RITUAL NO. 1 Preparing for the Fall Equinox
In nature, the Fall Equinox marks the beginning of the new year. While most of us have a different idea of when the new year begins, when we work with nature’s new year timing, we can definitely benefit. The Fall Equinox allows us to do this by moving us directly into the flow of nature’s energy in a conscious, formal and respectful way. The Fall Equinox offers us the chance to clarify where we want to be headed, and to re-envision and re-energize our goals. It is in the moments of the Fall Equinox that nature puts forth the architectural structure for the coming year. When we actively join in this process, the architecture for our coming year is clarified and enhanced.
It’s worth taking some time to prepare for the arrival of the equinox. Through the personal ritual we will develop here you can help align your life goals with the energies of the equinox. Here’s what to do. By answering the following four questions you will help focus your Fall Equinox ritual.
1. What new things have happened in the last year that you are happy with and want to keep in your life? This can include people coming into your life.
2. What is currently present in your life that you are relatively happy about, but you would prefer to be working better or flowing more abundantly?
3. What have you been working on that has not yet manifested (shown up) for you?
4. What is not in your life that you would like to be, but that you have not yet begun to actively work on?
Work on these questions for a few days, it can take a little time for us to think through each of them thoroughly. Aligning yourself with the potent Fall Equinox energies is both fulfilling and exciting. While the release of energy throughout the initial 72 hours after the moment of the equinox remains highly influential, connecting to the moment of release can be especially powerful. It’s like riding the crest of a wave.
You’re more than welcome to do anything you wish during the arrival period of the equinox. There is no right or wrong to this.
Formalizing the Written Exercise: On a fresh piece of paper incorporate your answers to the four questions above with Items #1-4 below. The statements in quotations can be used either as a guideline or said word for word during your equinox ritual.
#1: Give thanks for everything you listed in your answer to the first question by saying: “I am grateful for ______________” (then recount what you wrote as your answer to this question).
#2: Look through your response to question number two: What is currently present in your life that you are relatively happy about, but you would prefer to be working better or flowing more abundantly? and list those situations and/or relationships in order of their priority. Then say, “I loving ask that __________ (read your list aloud) flow more abundantly into my life.”
#3: Give your answer to question number three beginning with what is most important to you: What have you been working on that has not yet manifested for you? and say: “I ask that ______________ (state your response) enter my life.”
#4: Take your answer to question number four: What is not in your life that you would like to be, but that you have not yet begun to actively work on? and say: “I ask for guidance and courage to bring ____________ (state your answer) into my life experience.”
By following this format, you help clarifying where you would like to be headed over the next twelve months. Nature is not in the position of granting requests. We simply join with the energetic impulse of the Fall Equinox to help improve the forward movement of our lives. Through asking, we formally inform ourselves of exactly what is important to us, and we let that be amplified by the shift in seasonal energy present at the moment of the equinox.
At the moment of the equinox you may wish to light a candle and sit quietly for several minutes before you read through Items #1-4. If you would like to incorporate other elements into your ritual, please do so. For the Fall Equinox earth elements like soil, leaves, and harvest from your garden (if you have one) work very well, but follow your intuition and add what seems right to you.
After your candle is lit and you feel ready, go through Items #1-4 at your own pace. Of course, it will make everything easier if your prepare this second part in advance.
Once you finish reading aloud what you have written, you may find that you want to keep talking. If so, go right ahead and say whatever comes to your mind and do whatever you are motivated to do. There is no need to feel self-conscious. Nature will fully support and deeply appreciate your work with this and every equinox and solstice event. from http://www.michaelkane.org/FallEquinoxP1.htm
RITUAL NO. 2 Starhawk’s Autumn Equinox Ritual
The Autumn Equinox is a good occasion for a ritual feast. Decorate the table with colorful autumn leaves in a basket. Display the fruits of the harvest – corn, gourds, nuts, grapes, apples – preferably in a cornucopia (a horn of plenty). Or decorate with wildflowers, acorns, nuts, berries, cocoons, anything that represents the harvest to you.
Plan a meal that uses seasonal and symbolic fruits and vegetables. You can serve bread, squash, corn, apples, cider and wine. Drawing on the imagery of the Eleusinian Mysteries, hold up an ear of corn in silence. Or cut open a pomegranate and feed each other the seeds.
