Autumn’s end;
The west wind fills
With falling leaves.

Soon we shall be at the end of October, and with it comes Halloween, with its more ancient name Samhain, pronounced SAH-win.

longleafbrWe all know about the traditional association of Halloween with ghosts and spirits and supernatural creatures of all kinds, but did you ever wonder why that association exists?

Halloween — as Samhain — begins, appropriately enough, at the disappearance of the sun on the evening of October 31st, and it extends through the next day of the Old Calendar, the day later called All Hallows.  It marks the end of autumn and the beginning of winter.

Now as you know from all the talk of Yin and Yang here, the forces of Yang — of light and warmth — decline through autumn, as the Yin element grows and reaches its maximum point in midwinter, at the time of the winter solstice.  Samhain lies halfway between the Autumn Equinox, when the daylight hours have declined until they are the same length as those of night, and Midwinter’s Day, the Winter Solstice.

So in terms of Yin and Yang, we can think of Halloween — of Samhain — as the doorway to the most Yin time of year, the time ruled by cold and the time when the days are shorter and the nights — the darkness — longer and felt most deeply.

Now you may recall as well that the so-called “spirit world” is Yin, in contrast to that of the living, which is Yang.  So traditionally, Samhain is the time when the doorway between the worlds of the living and the dead is said to open, thus its association with ghosts and the supernatural.  We can think of it as the doorway also to the most Yin time of the year, the time when Yin darkness and cold predominate instead of the Yang light and warmth of summer.

Because the old calendar of the West is so very close to the old hokku calendar of the East, Halloween also marks the end of the time of reading and writing autumn hokku and the beginning of the period for reading and writing winter hokku.

At the beginning of this posting is a hokku about the autumn wind and falling leaves.  In old hokku, falling leaves were an autumn subject, while fallen leaves were a topic for winter.  In the place where I live, Nature seems to be very much on schedule in that regard, because the leaves have been falling heavily for several days now, and it will not be long before the hardwood trees are quite bare, heralding the poverty and simplicity of winter, the time when the energies of life retreat to the root, the time of silence and solitude, the time of turning inward instead of outward.

I hope everyone has a very happy Halloween, and a good beginning to the inwardness of the winter season.



For lo, the summer is past, the warmth is over, and gone. The frost appears on the earth, the time of the falling of leaves is come, and the voice of the leaf blower is heard in our land.

Yes, the leaf blower — one of the most obnoxious, irritating, infernal devices ever invented. One can hardly go anywhere on these beautiful autumn days without the shriek or roar of a leaf blower assaulting one’s ears. This is not progress for anyone except those who manufacture and sell these abominable devices.

It used to be that autumn meant the quiet and peaceful raking, day to day, of the gold and red leaves falling on lawn and garden — a time to smell the scent of autumn and enjoy the season. Now it just means ear-piercing decibels and dust blown into the faces of passers-by along with the leaves.

English: Autumn fallen leaves of Zelkova serra...

The annual leaf fall, which is Nature’s way of returning elements to the soil, has now become a way of removing those potential nutrients from one’s property forever. No more piles of leaves, with the inimitable fragrance of autumn, for children to run and jump in, and one less ritual that connects humans to the realities of Nature and the changing seasons. Instead there is just the horrible noise and the blowing dust and dirt and in many cases, the unpleasant, unhealthy stink of burning fuel that powers the motor, in those that do not waste electricity. And one less way for the average person to get exercise that is all the more needed in these days of increasing obesity.

Not a pleasant introduction to the season. If you have or hire a leaf blower, do everyone and yourself a favor. Get rid of it as quickly as possible, and invest in a good rake.