This year, the autumn equinox, which is the official start of autumn, occurs on September 22, 2016, at 10:21 a.m. EST.
Our ancestors celebrated all equinoxes and solstices, but the autumn equinox seems to have been a little less celebrated than the others. I’m not sure what the historical reason is, but for myself, I’m sad to see summer coming to an end and am not quite ready to say goodbye to sunny, warm days and welcome in the fall.
But it happens. It’s part of the cycle of life, and to be in tune with the natural world, it’s important to honor these special “natural” events.
As the days get shorter, all of nature knows what to do: here in the Northern United States, nights get cooler, leaves start to turn, pumpkins appear, plants cease their flowering and get ready to let their growth go into their roots. Nature gets quieter, and it’s time for us to follow the same cues.
The equinox is a day of balance of the hours of light and dark. From here on, daylight hours will shorten until we reach the magical time of the Winter Solstice.
It’s good to always celebrate balance, because it is what makes our lives happy and healthy. It’s also a time to honor the harvest and the abundance life offers us.
It’s a time when plants are setting their seeds and, therefore, time for us to plant new seeds. I have a wildflower meadow in front of my house. It’s mowed once a year to allow the land to rest and the flowers to set their seeds. After mowing, the meadow looks destroyed. But when it’s reborn in the spring, it’s a beautiful sight.
Here is a simple way to celebrate the Autumn Equinox and get ready for a new cycle. The equinox energy is strong for the four days before and after September 22, so you can do this ceremony at any time during those days.
In the old days, when our ancestors lived off the land, autumn was a time of harvest feasts and preparing to store food for the winter. We no longer need to fill larders and root cellars, because supermarkets store food year round.
But it’s a good time to give thanks for what we have, and to prepare for the winter in other ways:
On a physical level:
- Clean the house: vacuum, dust and polish
- Smudge the house to clear out old energy
- Get rid of those things you no longer use to make room for the new; give them away for others to use.
On a spiritual/emotional level:
Take an assessment:
- Is your life in balance?
- What might need adjusting?
- Do you spend enough time playing and resting? In our busy, success-driven culture, rest and sleep often get short shrift, but they are essential to health and balance.
Light candles at your altar [if you don’t have an altar, the equinox is a powerful spiritual time to create one]
Make three lists:
- What are you grateful for in life? What in your life has perfected over the past three months, so that you can celebrate the harvest?
- What you are ready to release from your life? What no longer serves you? Time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
- What do you want to manifest in your life and in the lives of those coming after you up to Seven Generations into the future? What seeds do you want to plant? For some types of plants, fall is the best time to plant. Nothing seems to be going on above the ground, but their roots are growing over the fall and winter months, so that the plant can burst forth with new life in the spring. What seeds/projects/aspirations can you plant and nurture now that will manifest in the spring. Or some future spring?
A Burning Bowl Ceremony for the Equinox
A Burning Bowl ceremony is simple, yet powerful. You will need thin paper to write on, a candle and a bowl.
The first time around, light and place in the bowl a piece of paper on which is written what you are ready to release.
The second time around, light and place into the bowl a paper listing things you want to bring into your life, or the lives of your descendents.
Do you have patience? You may not live to see the fruits of the seeds you plant now. But, thinking ahead seven generations is our job, and a very noble attribute.
“Our people prayed one hundred years ago for the return of the buffalo and now they have returned.
Are you patient enough to wait one hundred years for your prayers to be answered? We are.”
~ Rocky Afraid-of-Hawk, buffalo rancher, Lakota Nation