Wyrd Words & Effigies Guide To Autumn Part II : Quotes, Folklore & Superstitions

While winter is my favourite season, autumn is a very close second. When I was a child, and it was time for September to swing around, life would shift into another dimension and I would wake up every day feeling thrilled for what lay ahead.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I went to a Steiner School, and celebrating the seasons was an important part of the curriculum.

In autumn, we would be out in the fields harvesting carrots or learning autumnal songs, or preparing for the big harvest meal that would come at the end of the month, where each class in the school would have a role in preparing the food – soup, bread and apple crumble or getting the games ready for afternoon shenanigans. If the weather was good enough and the wind was up, we would climb the valley to the moor ridge and fly kites.

No matter what time of year it is, if someone so much as mentions autumnal or Halloween folklore and superstitions, my ears prick like a wolf who’s heard something rustle in the undergrowth. And I know I’m not the only one. Autumn and Halloween are sensory trigger for the majority of people I know. I like nothing more than to watch peoples eyes brighten, and their voices take on another pitch, as they share their infatuation with this special season.

I’m putting this post together in the hope that it will deepen your knowledge and understanding of autumn and Halloween, while simultaneously encouraging you to seek out yet more seasonal wisdom.

All of the art in this post is by the supremely talented artist Guinevere Von Sneeden. Click on the art to be taken directly to her shop.

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Quotes

“Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit,  and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day. ” –  John Donne

“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.” –   Elizabeth Lawrence

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“Autumn is as joyful and sweet as an untimely end.” — Rémy de Gourmont

“I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colours, richer than all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of resignation and death”  — Lin Yutang

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“Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.  What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?” – Hal Borland

“Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods.” – William Allingham

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“Walked for half an hour in the garden.  A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn.  The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains – a melancholy nature.  The leaves were falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tears of irremediable grief.  A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shrubberies, and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys.  Every landscape is, as it were, a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

“Beware the autumn people”  — Ray Bradbury

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“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”  — P.D. James

“I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.”  — Carolyn MacCullough

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“A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.”
— Erma Bombeck

“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”
— William Shakespeare

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“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.” – Emily Dickinson

“The gloomy months of November, when the people of England hang and drown themselves.” – Joseph Addison

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“The acrid scents of autumn,
Reminiscent of slinking beasts, make me fear” – D. H. Lawrence

Autumn Folklore

“The name ‘November’ is believed to derive from ‘novem’ which is the Latin for the number ‘nine’.  In the ancient Roman calendar November was the ninth month after March.  As part of the seasonal calendar November is the  time of the ‘Snow Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Falling Leaves’ by Black Elk.” – Mystical WWW

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Old Superstitions About Halloween

What To Do On Halloween

Keep Fires Lit: In earlier times, bonfires were lit on hilltops to drive off witches: and on no account were household fires allowed to go out that night, or evil things might gain an entry. Incidentally, if your fire flame turns blue, it’s said that an other-worldly being has entered the room. Consider yourself warned.

Don’t Turn Around: If you’re walking on Halloween and hear footsteps right behind you – don’t turn around. You might find yourself staring Death in the face. And who wants that?

Meet a Witch: Wear your clothes inside out and walk backwards on Halloween night. It’s a sure way to run into a witch … or at least an angry “trick or treater.”

Predict Future Spouse: Eager to know the identity of your next love? Tonight is the perfect time. Here’s what you do: Go in a darkened room with a candle and step up to the mirror. Look in the mirror, eat the apple and comb your hair … all at the same time. Supposedly, the face of your next loved one – or the devil – will appear over your shoulder. – SeasonalWisdom

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The History Of Halloween

Jack O’ Lanterns

Carving Jack-o’-lanterns actually has its roots in a sinister, tragic fable. Celtic folklore tells the tale of a drunken farmer named Jack who tricked the devil, but his trickery resulted in him being turned away from both the gates of heaven and hell after he died. Having no choice but to wander around the darkness of purgatory, Jack made a lantern from a turnip and a burning lump of coal that the devil had tossed him from hell.

Jack, the story goes, used the lantern to guide his lost soul; as such, the Celts believed that placing Jack-o’-lanterns outside would help guide lost spirits home when they wander the streets on Halloween. Originally made using a hollowed-out turnip with a small candle inside, Jack-o’-lanterns’ frightening carved faces also served to scare evil spirits away. When the Irish potato famine of 1846 forced Irish families to flee to North America, the tradition came with them. Since turnips were hard to come by in the states at the time, pumpkins were used as a substitute. – LiveScience

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The Crone

The Crone was once honoured during Samhain. Also known as “the old one” and the “Earth mother,” she symbolized wisdom, change, and the turning of the seasons. Once, a kind, all-knowing crone is now that menacing, cackling witch we associate with the 31st of October.

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The Origins Of Trick Or Treating

In olden times, it was believed that during Samhain, the veil between our world and the spirit world was thinnest, and that the ghosts of the deceased could mingle with the living. The superstition was that the visiting ghosts could disguise themselves in human form, such as a beggar, and knock on your door during Samhain asking for money or food. If you turned them away empty-handed, you risked receiving the wrath of the spirit and being cursed or haunted.

Another Celtic myth was that dressing up as a ghoul would fool the evil spirits into thinking that you were one of them so that they would not try to take your soul. In the U.S., trick-or-treating became a customary Halloween tradition around the late 1950s, after it was brought over by Irish immigrants in the early 1900s. – LiveScience

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