How to relax & be present with autumn rituals
It's no wonder that the Nintendo Game "Animal Crossing" Rocketed in popularity during lockdown.
I became OBSESSED with this game because while we were all stuck indoors it all felt so unproductive and like time had totally stopped. We were in an endless dormancy where our lives and plans and everything was totally halted.
So when I finally managed to buy a sold Nintendo Switch and join the hundreds of other people playing this game I began to realize what had given the game such a die hard community of islanders.
I'm not a gamer - not really, I've tried but for a long time media like games, long films and fiction books were something I struggled to play because it just felt like a waste of time.
And don't worry I will tell you why this is relevant but just stick with me. I promise this episode isn't just going to be an animal crossing advert.
So I had no idea what to expect, I'd just heard that it was cute, relaxing and you could farm, design things and appreciate nature.
So I started playing.
The pace of the game is super slow, you run around in real time and fish, catch bugs, shake trees for twigs and wood, do weeding, run errands for your villagers and design cute outdoor areas.
It was completely alien to me to be doing something that was so laid back so relaxing. But the thing that I really loved was the perception of passing time - something we don't do in real life.
One day starts, the sun rises, we work, we come home, night falls, we veg out in front of the tv and then go to sleep and then the cycle starts again.
When you wake up do you think about the sun rising, do you notice and appreciate the passing seasons?
I didn't - of course you think oh it's a bit colder now, the nights are a bit longer, god the snow on my car windscreen is so annoying, ugh I need to put in an asos order for woolly tights but to actually quietly appreciate it is so different.
So going back to animal crossing, I found myself watching the night sky for shooting stars, appreciating the glowing pink haze of the morning sun compared to the bright blue and yellow hue of the mid day sun, and THEN - the seasonal updates.
The game is updated so that for example in November the leaves on the trees are a rust colour, mushrooms start growing and you can catch maple leaves and acorns fall from trees. So every season has it's own set of updates and the activities that you craft correlate with those seasonal items.
So I really started to think god this is wonderful, I love autumn it is actually so beautiful.
Then I had another thought, why don't we do this in real life?
In the last 2 years of the constant changes in how we live our lives it has only ever felt like there has been a hot summer & a cold, depressing and endless winter.
By appreciating these transitional seasons, we can appreciate our own internal transitions.
We can stop worrying so much about the future, about our goals, about external circumstances in the world that we have no control over that are inhibiting our progress.
I have started to make seasonal activities a priority in my life, rituals that are tied to the seasons used to be a part of human consciousness - a reason to get together, to mark feelings & dedicate time and space to different human experiences.
Eg. Mabon - The holiday of Appreciating the Autumn Equinox & the Harvest moon to throw an autumn feast & appreciate an abundant harvest, to signify the tipping of the balance of light and day - the darker part of the year is beginning.
Holidays like Saturnalia - roman holiday to celebrate Saturn, the god of time & agriculture. Work and school were completely closed and you would drink, eat, gamble, exchange gifts - all social norms were suspended and roles would be reversed. This was a celebration of liberation - of joyful silliness and rejecting society norms for a far more fun existence.
A lot of these holidays have fallen by the wayside because of the rise of capitalism and the reduced profitability of having everyone take loads of days off for public holidays and festivals. But that's a different topic for another podcast.
Without these holidays to give human beings the opportunity to feel their feelings collectively and all share an experience of belonging - we're left to fend for ourselves in a seemingly chaotic and uncaring world - using work and ambition to drive us forward.
A couple of ways you can celebrate this autumn, going to a pumpkin field to pick pumpkins, bake an apple or pumpkin pie, (recipes welcome) a simple bonfire, lighting candles all over the place. Me and Matt having been trying to learn how to sew our own clothes and have been lighting dinner candles and putting something on the tv in the background and just quietly pottering about. Going on nature walks.
Host a movie night, plan some crafts - I'm going to be making an autumnal centre piece this year (think pumpkins, candles, pine cones etc), I'll be planning some spooky activities for halloween and also this year Diwali falls on the day before bonfire night so that'll be fun.
This Autumn, I'll be celebrating Divali - the punjabi festival of light by having a feast with family, lighting some divya candles & watching some fireworks.
Do you have any autumn activities that you can recommend? Send me a DM on instagram @sabhalostore and let me know if you have any good pie recipes or spooky movie recommendations.