Honoring the Equinox & Cyclical Shifts

Happy Equinox to you dear friend! If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere like me, welcome to the glorious descent into Fall. And to all of my Southern Hemisphere friends, welcome to the bounty of Spring! Yesterday/today marked the shift in seasonality where the light of night and day are equal in number and even if one was not previously conscious of this shift, did you feel something? A change in the air perhaps?

I love these transition times of the year because it seems that even those who are not earth worshippers or who don’t find meaning in these “celebratory” days are still attuned to the shifts in some way. Perhaps it is their ancestral memory, reawakening to the cycles of nature that once dictated the patterns of our lives. But regardless of one’s belief, on the equinoxes and solstices I always see folks coming together in celebration without knowing what the day really is…and yet it feels beyond coincidence.

In this time full of modern conveniences, we are not bound by the changes of the seasons. We no longer have to call that the grain harvest is finished, like many of our ancestors would have done on Mabon. We don’t feel an intense wave of relief when we see the first green growth on Ostara morn. In a world of grocery stores and next day delivery, we as a culture are disconnected from these cyclical shifts.

And yet, we still honor them.

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People gather at the end of September for fall festivals, pumpkin patches, and bonfires – an echo of the harvest celebrations in our past. We all feel the turning inwards as the leaves begin to fall or the excitement as the trees begin to show their growth.

Despite our cultural conditioning at present, we are still completely intertwined with the natural cycles on a spiritual, energetic, and cellular level. If we choose to honor that directly through ritual or simply observing that the equinox is happening may be irrelevant – for our body’s still know it’s happening and consciously or no, we will shift, even ever so slightly, as the Earth does.

A Simple Practice to Honor the Equinox

Honoring the seasonal cycles can be incredibly simple too. If you’re here in the Northern Hemisphere, step outside and take a deep breath. What do you smell? Do you notice the almost sweet scent of decay in the forest as the mushrooms begin to do their work? Maybe you smell woodsmoke and fire as neighbors huddle around them for warmth.

With every step you may see acorns on the ground and hear the leaves crunching under your feet. And do you wonder, how marvelous is it that the acorn falls in Autumn and under the right conditions, will grow into the towering Oak it came from some day?

And do you see that, the great web of the orbweaver connected to the same tree? Just like the orbweaver spins its web, opening a portal into the otherworldly expressions of fall, what are you weaving in this season?

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Recognizing these seasonal shifts and observing what comes up in your being is the most simple way of reconnecting yourself with the natural world. You don’t need tools or books or spells – all you need is you, a willingness to listen to your inner knowings, and a desire to live in relationship with the Earth & its seasons.

How will you honor these changes?

I would love to hear your practices, rituals, and observations in the comments below! But for now, I leave you with this beautiful poem by the late Mary Oliver:

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
— Song for Autumn by Mary Oliver

With love,
Sarah


RELATED READING: Herbal Allies for the Return of Spring

(for all my Southern Hemisphere friends!