by Danu Forest
Autumn is a time of rich abundance. The freshening air after a long summer can reinvigorate us, and encourage a more wistful, reflective state of mind that can help us develop our awareness to a deeper level. The scents of wood smoke and ripe apples waft over the countryside. The leaves begin to turn from green to golden, and the berries ripen on the branches in purples and scarlet making this a delicious, sensual time of year. A good opportunity to tune in to the wisdom of our bodies.
The Autumn Equinox, when the day and night are of equal length, falls this year on the 23rd of September. This traditionally marks the last of the harvest; the last of the grain gathered in and the preparations for the winter ahead reaching a hectic conclusion. September so often brings a calm, business like feel to our lives, the new season bringing a chance to adjust our sails. This is the time to take stock and consider the idea of harvest in a different way. Where are we going? Are our lives reflecting our highest dreams and potential? How do we navigate our way to a better life? Consider the metaphorical seeds we have sown in our past. Have they born fruit? Is our life now, our harvest, reflecting our needs and desires or do we need to change tactics for the future, sow different seeds, attend to the growth of our plans in a different way?
The equinoxes have been marked across the British Isles since the earliest times as agricultural markers, revealing the times of seed sowing and crop reaping as well as honouring the patterns of growth and decrease in our lives. In Ireland the Neolithic burial complex at Loughcrew known as Sliabh na Callighe of ‘the hills of the veiled one’ contains many astronomical alignments, and the interior of one of its structures, known as Cairn T is illuminated by the equinox sunrise, revealing spectacular designs carved into the rock over five thousand years ago. Archaeology reveals that Loughcrew has been a place of ritual and ceremony at the equinoxes for much of that time, a tradition that has been revived enthusiastically in the modern era.
Here are some things to help you mark the autumn equinox in your own way…
1) Take some time out in nature. The last of the warm days are a precious treasure now to be savoured so find the time to go for a good walk and notice the turning leaves in all their autumn splendour. Get as much sunshine as you can in preparation for the winter ahead. This is also a good opportunity to have some fun with amateur photography when natures paint box is at its most vivid and dramatic.
2) Engage your sacred sensual side with an autumn makeover for your home. Try setting up a simple altar to honour natures turning wheel, perhaps by your fireplace with a candle and a wooden bowl of nuts and autumn leaves to evoke the feel of the season.
3)Look out for seasonal local food and produce and prepare a delicious autumn feast. Now the weather is growing colder and the nights are drawing in our appetites naturally change too. Now is the season for wild mushrooms (bought at farmers markets or carefully identified first- some can be deadly poisonous!) to make tasty autumn stews and soups.
4) Try a little foraging and look out for wild foods you can safely pick yourself, like sloes and blackberries. Both these berries are easily identified (check online) and can be steeped in vodka or gin for a month or two for a delicious winter tipple. Blackberries are the perfect accompaniment to locally grown apples for a warming crumble- perfect after a long day.
5) Look within. The equinox is the perfect opportunity to just sit quietly and take stock of your life for a while. Equinox means equal night- when the dark and light are of equal balance. Consider the balance in your own life between these two extremes- when and where are we most active, conscious, clear and aware? And what is the dark fertile space of our subconscious, our inner feelings, intuition and dreams trying to tell us? What do we give to life, and what do we receive? Where do we feel abundant and strong and where do we feel stretched and worn? Taking the time to become aware of our inner balance is deeply fruitful, especially when we align to natures rhythms to help us.
6) Give back to nature. If you’ve a garden or any outdoor space now is a great time to put a few things in place to give nature a helping hand. Leave a pile of wood or fallen leaves in a corner somewhere as a home for hedgehogs and other small animals and insects to shelter over the winter. Hang up birdfeeders and if you can grow ivy and autumn flowering plants to provide precious last minute nectar for the bees and butterflies.
However you choose to celebrate the autumn equinox, take a moment to really feel all the love and abundance that surrounds us all at this time. The world is a beautiful place, try to breathe it all in and fill your heart with gratitude for all its blessings.
About Danu Forest: Danu Forest wisewoman, witch, seer, shaman, walker between the worlds, healer, druid, priestess, teacher, writer, gardener, herbwife, stargazer, faery friend, tree planter, poet and wild woman…lives in a cottage near Glastonbury Tor in the midst of the Avalon lakes, in the South West of England.
Exploring the Celtic mysteries for over 25 years, and noted for her quality research, practical experience, as well as her deep love of the land, Danu writes for numerous national and international magazines. She has a regular column on seasonal celebrations and earth based spirituality for families in UK magazine ‘The Green Parent’ and is the author of three books; ‘Nature Spirits’, ‘The Druid Shaman’ and coming soon, ‘Celtic Tree Magic’ ( Sept 2014). She is a respected magical teacher with three online courses as well regular ceremonies and workshops in the UK.
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