But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
It is autumn: one of the most beautiful that I can remember. Every shade and hue in nature's paintbox is on display, all saturated by the low sun or by each passing shower. The days are shortening, and from beneath the dripping rain-soaked yellow and orange leaves of a spreading beech tree the woodsman looks out on a damp, musky, mizzly world, which appears - to the causual walker - as if it is shutting down for winter, like an ice-cream parlour at the seaside ... all the colours from yellow to brown, red and purple, faded green to orange are there in artless, unrepeatable patterns.
Max Adams, The Wisdom of Trees
The seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter are experienced in areas that lie between the polar and tropical regions. Seasons impact day-length, temperature and precipitation throughout the year. The changes result from the earth's orbit around the sun. As it follows its orbit, the earth is always at the same angle to the sun. Consequently, the north tilts away from the sun from September to March (Autumn and Winter) and toward the sun from April to August (Spring and Summer). The opposite occurs in the southern hemisphere.
In the North the Autumn Equinox occurs on September 21st. This is the day in the Earth's orbit where the Sun's light falls directly on the equator and so the length of day to night is essentially equal.
After the Equinox the sun sinks below the horizon, and the North Pole is in twilight until early October, after which it is in full darkness for the Winter.
Autumn weather is variable with an increase in the clash between cold, dry air and warm, humid air. This clash of air masses can create the development of severe thunderstorms. These effects are not as strong as in the Summer, because there is less heat and humidity. This secondary period of severe weather is generally in October and the beginning of November.
Unexpected weather events such as early frost and early snow storms can impact harvests and fall planting. In addition late season hurricanes and weather conditions such as fog can give rise to dangerous travel conditions.
As climate change progresses, severe weather events are anticipated to become both more frequent and more severe.
Samhain marks the end of Autumn (harvest season) and the beginning of Winter (it falls midway between the Equinox and the Solstice). Cattle were brought down from summer pastures to be close to shelter for the winter. Animals would be slaughtered for winter stores.
Sahmain was also a time of assembly (meetings), feasting and drinking, and contests. Samhain was a liminal period where the doorway to the Otherworld was considered to be thin and humans and the Sidhe were able to cross Realms.
It is also a fire festival. There are a variety of traditions across Celtic lands relating to the fires but generally the smoke from the fires would be used in cleansing rituals for humans and animals. Each villager would take home part of the bonfire to ritually light their hearthfire on return from the festival thus taking its protection into the home.
Related Wildwood Cards:
Card: Twenty-One - The World Tree
Card: Six of Stones - Exploitation
Card: Seven of Stones - Healing
Card: Page of Stones - Lynx
Card: Six of Vessels - Reunion
Card: Seven of Vessels - Mourning
Card: King of Vessels - Heron
Card: Six of Bows - Abundance
Card: Eight of Bows - Hearthfire
Card: Ten of Bows - Responsibility
Card: Five of Arrows - Frustration