The equinox is a time when the length of night and day are equal. Our ancestors were so attuned to the seasons and the changes that took place that they developed rituals to honour this change.
The pagan rituals during this time focus on shedding what we don’t need, and expressing gratitude, as we head into winter. The time of the equinox marks a turning point. It’s not just a change of season, but a change of consciousness.
WHAT IS THE AUTUMN EQUINOX?
The autumn equinox is the first equinox to take place after the summer solstice. Winter is on the horizon and summer is not yet a distant memory. In autumn, the leaves crinkle up and change colour, they fall to the ground and decay. We can see autumn as a time to see what is needing to be released in our own lives, in order to move forward and rest in winter.
The equinox is thoroughly a pagan tradition. In our ancient past, our pagan ancestors noticed the subtle changes of the season. Even before the agricultural tradition of the Neolithic era, our hunter-gatherer ancestors needed to know when the decay of autumn was upon them.
Around this time, the food would slowly dwindle until the coming of the first frost, and this was important for survival. Change is a mystical time for everyone because it signals the end and beginning.
The pagan festivities of the fall equinox were centered around giving thanks for the abundance they were receiving. Our ancestors would have had their last harvests of the year around the September equinox and this would need to sustain them over winter. This makes autumn a time of reflection -- where we look back at the blessings from the summer months and give gratitude for what we have.
This day of the year reminds us to release what is not needed and to be grateful for what nourishes us. Once we understand these lessons in autumn, we can be sustained through winter.
THE AUTUMN EQUINOX IS A HARVEST FESTIVAL
The autumn equinox has a rich history both in the Neolithic and pre-agricultural ages. We get most of our information on the traditions and rituals of the fall equinox from medieval sources. In Britain, no ancient written records survive so we have to rely on later material.
In the medieval era, autumn was celebrated by a festival called 'hærfest' in Old English, which literally means 'harvest fest'. Harvest festivals were actually a pagan holiday steeped in ancient rituals of honouring a fertility goddess for the bounty of the harvest.
Goddesses associated with autumn and the harvest were honoured. These goddesses were all mother goddesses and they symbolised nourishment. The mother goddess mirrors the agricultural cycle -- the seeds are planted then reaped to give nourishment to the people, then the land becomes barren again until it becomes summer.
The goddess Autumnus, where the name for autumn comes from, was the Roman goddess of the harvest. She symbolised the abundance of summer, commonly associated with fruit and nuts.
The Celtic goddess Braciaca, was symbolic of the harvest throughout the European continent. Her name refers to a fermented drink called “mead” made from a cereal crop that was drunk during the harvest festival.
All of the harvest goddess mainly revolve around a cereal crop because this would've been the crop most likely to sustain people throughout the winter. It’s one of the reasons why porridge was a common meal during the middle ages.
THE RITUALS OF THE AUTUMN EQUINOX
Celebrate the autumn equinox by illuminating your world within. The pagan rituals at this time focused on introversion in order to grow into our full potential. Using the energy of the season and the shifts in nature, we can discover the how our pagan ancestors would have thought during this time, and thus the true rituals of the autumn season.
1. Shed Light on the Darkness. The equinox is a time when the light and dark are in perfect balance. There is an opportunity to shine light where the darkness within us resides. In medieval times, a festival called Michaelmas was celebrated to shed light into the areas of darkness, which mirrors what happens during the equinox.
During the festival, Saint Michael as the angel of light is thought to defeat demons of darkness. This festival undoubtedly came from a pagan tradition. It could come from a shamanic tradition where the elder travelled to the world of the spirits and defeat the darkness within.
This holiday gives us guidance on how to harness the power of the equinox. It’s an opportunity for us to shed light on the dark areas of our own subconscious. It’s a time where we can understand our shadow side more.
We can do this by being introspective. What dark areas have we been avoiding? According to Carl Jung, the shadow self hides in the parts of ourselves we don’t like, or have rejected.
Jung states it is very important that we learn to accept and integrate these parts in order to be whole. Like the equinox, the light and dark reside in us too.
2. Express Gratitude. Gratitude is a central theme of the autumnal equinox. Our ancestors harvested the grain and gave thanks for all they had for when the times grew cold. Now is the perfect time to remind yourself of all the blessings you have.
In ancient Briton after the harvest the people would pour a few bags of grain into the air to give gratitude for the abundance of crops they received. The grain was thought to be carried back to the gods in the Otherworld. They knew wealth wasn't created by hoarding, but by an attitude of gratitude.
Find your own way to give back to those that allow you to have abundance. Maybe it’s writing a nice note to your boss, or your parents, friends, perhaps even nature itself. Feel that appreciation in your heart. You are already doing so well.
3. Face the Challenges Within. Challenges often arise in life when we confront the darkness within us. The period of growth through the darkness can be tough.
Ajeet Kaur says that when we face a challenge in life, it draws strength from us to face the challenge. The equinox likewise is bringing light from the darkness. Even though the darkness of winter will come, the light still remains for a while. The equinox reminds us that we can call on this strength and lightness within us to face the darkness.
When you feel an inner challenge or struggle come up, know that the light of the equinox is with you. Using the energy of this time, you can overcome whatever obstacles are in your way. Remember, the light always pierces through the darkness. You can find a balance even when you’re struggling.
