This Saturday, September 22nd, is the Autumnal Equinox, one of two days a year where day and night are of equal length. Throughout history and across the earth, peoples have marked the equinoxes with festivals. Ancient peoples built structures that align with the sun’s movement, interacting with the light to illuminate inner chambers or create fantastic liminal visual effects. This celestial event holds the potential of both balance and transition. We can see the magic in this ephemeral balance of day and night, and create sacred meditations and rituals that invite the meaning and beauty of this season into our lives.
For me, the equinoxes and solstices are reminders to connect to the rhythms of nature. I celebrate the Autumnal Equinox as the beginning of Fall. I box up my summer decorations and say goodbye to my summer lifestyle. This is no hardship as Autumn is my favorite season. I celebrate what is beautiful and unique about each season, but my soul vibrates in special alignment with Autumn.
In the northern hemisphere, Autumn arrives with cooler temperatures, fewer hours of daylight, and, where I live, a magnificent change of color in the trees. Leaves turn from fresh green to deep hues of red, orange, and yellow, and, finally, to withered brown. If we stop to observe, we can see this change occurring on a daily basis, strewn across the ground and underfoot. Come Autumn, we are witness to transformation: a tipping from light to dark, growth to decay, warm to cold, and life to death.
Autumn can have a melancholic quality. The bittersweet change from the abundant warmth of Summer towards the inevitable cold of Winter can invoke a feeling akin to nostalgia. But somehow it is a beautiful melancholy. We know this gorgeous display is fleeting. It will come again, but we are invited to enjoy it now (with an implied “while we can”). Falling leaves remind us we are moving towards the end of another year of our own lives.
Fall emphasizes that change is the only constant. With the turning of the season, we acknowledge that we are also included in this cyclical nature of life. Sometimes the transformations we are experiencing are obvious and beautiful. But even when we are shedding what we no longer need, we may fear the unknown path ahead. Will Spring come or will we, finally, be stuck in an eternal Winter? No. Spring will come. And then our Summer. Then Fall again. Trust the cycle. Find the beauty in it.