The Autumnal Equinox, the momentary tipping of the balance of light and dark, transition between the seasons, and transitions within ourselves.
I’ve always loved this time of year. Maybe it’s the intuition of going inward as the air cools, the rains pick up and even the trees begin to pull their energy towards their centres. Maybe it’s the decades of training my mind to the academic calendar. Or maybe its just my reaction to being back in a routine after the open spontaneous days of summer. But this time of year seems to be when I get my most creative energy.
This morning I went on a very authentic (meaning raining and cold) Autumn Equinox walk along the canal where I live. It was lovely and quiet, a good time not only to reflect myself, but to acknowledge the inward journey of the natural world.
Leaves are turning. The swan’s cygnets are almost grown. The colours of the world are turning from green to yellow, orange and brown.
This time of year has been acknowledged and celebrated for probably as long as humans have been farming. It marks the end of the harvest and the turning of the world towards winter. And as with us humans, when there is a significance to our survival (i.e. do we have enough to eat for winter), there are also rituals, stories, meaning-weaving devices we use to celebrate and honour this moment which is a dance between the human world and the natural world around us.
So, I’m doing three things to mark this moment in the year.
(1) The first was to go on my equinox walk. For me this was particularly about acknowledging the actual moment of the equinox, the moment of balance when light and dark level out the scales. When the yin and the yang, the outer and inner worlds hold hands as equals. And the very brief impermanent nature of this moment. So this first one is about the moment of the Equinox, but I also know I’ll continue to enjoy my autumn walks as the leaves bring new colour to our usual pathways.
(2) Honour the idea behind the ‘end of the harvest’. For me that means taking a look at what I’ve been up to so far this year. What seeds I’ve planted, how much they’ve grow. More specifically I’m going to take an overall, big-picture look this week at what I’ve accomplished towards my writing and creative project goals. This is the time for me to acknowledge if I’ve fallen behind in my plans, and to decide where I need to put some more energy and focus in this last part of the year. In essence, it’s a chance to reassess while I still have time ;)… before the New Year hits and I have to admit I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. So it’s also sort of a ‘carpe diem’ on this one.
(3) Contemplate the move into darkness. I know for a lot of people this can be a tricky time of year. Mourning the end of summer, coupled with seasonal affective disorder as we lose the light can go unacknowledged, but it doesn’t mean it’s not contributing massively to our mood. For me personally, I love this time of year. And as my ‘spirit animal medicine’ this year is the Prarie Dog which is all about ‘retreat’ and ‘going inward’ as a means of restoring creative and personal energy, I think this autumnal season is going to suit me well. This is also the time of the crone, the dark mother who has moved from her life-giving form in spring and summer to the wise old woman who must sever ties, see the bigger picture, acknowledge the end of the cycle and move towards death.
On a slightly more light-hearted note, this moment marks the change from light to dark, from extraverted summer to introverted winter, from the dominance of yang to yin energy. In Chinese cosmology, the universe is made up of these two forces that organise material energy into the changing forms we see around us. If Yang is the active principle, Yin is the receptive. It is a cycle, a dance, as one kind of energy gains predominance over another, but only for a time.
So in this continuing contemplation about our human relationship with the greater universe, it feels a good moment to get really practical at this moment in the year. To see this shifting of the yin and yang within the changing colours of a single leaf, the transformation of our usual local walks, and the shifting of our emotional and spiritual selves.
Clay and I discussed the autumn equinox and the idea of ‘striving for balance’ in Episode 21 of our previous incarnation – the Havana Cafe Sessions Podcast.
You can also read my old post “Is balance something we should strive for ” here.
(Let me know in the comments if you have any Autumnal Equinox or just autumn rituals yourself. It’s always great to share our journeys.)