The Beautiful Sadness of Autumn: An Equinoctal Magic.

Via Laura Marjorie Miller
on Sep 21, 2010
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In the midst of the harvest celebration, what to do with the melancholy of this season?

Photo by Jeff Frazier

Fall is a sensory season, heavyladen with beauty: tables overbrimmed with squash and corn, the nightchill that welcomely pings your skin, woodsmoke in the air, cider on your tongue, the faraway horns of a highschool football game. Gosh, it’s gorgeous!, and front-loaded for celebration.

But not all my friends feel that way, or they feel something else besides: my intuitive friend Lucie gets a deep fear around this season, an acute, visceral sense of her impending demise. Other people dear to me also feel the SADness coming on, even amid the fireworks shows of leaves. Something pulls about the Fall, something tugs, something ebbs.

The feeling begins around the Equinox, around Mabon: it comes with the draining away of light, the steady and growing influx of darkness at the edges of the day. The long languid abundance of summerTIME is gone, the sense of immortality. There is a sense that things are being taken from us.

And they will be, and are. Events, relationships and memories will be left behind. We might feel like we have run out of time to correct our mistakes, to turn things around. It can’t all go with us, carried across the seasons. We make decisions about what to keep and what to feed, what is sound and whole enough to make the journey, and through doing so we choose what kind of person we want to be.

Our sorrow might stem from what seems to be that choice’s ruthlessness. For in one timeline, we cannot be all possibilities, we cannot be all different versions of ourselves at once, so we have to choose one. Sometimes the choice has already been done for us. Acknowledging mistakes and YES, failures is not a popular or comfortable position. So there is a frightened sense as the selves that do not, that will not, make it through to the next cycle, clutch on for dear life.

Maybe that is one reason my friends feel so sad. Everything feels passing, precious, poignant. In the superabundance of mid-autumn, we can see all of it: what we have done, as well as what we have failed to do.

But the failure is also part of the harvest. A teacher of mine told me once that our mistakes are compost for our successes. I make offerings to the Goddess of Failure, she says. I give her all that I did not succeed in doing: all abortive attempts, all miserable rejections, all the things I tried but I could not do, all the people I could not convince to love me. I give it all to her. I learn from my mistakes so that I can be better. I make them into compost so that I can grow my next projects, so I can avoid the same mistakes in relationships.

That is something quite different from abandonment. So instead of feeling like you have to abandon anything, turn it over with compassion into the soil.

Goddess of Failure, part of my harvest is my mistakes. I offer you what I broke, and I offer you all the lessons I learned from it.

There are no mistakes, no real failures: only compost.

And instead of only looking at what is lost, look at what is left, what you keep, the one you’re with, for that is what will sustain you. It is polished for you: cleaned out and pure and glorious and made ready for you, all yours. Place it on the altar of your heart, hard and dearly won. The compost goes beneath.

It is all your harvest. Well come to what is your own. Happy Autumn Equinox!

So mote it be, and blessed be!

Yours in abundance of love,



About Laura Marjorie Miller

Laura Marjorie Miller writes about travel, Yoga, magic, myth, fairy tales, photography, marine conservation, and other soulful subjects. She is a regular columnist at, contributing editor at Be You Media, and a public-affairs writer at UMass Amherst. Her work has appeared at Tripping, GotSaga, Dive News Network, and, in Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe and Parabola. She is based in Massachusetts, where she lives with a cat named Huck. You can find her on twitter at bluecowboyyoga.


10 Responses to “The Beautiful Sadness of Autumn: An Equinoctal Magic.”

  1. […] Exactly Just a fly-by post to share another amazing article by my friend Laura Marjorie Miller: The Beautiful Sadness of Autumn. […]

  2. leighabutler says:

    Thanks for this beautiful piece. "Everything feels passing, precious, poignant" — Isn't it so? I love autumn so deeply, but that attachment comes with an awareness that it won't last long.

  3. Hilary Lindsay says:

    Here's another beautifully penned story of our lives through the seasons. I also feel the bittersweet tinge of darkness at the edge of the light but for me this is a magical time where the glare of summer subsides and this more focused illumination allows us to see the shadows .Everything takes on a greater dimension and feels more powerful. Perhaps it's this power that bothers people. When the world is blown out with light and heat in the summer it offers an opportunity for hedonism. Now nature tells us to gather our resources and go inside to closer and more intimate quarters with each other. Slowing down forces a reckoning that for some may feel like mortality. Thank you Laura for illuminating this time so we may consider it each in our own way.

  4. I love visiting your site, I have bookmarked it

  5. Joana Smith says:

    Yay! Really good thoughts and meditation on the season…Thanks for the inspiration, we have decided to start our garden and use some of this compost!

  6. Dianne says:

    Autumn is always a melancholy time for me – I've often wondered if it will be the time of year that I pass away in..
    I was born in springtime and I adore summer, but despise winter and fall holds all the sadness of the coming winter.
    Thanks for the post – nice to know I'm not alone.. ~BB~

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