The Autumn Equinox
Updated: Sep 21, 2021
The equinox is tomorrow- the 22nd of September, and I'm writing this mostly to remind myself to take time to enjoy it. If you want to feel closer to the natural world around you, noticing and enjoying the changing seasons is a great practice. I celebrate the seasons, in my own way, with others and alone. It helps me to be more present and stay enchanted with the beauty around me. More on how and why I celebrate the seasons in a later post.
Unlike the solstice, which is a time of extremes, the equinox is a time of balance. In the west we think of balance this arrival point of equilibrium that is calm, still and blissful. I think Dust and Tribe best described balance as a state of constant tension between two or more opposing forces. The yoga practitioner holding a pose is actively working to resist the forces of gravity. An ecosystem in equilibrium is a web of species competing for resources. The rabbit is balanced from below by the clover, and above by the fox and hawk.
Balance requires effort. It is not a state to be achieved, but instead a state that requires effort and maintenance. Maintaining it can be exhausting. Are you tired from balancing too many forces in your life? A lesson from the equinox can be to reassess your priorities and boundaries before the coming months of holidays and cold. I realized that my full-time-with-benefits job was keeping me indoors and stationary for too many of my waking hours. I was fighting (and loosing) trying to get enough active time outdoors away in my free time. I could not balance my wild self with my civilized responsibilities, so I am trying a new path. My new job has me active and outside with better hours, and just happens to start the week of the equinox.
I imagine the equinox poised on an edge, balanced between light and dark. Like all waypoints along celestial cycles, the autumnal equinox marks a moment of transition- in this case, the transition from Summer to Autumn, light to dark, and warm to cold.
I think my favorite moments are the liminal ones, those effervescent, transitory moments you feel deep in your spirit. My favorite times of day are sunrise and sunset. I love the equinox and the solstice. Though when you think of it, every moment is a transition, because everything is always moving and shifting. We label the notable waypoints along the way- sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight. We are always moving toward, through, and beyond these markers.
There are lessons here for me. These waypoints are like birthdays- just markers along a cycle. Today is the youngest I'll ever be again. I move through a grand cycle of life, with its own seasons. I hope I will live long enough to reach my own winter and learn its lessons. I have passed the spring of my life, but every spring I get to revel in Spring's beauty, newness and hope. Though I am beyond it, it is not gone. I remember the joy of the spring of my own life, and spend time really savoring the unique beauty of spring. As we head into autumn, I think ahead to the upcoming decades - my own autumn- and think on how to move into that season with wisdom and grace.
This transition is an invitation to move smoothly through change. To appreciate the past without clinging to it. To look forward to the future without dread or anxiety.
From this moment of balance we move into the time of harvests and days that grow colder and darker. It is also a time of feasts and fellowship. Each season has its own unique, temporary beauty.
"The Gods envy us. They envy us because we're mortal. Because any moment might be our last. Everything's more beautiful because we're doomed." - Achilles in Troy
Perhaps everything is more beautiful because it is fleeting? I know I am always sad when I feel like I didn't get to really experience and enjoy a season. If I didn't spend enough time watching fireflies and swimming in wild places in the summer, I am sad over what I feel I have missed. The evanescence of the seasons is a lesson to savor their particular beauty while it lasts.
This is an opportunity to not get lost in the monotony or busy-ness of our civilized lives. To make time for evening walks beneath changing leaves and campfires with friends.