Thursday, September 5, 2013

Is It Autumn Yet?

The last couple of nights, the weather has been beautiful for sleeping with the window open. Although more hot days are forthcoming, there's also a pleasant hint of autumn in the atmosphere. The equinox, and its Neopagan celebration Mabon, may still be two weeks away, but Rosh Hoshanah is upon us, and it already feels like the season has turned.

U.S. Labor Day was this past Monday, and in the Lake Michigan region, this feels like a seasonal holiday rather than only a national calender holiday. My mom and I went on a road trip to Plymouth, Indiana, for the annual Blueberry Festival. We walked around in the sun, refreshing ourselves with blueberry shortcakes, then fish tacos cooked on the grill, washed down with a blueberry iced coffee.

Huckleberries: closely related to blueberries, but not exactly the same
One of the indigenous peoples of the southwest Michigan/northwest Indiana/eastern Illinois and Wisconsin region, the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi (one of the Algonquin peoples, Pok√©gnek Bod√©wadmik in their own language), celebrates this time of year with a pow wow, attended by several of the regional indigenous tribes. The name of this event is the Kee-Boon-Mein-Kaa pow wow, translated as "I have quit picking huckleberries*." The end of berry-picking season has been celebrated at this time, in this place, as far back as the Pokagon can remember. 

By the way, there is also a Potawatomi band in Kansas; they were forcibly moved there by the U.S government. When I went to Kansas last year, it made me incredibly sad to see how flat, treeless and riverless Kansas was. Imagine your culture was based upon living off of forest resources, that wild berries and fish went into many of your cultural dishes, that weaving river grasses into intricate baskets was one of your favorite visual fine art forms, and then you were forcibly moved to a dry, flat land with few rivers and scarcely any trees. It makes me angry every time I think about it. 

Autumn 2013 Events:

Sept. 22 - Autumnal Equinox

Oct. 15 - release of When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket

Oct. 18 - release of Kill Your Darlings movie with Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg

Oct. 22 - release of Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Nov. 11 - official release of Lady Gaga's ARTPOP album

Nov. 15 - release of The Book Thief movie

Nov. 22 - release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie

Nov. 26 - third book in Barbara Longley's Perfect, Indiana series, A Change of Heart, releases

Nov. 27 - Hanukkah begins at sundown

"Kore" by Lisa Sotilis, Creative Commons license.
I've already written detailed posts on Mabon scheduled for the 22nd-23rd of September. Still, I was thumbing through an old journal the other day, I came across this, copied from a Unitarian Universalist church bulletin's Pagan column (unfortunately, I haven't written down the name of the columnist):

"The wheel turns to Mabon - the Fall Equinox. Mabon marks the second harvest on the Pagan calendar...

"In Greek mythology, Autumn begins as Persephone returns to the Underworld to live with Hades, her husband. The myth says that Demeter's daughter, Kore, had taken a day to pick flowers in a meadow when the Earth opened up, and Hades pulled the girl into the Underworld to become his bride. Kore's name became Persephone when she married Hades. For nine straight days, Demeter searched for Kore. Helios, the Sun God, informed her that her brother, Zeus, had given the girl to Hades. In fury, Demeter cursed the Earth so that it would yield no crops. Zeus sent her a frantic message inquiring as to why she had prevented growth on the planet. She replied that there would be no regeneration of vegetation on the Earth until her daughter, Kore, was safely returned.

"Zeus immediately dispatched Hermes into the Underworld to retrieve the girl. Hades did not want to relinquish his bride permanently. Ever the negotiator, Zeus declared that Kore-Persephone would live with her mother during one half of the year and return to her husband, Hades, during the other half. In thanks, Demeter lifted the curse on the Earth, creating Spring. Every year hence, during her time of greatest sorrow, Demeter renews the curse, as her daughter returns to Hades and the Underworld."

The curse is starting to take effect. It feels like it should be Autumn now, but all things in their due time. For now I'll enjoy the late summer.

Well, maybe with one Starbucks pumpkin spice latte...

*Gaylussacia baccata and related species, which if you are an English speaker not from North America you may call bilberries.

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