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Autumn Equinox Ritual: Soften into Your Roots


A field of tall grasses at sunrise with spider webs covered in dew. Overlaid with the following words: "Autumn Equinox Ritual: The Ecstasy of Release"

In this blog post we guide you through simple steps to creating an Autumn Equinox Eco-Somatic Ritual which will support you to nurture embodiment and ecological belonging. This ritual of integration will support you through the winter months and the inner work that lies ahead. Orienting to this seasonal threshold is a powerful way to reclaim your ancestral connection to radical joy and embodied aliveness.



In this blog post you will find:


Soften into your roots


The time of the equinox invites us to enter the sacred pause at the very end of the in-breath, the moment right before we surrender into exhale. This is the energy portal available to you and all of humanity on the day of the equinox. Much has been building collectively over these past many months since the Spring Equinox. We have witnessed so much growth, expansion and collective power in many areas of our lives while at the same time we've also experienced devastating losses.


On this sacred day in the cycle of the seasons, we are being asked to let go, to release and unburden ourselves from the weight of ripening fruits and old skins. Just as we witness nature prepare her return to the underworld to give energy back to her roots, so too can we prepare to embrace our own inner root-tending.


We lose touch with inherent wisdom and true wealth when we perceive time through the lens of linearity and materialism. We learn to measure life in terms of accumulation, with a faulty sense that more and bigger is better. But nature teaches us that time moves in spirals, and every beginning eventually meets an ending. What increases must also decrease... and there is liberation in that. Have you ever spent a day (or many) hiking only to realize that what you packed (although seemingly light at first) has become heavy and burdensome? Or perhaps you've had the experience of moving and the necessity of discerning what you'll take versus what you'll leave behind? In both scenarios, a visceral feeling of liberation is felt after releasing the excess.


These two examples are great metaphors that capture the essence of this seasonal shift. There is energetic ecstasy in releasing excess, putting to rest what has come to pass and finding resolution in areas of your life where you feel conflicted. Outward and penetrating yang energy has been slowly waning since the time of Summer Solstice. Now is the time to ground yourself in practices that strengthen your resilience, faith and devotion in the pursuit of liberation for all kin and kind. Preparing for the dark time by consciously entering into ritual is one way to create this strong inner foundation.


“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


Themes, Symbols & Elements

  • Themes: Time of Balance; Transformation; Letting Go; Paradigm Shift; Grief & Gratitude

  • Symbols: Scales - sign of Libra; Double Spiral - Illustrates the in-breath and out-breath, the point of balance between the worlds, the inner and outer journey;

  • Colors: Dark or rich greens, burnt orange, deep reds, golden yellow

  • Tree: Persimmon, Mountain Ash, Apple

  • Plants & Herbs: Golden Rod, Heather Bush, Fennel

  • Animals: monarch butterfly

  • Element: Air


Ways to Celebrate Autumn Equinox with Friends & Family

  • Enjoy a large feast with a bonfire, music & sharing stories or gratitude

  • Preserve vegetables or make plant medicines like fire cider, elderberry syrup or other medicinal tinctures

  • Go for a mindful walk in nature, sharing what changes you notice are taking place in the landscape


Ritual Preparations


What You'll Need


1. Elements for your altar. Drawing on the symbols and elements offered above, consider what you might want to bring to your altar. Start simple. There is absolutely no need to go out and "buy" altar items. This is something that we encourage you to unlearn. Everything we need is within us and can be found around us. A simple candle will do, or a yellow flower for example.


2. Candle & lighter


3. Journal & something to write with for the journaling portion.



Important Considerations


1. RIGHT RELATIONSHIP: being in right relationship with your spiritual practice means approaching each aspect with humility, curiosity and reverence. This includes checking yourself on the nature of how you relate to "objects" as things and the process itself.

