Celebrating Autumn Equinox through Creative Ritual
The equinox occurs twice annually, once in March (spring equinox) and again in September (autumn equinox). The autumn equinox takes place on September 22nd this year 2021.
What is an equinox?
The word equinox originates form a Latin word meaning equal-night. At this time, day and night are of equal length all across the globe. After the autumn equinox, the nights begin to lengthen as the sun dwindles in power, reaching its peak on the Winter Solstice on December 21st.
It is truly a time of ultimate BALANCE. The balance between day and night reminds us of the necessity of both light and dark, the joys and the sorrows, the gains and the losses, the gratitude and the grief in the knowing that they are two sides of the same coin. Only by embracing these opposing yet harmonising aspects, can we truly reach a place of wholeness in our lives and as a planet at large. The key themes arising for me this equinox, and indeed during this time of planetary crisis are that of GRIEF and GRATITUDE.
For what has gone, the dwindling light, diminishing warmth and end of the growing season. Grief for the lives lost this past few years due to the virus situation, and for the diminishing freedoms. Yet at the same time, immense gratitude bubbles up within as I recognise the gifts that these challenging times offer. Without the fallen leaves and decomposing mushrooms, we would not have compost in which to fertilise the soil ready for new growth to occur in spring. Nature continually reminds us of this life, death, rebirth continuum. Spring always follows winter and dawn arises after the darkest hour of night. Recognising these metaphorical mirrors has the capacity to help us to embrace change and accept loss in our own lives.
For what has been harvested. For the infinite abundance of natures harvest. The bounty of berries, fruits, nuts and seeds freely offered up by mother earth at this time. Gratitude for the harvested crops that fill our larders. Gratitude for the small things, which lockdown helped me cultivate greater appreciation for. For the company and support of loved ones, for enhanced nature connection from the extra time exploring my locality. And many more blessings I didn’t realise I had until a global crisis invites a time of introspection and expands our perspectives. Can we also recognise the gifts in decay, the kaleidoscopic beauty of autumn leaves as the chlorophyl retracts and the composting effect of fallen leaves. Perhaps with hindsight we can identify the blessings bestowed from painful endings in our own lives, even if that was simply the fortifying of our inner strengths such as deeloping greater courage, resilience, compassion and empathy for others.
Gratitude is the inspiration of the many Harvest Festivals and Thanksgiving celebrations that take place across the globe in many cultures at this time. Join me as I take a look at how we can explore these themes in simple celebratory rites to be enjoyed by all regardless of your age or belief.
6 Simple ways to Celebrate Autumn Equinox and find Balance
- Create a Nature Mandala
Nature mandalas created mindfully using nature as our medium and canvas are a fun way of marking the equinox and bringing balance into our lives. Particularly since according to the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, they have a profound re-balancing process upon the psyche, and that a mandala symbolises “a safe refuge of inner reconciliation and wholeness.”
The three mandalas in the top row were created as offerings of gratitude for the abundant bounty of our earth at this time. As I lay the foliage I counted my own blessings too, harnessing the magnetic power of gratitude. If practiced regularly, it has the capacity to draw more blessings to use via the nature law of magnetic resonance. The bottom two mandalas were honouring both the dark and the light, celebrating the beauty in decay seen in blazing leaf colours and acknowledging the losses in my own life and intending to let go of anything that holds me back in life.
I also work with form to create balance, often using symbols that represent balance such as the cross, a symbol of the meeting of heaven and earth. Other times I may use equilateral triangles and create a triscali form or star of david to represent unity consciousness. And often time I will use complementary colours to furthermore represent balance.
2. Apple Crafting
Apples are an iconic symbol of the abundant harvest of this time. The apple tree has been long revered as one of the most sacred trees and symbolises good health, future happiness and a place of rest and shelter. See my post ‘The Curious Symbolism of Apples‘ to learn what makes apples such a powerful symbol. It’s a lovely addition to any equinox alter to remind us of the abundant blessings available to us at this time, both outside in nature and in our own lives.
I made these sweet apple tea lights to adorn my equinox altar and to use in a short candle ceremony to invoke balance into my life. I used a craft knife to carefully carve out a hole in which to place a tea light. I also oven dried some apple slices to create this sweet garland to hang across my mantle.
3. Weave a God’s Eye
A God’s eye is a craft made from two sticks glued into a cross formation with yarn woven around them to create a diamond-like pattern. The cross structure represents balance of heaven and earth and wishes and intentions can be woven using various coloured yarn. I used autumnal colours to create the piece in the first image and made intentions as I wove using colour symbology. I used orange to ask for health, vitality and creative momentum. Purple to invoke qualities of spiritual connection and protection and yellow to bring in self confidence and personal power.
God’s eyes were originally made by the Huichol, the indigenous people of what’s now western Mexico, and they appeared on everything from altars to large ceremonial shields. I first discovered these beauties after being gifted one by a shaman of Aztec ancestry in Mexico. I was told they are powerful protective amulets that keep negative energies away as the centre serves as a portal between the spirit world and the mortal world. The theory is that the gods (divine creator) can gaze through the eye to watch over us, and we can also use the eye to ask for help or protection too. And the four points of the “eye” were believed to represent the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water).
4. Autumnal Walk & Foraging
Autumn equinox is the ideal time to get outdoors to soak up the autumnal vibes and notice the seasonal shifts as the earth transitions from summer to autumn. I like to forage for goodies in what I call a nature treasure hunt, bringing home natural objects to craft with or to adorn my home. Bringing nature indoors is a wonderful way of connecting with nature at all times, and we can get creative by enlisting the endless autumn crafting ideas freely available on the internet.
5. Make a Winter Wellness Tonic
Why not harness the healing benefits of elderberry, blackberry, hawthorn and rosehip berries to create a warming winter tonic to help keep those colds and flus at bay. I added ginger, lemon and honey to create a delicious syrup that contains 20 times more vitamin C than oranges! I adapted my recipe from this lovely blog. Last year it was enjoyed by the whole family, children included so I intend to make double the batch this year to give our immune systems a little helping hand.
6. Autumn Leaf Crafting
Autumn leaves offer an endless source of inspiration with their kaleidoscopic colours and contorted forms. Why not try your hand at leaf printing using watered down acrylic paints or make a cute little leaf trinket bowl using clay, imprinted with leaves. Hydrangea and magnolia leaves offer great moulds for simple shaped dishes, which you cut out using a craft knife. Try oaks or sycamore leaves for more shapely variations if you have a steady hand!
I hope you are suitably inspired to forge your own unique equinox celebrations this fall, wether alone or with the family. However you choose to mark this autumn equinox, I hope you enjoy a blessed and abundant one.
Love Emma. x