This time of year, nature folds in on itself, sheds its finery and attributes, and goes quiet in the dark. Days are shorter, darkness lingers on the borders of day. Trees surrender to gravity and nakedness. In the north, where I’m from, mammals ready to enter their den for their long winter sleep.
We are mammals too, and, as much as we try to deny or ignore the fact, we are part of nature, and are subject to its subterranean pull. And yet, in November and December, our social calendar explodes into its brightest, shiniest string of obligations. We are facing what my teacher, when talking about the Bhagavad Gita, calls “competing dharmas”: one part of us longs for this fallow folding into the dark; one part of us yearns to belong to the bustle of connection.
I’ve been pulling The Fool card a lot lately. In the Rider-Smith-Waite deck, the fool is a jaunty figure, setting off on a journey into the unknown. They look chipper as they are literally about to jump off a cliff into the void, a small, alarmed white dog nipping at their heels. The Fool is card Zero; it’s the pause before the beginning of the Major Arcana. The meaning of the card is: new beginnings, innocence, adventure. The Fool is the blank slate.
In the Nomad Tarot, The Fool is a naked figure, curled on the earth in the fetal position, their hands tucked under their head in repose. Wreaths of plants encircle them. Their expression is peaceful. To me, they look every bit like a seed planted in the soil: the circle shape echoing the Zero of the card’s numbers, infinite possibilities folded into the dense sphere, unseen.
Zora Neale Hurston wrote that some years are questions, and some years are answers. This for me has been a year of being picked up by my feet and shaken, so that my pockets would empty of everything I know, everything I thought I knew. Which, depending on your perspective, is either a question or an answer.
The seed in the ground is both empty, and full. Curled into the cold, blind earth, its only job is to wait. Wait for the reveal. Wait for nature to take its course. This is the season where we are called to fold in, draw into ourselves, hold our emptiness and our fullness. This is the season where we are invited to surrender to the darkness of beginnings. The emptiness before the Big Bang. To be the nothing before everything emerges.
In the final volume of Many Moons, Sarah Faith Gottesdiener writes, “The idea of the void, of zero, of emptiness, is very important when thinking about magic… A seed needs a hole to grow into. Clearing away, cleaning the slate, whether that be the slate of our mind, or of our schedule, or of certain rotting patterns or relationships, is usually the first task when we perform any magical task or process.” Folding in as a precursor to magic; emptying out so we can draw in what we most want.
What do I most want? I’m used to knowing the answer to that question. I used to have such a clear vision for my future, and I aimed myself like an arrow towards it. This year has blurred my vision completely. I am blind like a seed in the dirt. How can I persuade myself to step off the cliff, defenseless, arrowless, into the unknown?
The answer lies in my animal body: fold into the earth, and wait. Trust in the cycle of life/death/life. Trust that the emptiness exists only to be filled again. Trust that the moon goes black on its way to full brightness, and that I will, too. Trust that more answers and more questions will be delivered on the doorstep of the coming year. Trust that the bright promise of beginnings is born out of the dark.
Practice Suggestion: Include 3-5 minutes in Child’s Pose, Butterfly Pose, or another favorite forward bend every day. Practice folding in on yourself & softening into the earth. Draw in all of your senses. Let yourself go fallow. Feel the potent power of being a seed--empty, yet full of possibility, trusting the earth to hold you, trusting time to reveal new beginnings.