The air is cool, the leaves are beginning to change, and pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING is back! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
More than just an excuse to wear hoodies and slack on shaving your legs (yes, you know it’s true 🙂 ), the autumn equinox celebrates a perfect balance of our planet. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, night and day are about equal length.
Symbolically, the autumn equinox prepares the earth for the essential rebirth during the winter solstice. Death is necessary for rebirth, just as darkness gives way to light. This perfect balance of light and dark, death and life, is extent in many ancient traditions and spiritual beliefs.
- Balancing darkness with light
- Letting go
- Acknowledging impermanence
A beautiful example incorporating the above is Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 1833 poem, The Autumn:
Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.
How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.
Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!
The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.
Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.
Change, death, ending – it can be rather depressing. But I urge you to seize the opportunity of the autumn equinox to reflect upon the past year: the triumphs, failures, joys, and sorrows. Acknowledge them and internalize them. Spend a moment reliving the happiness and mourning the sadness. In this day of perfect balance, forgive yourself and others, let bitterness and sadness go.
Realize that this year is almost over, and prepare yourself for its death. Start planning how you will let this time of death cleanse you and clear your slate. If you let go of negativity, you will open yourself up to positivity. How? Journal, blog, onenote it – whatever. All of this will prepare you for the death of [your name here] version 2013, and the birth of [your name here] version 2014. Why wait until New Years Eve to promise yourself and others that you will change? Start your prep work now, and you will be more likely to succeed when you reset yourself at 12:01 am on January 1st.