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What is Autumn Equinox?

A field of golden rod overlaid with the words: "What is Autumn Equinox? & Nature's Wisdom."

The Autumn Equinox is an astronomical event and moment in time when the sun crosses and shines directly on the equator producing a day and night of equal proportion. It is a scared moment when the northern and southern hemispheres are balanced in harmony as they receive the same amount of rays from the sun. The alignment officially occurs this year at 2:50am (EST) on Saturday Sept. 23rd.

In this blog post you will find:


Dear one, can you hear it? The quiet whisper of Autumn on the cool morning breeze? The faint footsteps of the old crone as she draws near?

As we turn toward the dark time, her death song can be heard in the stillness of morning as fog lifts gently from the glass pond, at mid-day watching the first leaves of the tulip poplar fall to the ground, or at dusk when the vibrant sounds of summer night wane.

The winds of change are upon us. Now is the time prepare our body-heart-mind for Autumn’s approach and the dying of the fertile Mother of Life. It's a reflective time in the Wheel of the Year that invites us to look back upon the season of light, growth, and becoming...

What has given shape to my becoming over this growing season?
What am I learning that is changing me? What can I no longer unsee?
What fruits or soul lessons am I harvesting and bringing with me into the dark time as a source of sustenance?

September can be a tender time of the year as we begin to sense the presence of death draw near. For many of us, grief may bubble up to the surface as the vibrancy of summer begins to fade. Nature’s descent into the sacred dark is a reflection of the inner passage we all must make in the changing of the seasons. Going inward, the task is to bring the light of our inner spirit with us.

As time spirals through the cycles of life/death/rebirth, Autumn Equinox invites you to think about what you are most grateful for, the lessons you have learned over the growing season, and the light of wisdom that you will take with you into the dark time. Everything is shifting and changing as old versions of self get composted and digested into the greater wholeness of who you are becoming.

Image of a path in the woods covered in leaves yet the forest foliage is still green but yellowing.

What is the Autumn Equinox?

An equinox is an astronomical event when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is neither away from nor towards the Sun. The Autumn Equinox occurs when the sun crosses and shines directly on the equator producing a moment when the northern and southern hemispheres are balanced in harmony as they receive the same amount of rays from the sun. The alignment officially occurs this year at 2:50am (EST) on Saturday Sept. 23rd.

The word equinox is derived from the Latin aequus meaning “equal” and nox meaning “night”. It is a time of balance between light and dark. This is the second day in the year when the length of day will equal the length of 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.

The Spring and Autumn Equinoxes as well as the Summer and Winter Solstices mark the beginning of a new season and correspond to one of the four Cardinal signs of the zodiac -- also known as the Cardinal axis. In this case, the Autumn Equinox corresponds to the Cardinal Air sign of Libra, initiating us into the season of Autumn.

Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of eight seasonal turning points marked by festivals which include four solar festivals and four fire festivals (Celtic):

Agricultural fire festivals:

  1. Samhain (Late Autumn / Early Winter)

  2. Imbolc (Late Winter / Early Spring)

  3. Bealtaine (Late Spring / Early Summer)

  4. Lunasa (Late Summer / Early Autumn)

Solar festivals:

  1. Winter Solstice

  2. Spring Equinox

  3. Summer Solstice

  4. Autumn Equinox

The symbol for the concept below illustrates a circle divided into eight equal sections. Although this depiction is relatively new and was developed in the 1800's as part of the Neo-Pagan movement, it closely reflects the nature of the holy days that were celebrated by Celts thousands of years ago, even if these celebrations were known by others names now long lost.

Sadly much of the details of what took place in ancient Celtic culture has been lost, but what still remains is available to us from the source culture's of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Something that we are learning as people of the disapora who are reclaiming our cultural heritage is that it's critically important to be learning from and in direct relationship with the source culture, otherwise we are perpetuating cultural appropriation within our own cultural lineage which perpetuates colonial violence.

