Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 2, Number 15
September 14, 2004
Holy Nut Day, New Moon in Virgo
- My Season: Mercury Retrograde
- September Calendar Up!
- Early Warning: Price Increases
- Living in Season: Autumn New Year
- Harvest Ritual: from Herbal Rituals
- On the Web: Countdown to Christmas
- Creative Retreats with the Comfort Queen
- Holiday Packet: Harvest
- Signs of the Season: Autumn
- Autumn Correspondence Course
- Subscribe - Unsubscribe
Welcome to my periodical newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward it.
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My Season: Mercury Retrograde
If you noticed that you are missing a copy of this newsletter, you're correct. I meant to send a newsletter out around September 1st but several things conspired to distract me-my computer breaking down (while Mercury was still retrograde-it's in the shop), a ghost showing up in the bedroom where my daughter was sleeping (at the full moon in Pisces we banished it with strung rowan berries and lots of salt but it made it hard for either of us to get much sleep for a few nights) and my birthday weekend.
I had a great time on my birthday walking a labyrinth in the morning and dancing tango in the evening and many good meals, great dances and sparkling conversations with good friends throughout the weekend. I love having my birthday on a holiday weekend I get to celebrate for four days and this year I actually stretched it out by another day so I could have a birthday dance at China Harbor where my daughter sings every Tuesday night with a swing band: the Radio Rhythm Orchestra.
May you sail smoothly through any choppy water that comes your way as we sail into autumn.
September Calendar Up!
The September calendar is up and has been since September 1st, full of interesting holidays like Climbing the Heights (September 22) and St. Sophia (September 18).
Early Warning: Price Increases
After many years without any changes, I've decided to raise prices slightly for all the items I sell through School of the Seasons. Each item will go up by about a dollar, not a big deal, and you will still receive a discount if you order more than one thing at a time. But it you want to take advantage of the current low prices, just order before October 1st.
Living in Season: Autumn New Year
I always feel excited and happy when September rolls around and my favorite season begins. for a long time I sttributed this feeling to deeply ingrained memories of starting school-the new clothes, the blank notebooks, the sense of excitement which became a buzz of chatter on the first day of school.
I've also considered the fact that my September birthday signals a fresh start for me. And Demetra George confirms this on an astrological basis in her book Mysteries of the Dark Moon, when she writes that the time right before your birthday often seems dark but your birth day is like the dawn, bringing a sense of renewal.
Later when I began exploring holidays, I was happy to learn that many cultures celebrate the beginning of a New Year in the fall.
September 1st is New Year's Day in Greece and the beginning of the religious year for the Greek Orthodox. Since this is the start of the autumn sowing season, Greek farmers take seeds to church to be blessed (much like French farmers do on February 3rd for the spring sowing). In Greece, people also make first-of-the-year wreaths with fruits and herbs which symbolize abundance.
This is an ominous day as well as a beginning, for this is the day the Angel of Death writes down the names of all those who will die in the coming year, expressing the quality of judgement also found in the Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashana, which begins after the new moon of September. This suggests the two holidays derive from the same source as the first of September would have been the new moon (first day) of the lunar month. This year the new moon in Virgo falls on September 14th.
Rosh Hashana which begins on September 16 this year is the start of the Seven Days of Awe, a chance to make changes on one's personal life in preparation for the festival of atonement, Yom Kippur. The rabbis wrote, "one is judged on Rosh Hashanah and one's doom is sealed on Yom Kippur." Four things cross out the doom of a person: righteousness expressed through gifts of charity; prayerful supplication; change of name and change of conduct." Some Jews rename themselves on this day to get a truly new start.
As with other New Year celebrations, the food you eat on Rosh Hashanah is significant. The main qualities sought in food at this ritual feast include sweetness (for a sweet year), roundness (for the cycle of the year) and abundance (for prosperity), that's why apples dipped in honey are a popular treat.
In medieval England, Michaelmas on September 29 functioned as the start of a new business year, a time for making contracts, paying rent, hiring servants, holding court and starting school. Again, food was symbolic. If you eat goose on Michaelmas, you shall not want all year.
Seattle numerologist, Cynthia Hebert, wrote about the numerological significance of the autumn in an article in a local newspaper, The New Times. September is the peak month of the year for numerologist because it's the only time your Personal Year and Month numbers are the same. Hebert says if you review the first eight months of the year, you will have an even more intense experience of those same issues in September. Then in October you will get a preview of what's coming for your next Personal Year, as the number 10 is a time of transition, leading toward a new beginning.
Happy Autumn New Year!
George, Demetra, The Mysteries of the Dark Moon, Harper San Francisco 1992
Rufus, Anneli, The World Holiday Book, Harper San Francisco 1994
Waskow, Arthur, Seasons of Our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays, Beacon 1982
Harvest Ritual from Herbal Rituals
I can't remember who recommended Judith Berger's book Herbal Rituals to me, but thank you, thank you! What a marvelous book, a book I wish I had written, except I don't have Berger's thorough knowledge of herbs.
This is a delightful book, organized by months, in which Berger writes beautifully about the changes of the natural world and particular herbs that evoke the themes of the season. There are recipes, rituals and other wonderful ideas for incorporating herbs into your life.
Berger suggests the following ritual for autumn equinox: Buy an organic fall squash, open it up and scoop out the seeds. Put the halves of the squash face down in a shallow pan, pour in about a quarter inch of water and bake in a 350 oven for about an hour. As the squash cooks, rinse the seeds and stir them with your fingers. Feel the place within you where the seeds of new life live. Pour off the pulp and slippery coating that once connected the seeds to the squash. When done, let them dry on a paper towel.