  • For example, if you feel called to stones as part of your ritual, consider WHY first. Then contemplate the impact of whatever action comes next. For example, instead of mindlessly purchasing cheap precious stones from somewhere like Amazon (which have more than likely been harmfully mined/extracted and then shipped across the world as part of the consumer machine that's destroying our planet), perhaps part of your spiritual practice is to resist such a prompting and instead take the time to go for a mindful walk in your backyard, or a nearby stream and see if the right stone presents itself to you.

2. BE MINDFUL & STRIVE FOR INTEGRITY ALWAYS.



To be done on the eve of Autumn Equinox

  1. Create an Autumn Equinox Altar

  2. Cleanse yourself & your space

  3. Equinox Invocation


1. CREATE AN AUTUMN EQUINOX ALTAR


  • Altar items: Early autumn blooms, herbs, falling leaves, and beautiful grasses that are abundant where you live. Candles. Any meaningful items or objects of importance that reflect your current phase of life.

  • Create an altar inside or outside: Find or make a space (like a table or at the base of an oak tree) that won't be disturbed and that will be used for creating your altar.

  • If appropriate place a colorful cloth over your altar. Place the candle(s) at the center surrounded with fresh flowers. Follow your intuition as you decorate.


2. CLEANSE YOUR SPACE & PURIFY YOUR MIND


SPACE CLEANSING: Cleansing, also known as purification, is the practice of clearing out and releasing negative energy from your space, as well as energy that’s just old, stale, stagnant, or no longer serving you. Here are a few different methods:

  • Physical cleaning: dusting, vacuuming, opening windows for fresh air

  • Salt: a common element used for purification and protection in many different cultures. To use, simply sprinkle salt along doorways and windowsills to protect them from negative energy entering or just keep a small bowl of salt on your altar or nearby surface.

  • Smoke cleansing: light incense or burn a bundle of dried herbs such as rosemary, cedar, or mugwort. Choose plants that you have grown yourself or that grow abundantly wild nearby, plants that you have ancestral tied to or just those that have been grown and harvested ethically. Never take more than 1/3rd if you are wild foraging, always seek consent and leave an offering when you do.

NOTE: If you do not have meaningful/authentic relationships to Indigenous culture and customs, "smudging" with white sage cultural appropriation and is dishonoring to Indigenous nations across Turtle island. It is important to understand that smudging is not just about burning sage to purify the negative energy from your space but is a sacred ritual that is culturally specific to tribes such as the Lakota Sioux, Comanche, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Navajo. If you have been gifted sage by an Indigenous friend, use to your discretion in how to engage with this medicine. This sacred plant 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.


CLEANSE & PURIFY YOUR BODYMIND

  • Take a shower our bath; visualize any negative energy that has accumulated in your auric field to be washed away as the water goes down the drain.

  • Meditate, center and take some time to ground in stillness and embodied presence.

  • Write or speak your intentions for your ritual out loud


3. AUTUMN EQUINOX INVOCATION


To be said at the front door on the eve of Autumn Equinox.


Autumn is a time of reflection, release & transformation.
Like leaves falling away from their branches, I too release my attachments to who I think I am.
Like a caterpillar in a chrysalis, I too enter into the darkness of my own becoming and surrender to the unknown.
Like a monarch butterfly, I flow with the winds of change as I welcome grace and tenderness into my life.

By Jessica Cudney



Ritual Overview


This ritual is all about SOFTENING INTO YOUR ROOTS and naturally follows the previous seasonal initiation (Lunasa) which emphasizes sharing abundance. That which is abundant in your life (learnings, gifts, skills, etc.) are like the heavy laden fruits that become burdensome if you don't give them away or integrate them in some way.


Autumn Equinox is a threshold moment, where one foot stands in the realm of living/being/light and the other foot in the realm of death/non-being/darkness. Here we are asked to make peace with what is unresolved in our hearts, to release what is no longer relevant or of service to us, to let go of our outer adornments and attachments to materiality.


Autumn Equinox reminds us of our ecological belonging in an interconnected world, where who we are becoming and everything that we have gained or worked toward is placed on the altar of life for all kin and kind.


