Today is Autumn Equinox, or “Mabon” in the parlance of the Wheel of the Year, a little ritual my friend Emily and I got into a few years back (see Solstice and Elderflowers). In fact we got so into this Wheel that we started a newsletter, called Weekly Wheel (updated quarterly). Here’s the party line:
How to use the cycle of the seasons to hallmark your own life.
Each newsletter offers:
Thinking prompts and activities for self improvement
A “get in touch with nature” assignment
A delicious recipe to mark the season
This is a secular newsletter, truly for everyone!
In this latest newsletter we both confront the fact that this year, Autumn Equinox caught us totally off guard. I thought I’d copy the key content here because it’s relevant to SmarterFitter, too (an example of one of those “projects” that I didn’t invest nearly enough time into this year). Read on, and subscribe to the Weekly Wheel if this sort of thing resonates with you:
“Oh Shit, Equinox!”
So said Emily to me just the other day and I admit I felt the same when I realized that Autumn Equinox is, well, TODAY! Where did the time go? This is not to say I’ve been totally out of touch with nature. I’ve done my share of foraging blackberries and picking apples this season. But it seems as if those pursuits were more a form of escape than becoming, like, “one with nature”. Where did the Wheel go?
Before I go on, let’s get back to basics….
What’s the deal with Autumn equinox?
In the parlance of the Wheel, Equinox is all about the end of the harvest season. On a personal level, it’s a time to look over what we have learned and achieved over the year. It’s a time to tie up loose ends and prepare for winter. It’s a time to take note of our successes, and maybe the things we didn’t succeed in.
So what’s the big deal?
One of the reasons why we like the Wheel is that it helps us hallmark our life by the seasons. It also helps to illustrate parallels between the seasons in the natural world and the “seasons” in ourselves. It’s a way to get jazzed in the Spring when things are growing to set our own projects in motion. And it’s a way to feel OK in winter when we just want to hibernate and hunker. When you start to pay attention to those connections, it can enrich everything from walking outdoors to cooking beautiful food, and offer comfort when things don’t seem quite right.
Autumn equinox is so called because on this day the number of hours of daylight equal the number of hours of night. As such, the theme of “balance” runs through this festival, the balance of light and dark, as well as a review of the past and a view of the future.
So when Equinox comes around (whether you’re a Wheel person or not) and you suddenly realise that those projects you set out to work on have been a bit neglected, perhaps even forgotten, it can definitely present with an “oh shit, equinox!” moment!
I know I’ve become incredibly detached from my own projects year, largely due to stress. In fact I have been so detached that I almost completely forgot Equinox! But maybe rather than seeing this as a disaster, maybe Autumn Equinox can help.
Clearing away and finishing off
II’m going to quote a passage from the Wheel book here. Forgive some of the hippy dippy stuff but I think the general message is helpful:
“Although the corn is gathered there are still apples, pears and berries left to be picked. This is the time of year to tie up loose ends and also to throw away aspects of your life that are no longer relevant.
If any goal that you set yourself at the beginning of the year remains unfinished, accept that now you have probably come as far as you need to in this particular growth cycle. If you have a gone a long way towards achieving it, be pleased with yourself. Take note of why you didn’t quite do what you set out to and make this the ‘seed’ of next year’s achievements. If one of your projects has come to nothing, then either it wasn’t the right project now for you or you may have been attempting something at the wrong time. Mentally throw it out now, without feeling guilty. You may wish to come back to it when you’re ready or you may realise that it no longer bears relevance to your life.”
The point is this: Take time this week to appreciate your successes (whether they are large or small!) and don’t give yourself a hard time about anything left uncompleted (or even in limbo). And seriously, do take the time! Write a few notes down in a notebook. No notebook? Write a quick email to a friend – swap your success stories. It feels good!
And if that’s all done and you’re still feeling like “Oh shit! What have I been doing with my time?!” then here’s a few suggestions…
How to get your equinox groove back
I am by no means an expert on this and am still in the process of re-groovification. Nevertheless, here are a few suggestions that have helped me overcome equinox panic and be cool with the state of play.
- Start over. Or at least, look at it as a new phase for new achievements. Treat this time of year as a chance for a fresh start. Be cool with where you’re at in all the things and prepare yourself for a fresh approach to grooviness.
- Clean house. People are all about Spring cleaning but I think Autumn cleaning is just as important! Focus on the key areas that will help you kick off your projects when you’re ready to go. For me it’s my desk and my kitchen. This is a wonderfully cathartic exercise because it’s DOABLE in less than a day!
- Start a journal. We have written before about mood pads but take it to the next level. Promise yourself to write for 10 minutes per day. This can be about anything. The day’s successes. Gratitude. Deep thoughts. Lists. Plans. Whatever.
- Change up (or start) your exercise routine. I learned yesterday that my mom is starting yoga for the first time, ironic because I’ve just signed up for a yoga course through CodyApp. Something must be in the air! Even something as simple as changing up your walking route can help stimulate the brain and inspire grooviness!
- Seasonal cooking. You knew it would eventually come back to the food! Here in the UK it’s prime season for hedgerow foraging – blackberries, crab apples, elderberries, rosehips. But even if you’re not into foraging or don’t know where to go for some wild fruits of the earth, you can still go buy some locally grown produce and do something sexy with it. Last night we started a batch of apple cider vinegar with windfall apples from the orchard (give it a try, it’s seriously easy!)
- Make bunting. Bunting is easy and super cheerful. Here’s some instructions for making bunting out of paper (top tip: go to a charity shop / thrift store and find an old vintage book with cool imagery – use the pages of the book for your bunting paper!)