Here are some ideas for celebrating the Equinox and bringing the joy of the changing seasons into your life:
Here are some ideas for celebrating the Equinox and bringing the joy of the changing seasons into your life:
"Solstice means the sun 'stands still', and the winter solstice in our northern hemisphere occurs when we are tilted at the furthest point from the sun. Its is the shortest day and the longest night of the year; after the solstice the sun grows stronger and the days lengthen.
Fire is the brother of the sun, so fires were lit at the solstice to encourage (by sympathetic magic) the sun to strengthen and begin the long climb back to Midsummer. Around the fire would dance shaman dressed in deer skins and antlers, goat hide and horse head skulls and masks. Red was worn to give strength to the sun."
Apple picking on the Autumnal Equinox may be my new favorite seasonal tradition. The day was warm, yet the air was crisp and the light was beautiful through the orchard. We picked Honey Crisp (my favorite for eating whole), Macouns (great for salads and sauces) and Empire (wonderful for baking).
I do love that last picture, with the apple balancing on my ever expanding belly-womb. During my pregnancy, I have gotten a kick out of the fruit and vegetable analogies to baby size, like "This week your baby is the size of an english cucumber!" They always make me laugh. My little one has grown well passed apple size by now, as I am at the end of my 6th month.
With Fall already here, I am cherishing every moment as I enter my third and final trimester. The Equinox was the perfect pause to savor and reflect.
"In Celtic lore this is the month of Cantlos - song time - when the Autumn Equinox marks the completion of the harvest which began as early as mid June with the hay cutting. Light and darkness stand in balance, with equal hours of night and day; but the darkness is gaining, and with it, barren winter. We must look to the storing up of the provisions and the bounty of the earth." - Anna Franklin, in Hearth Witch
The Autumnal Equinox comes to us on September 22, 2012 here in the Northern hemisphere. This is when night and day are nearly the same length and the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving southward. It also marks the first day of Fall.
The first day of Fall.
My mind is instantly flooded with so many of my favorite things: hot mugs of herbal tea, fingerless mittens, cozy sweaters, fire orange leaves that crunch when you walk on them, apples, wood stoves, more apples, cozy knitting, wild mushrooms, chai tea, and the harvest.
The Autumnal Equinox, like all the seasonal holidays, is a wonderful time to pause in gratitude and celebration. Mother earth has been generous all summer long and the harvest will sustain us through the cold winter months. Here in my neck of the woods, the weather alone is something to celebrate - with crisp cool mornings and warm days in the sun. The way the light filters in during the early morning hours and filters out in the evening takes my breath away.
Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox doesn't need to be elaborate and complicated - incorporating simple celebration and ritual into seasonal celebration allows the sacred to become part of our everyday lives. This is a busy time after all - with school starting for many and work schedules getting busier after the fun of summer.
Here are some simple ways to celebrate the autumnal equinox, which often starts with intention. Just by placing an intention on a simple act, we invite sacred spirit and energy to feed our souls.
:: go apple picking or make a recipe with apples, such as this delicious rustic apple tart. Even the most inexperienced baker will find this recipe a delight.
:: drink some wine - how simple is that? Better yet, try and find a local or organic wine to enjoy with your nightly meal. This is the "season of the vine" a time for wine making and wine celebrations. If you are feeling adventurous, try your hand at making your own.
:: go for a nature walk and look for signs of Fall - fallen leaves, acorns, nuts and seeds (which you can then put in a bowl if you keep a seasonal altar)
:: for families, make a group list of how you want to live your Fall season - from things you want to do to goals you each have for your own personal expression. I love this activity when I work with families, because from the littlest to the biggest member, each person always has something to contribute.
:: dance, sing a song, express your energy - personally, I am partial to dancing to Yo La Tengo's "Autumn Sweater".
:: if you are a yogi - incorporate some balancing poses into your practice. Have you heard the folklore about being able to balance an egg on its end during the Autumnal Equinox? With the light and dark in balance, let that energy help you with yours in Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III) pose.
:: read a poem. This is one of my favorites, which is a children's verse:
In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
These are just a few ideas - celebrating the seasons allows for limitless creativity. With the great mother as an inspiration, I never feel at loss for thinking up ways to say thank you to her.
Do you have plans for the Autumnal Equinox? Share them in the comments and help create a community of celebration!
Fairy Tale by Laura Makabresku
There are flowers enough in the summertime,
More flowers than I can remember—
But none with the purple, gold, and red
That dyes the flowers of September!
—Mary Howitt (1799-1888)
Important dates in September:
September 15 New Moon in Scorpio 10:11pm EST
September 22 - Autumnal Equinox 10:49am EST This marks the first day of Fall here in the Northern Hemisphere. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights. It is also known as the pagan celebration "Herfest" in some circles.
September 23 - Sun moves into Libra (from Leo)
September 29th - Full Harverst Moon in Aries. The name "Harvest Moon" is given to the Full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. There will be both Aries and Pisces energy, as the Moon moves into Aries from Pisces at 9:15am, the Moon is Full at 11:59pm EST.
Sacred + Seasonal Living in September
Lunar Herb for September: Oatstraw. Learn about Oatstraw, one of my favorite herbs from herbalist Susun Weed.
Stone for September: Sapphire
Find out what your local farmers are growing right now with the handy guide at www.pickyourown.org - scroll all the way to the bottom of the page (it’s laid out a little funny.)
Noted astrologer Sarah Varcas gives a great overview of the astrological landscape for September on her blog.
