On this day when light and darkness are equal, may you find the balance you need in your life, may you be blessed with prosperity and abundance of many kinds and may you be surrounded by those who love you … Blessed Be!
The double spiral is the symbol of the Autumn Equinox. It illustrates the in breath and the out breath, the point of balance between the worlds, the inner and the outer journey. The endless cycle of change that brings renewal and new opportunities to explore. Your harvest is the starting point of this understanding. At the Autumn Equinox look back with thanks and blessings to the gifts and help given, to the expansion which began in the Spring. Welcome the turning, the change of energy flowing towards the dark, the power within. Connect to your inner pathways, your spiritual path.
Rest, re-charge, find the source of your inner work. Slip out of time. Dream the new dream …
AUTUMN: THE VATA SEASON
Vata is the predominant constitution or Dosha during the Autumn where the elements of air and space are prevalent. With inherently cool, dry, light and mobile qualities, vata is most susceptible to aggravation at this time of year when similar qualities are increasing in nature.
With a direct relationship to Prana, the source of life inside and outside the body, vata governs all movement and circulation. When in excess, mobility in the body may result in dryness, joint pain, insomnia and a general feeling of unease. As a result, the positive energy associated with a balanced Data Dosha, energy that inspires creativity, intellect, and activity, can quickly devolve into fear, anxiety and irritability. To pacify vata during the upcoming season, focus on the balancing qualities of earth, fire and water.
- Get Grounded. Contrary to societal norms, Autumn is a time to slow way down. All too often we find the end of the year becoming a time of hurry and overwork. Instead, take every opportunity to reduce your commitments, keep only what is absolutely necessary on your personal, professional and social calendars. Get more rest by eating an earlier evening meal and committing to a regular bedtime. Develop an Autumn rhythm and stick to a ritual routine. Be it exercise, nutrition or self-care, vata is pacified by steadiness and consistency.
- Stoke the Inner Fire. With decreasing warmth available from the sun, make every effort to minimize the loss of internal heat. Dress warmly, taking care to always cover the head and ears, hands and feet when cold winds are present. Favor warm, cooked foods over raw and allow time for eating as vata-regulated digestive functions are susceptible to imbalance when we eat on the go. Refrain from drinking cold water or juices and drink room temperature or hot beverages instead.
- Saturate the Senses. Apply vata-pacifying sesame or olive oil generously after showering as hot water tends to dehydrate the skin. As you lubricate the joints and muscles, use gentle pressure with the hands and fingers to perform self-massage – which grounds upward-moving energy to stabilise Vata. Cook with heating spices like cumin, ginger and fennel to maintain a steady digestive fire and diffuse warm, earthy scents like geranium, patchouli and rose. Listen to slow rhythmic music with heavy drumbeats and deep melodic chanting with vibrations that resonate in the lower chakras, drawing energy closer to the earth. Minimize over-stimulating the eyes and during meditation, visualize deep reds and browns.
Journalling and working with shadow
Shadow work is as important to revealing our light as it is to releasing our darkness and the time to begin this work is now, between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This is a time to excavate anything that may be churning beneath the surface, a time to invite such thoughts and emotions to gently rise and dissolve. As a guide, you may consider the following contemplation questions either in meditation or in journaling to facilitate this inner exploration.
Grounding and finding your way to stillness is not only conducive before reflective practices but helps maintain a sense of safety as we stay rooted during the rising winds of the season – try this practice to Develop a Steady Mind before your journalling
- What has been my personal harvest this year, what has grown into full expression and brought me joy? Begin each sentence with I celebrate…
- What seeds of insight will I collect and re-plant in the next season? Begin each sentence with I nourish…
- Where am I holding back or ceding to doubt? What fears are stalling me? Begin each sentence with I am afraid of…
- Where am I creating struggle or holding on? How can I conserve energy by releasing any unnecessary effort in this cycle? Begin each sentence with I release…
- Am I housing any latent anger towards myself or others? How can I liberate myself from it? Begin each sentence with I forgive…
- Do I presently feel ashamed or embarrassed by any behaviors or decisions I have made? How can I lay them to rest? Begin each sentence with I accept…
- Do I feel guilty for any of my thoughts, words, or actions? How can I make a conscious change? Begin each sentence with I resolve…
- If my body were to speak, what would it say to me? Begin each sentence with I hear…
Preparations for the Equinox
Great Feast of Thanksgiving.
Celebrate with a feast for friends and family using as much fruit & veg, locally grown, as you can. When you sit down for your feast you could play this beautiful Autumn Equinox song by Lisa Thiel
Go for a walk and collect as much of nature’s wild abundance as you can, while respecting the need to leave enough for everyone else including the nature spirits. You will find wild damsons, sloes, rosehips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries and more. Remember the fruit is the carrier of the precious seed.
Clear Out and Complete.
We think of Spring as the time to clear out but now is the perfect time to complete unfinished projects and clear your home of unwanted stuff. Prepare to hibernate!
