“A real relationship with nature is vital for our magical and spiritual development, and our psychic and spiritual health. It is also a vital base for any work we do to heal the earth and transform the social and political systems that are assaulting her daily." ― Starhawk
What Nature Teaches Us
The word equinox is derived from the Latin aequus meaning “equal” and nox meaning “night”. In the northern hemisphere, after this day the nights will grow longer until the Winter Solstice when we meet the longest night of the year. In the southern hemisphere it’s the opposite.
On this sacred day in the cycle of the seasons, we are being made ready to let go, to release and unburden ourselves from the deadweight of old skins. As the wheel turns toward darkness it is important that we prepare ourselves to embrace the darkness which is upon us now - cosmically, culturally, collectively.
The time of the equinox invites us to enter the sacred pause at the very end of the in-breath. This is what the whole earth is doing and this is where we currently dwell. There has been a waxing and climbing of energy since Spring - since our world was forever changed by the global pandemic, by continued ecological degradation, by the murder of George Floyd, by the movement cry of the people, by so much loss and uncertainty. Our entire political landscape is shifting and it should.
As the people’s movement grows, it is important that we ground ourselves in practices and embodiments that strengthen our resilience, faith and devotion to the pursuit of liberation. It’s imperative that we form a reverent relationship with our bodies and the lands/waters we occupy. The source of our power lies here in the quality of these relationships. Indigenous people have long known that the health and wellness of the people is interwoven with the health and wellness of the land/waters. For our efforts to be integral and true, they must be decolonial.
Below we guide you through the steps of How to Make an Autumn Equinox Ritual that will release you of old skins and ways of being that no longer serve you and our shared collective evolutionary journey. This energetic shedding will set you on the path toward greater self-knowing as you deepen your commitment to planetary healing.
we hibernate and heal during dark ages
until you forget the world used to revolve
until you forget how a spell is just
earth and breath joined across a tongue
until you forget how a finger or a look can be a wand
and the earth can tell you how to burn
and how to grow and when to harvest
and what it is to love as mother birds,
as a lioness, as peach against teeth,
as flower following sun
how a stand of trees teaches us family
how a ghost teaches us devotion
yes until you forget that ancestors walk with us
and guide us and make us dream
until we see the truth of it all
how we are each of us a pulse
in the singular life of the divine
unable to comprehend how beautiful
it is to take one, whole, perfect, never again breath”
Excerpt from “We are no longer surprised” by Adrienne Maree Brown
RITUAL OF RELEASE
This ritual of release is a devotional offering to "the one who protects what is most sacred". It is for the one who feels called to the energy of the Equinox as a portal, an opening, an anchor, a resource; to ground this work in the living landscape of our lives; to navigate and transmute the forces that seek to compromise and weaken unity consciousness. This ritual is designed to awaken the power we have to enact our responsibilities. It is also designed for the solo ritualist though it can be adapted for groups.
Time Commitment: 2-4 hours (4 hours if you are following the template)
Create an altar: Work with symbols associated to this season. Here are some ideas:
Themes: Time of Harvest; Transformation; Letting Go; Paradigm Shift; Balancing Opposites
Symbols: Double Spiral - Illustrates the inbreath and outbreath, the point of balance between the worlds, the inner and outer journey; Fruits/Herbs - Apples, Heather Bush, Herbs fennel, marigold, hops, berries and mushrooms are in full power and ready to harvest
Creating an Altar Inside:
Identify a space in your home that feels safe for you to perform your ritual where you can be alone. Begin to think about designating an area in your home for engaging in your rituals. Ideally this can become a sacred space to return regularly. Your altar becomes your anchor. Nourishing it with your presence charges the bond and improves the quality of the connection.
Set up the area in a way that pleases you. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish to make it. At the least, you may wish to represent your relationship to the elements. Different cultures and faith traditions have their own interpretation of the elements. For example: In Taoist cosmology the five elements are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water; and are generated by the interaction between Yin and Yang. The five elements can be understood as an expression of qualities and as building blocks of life and matter.
Creating an Altar Outside:
Identify a space that feels safe for you to perform your ritual where you can be alone. This area should provide you with a good feeling - a place you may return to foster a relational bond with.
Come prepared to offer something as a gift. It could be water that you have prayed over or spoken to kindly; perhaps a stone cleansed by moonlight; perhaps leaves and other nature treasures you've found; perhaps even a strand of hair. Take some time to form a connection with this special place and ask permission to perform your ritual there, to be witnessed and blessed by their presence.
