Fall Equinox Rituals to Bring in Balance & Gratitude

Today (Sept 22), the sun sets a course crossing the equator and making the day and night equal in length over the northern and southern hemispheres. This celestial transit is known as the autumn equinox (latin for equal night), making it the perfect event to guide us into the new season, tune into the richness of harvest and welcome the Beauty of Change. Here are some of the unique ways we can celebrate.

Set the Stage for the Season with a Clean Refresh

Daylight hours are getting noticeably shorter, and the slightest hues of orange, yellow and red are beginning to appear in the trees. It’s happening! Fall will be here at any moment. As we prepare our seasonal wardrobe turnover, many of us will prepare to spend longer hours cozying up by the fireplace with warm tea, a blanket and a good book (or show). This is a good time to kick off Fall Cleaning Season – the cousin to Spring Cleaning – which helps us clear out old energy, clutter and dust. It’s also a joyful time to let go of anything that no longer serves us: emotionally and physically. Those hobbies that we swore we’d take up (but simply never got to?), it really is OK to move on if we’re uninterested. As author Chris Brogan writes, “Don’t settle. Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.” 

Bring Back Balance

Unlike its counterpart, the Solstice, in which the long night or daylight hours are a stark contrast to each other in winter and summer, the equinox is all about balance: fifty-fifty. Finding balance isn’t always easy, especially when women statistically carry the majority of emotional labor within their personal relationships and 2.6 times the domestic care when compared to their male partners. Taking stock of how much emotional care we are giving away can help reset the equilibrium. This is an opportunity for each of us to notice where in our lives we need more support. And then demand it.

Savor the Season with Mabon

The equinox is a visceral experience: from the brilliant leaves to the smell of pumpkin spice and cinnamon to the crisp chill on cooler nights and the soft comfort of our favorite sweaters. One unique way to celebrate the season is to host a Mabon gathering. Folklore tells us that Mabon is a celebration of the harvest. Gathered with loved ones and community, we should appreciate the earth’s fruits, nuts and hearty vegetables by preparing our favorite seasonal meals together. It’s also a time to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Many cultures have used the fall equinox to mark the shift of season by foraging for medicinal plants and honoring ancestors. It’s also a time for gratitude, introspection and thankfulness for all that we have endured.

Forage for Fun and Bring a Camera

It may seem like the spring and summer days are the best time to see wildflowers and wildlife, but there’s still time to enjoy the outdoors. This week may be the perfect time to take a fun walk in nature before it’s too late. In fact, frosty mornings are the perfect time to catch a glimpse of the last few stragglers on their way south before winter arrives. This is also a great time to spy fantastic fungi and fabulous leaves as they turn. What can we capture with our lens before the long nights keep us indoors for most of the winter? After a season of crowded trails and busy parks, some quiet and solitude in nature could bring out more moments for contemplation.

Pause for Gratitude 

While we honor the passage of time with the equinox, we have the opportunity to reflect on our journey. In particular, the work we have done to make it this far and how far we feel we have to go. It’s comforting to pause in balance with the planet and the sun and be grateful for all we have done and been through before we continue on our paths. This is a powerful prompt for those of us who enjoy recording our memories and thoughts in our journals

Beauty of Change

Maybe we’re all eager for balance, when our daily lives are full of so much push and pull, so much inequity. Can autumn's shift to neutrality bring us peace and harmony? The beauty of that change, for our community, is this: Welcoming what is natural to our mind, body and spirit comes with less friction. The trees take the winter off to reset. Animals, even large apex predators, go into hibernation mode. And the farmer celebrates their harvest for all the hard work from the season. We, too, take pause to reflect and renew.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald