The word equinox is a Latin word meaning equal night. The Autumn Equinox, usually falling around the 22nd of September, is a time when day and night are roughly equal in length. At this turning point, the fall season begins and nights become longer than the days in the Northern Hemisphere. (In the Southern Hemisphere, the Autumn Equinox falls around March 22nd.) Energetically, the Autumn Equinox is a time of balance and pause, a transitional moment between the bright half of the year and the dark half of the year.
The spiritual energies of the spring and summer season are very different from fall and winter. As we enter what could be considered Moon Season, we begin to spend more time in darkness and see the moon in the sky for longer periods of time. This is a shift between the extroverted spring/summer period, which is all about play, pleasure, and connection, and the introverted fall/winter, which is a time for rest, intimate connection, solitude, and reflection.
The Roots of the Autumn Equinox
Traditionally, the Autumn Equinox marks the end of the harvest season, where we take stock of what we have grown and gathered and give thanks for what we have received.
In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October, much closer to the Autumn Equinox than the American Thanksgiving, which is in late November.
Many modern pagans celebrate this harvest season during the holiday of Mabon, a time for apple picking, feasting, and giving thanks to the gods for the harvest. Indeed, American Thanksgiving, at least according to legend, was originally a harvest celebration shared with the Indigenous Wampanoag people from what is now known as Massachusetts.
How the Autumn Equinox Can Help Us Balance
In addition to gratitude, the Autumn Equinox is an appropriate time to consider and invite balance into your life. The idea of balance may need to be redefined as we move from the bright to the darker half of the year; what kept you balanced in the heat of summer may not work the same way on cooler days. Balance is a constantly shifting equilibrium, and our daily routines and rituals may need to shift with the transition to a new season.
During this time, you may notice yourself naturally turning your attention from the outside world and other people to yourself, your body, your spirit, and your heart. Take a moment to slow down and listen inwardly. Is there something your body is asking you for? Is there a project you have been wanting to begin that needs some deep focus? Is your spirit calling for quieter reflection, or to begin a new commitment?
For many of us, the idea of September as back-to-school season is deeply imprinted. Whether or not we have any engagement with school, this month marks a time to move our attention to the proverbial classroom, encouraging us to seek out learning of all kinds. While late summer is a time for rest and enjoyment, the darker season is a time for more intellectual pursuits.
We may have less energy for physical movement outdoors (though it’s always a good idea to get outside if we can), but there is often an intellectual energy that is ready for a challenge at this time. In many Indigenous cultures, the wintertime was and still is devoted to sitting around the fire while Elders teach children important lessons about life. When it’s too cold to be outside hunting, building, or farming, it’s time to go inside and listen to your teachers.
However this energetic and spiritual shift is landing for you, mark this midpoint moment of the year and welcome the shift to a new type of energy. Happy Autumn Equinox!
Want more autumn magic? Try one of these druid fall rituals for the autumn equinox.