Sun (Decrease). The days shorten and the leaves fall.
Life moves inward and outward in fixed rhythms. There is a period of flowering followed by decline, although what appears to be turning back is really turning inward as life continues to move forward.
Sun (Decrease) and energy save, store, decompose, decay. Visible blooming shrinks while the roots stay active, sensing deeper. With branches bare, the self has no foliage, no petals, to hide behind.
There is also a beginning to a time of decline.
The cyclical wisdom of the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, or I Ching, seems incompatible with the dualistic moral teachings of Christian theologian Saint Jerome, and author of The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri. Both Saint Jerome and Poet Dante, from whose opening canto of the Inferno the title ‘selva oscura’ is drawn, find themselves, at a certain point in their lives, cast out in the wild:
Midway upon the journey of our life
Jerome exposes himself to the elements but remains hermetic and ascetic, dedicated to his books even outdoors. Dante as narrator expends his energy in dramatic ascent, out of hell’s circles and into the skies where his lover dwells. The way of the holy scholar (coiling inward), the way of the heroic poet (striving outward) – but what if the paths do not divide in a neat fork of this way and that, life or death, salvation and downfall? What if the paths are winding, bending, tangled like ivy?
Decrease means biding your time.
Suspending external action can feel or fall out of sync with contemporary impulses for acceleration and demands for production. In nature, periods of dormancy allow for underground processes of maintenance, necessary for life to continue. In culture, the vitrine is far from the fields, and the flowers, now cut from their roots, have nowhere to grow.
Harvest comes from what is taken away.
You couldn’t see the forest for the trees, or the light through the trees, until the leaves, once golden and beautiful – the leaves of the books, once rich with elaborate ideas – are turned upside down. Having fallen, having shed, the light through the thicket reappears.