Cleanse Your Space & Purify Your Mind
Herbs for smoke cleansing or saining (Celtic): rosemary, cedar, mugwort
If you do not have meaningful/authentic relationships to Indigenous culture and customs, smudging with white sage is considered cultural appropriation and is dishonorable to the Indigenous People of Turtle island. If you have been gifted sage by an Indigenous friend, use your discretion in how to engage with this medicine.
This sacred plant medicine is being abused, exploited and mass-harvested for commercial and consumer use which perpetuates the violence of white supremacy and settler colonialism.
Take some time to locate yourself within a settler-colonial context interwoven with the land you currently occupy. Check out Native Land to learn the name and more about the territories you occupy.
Contemplate the narratives you enact and the spells you cast through ritual. Be mindful, strive for integrity always. Learn from the ground beneath you.
Craft an Intention:
An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to live, and a way to bring heart and mind into alignment. The intentions we set around this time will stay with us through the winter.
Offer a prayer or invocation:
Sample Equinox Prayer
As we mark this time of equinox,
may we find the balance we desire and need in our lives:
– light and dark,
– spirit and body,
– mind and soul.
At the Spring equinox
may we recognize the promise of rebirth
both within and all around us.
At the autumn equinox
may we recognize and give thanks for
the blessings of the summer harvest
and the fruits of our gardens.
As we mark the equinox in either the northern or southern hemisphere
let us wonder at the Mystery that is Life
and open ourselves to the blessings
of both dark and light.
By Brigidine Sisters
Sample Meditation: Ten Points Practice - 1 hour
This is all about coming into presence, making intentional contact with our body so that we can deepen our connection to land (and our ancestors) through the ritual. Land creates a bond with people who engage it. Your body is a portal. Focusing your mind and settling your nervous system softens resistance and releases constrictions so that you can access the still point within.
“The human body is beautiful. It is such a privilege to be embodied. You have a relationship to place through the body. It is no wonder that humans have always been fascinated by place. Place offers us a home here; without place we would literally have no where.” - John O’Donohue
Sample Movement Practice - 30 min (Practices that involve non-goal oriented movements contribute to neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells)
Begin with a grounding meditation for about 5 minutes before beginning.
Make contact with your body expressing a desire to awaken sensuality, sensitivity and surrender
Now that you are more present and in your body, begin to explore movement intuitively. Slowly begin to wake up your body through soft and gentle movements.
As you warm up your body, allow yourself to really get into it. If you can, let yourself go. Let go of thoughts or worries or inner inhibitions. Invite a deeper level of contact with your inner spirit.
Do whatever you need to feel connected and in your zone. This can mean turning on music or dimming the lights.
End with shaking: Spend a few minutes shaking your body and limbs as a symbolic gesture of letting go and releasing dead skins, old narratives, ways of being that are holding you back
Mindful Walk Practice: Attuning to the Spiritual Essence of Autumn - 1 hour
Invitation: to be as mindful and present as possible; to awaken childlike curiosity
Turn off your devices and simply take a walk. Move at a pace that slows you down (your pace should be half as slow as your normal pace)
Inwardly acknowledge the plants and trees you pass as though you were walking through a neighborhood of friendly neighbors.
Make your pilgrimage of leaves, being mindful of the color of sky and grass and leaf and stone, of the feel of the air, of the scents and textures and sights all around you.
As you do so, ask yourself, "What do I need to release? What are my/our collective burdens? How am I responsible?
Pay attention to what nature is doing around you—after all, everything has a purpose, including the changing of the seasons.
They remind us to keep changing, to not allow ourselves to become stagnant.
As you watch those earthly leaves fall to the ground to nourish the next generation of nature, consider your own leaves. Are you letting them go? Or are you hanging on to the dead?
Sample Writing Prompts about harvest, transformation & letting go - 30 min
What am I harvesting at this time? What are the fruits of my effort?
What am I learning that is changing me? What can I no longer unsee?
What areas in my life need greater balance and what actions do I need to take?
Where am I still holding back? Where do I need to show up more?
What dead skins am I shedding?
Quietly sit at your altar and contemplate the wholeness of your experience. Notice how you feel, what it’s like to be in your body now.
Share Gratitude: Gratitude to your body, the body of Earth and all of the forces of love who have joined you in your ritual. Gratitude for the abundance of Earth; Harvest in many forms: food that nourishes us, our family and friends, health, hope, beauty and spiritual growth; Pausing for a while to appreciate all of the gifts and help we receive.
Now your heart is open, increasing the flow of love and abundance in our life.
How do white people root? By Kelly Germaine
Roots Deeper Than Whiteness - An essay by David Dean
The Vast and Beautiful World of Indigenous Europe - An essay by Lyla June