I started marking the seasonal changes a few years ago. It started out just as a mark in my diary, my own thoughts to keep me company on these little-remembered dates. I’d wash the windows for the Spring Equinox, to remind myself to clean back the cobwebs in my own life that were preventing the light coming in. I stayed up as late as possible for the Summer Solstice, and I lit dozens of candles during the dark Winter Solstice.
And gradually I started inviting my friends into my celebrations – organising dinners and social evenings, giving small gifts to mark the day.
People have been marking these seasonal changes for centuries long and there’s even more reason to keep doing so today, in a society that moves increasingly fast, in a culture (even more so for expats) that never stops rushing, where “I’m so busy” has become a status symbol.
Marking the passing seasons gives us the space to stop, to take a breather, and to notice how time is passing, to make the small or big changes needed to live life to the full.
The Autumn Equinox, also known as Mabon or Harvest Home, is 22nd September. The Autumn Equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator on its annual journey south. It’s the day on which the sun is half way between its summer and winter solstice positions, the balance of light and dark is exactly equal, and we start to think about the coming autumn and winter months.
It’s still a time of abundance and harvest as the tractors in the fields keep bringing in the last of the summer harvest, and the autumn crops. Those delicious pumpkin and squash, blackberries from the hedgerows, mushrooms from the forest are overflowing in the markets.
Nature is also preparing for the winter. The leaves are beginning to turn those beautiful golden colours and fall, animals are carefully filling their food stores for the winter or preparing a safe place for hibernation. And we take our cue from them, taking time to prepare and gather for the coming season.
In much of Europe, we also have September as the start of the school year, and so there’s an even greater sense of a new beginning, a chance to remember those resolutions and wishes you made nine months ago, to realign your daily life with your deepest held values.
How to celebrate the Autumn Equinox
I have a few ideas…
Throw a dinner party with your friends or colleagues and serve up the best of the season, with an awareness of all the abundance and blessings you see in your own life. Decorate the table with apples, pine cones and acorns, and if the weather is good, move the table outside to enjoy the late summer warmth (we can always hope!).
Take some time to focus on the balance in your life. The Equinox is a balance between light and dark, and we can be inspired by this to take a close look at our own habits and lifestyle. Is there balance between your work life and your home life? Is there balance in your key relationships – with your husband, your children, your parents? Is there balance in your finances, the things you chose to spend your money on? What about your health?
Get out into nature and enjoy the changing season. We are so blessed by all the forest paths and riverside walks we have to wander in Luxembourg. Take a basket and collect some blackberries on the way, or help your children do a treasure hunt for leaves, feathers, conkers.
Celebrate the “Harvest” in your own life”. Finish up those projects still hanging on from the summer and look back at all that’s happened. Remember how much you have done and enjoyed the past season – count your blessings! And then plant the seeds for the next harvest – what do you want to achieve during the coming season? Make a list, or collage if you’re creatively minded, and put it somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis.
Prepare for the winter. Pull out the blankets for the sofa and bed, fill the house with candles or warm lamps, tidy up the garden/balcony and plant out the seeds and bulbs for next spring; Clear the clutter and move the furniture around to allow the most sun into the room.
An Equinox blessing to finish:
“May you harvest the light and keep it burning brightly in your heart, so that when the deepest darkness of winter is upon us, you will remember the summer sun.” – Teo Bishop
Over to you – have you ever celebrated the changing seasons before? Do you have more ideas for how to mark the Autumn Equinox?
(This post was originally published at CLEW in 2013.)