The following poem (used by Starhawk in the equinox ritual in The Spiral Dance) comes from Mother Goose. Use this or make up your own variation as a grace. Have everyone at the feast repeat this, adding their own thanks:
We have sown, we have tended – We have grown, we have gathered – We have reaped a good harvest — Lady, we thank you for your gifts – Lord, we thank you for your bounty – I thank you for [fill in yourself].
Give thanks to the Goddess for the gifts you’ve received this year. You might want to make a list of your gifts or find objects to represent them. Consider how you can make your offering to her. You can represent your thanks symbolically (tying a ribbon on a tree branch or pouring some wine on the ground) or directly (by making a stronger commitment to recycling or scattering seed for the birds). If you buy (or make) a basket to use while shopping, you’ll be purchasing a symbol of Demeter and helping save the lives of her trees at the same time.
Use this time of balance, to look closely at the balance in our life. How do you balance your personal needs with your commitments to the outside world? How do you receive and how do you give? You might want to reflect on this in your journal or make it concrete by putting objects on a scale. For everything which represents one side of the scale to you (for instance, a book representing quiet time alone), place something on the other side which represents its opposite (a letter or phone for reaching out to friends).
Learning and Creating
For those of us who spend time in or around schools (as teachers, students or the parents of school-age children), this is not a time of ending but of beginning. We are just starting to get back into the rhythm of the school year. We may feel sad that the playfulness and freedom of summer are disappearing as we fall back into our fall routines and structures but we also have more focus and direction.
This is a good time to begin new projects. As the nights lengthen, you have more time to be alone, to concentrate, to nurture a seed which may not blossom until spring. Give yourself permissions to try something absolutely new. Take a class that teaches you how to do something you’ve always wanted to do–maybe basket-making Call your local college and ask about community education classes.
In Starhawk’s Autumn Equinox ritual, there is a time for weaving seed pods, shells, feathers and small pine cones into strands of yarn while thinking of what you want to create in your life. This or some variation of it would make a wonderful group activity or family project. You could also just set aside a certain amount of time (an evening, a Saturday) which is creative time, for you to make anything you want.
Source: Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, Harper San Francisco 1983
RITUAL NO. 3 Celebrate the Autumn Equinox
Mother of Darkness, Mother of Light
Earth beneath us, soul in flight,
Songs of love and love of life,
Guide us to our home.
No matter who we are or where our people came from, our ancestors had many magical ways of honoring the autumn equinox, when the day and night are of equal length and the world finds balance for a breath of time. After this equinox the nights grow longer than the days, so it is traditionally a time to look inward, take stock, give thanks for the harvest, and prepare for the time of dreaming. Give some real time and thought to your own harvests over the past year. What did you learn? What did you do? How have you grown, deepened, or changed? What were the major events or accomplishments you would like to honor?
In a world that is often so terribly out of balance, it can be both healing and heartening to celebrate this special time. Taking time to honor your own inner harvests-all the things you have achieved and felt and learned from, over the past months-is a lovely way to connect with this time of year.
Make a Dream Pillow:
Autumn means longer nights and more opportunities to dream. How lovely! Help to deepen your dreams with these simple-to-make dream pillows:
Start with two seven-inch squares of fabric, natural, non-synthetic materials preferred (cotton or silk velvet is lovely and traditional). Pin the right sides together and stitch 1/2-inch from the edges on three sides. Turn right side out and fill with about 2 cups of any combination of the following dried herbs, each associated with sounder sleep, deeper dreams, or better dream-recall: Hops, lavender flowers, mugwort, rosemary, rose petals
Stitch the remaining side closed. To use, tuck the dream pillow underneath your regular sleeping pillow. At bedtime, turn your regular pillow over so you breathe in the fragrance of the herbs all night long.
Find Your Balance Exercise:
1. Stand quietly with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees flexed, and your eyes closed. What is your body doing? Is it still and rooted, or does it need to sway or adjust in order to be fully balanced? Give yourself a moment to come into balance.
2. Now raise your arms and try to hold them open, stretched out to the sides, for a few moments. Feel how difficult it is. Now begin a gentle movement, bringing your hands in toward your chest, then out again to the sides, a rhythmic motion of opening and closing like the beating of a bird’s wings. Feel what a relief it is to have the balance of both motions, both open and closed. Now give some deep thought to the beauty of the balance between day and night, activity and rest. How can you honor your own need for balance?
By Cait Johnson, co-author of Celebrating the Great Mother (Inner Traditions, 1995).