Time Commitment: 1.5 hours (if you are following this template)


Opening - 15 minutes

Middle - 1 hour

Closing - 15 minutes


Opening


1. WRITE AN INTENTION & LIGHT YOUR CANDLE


  • An intention is a way to bring heart and mind into alignment. There is power in naming that which you are calling in.

  • When we speak to God/Spirit/Source/Allah, gods & goddesses, deities, ancestors, and forces of love, we acknowledge that we are not alone and that support and guidance is available to us as multidimensional beings who are interdependently woven into the fabric of existence. When we give voice to our intentions, we are speaking to the larger Self that encompasses the intelligence of the universe.

  • The intentions we give voice to now will stay with us and ripple through the unfolding of the seasons.

  • Example: "May this ritual serve to bridge the perceived gap between self/world and no-self, that I might deepen my devotional path to interbeing rooted in the wisdom of non-duality where notions of self dissolve into the many. May I give generously what is abundant and overflowing from within knowing that in giving, I too receive. May I receive the loving support and strength to continue emptying myself in service to all kin and kind."


2. AUTUMN EQUINOX BLESSING or PRAYER

*See below for examples


A blessing, invocation or prayer can be done in silence, but there is power in speaking words that come from your hearts deepest longing. A prayer is spoken to the animating, loving force of the universe - that which gives us life and is the source of love. How you call this permeating, loving presence is unique to each of us, but here are some words that you may have resonance with: Ancestors, place-based spirits and dieties, god(s), goddesses, Allah, Source, Buddha, Creator, Spirit, Tao etc. It's important to remember that Spirit is not outside of you, but also within you... so when you pray, you're also praying to the deepest, divine aspect of your nature.



Autumn Equinox Blessing

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.
May we recognize and give thanks for
the blessings of the summer harvest
and the fruits of our gardens.
Let us wonder at the Mystery that is Life
and open ourselves to the blessings
of both dark and light.

- Brigidine Sisters



Autumn Equinox Prayer


For the light-filled days behind us and the darkening days ahead, we give you thanks.
For the harvest, learnings and the beauty of life that still surrounds us in fading vibrance, we give you thanks.
For the turning of the wheel, the wisdom in decrease, the liberation of release, and the promise of winter's rest, we give thanks.
For this brief repose, a sacred pause in the turning of time, the balance between light and dark, we give you thanks.

- Jessica Cudney



Middle


1. ECO-SOMATIC PRACTICE: GESTURE OF BALANCE (15 min)


For this eco-somatic we will be drawing upon the qualities of AIR since Autumn Equinox corresponds to the astrological sign of Libra. To amplify your connection to the element of air, perform this part of the ritual outside or next to an open window. If being outside is not accessible to you, no worries! Remember, YOU are the embodiment of the elements and that is enough.


This is a powerful yet simple practice that happens deep within your own interior. The most important thing is to make it your own so that what you are cultivating is an inner sense of balance and harmony. If you would like to take it a step further, read through the following steps and draw upon the image of scales or imagine standing with one foot in light and the other in darkness.


Steps:

  • Begin by finding a comfortable standing posture with your feet in a stance that is wider than usual. Sense the stability of the ground beneath you and take a few minutes to come into stillness. Allow earth's gravity to receive you. Notice the quality of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Allow your face muscles to soften as you close your eyes.

  • Bring your awareness to the left side of your body. Scan the left side of your body from head to. Notice any sensations or feeling tones on this side of your body. Next, gently lean your weight onto your left foot. Come back to center, standing still. Repeat this a couple more times, leaning into the left foot and bringing your awareness to the left side of your body. Come back to center, standing still.

  • Repeat on the other side. Bring your awareness to the right side of your body. Scan the right side of your body from head to. Notice any sensations or feeling tones on this side of your body. Next, gently lean your weight onto your right foot. Come back to center, standing still. Repeat this a couple more times, leaning onto the right foot and bringing your awareness to the right side of your body. Come back to center, standing still.

