Direction: West
Image: Spirit Bird
Keywords: autumn, twilight, transformation, changes, death, waning, release, shape-changing
Color: Red
Element: Air

The element of the West is air, which carries both spirit and sound and can invisibly but undeniably affect form. The energy of the West causes light to wane and day to fade to twilight. Every year the work of the summer is released through autumn's changes. Every vision, like every living being captured in space and time, has a life-span and must be released. The experience of release can be loss, as in the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, or it can be freedom, a spirit free at last from form, individuals free to grow in their own separate ways.

The process of release, which is the gift of the West, happens in every cycle of the Earth. It is perhaps the most difficult change, one which is traditionally feared or greeted with sorrow. But it is necessary for the eventual beginning of the next cycle. The harvest of the autumn contains the promise of the following spring.

Trees burst into color in the maturity of their autumn, admitting the limit of their growth. They sacrifice their adequacy to the flurry of their seeds, the potential of new life to begin again and in their leaves, which fall and rot and make food for other lives. This process is not failure, but fulfillment, making room for endless new cycles to come.

The potential for healing that the West offers is the shedding of old skin, cutting away what has reached the limits of its growth and offers no further lessons. The healing of release makes space for new, healthy growth of ideas, images, forms, vision and lessons in future cycles to come.

People whose lives seem not to change at all are turning down the opportunity of the West. They are making the same choice at each turning, not pausing to dream, just relying on old visions which will fail again. In relationship many people make similar mistakes over and over, not accepting the lessons and resulting new vision that a pure release could afford.

Especially in Western culture where the attainment of possessions is a major life goal, release, especially the release of death, is very difficult. So health care is very often directed at prolonging life at whatever cost or pain, instead of at healing, including the healing of release into death.

On a planetary level greed and intolerance are extensions of jealousy, obvious in many governments' inability to let go of political power, economic advantage or ideological pride. Wars are fought, land is destroyed and people starve because of this choice. Accepting release with grace may be the most difficult lessons humankind faces on both a personal and a planetary level.

Jealousy, anger or bitterness in relationships are a direct reflection of the inability to let go. The irony is that holding on to someone, ostensibly in the name of love, very often drives the love away. A release in a relationship may be as simple as a change of expectations or as challenging as allowing the beloved to love another.

But when faced with the necessity of release, there are only two choices, a choice of lesser love or a choice of greater love. Choosing jealousy in an attempt to prevent change is invariably a choice of lesser love. It is easier by far to be hurt and wounded than to understand. Greater love will always allow change, will allow the beloved to move and grow and yes, even to leave.

This is the more difficult choice, but it is the one which offers the greatest potential for transformation and healing. Release in relationship is as inevitable as autumn. But resistance to release and the pain that resistance causes is always a choice.

There is both necessity and freedom involved with release in every cycle of spirit or form. As the body of a bird which has died falls to earth, the flight of the spirit scatters the flesh.
~Judith Pintar
~Art by
Herman Smorenburg