For me, September is about transition. It is in September that summer moves into fall. The days and nights transition into their new dance, children are heading to school, and the plants are going to seed. So be kind with yourself during these ever-changing days. Let your own transitions be joyful and smooth. We don't have to have it all figured out right now. We can find our way slowly to our answers.
Last night I caught the faintest scent of autumn on the evening air and thought, yes Fall will greet us soon.
Ah, but not yet, another voice said. That voice wasn't mine. I swear it was the trees speaking.
So before we race towards what may be my favorite season, here is a list of everything I love about summer, which I have every intention of relishing in these days to come.
:: my perfect herbal iced tea with hibiscus, rose, lemon verbena and red raspberry leaves.
:: summer shawls. I have little love for air conditioning (well, some hot nights I don't complain) but entering in and out of buildings that are cooled like ice boxes makes my collection of shoulder-warming summer shawls much needed and loved.
:: festivals, outdoor farmer's markets, art fairs, clam bakes, theater in the park, outdoor concerts - all joys of summer.
:: no shoes required
:: summer swimming. A pond, lake, ocean or even a puddle will do. Swimming outdoors is bliss.
:: sleeping outside. I love camping so much. I never sleep better than when I sleep outside.
:: sunflowers (and all the flowers!)
:: smoothies, which I am loving right now with crushed walnuts added. It is so good.
:: crickets, lightening bugs, grasshoppers, and garden snakes.
:: summer dreaming. Oh the plans we have! The beach, the mountains, the travel, the playing! Even if we can't achieve a fraction of our summer desires, its still so fun to dream them.
:: the delicious bounty - strawberries, blueberries, peaches, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes. Oh tomatoes! Growing our own and getting them locally from our CSA made me take a vow almost 3 years ago now: Never again will I buy a tomato during the winter. I just can't do it anymore. Winter tomatoes pale in comparison to the fresh ripe ones of summer.
:: knitting in the summer. No, its true! Fall and winter may be best, but I love knitting in the summer too - I find its much easier to choose a project, because all I want to knit is socks! Much less pattern envy in summer.
:: my skin and hair. For some wonderful reason, I barely have to wash my hair in the summer. (perhaps the drying winter over-stimulates oil?) and my skin loves the New England humidity. Summer vanity sure is easy!
:: the summer solstice
:: summer nights
:: summer love
What are your summer loves? What are you going to enjoy in the summer days to come?
Much summer love to you!
A moon-flooded prairie; a dreaming
Of brown-fisted farmers; a gleaming
Of fireflies eddying nigh --
And that is July!
–James N. Matthews
July is here. The heat invites a kind of slowing down that only summer knows. The garden is in full swing, sun tea is brewing, and I am appreciating my homemade all natural deodorant on these hot days (as are those close to me!) Here are a few days to put on your "soul calendar" - yes, there is a mercury retrograde in the middle of the month, but I actually have found that being aware of the retrograde energy makes these periods quite fruitful in their own way!
July 7 - 8: Good days to can, pickle, or make sauerkraut
July 14: Mercury moves into retrograde until August 7-8, 2012. Visit Gala's blog for a great post on surviving a retrograde so you can move through this potentially tumultuous time with ease.
July 19: New Moon at 27° Cancer
July 22: The sun moves out of Cancer and into sign Leo
So mark your calendars and enjoy some simple summer pleasures - fireflies, a cool breeze that makes you pause, the first ripe tomatoes. X.Aja
Happy Summer Solstice sisters! Its the longest day of the year and a hot, hot 96 degrees here in little Rhode Island. Here are some of my favorite summer inspiration images from my Moon Woman tumblr and pinterest pages. Scroll down for some inspiring words on honoring the solstice from a variety of wise women!
"Midsummer is upon us! As we revel in the long daytime hours, the Solstice pause reminds us that nothing lasts forever... within the bright light of the most brilliant Summer Sun lies the unseen conception of Winter's longest night. And so it goes... season after season... on and on as long as our dear Sun continues to shine.
In celebrating these moments of seasonal transition, we recommit ourselves to the everchanging present, with gratitude for the opportunity to do so and deep appreciation for the cycle itself, this magnificent rhythm that is who we all are." - Guiliana Serena
"Summer Solstice marks the peak of the solar cycle. In the midst of the longest day of the year, we simultaneously begin our return to the dark half of the year. Summer Solstice is active: it's about doing and expanding, living the dream we envisioned in the dream-time of Winter. The Earth is fertile, and the womb of the Earth Mother grows ripe with life.
In the mythic cycle of the Goddess, the Maiden Goddess experiences the joy of union with Her creative, sexual, sensual Self and begins to manifest Her creations. Thus, this holiday begins the Maiden Goddess's transition to the cycle of the Mother Goddess as Maker/Creatrix.
Honor and celebrate the many ways you manifest the creativity in your life. Regardless of whether a woman physically gives birth, she becomes "Mother" when she nurtures, sustains and protects life, human or other species, through her life's work and activism. Where is your passionate energy focused in your life? How do you feed your creative fire? How are you a "Mother/Maker/Creatrix"? How do you nurture, sustain and protect your creations?" - Ruth Barrett (via The Spirit That Moves Me)
The energies of the plants are throbbing as the longest day of the year floods us all with warmth and sunshine. It’s a good thing the days are long, there is so much to do.- Susun Weed
Thank you wise women, for sharing your needed wisdom on this joyous day! X.Aja