The Autumn Equinox or Southward Equinox is the time of the year when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from north to south. Within paganism this time of the year might be referred to as Harvest Home, Mabon, the Feast of the Ingathering, Meán Fómhair or Alban Elfed. In all the traditions it is a time when we extend gratitude towards the earth for the bounty and harvest it has given to us.
This year the Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (Vernal Equinox in Southern Hemisphere), depending from your location on this beautiful planet, is on September 22 – 23. During the equinox at the equator Sun rises directly in the east and sets in the west, after the equinox the Sun will rise and set more towards the South. The autumn marks the time period of transition between summer and winter, it is time during which nature prepares for the coldness of winter and appreciates all the bounty that summer has given. It is also one of the two days in the year (other being Spring Equinox) when day and night are around equal lengths, hence it symbolises the balance between light and dark. While celebrating the autumn harvest, the bounty that summer has given, we also acknowledge that the plants and soil are dying, that the warmth is behind us and the coldness is approaching, days will become shorter and nights longer until the Winter Solstice.
The Autumn Equinox is a beautiful time for reflection, balance and gratitude. During the time of this transition period between summer and winter see about turning your gaze inwards and reflect upon things that you might have started earlier that year and see how they have ripened, and check whether you are still moving in the right direction. Autumn is often associated with the changes, the leaves in the trees change colour, animals prepare for winter and some even change the colour of their coats, while nature makes all these shifts, take a moment to notice some of your own. And even though the period of darkness might seem long, remember that without darkness there would be no light, so celebrate both. Once you have reflected upon what you have reached and gained in the previous season, it is time to extend a bit of gratitude towards this abundance, development and harvest. As part of your gratitude you might want to give something back to the earth for all the bounty it has given to you. So get out in nature, take a long walk and see how far you have come since the last autumn, appreciate your progress, say thank you and extend a bit of sweetness to the earth. Maybe on your way you want to pick up some acorns or chestnuts and put them into the earth as a sign of gratitude.
If you prefer a bit more symbolic ritual, you can prepare a small altar with candles (one for light and one for darkness, to symbolise the balance between both), and fruits of summer or items that would symbolise autumn harvest, such as apples, a handful of grains, maybe even some leaves that have changed the colour or some chestnuts and acorns. You can take a moment in front of your altar to acknowledge everything that you appreciate in your life, and don’t forget to extend this gratitude also towards yourself. If you wish you can write them down, it will be a good reminder how far you have come during the coming months of darkness. And maybe you want to finish your ritual with setting an intention for the coming season, a quality that will help you through the coldness and darkness until Winter Solstice.
So this weekend go outside, notice the changes that are happening in nature, celebrate them in silence reflecting or by dancing barefoot in the middle of a meadow or forests with your friends. Whatever you choose to do, take time to reflect and appreciate the abundance of this year’s harvest, and acknowledge what you might need during this time of transition between light and darkness.
Head over to Insight Timer for the Autumn Equinox Meditation and if you need some more inspiration, then head over to National Geographic and see how the Autumn Equinox is celebrated around the world.