Fall, autumn, whichever you prefer to call it is a welcome season. Pumpkin spice lattes (love them or hate them), Thanksgiving, getting cozy, and going inward are just some ways that this cooling season is celebrated. This seasonal equinox represents a time to reflect on balance and to get comfortable as changes and shifts take place not only in schedules and routines but also to practice setting boundaries after the fun and spontaneity of summer cools down.
A ritual is a great way to reset, move forward, and let go of the past, no matter how spiritual or connected to the seasons and nature you are. But forget about following a set ritual, this article will teach you how to craft your own unique autumn equinox celebration to welcome in this abundant season.
What is the autumn equinox & what does it mean?
The autumn (or fall, I use both interchangeably) is when our days and nights are of equal length, marking the halfway point between the shortest and longest days of the year. Astrologically speaking, this happens when the sun is directly in line with the equator (on Earth) and crosses the celestial equator (an imaginary line in space that is in line with the equator on Earth) from north to south.
Is there a spiritual significance or meaning to the autumn equinox?
Equinoxes, whether they be in the spring or fall hold spiritual significance as times to reflect, set intentions, and celebrate usually through some type of harvest. The fall equinox in particular has the theme of balance which is symbolized through the equal length of dark and light on this day. It acts like a reset to help let go of the busyness of the summer season and invite in the comfort, routine, and new schedules that come with a fresh season.
It’s natural for many to want to turn inward as fall approaches, sip on pumpkin spice lattes, and get cozy. It makes total sense because this new season of autumn provides the opportunity to bask in the joy of preparing for a season (winter) of stillness, but not without celebrating the harvest first.
When is the autumn equinox 2023?
The autumnal equinox kicks off the fall season in the northern hemisphere in September and in March in the southern hemisphere. While the dates change year to year, the fall equinox is usually September 22nd-23rd or March 20th-21st. Rarely the dates will change, but every so often they can!
This year, the autumn equinox lands on Saturday, September 23, 2023.
What is the difference between an equinox and a solstice?
Summer and winter solstice, but fall and spring equinox…what’s the difference between the two and why is it even important? An equinox is when the days and nights are of equal (or relatively equal) length. While a solstice marks either the longest (summer solstice) day of the year or the shortest (winter solstice) day of the year. This distinction is not only important because it affects the length of our days, but also because equinoxes act more like a reset while solstices are more like a reevaluation. For example, the autumn equinox is a time when schedules often change (or have changed recently), the food we crave changes, and there is usually a more noticeable difference in seasons. While solstices give us the time and reminder to reevaluate what we set into motion during the equinoxes, as there is a less obvious shift, but more of a continuation of what is working and letting go of what’s not.
Ways to Celebrate Autumn Equinox
I invite you now on a choose-your-adventure of sorts. Except this time it’s choose-your-own-ritual. Pick and choose which of these practices below you love to celebrate the equinox, and leave those that you don’t. I recognize that some are more spiritual than others and are not for everyone, while none are better than another. It’s all personal preference.
A ritual is something that you can adjust year to year, or even as you go along. These practices are meant to support you during this changing of the seasons to help you better embrace the challenges that change brings with it.
I have ordered these practices in the order I would choose to create a ritual based on my own experience and guiding students through rituals.
Create an Altar & Cleanse Your Space
This does not have to be complicated, and honestly, sometimes the most simple altars or spaces are all that are needed. That being said, if you would like to go all out in creating a really magnificent altar, then I say go for it! There is peace and joy to be found in creating a space that holds beauty and meaning for you.
An altar could be as simple as bringing your crystals into the same room as you. It could be lighting a candle, putting out some flowers (maybe fallen leaves in this case), or having something that’s meaningful to you close by.
I like to bring a deck of cards with me and create a circle. Within the circle I add my crystals, any jewellery I’d like, and a candle because it really sets the mood for me.
To cleanse your space you could use sage or palo santo. But it could also be a prayer or an asking to bring good into the space and release any negativity, from the space or your mind. For example, I use sage to begin and ask “Please release all negative thoughts, beliefs, and mental turmoil that may be keeping me from connecting with my highest self and pure consciousness.” I then use the palo santo and ask, “I call in all that is of love and light to help guide me today to connect with my highest self and pure consciousness.” For both, I smudge around my altar or card deck and then up and down the length of my torso to my head.
Autumn Equinox Yoga
As a yoga teacher, I always recommend some kind of movement to help you get out of your head and into your body to develop a deeper awareness of what you may need to let go of or call in. I, of course, recommend yoga, but dancing, a walk or run, or any type of movement could do the trick for you. Below I support you through vinyasa flow or yin yoga classes on my YouTube channel (which I recommend you subscribe to 😉).
Reflect on the Season Past & Season to Come
I always recommend beginning to journal without any guidance first to see what comes to mind. For the season of the fall equinox, I recommend these journal prompts:
- Is there any part of the summer season that I’d like to bring into the fall season with me? What brought me joy that could translate into fall? For example, the ability to just sit and bask in the sun, or a youthful energy you may have embodied.
- Is there any part of the summer season that I’d like to leave in that season? What practices, tendencies, actions, or thoughts need to be left behind? For example, the stress from keeping a full, busy schedule or the need to do more than be.
- How do you need the fall season to support you? What aspect of this season do you thrive in? And how can you do more of those things? Perhaps it’s having more time to yourself or a set schedule. Maybe it’s the types of food you eat during this season.
Ask for Guidance
After the journal prompts you can pull a card asking for further guidance. Whether they’re tarot, oracle, animal spirit, or something else altogether, cards can be a great way to bring things up that you may not think about upon first contemplation.
You can ask, “What do I need to know about this season?” or something along the lines of “How can I move past the challenges of this season?” Ask questions that will help you bring about clarity through this period of change.
Indulge in a Fall Harvest Feast
You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to indulge! Invite over some friends for a charcuterie board, or bake ties together. Celebrate the season of abundance by treating yourself to whatever food, treats, or drinks that feel like a celebration, or something special. Bonus points if you do it outside!
Get Outside & Bring the Outside In
Whatever part of this build-your-own-ritual you can do outside, I recommend you do. And if you live in Canada, or somewhere cold like me, you can always bring the outside in. Grab some freshly fallen leaves, use dirt to put out your sage or palo santo, or put up decorations that reflect how the outside looks (or will look soon). The autumn equinox is a celebration of nature and its change, and using nature in your ritual can be a special way to connect more with the power of nature and how it can influence you.