Your Autumn Equinox Essentials Guidebook will assist you through the seasonal metamorphosis.
The autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere occurs on September 22nd, 2022.
One of the biggest changes we perceive in autumn is the decay of nature, which is symbolic of surrendering to the process and accepting change.
We let go of the past to make space for what is new. In the wintering months, the call is to go into the dark and reflect on all that’s occurred.
Keep reading to learn about the best practices to perform during the equinox with tips from Ayurveda Therapists, Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and see how to join the Autumn Equinox Virtual Retreat on Practice with Clara!
What is Equinox?
Equinox comes from the Latin word, aequus, which means ‘equal,’ and nox, which means ‘night.’
We have two equinoxes per year, one in spring and one in fall. On the day of the equinox, the daytime and nighttime lengths are equal due to the sun crossing the celestial equator—an imaginary line of the Earth’s equator in space.
When the sun passes through the celestial equator, this marks an equinox.
The fall/autumnal equinox is when the sun passes from north to south through the celestial equator. When the sun passes from south to north, this is the spring/vernal equinox.
The Significance of the Sun and Moon
On the day of the equinox, the sun and moon share twelve hours in the sky.
This relationship expresses balance as each luminary is equally perceived in the sky during the equinox.
The sun represents heat, action-oriented, fire, masculine, progressive, upward-moving energies.
The moon represents cold, passivity, earth, feminine, subtle, downwards-moving energies.
Why Celebrate the Equinox?
Historically, the autumn equinox has been seen as a day to mark the transition into the darker, colder months through food, song, and fellowship.
Ancient traditions relied on the sun to track the time and mark the hours of the day, month, and year. Equinox was a day to observe the shift of seasons and track the sunlight to account for crops and additional weather-oriented activities.
Many cultures created mythologies and customs to celebrate the Equinox and honor the environmental shift into the colder months and the spiritual shift to explore the valley of darkness in our inner and outer worlds.
The equinox marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next phase, like the solstice.
It is a day to be appreciative, express gratitude, and reflect on what we want to transform.
Autumn Themes to Explore
Fall is the time for harvest. The earth is ripe and ready to present vegetables and fruits previously planted, and the leaves change from fleshy green to gold, red, and orange.
The Harvest Moon occurs in late September around the equinox. Every three years, it occurs in October. Ancient cultures tracked the seasons by the moon and followed a lunar calendar.
The full moons were named based on the crop cycles. The Harvest Moon is one of the most significant as it indicates shorter times between each moonrise.
We witness the falling leaves, the hardening of the earth, frost decorating windowpanes, and the withdrawal of flora. The skies darken and beg all species to traverse into their caves—both literal and figurative—to rest and release the action of the warmer months.
In autumn, we behold nature’s magnificent transformation as things fall away and decay at our feet.
Mud, crinkled leaves, dry soil, and naked tree branches are symbols of the death of the current cycle as the year ends.
Before the gifts of modern technology, wintering months were arduous. Food was less plentiful, and societies used this period to store preserves and prepare for the cold and harsh months ahead.
An attitude of kinship toward family, friends, and community may help get through the dark days.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), each season is associated with an element, emotion, and body part.
The element for Autumn is metal. The body part to explore is the lungs and large intestine. The emotion to work with is grief.
Metal is a conductor of electricity and heat, a core compound and one of the cosmic substances associated with the underworld. Metal is strong, durable, and resilient. It is also very malleable. Owing to its structure, metal is associated with symmetry and refinement.
Autumn, being cooler than the previous months, is more contained. The energetic shift is inwards as we refine our activities and slow down.
The emphasis through metal is to look at life’s structures, belief systems, and core traits and how each contributes to the lifestyle and communities we uphold.
Grief is the emotion of Autumn as we grieve the passing of summer. Sadness arrives whenever one phase ends and lingers until we receive and appreciate the next cycle.
Letting go is also a practice of selecting what is important and focusing on the aspects of life that bring us joy.
The lungs and large intestines are the body parts associated with Autumn.
The lungs are how we intake oxygen and are one of the primary organs that give and sustain life. The lungs help supply fresh oxygen to every part of the body and aid in waste elimination on a cellular level.
The lungs are our source of inspiration. It’s where we intake the breath and move the Prana (energy) through the body to create vitality.
Balance is expressed in how we breathe. The exhale relates to how we let go, give, and dissolve. We experience how to receive, create, and start fresh through the inhale. When we lose connection to the breath, we lose the connection to how we flow with the life cycles, creation, and destruction.
In TCM, the lung meridian is associated with how we process grief. When out of balance, we feel sadness. To release grief, breathing exercises and pranayamas may help to clear the body and mind through inspiration—on a physical and spiritual level.
The large intestine helps relieve nutrients we no longer need and eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Stomach issues such as constipation, IBS, abdominal pain, and cramps express the large intestine and point to its issues.
In TCM, the large intestine reflects how we should nourish the body by eating healthy foods and getting adequate rest aligned with the seasons.
Cleansing Toxins During Equinox
“There’s mental ama and physical ama. If we take care of our Agni and take care of our gut health and digestion, we don’t have to worry about ama. We focus on the positive, and on creating strong Agni.
One way to create good Agni is to cleanse; you want to cleanse to get rid of ama twice a year in the fall and the spring. You cleanse and detox when the sun and moon are balanced.
You don’t cleanse during other times of the year; you want to cleanse closest to the equinoxes.
During detox, you’re purging the physical and also the mental ama. Mental fear comes out during a detox. It can be very emotional as well as physical.
We all accumulate ama throughout the year. Fall is a great time to clear; spring is a time to celebrate renewal. Cleanses are a time to reset our minds, body, and spirit.
Ayurveda treats the body first, and when we follow the basic principles, we take care of ourselves, and in this way, we take care of the environment.
We would never hunt or eat a sick animal. We make sure that we’re eating and hunting the proper food. If the plant looks like it’s falling apart, we leave it alone and don’t eat it. That means we’re taking care of the environment; we’re all in it together. “
– Ayurvedic Therapist Maria Garre.