DEATH, HARVEST, HUNGER: A WILD WOMAN’S HOWL

BY HILLARY RAIN

Today is the Autumn Equinox in the north.

This season is like the sunset of the year, a final rush of energy and color as the sun slides towards the dark horizon of winter’s night.

Right now my porch is littered with these beautiful, bursting pods as the burnished trees outside my door leave their harvest with me, as if hoping I'll notice them, scoop them up and proclaim them art. (I did.)

Tucked inside their fragile cages, these rattling skeletons bear tiny round nuggets of hope—life that emerges only during seasons of sacrifice, of baring down, stripping away, opening, revealing, harvesting, and dying. It is a paradox given to us by nature itself—that only when the wet, the green, and the growth that would keep their seams tightly closed, holding on for dear life, surrenders to the falling away, that life can flow on.

It's hard to let go. I know, dear love. I know.

I like to commemorate this time of year by turning to a favorite, familiar passage.

In her classic book Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes—

To eat the pear means to feed our deep creative hunger to write, paint, sculpt, weave, to say our piece, to stand up for, put forward hopes and ideas and creations the likes of which the world has never seen before ...

This is the true nature of the psychic tree: it grows, it gives, it is used up, it leaves its seed for new; it loves us. Such is the Life / Death / Life mystery. It is a pattern, an ancient one from before water, before light, an unwavering one. ... The pattern is this: In all dying there is a uselessness that becomes useful as we pick our way through it all. What knowing we will come to reveals itself as we go along. In all livingkind, loss bring a full gain. Our work is to interpret this Life/Death/Life cycle, to live it as gracefully as we know how, to howl like a mad dog when we cannot—and to go on, for ahead lies the loving underworld family of the psyche that will embrace and assist us. ...

… So, the handless maiden is waiting to have a child, a new little wild self. The body in pregnancy does what it wants and knows to do. The new life latches on, divides, swells. A woman at this stage of the psychic process may enter another enantiodromia, the psychic state in which all that was once held valuable is now not so valuable anymore, and further, may be replaced by new and extreme cravings for odd and unusual sights, experiences, endeavors.

For instance, for some women, to be married was once the end-all and be-all. But in an enantiodromia, they want to be cut loose: marriage is bad, marriage is blah, marriage is unecstatic sheisse, shit. Exchange the word marriage for the words lover, job, body, art, life, and choices and you see the exact mindset of this time.

And then there are the cravings. Oh la! A woman may crave to be near water, or to be belly down, her face in the earth, smelling that wild smell. She might have to drive into the wind. She may have to plant something, weed something, pull things out of the ground or put them into the ground. She may have to knead and bake, rapt in dough up to her elbows.

She may have to trek into the hills, leaping from rock to rock trying out her voice against the mountain. She may need hours of starry nights where the stars are like face powder spilt on a black marble floor. She may feel she will die if she does not dance naked in a thunderstorm, sit in perfect silence, return home ink-stained, paint-stained, tear-stained, moon-stained.

A new self is on the way.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Wild surrender

I like to say that Autumn is my very own New Year. A new beginning comes through letting go of all that does not serve and whatever holds me back from freely living as I am called. It is a time to be ravaged by the wilds and ripped apart by them; to be flayed open—and all the excess that obscures true hunger cut away.

Yet with the pain of it comes a shyly-revealed secret of rebirth ... a humble, life-bearing seed tucked deep within which is revealed only upon surrender and spilled into the readied earth. Is it easy? No. But it is the only way.

What do you need letting go of? What needs to let go of you? You may choose to embrace Autumn as the organic cycle of death, sacrifice and lament. I believe the seasons bring gifts to us, not only through the natural rhythms of the earth but also psychically, metaphysically, spiritually. Allow this season to mirror you. Lean into it. Let it love you. Let it ravage you. Let it strip you bare. Welcome the harvest. Welcome the death, the agony, the emptiness, the howl. Trust nature. There are seeds of life within your bones.


Embrace the rhythm of nature with a gentle Autumn cleanse for your body.

I’m hosting a giveaway for one spot in Stephanie Perkinson's Deeply Rooted: The Autumn Cleanse on my blog this week. Come enter!