4. Ground Yourself. Autumn in Ayurveda is the season of vata the air element. Too much air in your composition can cause headaches, insomnia, weariness, dizziness, vagueness, and feeling 'swept away' with life.
In Ayurveda, abhyanga (warm oil massage) is recommended for grounding. You'll also prevent dry skin and be able to concentrate better, have a clearer mind, and be able to make informed decisions. Selfcare is so important during seasonal changes too, because our body needs to adjust to a new rhythm following the change of a season.
Grounding connects us to the primordial earth goddess. The aspect of Braciaca or Autumnus as the mother goddess is her decaying element calls to us as we ground. Feel her presence with you as you face each cold winter day. She will give you strength.
Enjoy this season and take the time for more self care and self love.
Much love and light, Leona
Inner Work 101: Resistance. The real reason why you don’t already have what you want [And what to do about it]
I am working on to de-mystify the inner workings of inner work. I am tired of seeing brilliant creative people stumble around and settle for less than they really want because they don’t know how to navigate the path of their own potential and this is what I’m doing to help change that.
I know you’ve got big obstacles in your way (like a lack of time, money or support) as well as places that trip you up (like self-doubt, self-worth, procrastination and fear).
But you’re a creative genius so, those things are all figure-out-able.
In fact – facing and transforming the obstacles is how you create the path.
So if facing and transforming the obstacles is how you create the path then having obstacles is good because it gives you something to work with – raw material for building bricks for your yellow brick road.
So the obstacles are not what’s holding you back.
The thing that holds you back is your resistance to facing the obstacles.
Resistance is a sticky/tricky thing to work with. It can show up in a LOT of different ways, for example:
This is resistance’s superpower, it gets you to stay in it because it convinces you that it’s true.
Like the Wizard of Oz trying to look like something he’s not, your resistance tells you that that’s an immovable brick wall ahead of you, you can’t go there, don’t even bother. And as long as you listen – you don’t go there.
But that brick wall is mostly smoke and mirrors. At its worse, it’s still climbable.
When you’re in resistance you’re caught in a lie which means you’re totally disconnected from your power.
And you can’t come back into your power until you tell yourself the truth: you’re not waiting for the right time, you’re in resistance.
I’d rather pretend that I’m too busy than face my fear of failure.
So when you can remember that facing and transforming the obstacles is how you create the path then you are free to choose: get to work building bricks or to keep telling yourself a lie about why you can’t move forward right now.
My rule of thumb is that if I’m not doing what I want to be doing I assume I’m in resistance.
And I do find myself in resistance often. I decided to write about it today because I am in it pretty hard.
What I do with resistance is meet with it and then work with it to transform it?
This is how it works:
My resistance shows up as a small, smooth grey rock, nestled in my hand.
I feel optimistic about this, as some days my resistance shows up as a monster or a mountain – things that feel big and strong and like they are going to crush me.
I beam love at the rock and ask it what it wants.
After a few minutes, the rock cracks in 2 and a small worm crawls out. The worm feels familiar.
It crawls up my arm to whisper in my ear: I want to feel loved.
I gently pick it up and put it back in my hands. “I do love you. You are so sweet and smooshy and green and lovely. What’s not to love?”
But as I do this I can see the problem.
This small, shy part of me who wants to feel loved doesn’t belong in the land of this project I want to be working on (aka: The Thing I Am Resisting Working On This Morning).
Because then I’d be doing my work in order to feel loved, instead of doing my work in order to serve.
You see the difference? When you do your work to get your personal needs met the energy between you and your project gets very messy very fast. This approach doesn’t give your creative potential solid ground to grow from so you’re not going to do your best work. Being tied to external approval in that way freezes and shrinks your creative genius.
This little worm does not belong in the rock.
It belongs in the jungles of my heart where there are branches to play on and leaves to eat and sunshine and soft warm earth to burrow in. This little worm can find healing there.
When I look back in the land of my project, I can see that the rock was jamming up the gears of inspiration and magic and bringing all productivity and momentum to a halt.
It’s important not to fight any of the beings that live in your inner world. In the spirit of wholeness, everything belongs.
It’s just that some things can wind up in the wrong place, and it’s your job to keep everything in the right place.
(This is why fighting your inner critic doesn’t work – that actually only makes it fight harder against you and your dreams.)
So I put the worm into the jungles of my heart, the rock disintegrated because it was never real (it was just a hiding place for the frightened worm) and the gears of inspiration and magic started turning again.
And now here I am, in the land of happy productivity.
This is how it works. When you face your resistance you transform it.
The story that unfolds when I meet my resistance is different every time. The characters are different every time.
But the thing that is the same every time is that there is always a way to move forward. Always.
(Whenever you feel certain that you can’t move forward right now, this is a sign that you are in resistance.)
Working with resistance is the main thing I do. It’s like how I have to cut out the fabric before I can sew my clothes. It’s the foundation that makes the dream work possible.
I created this method to meet and transform resistance and obstacles as quickly as possible. I use it almost every day because the faster I face the resistance and do this work, the faster I can get to work building my dreams.
As far as I can tell, you don’t have a choice about whether or not to have resistance – we all have it. But you can choose whether or not you’re going to allow it to control you and dim your dreams. You can practice and get better at transforming resistance and that will make all the difference.
Sending you all love and light!
You got this!
Learn more about my teachings at www.awakenthebeauty.com