  • Bring your awareness to sensations in your left hand. Slowly raise your hand out to the side with your palm facing the sky. Pause here for a moment and notice the difference between both sides. Keeping your left hand lifted, bring your awareness to sensations in your right hand. Slowly raise your hand out to the side with your palm facing the sky. Both hands are now lifted out to the side forming the image of balanced scales.

  • Sense the balance you are creating in your posture as you do this. With as much softness and unity as possible, slowly rise your arms above your head until your hands meet in prayer position. Slowly bring your hands down, following the center line of your body until your hands meet at the heart.

The next part is a breath practice that naturally follows this practice.




2. BREATH OF BALANCE (15 min)


Breath of Balance is a simple breath technique that supports nervous system regulation and a sense of inner harmony. The purpose is to breathe in a way that creates balance between the in and out-breath.


Steps:

  • Inhaling for 4 counts, exhaling for 4 counts. Do this for 10 rounds.

  • If you'd like to add a gesture, hold your hands out in front of you, turning your palms to the sky. As you inhale, gently lift your palms in front of you following the movement of the breath. As you exhale, turn the palms toward the ground and bring them down, following the movement of the breath. Repeat for every round of breaths.

  • Notice how you feel. At this point you might want to lie down on the ground for a few minutes of intentional breathing and integration


3. JOURNALING (15 min)


For this next part, find a comfortable place near your altar where you can write and reflect on any or all of the following journal prompts. Alternatively, you might simply wish to allow yourself to write without filters. What's most important is that you follow your own inner promptings and allow creative inspiration to flow.


Jot down a few thoughts as you contemplate the previous activities (if you did them):

  • What did I learn about myself from these activities?

  • What feels different now compared to before?

Additionally...

  • What has given shape to my becoming over this summer growing season?

  • 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?

  • What fruits or soul lessons am I harvesting and bringing with me into the dark time as a source of sustenance?

  • What must I cut away and leave behind? What dead skins am I shedding?



4. Intuitive Movement


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 or simply sitting in stillness for about 5 minutes. Let your body know that you want to connect with her primal, soulful nature with a desire to release what no longer serves you and to surrender the coming darkness.

  • When you feel ready, slowly begin to wake up your body through soft and gentle movement. If you're seated, you may begin with gentle spinal movements, circles or twists. Breathing in, tilt your pelvis forward opening your chest. Breathing our tilt your pelvis back rounding your back like a cat. Do a few rounds of this.

  • Slowly build the heat in your body by warming up each body part. Gentle head nods, arm circles, sun salutations. Explore movement while lying on the ground, then low to the ground, as well as standing, reaching, bending and swaying. 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. Here's a song that you might like to play while you explore movement.

  • End with shaking: Spend a few minutes shaking your body and limbs as a symbolic gesture of letting go and releasing excess energy, old narratives or thought patterns and ways of being that no longer serve you.

  • When you come to a natural end, gently make your way to the ground. Lie on your back with your arms and legs slightly outstretched in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and allow your body to become heavy. Bring your awareness to the breath as you notice the rise and fall of your body. Enjoy the sensation and pleasure of awareness as you integrate the experience.


Closing


1. INTEGRATION (10 min)


Find a comfortable place to sit so that you can relax and sink into the gravity of earth's embrace. Notice how you feel and what it’s like to be in your body now. Dwell here in the vibration of inner abundance and gratitude. Soak in whatever sensations are present for as long as feels right to you.


2. OFFER GRATITUDE (5 min)


Offer gratitude to your body and heart, to the source of love within your, to your ancestors and all of those who have joined you in your ritual. Gratitude for the humbling descent that accompanies the journey of becoming and for the only constant that is change.


Take one final moment to pause...


Inhale, appreciating all of the gifts you've received.


Exhale, giving it all back from where it came.


Now your heart is open, increasing the flow of love in our life.


Image by Jessica Cudney


“listen

we hibernate and heal during dark ages

until you forget the world used to revolve

around mothers

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



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