Welcoming the Autumn with Thankfulness

 CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=646243

CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=646243

To be of the Earth
by John Soos

To be of the Earth is to know
    the restlessness of being a seed
    the darkness of being planted
    the struggle toward the light
    the pain of growth into the light
    the joy of bursting and bearing fruit
    the love of being food for someone
    the scattering of your seeds
    the decay of the seasons
    the mystery of death
    and the miracle of birth.

The Autumn Equinox occurs around September 21-23, when the Sun enters the astrological sign of Libra. Symbols associated with this time of year include sheaves of corn and wheat, grapes and wine, gourds and squash of all kinds, seeds and nuts, apples, horns of plenty, rattles, pumpkins, pomegranates, baskets, scales, equality, justice, freedom, inner and outer worlds. It has been celebrated across the world for millennia as a festival of harvest. It is a time when the day and night forces are in perfect balance, but now the nights will grow longer and the days shorten as we approach the winter. At this time of year, we gather together to celebrate the plentiful harvests, to draw strength for the coming winter, and to recognize the gifts of the ancestors. It is a good time of year to focus on the abundance in your life, to give thanks for all that you have, and to begin to move into a restful or restorative mode of being.

This time of year is also connected to underworld stories, to the ancestors and to the cycle of death and life. We turn inward and take stock of the previous cycles of growth. By doing so, we can let go of pain and regret and regenerate our own wisdom from within. In many cultures, death was not viewed as separate from life. And so in celebrating the harvest, they were also acknowledging that everything dies, that all life must come to rest and lay dormant for a while before being reborn.

Myths associated with this time of year include the Persephone-Demeter myth, which is associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries, a ritual that was performed for over 2,000 years in ancient Greece. Other stories include the tale of Mabon from the ancient Druids and Celts, and the Sumerian Goddess of Heaven Inanna, who makes her own journey to the Underworld.

This is also a time to engage in crafts of all kinds, from wine-making to sewing and basket weaving. Focus on the hearth and home in order to make yourself a beautiful, inspiring environment for the coming months when we’ll be indoors much more. Make an altar with natural objects gathered from a walk through your neighborhood and think about what you’d like to dream into being during the dark times ahead. Darkness is the place where our creativity comes from, and all life needs the dark for gestation to occur.

Magic for the Autumn Equinox

On the Autumn Equinox, the Sun moves from the astrological sign of Virgo, which is an Earth sign, and into Libra, an Air sign. We can use these two elements to help us with any personal rituals or spells during this season.

With Earth, we compost and release. The element of Earth is associated with the direction of North and with eldership. The energy of this element is slow moving and transforms through decomposition. We can bury offerings, objects that symbolize our wishes or prayers, or things that we want to be free from. Earth asks us, “What do you want to nourish into new life? Where could you use more patience and forgiveness? How does the darkness feed you?”

With Air, we seek purity and clarity. The element of Air is associated with the direction of East, with beginnings, and with youthful energy. We can enlist the help of Air by listening and seeking other points of view (e.g. dreamwork and divination), by using our breath to regain connection and presence (meditation), or by focusing on the “Big Picture.” Air can help us find clarity when we are assailed by inner-doubt. The energy of this element can be quick like a gale force wind high on the mountain or slow as a breeze. It transforms by cutting away that which is unnecessary or distracting us from our purpose. Air asks us, “How do you want to see? What needs to be cut away in order for clarity to emerge? Looking at the Big Picture, what is the universe inviting you to see about your true life purpose?”

Prosperity and abundance: What are you grateful for? What’s in your fall harvest? What do you want to give back in terms of offerings to the community or to the earth? What are your wishes for the future?

Health and physical well-being: What needs more balance in terms of your nutrition or self-care routines?

Accomplishments: Are projects or goals proceeding as you would have hoped? What adjustments need to be made? What wisdom has been gained?

Death and Life:  Who are your ancestors and what do they have to tell you? Do you know when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to act? What do you want to carry with you into the fall? What do you believe about death?