Summer’s Over, But The Fall Equinox Is Still Worth Celebrating

By Sara Coughlin

This Friday will see the end of summer and the start of the fall season. You may already be knee-deep in pumpkin-flavored everything, but this day, known as the fall equinox or Mabon in Paganism, makes autumn officially official. If you’re interested in feeling connected with nature, this is an important change to acknowledge.

The fall equinox technically occurs when the sun crosses the equator from north to south, during which time the day and night are nearly the same the length. In nature-based faiths, this seasonal shift was believed to be a sign that nature was “winding down,” or reaching the final stage of its annual cycle of birth and death. Traditional celebrations usually involved tributes to harvest deities, since Mabon is a harvest festival as well as a seasonal rite.

Nowadays, the fall equinox reminds us that, not only is the weather going to change, but so will our personal lives and plans. Home and family usually take center stage during the colder months, which can mean moving our priorities around. Consider this day a brief respite before you find yourself dragging out the heavy coats and planning holiday meals.

Ahead, we’ve rounded up five modern-day ways to make the most of the fall equinox. Read on to find the ritual that feels like you.

If you keep an altar in your home year-round, now’s the time to add a couple pinecones, leaves, or gourds to the display. Of course, as anyone who’s ever browsed Ikea’s Halloween section knows, you don’t need an altar to set up an incredible autumnal display. By welcoming symbols of nature into your home, you can make the new season part of your everyday life, which should be your core intention when celebrating any equinox or solstice.

The leaves are starting to fall, there’s a chill in the air, and animals are preparing for hibernation — there are plenty of changes taking place in nature, but there are probably quite a few underway in your personal life, too.

As we approach the colder months (and the holiday season), our minds turn toward incoming shifts: introducing your partner to your family, traveling somewhere new for Thanksgiving, or simply creeping closer and closer to the end of the year. Rather than hide from these transitional moments, welcome them. In the same way that those woodland creatures take cues from the changing weather, so, too, can you observe the changes around you and prepare accordingly.

Sticking with the idea that nature — and 2017 — has entered its period of “winding down,” it’s high time you start thinking about what else you can do to make this year feel complete. Before December 31 sneaks up on you, pause and check in on the goals you set many months ago. What promises did you make to yourself last January? What projects are still waiting to be finished? Don’t spend the equinox scrambling to execute something that still needs time. Instead, this progress check should focus on everything you were able to make happen this year, even if you still have a few boxes unchecked.

Once you settle up with your 2017 to-do list, make a new one. It’s never too early to plan for the months (or year!) ahead, but the fall equinox is a natural opportunity to get started. In addition to the inevitably stressful process of planning for the holidays, pencil in some time just for yourself in the upcoming months — and even start dreaming up your next vacation. Keeping your mind open to the good that winter has in store for you will make your list-making much more enjoyable.

From here on out, our days will be getting shorter, which can be difficult for those of us who crave sunshine. But, longer nights mean more time at home, more sleep — and, possibly, more time to yourself. Enjoy this break and hunker down with a good book or a DIY project you can tackle on your own. The occasional solitary night can be restorative all on its own and help you keep a clear head when the stress of the holidays starts to really pick up.

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