Friday, 17 September 2010


Even before the leaves start yellowing, we know that autumn is here. We feel the change of direction within ourselves, a desire to return like the snail into the spiral of our being. The sun may still be shining, but it is lower in the sky now and it picks out the cobwebs in the hedgerows and sets them ablaze in the morning when the dewdrops held upon them sparkle like diamonds. The days can be soft, hazy and warm, but the nights are growing colder. Life is beginning to pull inwards, collapsing its systems, folding its wings about itself, settling down and preparing for the endings to come.

The Celts associated this time with the ivy. They considered it the strongest of trees because it can choke and kill anything it grows on, even the oak. It can block paths or pull down walls and when we meet a huge and ancient ivy we do not just meet the plant, with its thick and serpentine sinews, but we confront also that which is hidden within. Something suffocated, ruined and forgotten. So ivy draws us inwards, into the labyrinth of our being, to meet that which still blocks our path to freedom. As the cycle of the year nears its end it is often here that we meet the aspect of our self that we keep most hidden from ourselves and others. As we return from the Summerlands it awaits us.

Ian Siddons Heginworth is an environmental arts therapist, founder of the Devon-based Wild Things community programme and author of Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life, Spirit’s Rest Books.

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