When the squash is done, drizzle butter and cinnamon and enjoy it. "Though its flesh has now become yours, its sweet potential lived in the seeds you have carefully preserved." After the seeds dry, peel them off the towel, put them in a pouch or envelope and keep them in a dark, warm place until spring. Berger suggests thinking about the seeds and their potential during the inward turning season, perhaps even taking them out and holding them in your hand, to remind yourself that the seeds of creativity and life live in you and will, in their time, emerge.
Berger, Judith, Herbal Rituals, St Martins Press 1998
On the Web: Countdown to Christmas
I know, I know, it seems far too soon to worry about Christmas but my friend, Janis, the best present-giver I know, and a fellow Martha Stewart devotee, turned me on to this web site last year, too late for me to get on board. Katie Leckey came up with a Grand Plan for preparing for Xmas, complete with lists, forms and schedules. If you decide to get with the very organized program, you'll have to catch up for the major complete home overhaul and planning process begins at the end of August. There's also a six week version for those of you who can't even face the word Christmas yet.
Creative Retreat with the Comfort Queen
I've been corresponding with Jennifer Louden, author of The Comfort Queen and other books about the value of retreating, about offering a class on time. Meanwhile I promised her I'd send out a notice about her next retreat opportunity:
A WOMEN'S CREATIVITY SPA:
Where Your Great Passion Meets the World's Great Need
With Jennifer Louden and Camille Maurine
March 5 - 11, 2005
Laurel Springs Ranch, Santa Barbara, California
Feed your wellspring of gorgeous creativity, recharge your singular vitality, burnish (or discover for the first time) your blessed passion, and discover new ways to shine that passion out into the world with greater courage, ease and clarity. You will:
- Articulate the next stage of your work or creative project
- Mobilize your mojo and female power
- Support your soul to sing out to new harmonies by learning and improvising with other passionate, creative, like-minded women
- Be nurtured by natural beauty and organic food so you can nurture the
world with your awesome gifts
Get the skinny and register at
I haven't yet attended any of Jennifer's retreats but my friend Noelle just came back recharged and glowing after a Sacred Pause retreat with Jennifer in Sedona. And I love both Jennifer's website and her email newsletter, available at
Holiday Packet: Harvest
I am happy to be able to offer a packet of ideas on celebrating Harvest (Autumn Equinox). This illustrated, 50+ page portfolio includes:
How to celebrate the Harvest and the related festival of Michaelmas
The meaning of the Harvest Moon
How to celebrate the full moon of September, the Mid-Autumn Moon and Sukkoth
Celebrating the Eleusinian Mysteries
Why Mary has so many holidays in September
Transformation mysteries of beer and wine
Recipes for gingerbread, ginger beer and moon cakes
Instructions for creating corn dollies and baskets in honor of Demeter
Lyrics for Harvest songs
And much, much more.
If you order the email version now, it will be sent within 24 hours. The printed version will be mailed within a week of your order, which might be too late for this year's Equinox feast (Sep 22), but not too late for Michaelmas (Sep 29).
To order go to our Store!
Signs of Autumn
Samantha from Long Island sent an incredible description of the Perseid meteor showers glimpsed from a plane, flying north from Florida to New York.
"I flew out, late at night, with the coming hurricanes brewing weather all around us. Blue white bolts of lightning sizzled in and around the huge clouds below the plane, searing my vision, and lighting up the thunderheads from within. As if these fireworks were not enough, meteors blossomed and trailed brilliant, sparkling tails down into the cloud banks. For the first time in years, I actually saw the milky way clearly from the darkened plane. I picked out the early autumn constellations until foul weather off the coast of Maryland obscured the view. The stars always tell me the seasons."
Diane sent a description of mid-August from her home in south central Nebraska:
"The dryland corn is beginning to turn brown and dry up. In some places sumac leaves are already assuming their autumn sunset colors and in some cottonwood trees there are golden leaves. In addition the wild plums are ripe and heavy. None of these things usually occur until in September."
And Jill wrote from Einbeck, Germany on September 7th:
"There is enough water in the old town moat
for the ducks to have moved there from the small river that runs through town. Lilac, dusty colored plums litter the footpath, squashes of yellow and red jelly. You can buy zwetschgen (plum, tho' plum is pflaumen) cakes and tarts right now at the bakeries. Right now walks through neighborhoods smell like lavender, cat pee, and something cold and bracing from old cut stones."
I've been enjoying plums delivered to me by my local CSA and my daughter made them into a delicious plum upside-down cake, another sign of the season.
Read more from these three fine writers and many more wonderful descriptions of autumn at the website. Send me the signs of autumn where you live and I will post them as well.
Autumn Correspondence Course
By the old British and Celtic reckoning of the seasons, Lammas is the End of Summer which means that Autumn is about to begin. Although most people are happy to start Spring at February 1st and Summer at May Day, starting Autumn on August 1st, often the hottest part of the year in Seattle, just seems wrong. Until you shift your understanding of the season so that Autumn is the time of harvest (rather than the time the leaves fall-that's November 1st and the start of Winter). Then you can recognize the role the warmth & sunshine play in ripening the tomatoes and basil and beans, the wheat and the corn, the dahlias and chrysanthemums.
The Autumn correspondence course is now available. (Of course, you can also order any season out of season, if you like). For a list of topics and the subjects covered, click here.
Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2004.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.
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