Today is the Autumnal Equinox, which marks the official start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere.
There are two equinoxes every year, one in September, and one in March, and it’s called an equinox because today the day and night will be almost exactly the same length. From here on out, the darkness will subsume the daytime until things change again after the winter solstice in December.
Things are shifting, and I’m sure you’ve felt it already – the mornings are a little colder, the trees are changing colors or dropping leaves, and school is fully back in session.
This season is full of richness, and it’s even more enjoyable if we can let ourselves join in on the changes that are happening around us.
We need to let ourselves be seasonal.
Traditionally, this time of year was a time of harvesting and storing up for the winter ahead. Today, in our ever-abundant grocery stores, it can be hard to tell that anything is different, but try to let yourself notice: you’ll probably see more squash, apples, and all sorts of warm spicy treats.
You are, of course, being marketed to with Halloween shenanigans and Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but pretend for a minute that you’re back in the village with your ancestors.
Pretend you are a part of this harvest – that all of the beautiful oranges and reds and yellows in the food around you really are unique treasures that you only get to harvest once a year.
I know a lot of people dread Autumn or feel ambivalent about it because it means that the cold and wet winter is coming, but that’s like clinging to the dead leaves that are falling off of the trees. Why hold on to what’s already passed?
Can you let those leaves drop and see the bounty around you instead?
You are a part of this earth, which means that you go through seasons of your own and are affected by the seasons of the environment.
I remember how difficult it was to go to my 9-5 job every day in the dark, come home in the dark, and then try to muster up the energy to do “life” in the daylight I saw on the weekends. If that could be you this winter, then I encourage you to take a cue from your ancestors and try a few tricks:
Get outside while you can and submerge yourself in all of the colors and beauty of the Autumn season.
Dive into the harvest. Go to the pumpkin patch, or make apple cider, or hike in the fiery woods. Be grateful for the fact that the trees can be both dead and alive at the same time, and be grateful that you yourself can go through that same metamorphosis this time of year. This season is happening around you, but it can also happen within you if you’ll let it.
Store up your reserves.
Winter is long and dark and can be rough for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere. And yet, it’s one of the most exhausting times of year because we try to pack so much in and pretend like our energy levels are the same as they were in the spring and summer.
In the United States, we’ve got a slew of popular holidays from late October until early January, and on top of all that, many working folks have major year-end projects to work on like open enrollment, budgeting, strategic planning, a huge retail rush, and on and on.
In my former working life, I was almost always tapped out by late December or January, which made me miss out on so much of the winter holidays – the celebrations that are supposed to lift our spirits and nourish us in the dark.
So do what you can now to store up your reserves. Commit to one less meeting, or event, or volunteer gig. Save some extra money if you can so that you can treat yourself on an extra grey day. Make a few extra meals and freeze them for that week in December when you can’t imagine cooking anything healthy ever again.
Remember that you’re going to need some extra spaciousness and energy in the next few months, so make like a squirrel and tuck away all of the sweet little acorns you can.
Finally, let the darkness carry you.
A lot of us in the West are uncomfortable with the dark, literally and metaphorically. We hate it. We resist it, and our easy access to light and electronics makes that really easy to do.
Personally, I love this shift toward more darkness and rain because it gives me another excuse to be lazy and not do as much, but I know it’s not for everyone. Even if you’re someone who loves the sun and is dreading this turn toward night, see if you can roll with it a little more easily this year.
Let the darkness help you do less, introspect more, or release the leaves that are already falling off your branches. Let the darkness give you an excuse to stay in and read a book or throw a Dia de Los Muertos party that brings your favorite people together.
Try partnering with the darkness and see if this time of year can actually be restful and restorative.
Happy Autumn, sweet readers.
Something special is happening this Autumn for working women in Portland who aren’t afraid to go into the darkness and come out renewed. Click here to learn more.