With the coming of autumn, the creatures who reside in woods and fencerows become more active and restless in their wanderings, gathering up food stores for winter in the case of squirrels and other rodents; perhaps also seeking out places to sleep throughout the winter’s cold. For deer it is the season of rut when they roam in search of mates. Many of the songbirds that nested and trilled in summer’s green fly southward en masse as well, along ancient routes mapped into their very bones.
That same restlessness, the ancient wandering urge at the onset of the Dark Half of the year, overtakes the spirits that reside in wood and tangled hedge and stone. They too feel the mantle of green shrinking back from the earth, the death of summer and the coming of harsh seasons. In winters grasp the spirits hunger just as the wildlife hungers, just as our ancestors did- all who are closely tied to the cycles of the land.
It is good not to forget the wild spirits of one’s own land or local natural areas during the cold seasons. Offer to them so that they might be sustained in the time of want. Though the trees sink into sleep and dream through the winter, and many small creatures sleep as well (and some spirits do too; slumbering or going Elsewhere until the Greenmantle rises), there are many that remain.
The Veil between the worlds is thin this time of year too, of course. The shades of our beloved dead draw near, and restless, hungry ghosts may be abroad in the margins of the roads, and in forlorn places. Not all the spirits that roam in winter’s grasp are benign.
During the season between Autumn Equinox and Samhain, I cleanse my divinatory tools in incense smoke, I make, (along with my regular offerings to my gods and spirits at the dark and the full moon), an offering of food or drink for the wandering spirits (and leave it outdoors if I can), and I renew my house-wards as well. Oh, I will still go out in the fields and woods, and whisper into the cold wind, and lay my hands upon stone, and worm my way through hedgerows. But I’ll go carefully and keep Aware, as one always should.
Summer and Winter are two Kingdoms that the world moves between, and the Kingdom of Winter is that of the Dead, and the Hunter, and the scourge.