Orienting to Cyclical Time

Under industrial growth society, we follow the concept of linear time, however in the past, when we lived in close relationship to nature, time was perceived as cyclical. The Wheel of the Year is a calendar focused on this cyclical journey of the seasons.

If you are in the beginning stages of disentangling yourself from the death-grip of industrial growth society, shifting from linear time to cyclical time can seem quite foreign and unfamiliar at first. We become so used to perceiving time as a never-ending accumulation of one event after the other... a building of sorts, or perhaps you might visualize it as a straight line with a starting point and an ending (life/death). Be gentle with yourself as you begin to open your mind and body to your natural biorhythmic movement. Disorientation, dislocation and disassociation are all manifestations of the trauma of separation from nature.

Beginning to make the shift toward nature's cycles will take time. The best thing you can do to support this shift is to spend more time immersed in nature. Whatever you're doing in your life now, simply add 10-15 min of intentional time in nature to your day. This time should be slow and mindful, or in stillness as you take in your surroundings while staying connected to your inner landscape.

Nature's Wisdom

Soften into darkness

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. Just as we witness the final harvest take place (the length and timing of which depends on where you live), nature is preparing her return to the underworld, to focus giving energy back to her roots. As the wheel turns toward darkness it is important that we too prepare ourselves to embrace our own inner root-tending.

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.

There has been a waxing and climbing of energy since Spring so it is important that we now take this opportunity to ground ourselves in embodiment practices that strengthen our resilience, faith and devotion in the pursuit of liberation for all kin and kind. Preparing for the dark time by engaging in rituals of reciprocity is a powerful way to create a strong inner foundation. 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 reciprocal 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.

Image of a tree in early fall that is beginning to turn color from green to flaming red.

Ways to Celebrate Autumn Equinox

1. Share Your Gratitude

One way to carry the warmth and light into the dark time of the year is to start a daily practice of gratitude. Whether you are offering gratitude verbally to loved ones or developing a morning or evening practice, gratitude nurtures an abundance mindset and fills you with a sense of inner joy and peace. This is warmth of the inner kind that feeds and sustains us during times of decrease.

2. Feast with your community

Start a family or neighborhood tradition by organizing your own Autumn Equinox event, like a potluck picnic in the park. Alternatively, you can hold it in your own backyard where you can pay close attention to decorating the table with early autumn blooms, ears of grain, corn and other seasonal fruits and vegetables. In an age where many of us feel all too disconnected from one another, the early days of Autumn are an ideal time to come together with friends and neighbors to foster a sense of gratitude in community.

3. Enjoy a Mindful Nature Walk

If you're not able to plan a get together, consider taking some personal time to spend a few hours with Mama Earth to honor the shift in the season. Take a meandering mindful walk through the woods. Go slowly, and with great curiosity, stop to observe things that you would otherwise overlook. Notice the subtle movement of leaves as the breeze slips through the canopy above. Trace the cracks in a tree. Follow an insect. The purpose here is to awaken all of your senses as you come into deep presence with the natural world. Presence fosters gratitude for what is, and this is a time to reflect upon all you have been given. Taking a slow and mindful forest walk is a great way to do this.


Through the turning of the wheel, nature teaches us that the basic pattern of life is one of oscillation and contrast; a pulsating dance and tension between polarities. The rhythm of creation and life force energy is beginning to wane when we arrive at the Autumn Equinox. It is here on our solar journey through the year when we begin to experience the tenderness that comes with endings, gratitude for the learnings, and turning within to consider the dark days that lie ahead.

Embracing the seasonal energy of Autumn Equinox is a powerful way to reclaim your ancestral connection to radical acceptance and embodied aliveness. Leaning into the invitations that nature brings will help you to THRIVE during this time.

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We'd love to hear from you!

  • How are you celebrating Autumn Equinox?

  • What miracles are you bearing witness to?

  • How is nature guiding or teaching you?

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