Before we hibernate its always good to cleanse so that we can rest fully – try this gentle Ayurvedic Cleanse
This is an excellent time to plant tree seeds and shrubs. They have all of winter in the darkness to establish and germinate. Plant bulbs which will hide in the earth until early Spring beckons. Make each one a hope, idea or aspiration for Spring and wait until their little green noses show above ground – to remind you!
Autumn Equinox Ceremony
Set aside 60 minutes for this practice.
- A candle, incense, or a smudge stick of sage (depending on your preference)
- Objects that represent the four elements: air, fire, water, and earth. (These items do not have to be particular. The point is that the item is a clear representation to you.)
- A meditation cushion, yoga mat, and blanket
- A journal and pen
1. Begin by writing the following contemplation questions in your journal:
- What were the intentions (or seeds) that you planted in the spring? In hindsight, were they the best seeds for you to sow?
- How did you tend to them over the summer? Did you provide ample sun, air, water, and food?
- What circumstances made tending to your intentions a challenge? For example, did an unexpected hazard, such as an illness or difficulties at work, threaten your harvest? If so, how did you navigate this hardship?
- Was the harvest plentiful? Will it sustain you throughout the winter?
- What intentions will you sow next spring? Which intentions will you leave behind?
2. Mentally note the four directions: north, east, south, and west. Using the compass tool on your smartphone makes this task easy. Later on in the ceremony, you’ll couple each direction with its corresponding element, and you’ll use the four directions as grounding points. Fold your blanket and position it at the centre of your mat. Place your meditation cushion on top (the blanket below will cushion your ankles). Place the objects that represent the four elements, your journal, and your pen in front of your meditation cushion.
3. Set the stage for your ceremony by creating a sacred space. Light your incense, sage, or candle. Beginning at the north end, walk in a circle around the perimeter of the ceremony area holding your mat, objects representing the elements, and the incense, sage, or candle. You may choose to walk either clockwise or counterclockwise. Do what feels right to you.
4. As you walk, begin ujjayi breath by breathing deeply in and out of the nose and through the back of the throat. Keep your tongue off the roof of your mouth and your palate open. Move slowly and mindfully. Find a cadence to your steps that matches your breathing. For example, you could inhale, take one step, exhale, and step again. Continue these rotations around your ceremonial space until your mind settles. There is no right or wrong number of rotations. Remember, this ceremony is personal. Do what feels right to you.
5. At the top of the circle, gather your representations of the four elements. Begin another rotation, placing the element items in their respective directions:
East relates to air
- Give thanks for communication, new ideas and realisations.
South relates to fire
- Give thanks for all the beneficial changes which have manifested. Celebrate your spontaneity and the strength of your will and courage.
West relates to water
- Give thanks for the cleansing power of water, washing away the dust of summer, bringing renewal, mystery and inner journeys.
North relates to earth
- Give thanks for the harvest of the earth and all her gifts of food, medicine and all the resources we take
Spirit at the centre
- Not forgetting to give thanks to spirit. Within and without and ever present. Open your heart to the abundance which this vital connection brings us. Touch the sacred still point of power at the centre of your being.
6. Move onto your meditation cushion and sit in a comfortable position facing north. In many Pagan traditions, north is the direction related to the Autumn. You may sit cross-legged or on your heels. Lengthen your spine. Feel the breath move across the collarbones. If you’d like to increase the sensation of ujjayi breath, you can lower your chin slightly. Connect with your core values and a deep sense of grounding and connection while following this GUIDED MEDITATION. Whilst following the guided meditation visualise your body as a mountain, with your legs as the base, your arms as the slopes and the crown of your head as the mountain peak. One with the earth and infused with her healing qualities allow yourself to rest in the within your mountain like stability – allowing its stillness to permeate your entire being. Stay here for as long as you like.
7. When you’re ready open your eyes, and grab your journal and pen. Maintain an upright spine whilst you write in your journal.
Answer the questions that you wrote in your journal earlier. If strong emotions arise in response to a particular question, write down the area of the body where the sensation is strongest. Offer this area compassion by saying, “I’m sorry you are hurt/angry/sad.”
8. Set your journal and pen aside. Return to a meditative composure. Check the alignment of your spine, head, chin, and area of mula bandha. To come back into the present moment, release any thoughts you have about your answers. Create a visual representation of Autumn in your mind. It could be a forest, a field, an orchard, or something else. Take a few minutes to solidify your vision. Watch as the sun sets over your vision, turning the land you imagine into a deep gold color with hints of rose and coral. To close your ceremony, sit with this image for 10 minutes.
After your ceremony is complete, slowly open your eyes and bring the palms of your hands together at your heart center. Tilt your chin toward your fingertips in a gesture of gratitude.
Practicing ceremonies on spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox, and winter solstice are excellent ways to ground your body and mind, nurture your spirit, and foster intentional living.