The last day of summer is fast approaching and the Autumnal Equinox is just around the corner and will take place on the 23rd of September 2018.
The Equinox is an astronomical event that marks specific positions of the Earth during its year-long orbit around the Sun. It occurs twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn, when the slope of the Earth's axis is at 0 degrees, neither tilted away from nor towards the Sun, and the boundary between light and shadow gets orthogonal at the equator. During an Equinox, the sun stays above and below the horizon for about the same time, which means that night and day have the same duration of 12 hours.
In the ancient days, the Autumn Equinox was given a spiritual significance and was celebrated in honour of the change of seasons and the approach of the cold winter, which posed a challenge to human survival. However, little attention is paid to the Autumnal Equinox today. For most people, it is just one of two events in a year, when day and night are equal in length.
But regardless of whether this day is acknowledged or not, how much we have lost touch with nature or how much we feel independent or in control, we cannot escape the laws of nature. Our system follows the same rhythm as the Earth with each breath we take.
In the autumn, everything starts preparing for the winter. Vegetation surrenders to shorter light periods and colder temperature; leaves dry and fall, everything that is not needed is discarded and life-giving energy and substances are reallocated to the roots. This display of impermanence and death coincides with the maturation process: the new harvest is ripe, and ready to be collected and be stored for the winter months.
All this is not only happening in external environment but is also reflected in our inner gardens. Despite artificial light in urban areas, the biological system always responds to prolonged darkness. Our bodies also prepare to cold days and less light. Anything that is not needed is discarded, and the fruits of our past actions can be harvested and gathered for the hard times.
The Autumn Equinox shows a strong confluence of life and death; action and stillness and light and dark: the vibrant light and activity of summer opens the way to the darkness and stillness of autumn.
As soon as we become aware of this cosmic play, embrace the change of seasons and the approaching darkness, our system will be able to adjust to change in a natural and gentle way. With each passing day, when nature enters downtime, we are encouraged not to resist that force that draws our consciousness inward. It is an invitation to turn toward the light within, when light outside start to retreat. We are urged to accept that this is a time for slowing down, meditation and contemplation. We should dive into the darkness, ask difficult questions and listen deeply for what arises. After all, our inner voice is louder than before during that time.
We should not be surprised if our downsides come on surface. Like a dark side of the moon, everything was always there, only hidden in the deep shadow of our sub-consciousness. Nevertheless, we should reject our first impulse to run away or ignore it. Instead, we should invite such thoughts and emotions to gently rise up to be dissolved.
But we should not forget that autumn is also the time to prepare our inner ground for the next spring. We have the opportunity to decide what we want to grow and learn how we can do it. The stillness of this period allows us to better recognise whether something is nourishing or harmful, and whether we should keep it or discard it. Like a good gardener, we should learn to protect young seedlings from the upcoming cold and plant the new one for the next spring harvest.
During Equinox "the Middle Way" is strongly experienced: planting and harvesting, working and relaxing, light and darkness, life and death, reflecting and letting go - all at the same time. The moment when Yin and Yang reunite.
Celebrate a fruitful autumn harvest and mindful preparation for the next one!