The fall equinox is happening on Monday, September 23, 2019. I’ve been trying to pay more attention to these seasonal shifts and appreciate the changes they bring, so I made some notes about what this one means and ways to mark the occasion.
Yes, even though schools are back in session, football games are happening, and fall catalogs are arriving in my mailbox, it’s still summer. Fall starts on the equinox.
— Astronomically, fall arrives when the Earth’s axis no longer points toward or away from the sun – it’s parallel, or sideways, to the sun.
This means the incoming solar rays are balanced throughout the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and the entire planet experiences nearly equal lengths of day and night.
After the equinox, the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt away from the sun. Nights progressively grow longer than days until we reach the winter solstice in December. Temperatures cool as the solar rays become less direct.
An interesting note: it’s the change in sunlight that signals trees to turn colors and birds to migrate south, not colder temperatures.
— As the incoming solar energy becomes less intense, the Earth starts to slow down and prepare to go dormant. Trees begin to drop their leaves, animals ready themselves to hibernate, and people harvest the last of their crops.
The mood mellows and turns more reflective, and we shift from our active, extraverted summer selves to our still, introverted winter selves.
In ancient and native farming communities, the fall equinox was a time to celebrate the abundance of the harvest. If you don’t farm, this is the time to reflect on and celebrate your metaphorical harvest.
Have you put any plans into motion this year or been focused on your personal growth? Make note of any progress, positive life changes, or lessons learned and give yourself a big pat on the back.
— From a broader perspective, following these seasonal shifts reminds me that we live within a grand drama of light and dark. As the Earth makes her daily and yearly rotations in relation to the sun, we experience the shift from day to night and summer to winter. We use this continual cycling from light to dark to mark days and years and seasons of growth, but through it all, the sun never stops shining.
The light is always there – we are the ones who move toward or away from it.
So, how does one celebrate the fall equinox? Here are some ideas to start with:
- Gather pumpkins, squashes, corns, and colored leaves and make a table decoration to welcome in fall. (Like Thanksgiving, but earlier.)
- Go apple or pumpkin picking and make appropriately apple or pumpkin-spiced dishes and drinks.
- Go on a nature walk and enjoy the signs of fall. Look for turning leaves, notice any changes in the air quality or temperature. When you leave the activity of daily life, can you sense the slower pace of the season? What are your favorite aspects of fall?
- Spend some time in a state of abundance and gratitude. Pull out your journal and make a list of everything you have and everything you’re grateful for.
- Look around and notice all that the Earth provides – fall produce, fall clothing, fall home decor, and on and on. Say thank you! Out loud, silently, or in the form of a donation to your favorite Earth-positive cause.