Autumn Equinox is the perfect balance between day and night, light and dark. Shadows lengthen, colors turn, and the smell of fallen leaves and moist earth are underfoot. Looking to the sky above, we see birds migrate. Summer’s harvest has been gathered.
Many earth and land-based spirituality and wisdom traditions, such as the practices of the ancient Celtic people, celebrated the ‘Wheel of the Year.’ The Wheel of the Year acknowledges the annual cycles of the seasons and the natural rhythm of the earth. Recognizing our connection with earth cycles is key to developing embodied love. And embodied love is critical in these tumultuous times.
Our ancestors experienced their lives intricately woven with earth’s seasons and tides. They held awareness for the everyday ebb and flow such as night and day, dusk and dawn. And they aligned with the slower change of the seasons; verdant summer into fall’s harvest, fall into winter’s regeneration, winter into spring’s germination, and spring’s expansion into summer once more. These turning points were considered strong magical portals. Such gateways are opportunities to align with the energies of nature and augment those energies mirrored within ourselves.
These natural crossroads, the ‘in between’ periods, were celebrated with rituals, storytelling, songs, music,
and special seasonal foods. The wisdom of the Wheel of the Year frees us from our more modern linear, driven focus, and reminds us to treasure the physicality of our bodies and the rich sensual gifts of the earth. The Wheel of the Year invites us to pay heed to the unhurried energy of our bodies, and to honor them as the divine within matter, for that is where the Divine Feminine resides. By participating in these natural cycles, we can attune ourselves to the creative forces that flow through us, and learn how to harmonize them with the Earth.
The upcoming seasonal change of the Autumn Equinox occurs today, September 22nd at 6:31 am PDT. The Autumn Equinox is also called the festival of Mabon, named for the ancient Celtic god, the child of light. This is an early Thanksgiving where we can offer appreciation and enjoy the fruits of our labors. It represents a time to consider which aspects of our life we wish to preserve, and which we would prefer to transform. A perfect contemplation for envisioning a better, more loving future.
Water is the element of Autumn. Water indicates the realm of emotions and relationships. Autumn Equinox and its element of water urge us to go deeper and embrace our emotions and the nourishing dark of our psyche with its mysterious teachings. Autumn asks us to prepare by honoring the strengths that will sustain us through the cold winter months. During this time in our human history, it encourages us to take a lesson from autumn’s beautiful falling leaves and find the transformation in letting go of what no longer serves.
Suggestions for how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox:
You can commemorate the Autumn Equinox in small ways:
1. Enjoy seasonal fruits like pears and apples. Roast the fruits whole in a baking pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees for a delicious autumn treat.
2. Peel an apple and sprinkle the peel with the balancing herb, thyme. Roll the peel up after you sprinkle the thyme. Bake in a warm oven of 250 degrees for an hour or so, making sure to breathe in the combination of the sweet apple and the fresh, pungent thyme – it will help bring balance to your home and those who live there. Once dried, the peel can be kept to hold in your hand whenever you need a little balance.
(from Cait Johnson, ‘Witch in the Kitchen’)
Autumn Equinox Ritual:
3. Fill a small bowl with water as a way to connect with autumn’s element. Set it on your kitchen counter or on your altar. Gather colorful autumn leaves and surround your bowl with the leaves. Hold your bowl of water and name 3 people you are thankful for in your life. Pick up one of the brightly colored fall leaves, and as you float it in the water, name one thing you have learned or transformed in 2020 that has become a strength within you which will sustain you during the winter months ahead.
Happy Autumn Equinox!
Art credit: Orchard by Franz Dvorak