Life lessons from autumn leaves

autumn leavesAutumn is in full swing here in the northern U.S.  And the colors are spectacular.

They are also a wonderful reminder of the circle of life, the passing of time, and how the earth always renews itself.

Indigenous peoples didn’t use a linear calendar; the year didn’t start with January 1 and end with December 31.  And there wasn’t an old man carrying a scythe and hourglass to symbolize the gloom of another year over.

Native people noted what’s going on in the natural world by the change in the landscape around them and the movement of the sun, moon and stars.

And that in turn helps them remember the circle of all life; everything dies and returns.

[quote]”Birds make their nests in circles; we dance in circles, the circle stands for the Sun and Moon and all round things in the natural world. The circle is an endless creation, with endless connections to the present, all that went before and all that will come in the future.”  Black Elk[/quote]

The circle of the seasons

Native Americans teach that Spring represents new life, our infancy. The time of day is dawn. The direction is East, where the sun rises every day without fail.

Spring is followed by Summer, which represents the promises of spring fulfilled. Plants come into full blossom, reaching out and growing up. We eat the delicious plants and fruit that sustain us.  Summer also represents the activity and energy of adolescence, as well as mid-day. The direction of Summer is South.

Next comes Autumn, when the growing season has stopped; it’s time to harvest the crops and contemplate and integrate the lessons thus far. The time of life is adulthood, time of day is evening, and the direction is West.

[quote]“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”  William Cullen Bryant[/quote]

The season of Winter is when the earth lies dormant, seemingly asleep. The seeds lie under the ground, resting up for their spurt of new growth and life in the spring.

For humans, Winter is the time of old age, taking a well-earned rest after a life well-lived.  The time of day is night, when we sleep and renew ourselves. The direction is North.

Everything is subject to the circle of life. For a human it is baby, youth, adult, elder, followed by death of the physical body.

Trees follow the same cycle:  leaves bud, then they mature, then they change color and finally fall to return to Mother Earth.

Every bird, every fish, every bug and every four legged follows the same cycle.

Life lessons from the autumn leaves

So the trees with changing leaves are in their adult phase.  And isn’t it interesting that, for some of them, they are in their greatest glory.

Who would guess that during all those months of being green, they were just waiting to reveal their true magnificence as gold, yellow, orange, red, and more.

People often lament the loss of their youth, but the wise ones know that youth are often impetuous, immature and don’t know anything.  Our full value comes out when we hit our stride and wisdom in adulthood.

It’s the time to move into our full potential, let all our colors show and use our true talents. The leaves go out in a blaze of glory, and we can do the same.

The Chinese teach that life begins at 60.  That is when you are through raising your children and can put your creative, nurturing energy into yourself and manifest your gifts.

If you don’t feel you’ve moved into your full potential, take time to assess where you are in your life, what you’d like to change.  How can you make those changes?

For anything to change, you will have to change something you’re doing or thinking.  What might that be?

What’s hiding under your green leaves just waiting to shine?

So celebrate this time of year, this time of life.

And if this year didn’t manifest everything you’d hoped, there’s always next year.

The cycle of life goes on.

And we thank Mother Earth for that lesson!

[quote]“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” John Burroughs[/quote]
Molly Larkin

Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller "The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman”  and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com

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