Say goodbye to long hot days everyone, it’s the last day of summer. Tomorrow is the Autumn Equinox, in the Northern Hemisphere, which marks the first day of fall. On this day, night and day are nearly exactly the same length all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox”, derived from Latin, meaning “equal night”. The equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south. Around the world many people have traditions and celebrations for this event and it plays a significant role in some beliefs. Some stay up all night to welcome in the fall and honor the equal length of day and night. On the west coast the equinox will occur at 1:22 am on September 23, 2015. So, perhaps an all-night vigil is not necessary, and if I can stay up just a little while past midnight, it will be a wonderful moment to open to and appreciate our blessings and bounty. Why not create a beautiful evening ambience to encourage yourself to do so?
The day and night of equal length on the Autumn Equinox, signals the need to balance light and darkness within us. From this day forward our nights will grow longer and days shorter. After the long bright days of summer, it is a time to embrace darkness. In the old days the coming of fall symbolized both a time to celebrate the nourishing foods harvested from the crops planted earlier in the year and to pack up the produce that would serve as nourishment throughout the cold, dark months. Today we may or may not participate in a crop harvest, however it is a time when we produce our own harvest. I like to take the time on this day to give some thanks for the inner rewards I may be starting to harvest and to look for how I will use these for good.
The Hour of the Autumn Equinox
I like to hold to traditions and a drink that comes from the roots of the earth, red wine made from the season’s harvested grapes makes a wonderful warmed autumn drink. In glowing gold candlelight surrounded by the scent of roses reflecting jewel toned autumn colors, over a mulled glass of wine and cake made from the finest grains of the harvest, I plan to celebrate the Autumn Equinox and list my inner harvest. The inner harvest I refer to is all the achievements and experiences that I have had or felt during the past few seasons. This is a way of restoring gratitude into your life, as you realize what you have done and how you have coped with challenges during the past months.
1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
1 orange, sliced
1/4 cup brandy (optional)
1/4 cup honey or sugar
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
Combine all ingredients in a non-aluminum saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for at least 15 minutes. Strain, and serve warm.
Embrace the Day and Mark It with Intentions
With the harvest also comes planning for new crops in the upcoming year. This is a season of roots that take their time to grow, sweeten and develop their nourishment. They spend months deep in the earth, hibernating and slowly growing. The energy of this season invites long term planning and incubation. Seeds of ideas planted now can burst forth next spring, transformed and strengthened by their time in the unconscious. I like to honor this process with a symbolic gesture of planting in my garden, perhaps some flowers that grow in the fall season and some that require planting now to see its fruits of labor in the spring. You don’t need a yard or garden to do this, or to take lots of time digging a bed. Just a small outdoor space and a good-sized pot or even a well-lit window sill is sufficient.
Granted that the Autumn Equinox this year arrives in the middle of the week, if you can, get outside and experience nature this Equinox weekend. Celebrate the turning colors, the deepening colors of the berries, the ripening seeds. Pick up a few treasures while you are walking to bring some bits of nature into your home – some leaves, a few acorns, some dried berries perhaps. In some parts of the world this was historically done to bring the outdoors in, as most of the winter would have to be spent in the indoors. Fill a basket or set up your own little home altar to honor the seasonal shift. Personally, to embrace the day and mark it with intentions I like to take symbolic actions.