Only two times during an entire year are the hours of daylight and the hours of darkness balanced – at the spring and fall equinoxes. The autumn equinox and vernal equinox are the only days of the year when a person standing on the Equator can see the sun passing directly overhead. On the day of the fall equinox, the sun crosses the equator, providing the earth with 12 hours of sunlight. This begins the changes that result in winter for the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the south.
For many who practice an earth-centered spiritual tradition, fall equinox marks a natural time for thanksgiving. Long ago and current still in some cultures, the Autumn Equinox was cause for a variety of festivals, Pagan’s celebrate the birth of Mabon, the son of Mordon, the Goddess of the earth. Some Native American traditions call for ceremonies that honor the West direction where the season of autumn lies on the Medicine Wheel. Prayers of gratitude for received blessings and hopes for a gentle winter are offered with the burning of sacred herbs and tobacco.
It is also a time to celebrate with a variety of Fall Harvest Festivals. People enjoy fall festivals as they sense the closure of a great summer season and the coming of a long winter. This is one of the times to take a moment of rest and give thanks for all that has been received.
Most people no longer plant or harvest their own foods. The convenience of a grocery store is a blessing, but the ability to drive to the store any time and buy foods from around the world leads many people to a disconnection with the natural world and her changes. Observing the ebb and flow of the seasons can assist in your personal and spiritual growth by allowing you to reconnect with your internal cycles and acknowledge the birth and death of the seeds you have been planting; seeds of career, family, personal creativity or education.
Taking even a few moments to step outside to watch the sky and breath the air on the four days that mark the seasonal high points, spring equinox, summer solstice, fall equinox and winter solstice, can open your heart to change, accepting it, celebrating it, and even being grateful for the fact that all life is constantly in motion.
Ceremony for Self
Perform a smudging ceremony by burning dried herbs or incense in an outdoor fire pit, or inside fire place. Herbs from your garden are best if available. Rosemary, sage or Artemis are especially appropriate for fall. Smudging is a spiritual cleansing ceremony intended to prepare one for deep, spiritual work. Wave the smoke from the burning herbs over all parts of your body as you take slow, deep breaths. After smudging, continue to breathe deeply and enjoy the pungent fall scents until your mind relaxes. If you don’t have herbs and smudges to burn, simply light a white candle and allow it to burn itself out.
Think of things you are grateful for in your life, the goals you’ve accomplished over the summer and the people who helped you accomplish them. Thank yourself for your efforts and thank each person out loud by name.
As you breathe in the air of the earth, imagine beautiful sunlight shining upon you as begin to think of things that you’d like to bring into your life. Allow the image to help you feel balanced within and to understand what steps are needed for more balance in your life. Perhaps more sleep? Less play/More play? More satisfying job? Give yourself time to explore the concept of personal balance and how you can have more of it.
Next, think about what you’d like to no longer carry with you, what you’d like to let go of in your life. If you can within the next few days, go for a walk, be with nature, the ocean, the forest. Just be… and say out loud what it is that you would like to release from your life; chaos, anxiety, fear, illness. Let your words flow on the winds of wherever you are, and know that you are being heard.
To end your observance of the equinox give thanks for all of the blessings you have in your life. Remember to give thanks for the convenient and plentiful food that is available to you during this season and all seasons.