The 2019 fall equinox is coming up, on September 23. But what is an equinox, and what can you do if you want to celebrate?
What Is an Equinox?
The fading of summer is generally marked by the changing colors of leaves, a chill wind in the air, shorter days, and the return to school or the routines that define us for most of the year. Whether you’re starting a new grade or pulling out your coziest scarves, autumn is a time of reflection and preparation for the coming winter.
Autumn is an especially interesting season due to its transitional nature, easing us out of the warmth of summer and hinting at the colder months to come. There is a scientific reason for this reflective change of pace—the Autumnal Equinox.
Essentially, an equinox is the astonomical term for a time of year when the day and night are about the same length. Soltices, on the other hand, represent extremes of either the shortest or longest day of the year. On an equinox, the sun shines almost directly on the equator, creating balance between day and night. In the northern hemisphere, the 2019 fall equinox will occur this year on September 23, marking the start of fall as the days gradually get shorter. The Vernal Equinox usually occurs in March, and marks the start of spring and longer days.
The History of the Fall Equinox as Mabon
The Autumnal Equinox holds special significance for the Wiccan community, where it is celebrated as “Mabon,” an ancient holiday with Pagan roots. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as “Pagan Thanksgiving.” That’s due to its emphasis on the bounty of nature and harvested foods. The holiday is marked by symbolic meaning and usually entails fall equinox rituals in its traditions.
It’s easy to see why fall is considered a reflective time. The days get shorter. You have to prepare for cooler temperatures when leaving the house. The plants themselves begin to shed their leaves. In the Wiccan community, Mabon recognizes these seasonal changes, while celebrating the harvest and the gifts of nature harvested at the end of the summer.
Above all, the season carries with it common themes of gratitude, reflection, spiritual preparation, and intention-setting for the season to come. Fall foods such as apples, fresh-baked bread, cider, and even the cornucopia are common symbols of the season. We’ve compiled some of the most popular fall equinox rituals below to help you celebrate.
2019 Fall Equinox Rituals
As mentioned above, the most popular rituals for celebrating the fall equinox often include aspects of gratitude, enjoying the harvest, and preparing for winter. The season is all about acknowledging the gifts of nature while spiritually and emotionally preparing for the “death” that winter represents.
Rituals for Gratitude
This 2019 fall equinox ritual can be as complex or simple as you want it to be. On the simple end, start a gratitude journal or make a list of things you are grateful for. Start with the basics, like having a roof over your head and food to eat, and get as detailed as you want.
Another aspect of gratitude is truly appreciating the things you have. Try clearing your space by donating unused or unwanted items, to more fully appreciate the things you have. Walking meditation is also an effective way to acknowledge your personal bounty while taking in the fall colors.
You can also hold a more formal gratitude ritual. To do this, you will need:
- A green or gold candle.
- Gratitude oil (consisting of 1/8 cup of base oil, 5 drops of rose oil, 2 drops of vetivert oil, one drop of agrimony oil, and a pinch of ground cinnamon).
- Seasonal fruit like grapes or apples.
- Colors you associate with abundance.
- Photos of family and friends for whom you are grateful.
Depending on your personal spiritual practice, you may choose to cast a circle for this ritual. Once that is complete, light the candle and verbally express gratitude for the things you are grateful for in your life. When you are done making your acknowledgements, meditate on the candle flame until it burns out, or you may blow out the flame to end the ritual.
Rituals for the Harvest
Fall is a time of bounty, and as such, there is no better time to host a harvest feast for friends and family. Feature seasonal foods such as apples, grapes, grains (like bread or corn), or consider displaying your harvest in a cornucopia. Invite friends to join you! They can bring their own bounty to the table as you reflect on the gifts of the harvest.
If you find yourself short on seasonal foods, you can also go apple picking as an equinox ritual. This allows you to indulge in the gifts of nature while providing for your harvest feast.
Additionally, to get into the festive harvest spirit, consider making fall crafts like a wreath, and bring fall decorations into your home. Though these things may seem small, they will center your energy on the current season and help you fully enjoy the fall equinox.
Rituals for Preparation
It’s important to remember amid your 2019 fall equinox festivities that fall is a time of reflection and spiritual preparation. To prepare yourself for the coming months, set your intentions in a simple ritual. Make a list of things you want to change or things you hope to achieve. Then, light a candle. Speak your intentions out loud. Meditate on them as the candle burns down.
The equinox is also a great time to cleanse your space through smudging with smoke bundles. Carefully dry and tie together herbs like sage, peppermint, and rosemary, and then light them until they are just smoking. Carry the bundle with you throughout your house—being mindful not to overlook corners or small nooks and crannies—and clear out the lingering negative energy with your positive smoke bundle.
Celebrate the 2019 fall equinox however feels right to you. Embrace the festivities and enjoy the harvest so you can prepare yourself for the long winter ahead.