilarating, and fascinating season. The Earth is changing, from mature to wise, Nature’s colors fill the landscape, from the leaves on trees to the swirling pastels in late afternoon clouds, to ripened fields of grains, pumpkins, and more. Various scents seem more noticeable, including food and floral, wood and woodsmoke, minerals and soil. The heavy hand of Summer is removed; the elements are freed. Even the wind and rain smell and feel different. The colder, crisper nights make stargazing more enjoyable. And of course, there is the majestic Harvest Moon.
The summer-long stupor has ended. An impending sense of purpose reawakens. Earth is changing. Life is changing.
Autumn, of “Fall” is often regarded as winding down, slowing toward the sleep of Winter. However, there is heightened activity in the unseen realm, “behind the scenes, ” in the “Reality behind reality.”
I prefer the darker half of the year, from October to April. In fact, I would rather have six months of Autumn and no Summer at all. The Summer of 2009 was more mild than usual (where I am) . However, typical Summer here is unpleasant, hot and humid, and often stagnant air for weeks, with more pests (and pesticides) . The Fall offers more variety, as does Spring. However, Fall does not have as much threat of severe storms that Spring does. Mostly, I prefer the darker half of the year because human activity becomes slower and quieter. Or it used to, in previous generations. (Technology appears to be changing that.)
In Autumn, the Earth herself is more alive, not only with the changes, but also personality. I feel like Nature is communicating more clearly with me. I feel more “at home” in this season than any other.
Perhaps I like Autumn most because I was born on the day before Samhain. Hence, I feel a natural affinity with the season. It is a more spiritual time for me, a sacred time. I don’t engage in formal religious practices, but I become more reflective and introspective, more sensitive to spiritual and paranormal aspects of life. I try to commune with both natural and supernatural elements — or at least invite them to commune with me.
Generally, I take a mythopoetic view of life, that the divine manifests in the human, the supernatural in the natural, heaven in earth. The mythopoetic perspective often lends a surreal view of reality. I’ve been thus oriented since childhood (although I didn’t know the term “mythopoetic” until college) . However, during much of my early adulthood, while I was involved in evangelical Christianity, I tended to suppress this inclination. Doing so caused growing tension for several years, until I eventually left that religious environment. Afterward, it seemed quite natural to re-embrace the mythopoetic way.
My personality tends toward the melancholic. In Western culture, there is an ancient belief that personality types derive from four basic bodily humours. (For the melancholic, the humour is black bile. See further below.) Mine seems to correlate mostly with the element of Earth (of the four elements: earth, water, air, fire) . However, my zodiac birth sign is Scorpio, a water sign. I often dream of water and find the ocean awesome. And yet, I do seem to prefer cold and dry weather to any other combination. I don’t easily tolerate the cold and wet. For a long time I considered relocating to a warm and arid climate, but lately my subconscious (soul) seems to be telling me “cold and dry.”
And all this correlates to the mystic and/or monastic spiritual type. Interestingly, while I was in the evangelical environment, my traits tended sometimes toward the “crusader” type, but when away (and finally departed) from that environment, I have shifted back to a more mystic type. Environment and social context often draw forth varying combinations of traits and dispositions (or moods and modalities) . This can lead to imbalance and therefore tension and conflict. Often a necessary change in religious orientation occurs. The underlying, inherent spiritual type remains and restructures a person’s path. (Or gets the person back onto the right path.) That seems to indicate that we are primarily spirit-beings. And it may also mean that each individual has a spiritual type.
Some people have tried to match personality types with spiritual types, and further link them to learning styles. Still others view spiritual types as being centered in body, mind, heart, or soul. I wonder how much our personality affects our spiritual path, and vice versa. That is, the way we perceive truth, and how we approach situations and relationships, especially with deities and spiritual forces. Indeed the gods and goddesses themselves appear to have various personalities.
Here are some correlations between Seasons, Elements, Qualities, Humours, Personalities, and Spiritual Centers.
Autumn: Earth: Cold and Dry: black bile: Melancholic: Soul
Winter: Water: Cold and Moist: phlegm: Phlegmatic: Mind
Spring: Air: Hot and Moist: blood: Sanguine: Heart
Summer: Fire: Hot and Dry: yellow bile: Choleric: Body
Many people who see such connections also recognize complex combinations as well. While overall dispositions may be evident, everyone is unique. Each person has perspectives, preferences, moods, and motivations that make them similar to others, yet unlike anyone else. We may share some common views and pursue some common goals, but spirituality is an aspect that cannot be pressed into a mold. Especially when it comes to Paganism, it is not one-size-fits-all.
So, I wonder how many Pagans would discover that they might prefer an afterlife or paradise other than Summerland. As far as Seasons go, Summerland would be the least appealing to me. (It would actually seem closer to hell than to heaven. Unless of course, Summerland were like Winter in Florida. That would be fine.)
It is all relative, and relevant, to whom we are as individuals. (And that goes for non-humans as well.)
Perhaps the saying is true, “You don’t choose your path; your path chooses you.”
As I grow older and continue doing soul work and now more soul-shadow work (as the shadows lengthen in life) , I find interesting correlations (and complex combinations) among the four seasons, four elements, personalities, and spiritual paths. I hope to pursue this further. For now, I defer to persons more learned and insightful. Perhaps there will be more essays on such topics. I welcome correspondence with anyone along these lines.
Somewhere mellow Jazz is lofting over pumpkin fields in cool twilight, while laughing children play among the red-golden leaves, with frolicking cats. (There must always be cats.) The moon is rising over Autumnland, and I know I’m at home.
Peace and Blessings.
Here are a few websites discussing the correlations mentioned above. I found these sites at random, and I do not endorse them or any other site, subject, or author associated with them. The information is rather elementary.
The following is from a Christian point of view:
This one is also from a Christian point of view: