How To Celebrate The Autumnal Equinox In 2016, Because Winter Is Most Definitely Coming
When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall," he was not messing around. Sure, summer is warm and wonderful, and I'll miss it, but the only way to let something go is to celebrate. So let's celebrate the autumnal equinox, which arrives for 2016 on Sept. 22, because whether you like it or not, winter is definitely coming.
Consider the year a circle, divided into four sections, each bookmarked by either an equinox or a solstice. There are two equinoxes, one in March and one in September. During each of these days, there are (roughly) 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness across the globe, because the sun is shining directly on the equator. Solstices, on the other hand, mark the days when there is either the maximum amount of daylight (Summer Solstice) or darkness (Winter Solstice).
Time has been marked by these four annual days since pretty much forever, and there's something inherently soothing in that fact, that no matter what happens, no matter who is elected President or what graduate schools you get into, the equinoxes and the solstices are absolute. Time keeps moving onward.
The autumnal equinox has been celebrated by cultures across the globe for centuries, from pagans to ancient Greeks. Maybe you already have traditions, or maybe you're in search of some new ones. Either way, happy equinox, dudes.
In Greek mythology, the autumnal equinox signals the return of Persephone to her husband Hades. Enacting rites of protection were a popular practice, as were reflections on the previous season's successes and failures. Continue in this tradition by cleansing your living space — clean out the clutter! Clean out the dust! Clean out those jeans from high school that you only keep so you can try them on during truly masochistic moments! — and creating a game plan for the coming winter months, because you know who does well with less vitamin D? Literally no one.
In many Pagan cultures, this is a time to give thanks to the sun for the summer, and show your respect for the impending darkness. Watch the sun set. Recognize the beauty in both the light and the dark.
3. Express Gratitude
"Autumn passes and one remember's one's reverence" -Yoko Ono. Despite all the truly awful stuff that is constantly happening in the world, the Earth is still incredible. One of the easiest ways to remind yourself of this is to visit a farmer's market. Make your friends dinner with local produce (and, like, it's root vegetable season, so you guys are going to be feasting).
For a brief moment, the world is in balance. Reflect on that while getting your own body into balance with some of these easy yoga moves.
While people across the world are harvesting for the winter, engage in your own "inner harvest." Sit with yourself (not your phone, not your computer), and take stock of the past few seasons. What have you accomplished? What have you gained? What new tools will keep you moving forward? Give yourself permission to be proud.
When the cold comes, homeless populations are deeply, irrevocably affected. Organize cold weather clothing drive within your neighborhood. Not sure where to start? Here's information about Socktober (a monthly sock drive), Goodwill has some great information for organizing a donation drive, and Volunteer Weekly has a guide for first-time organizers.
Autumn ushers in one of my personal favorite holidays: Libra season. Libras love beauty and harmony and adorning themselves and their spaces and others. I do not think it's a coincidence that fall happens to be a season of extreme natural beauty as well. Glitter yourselves up, or create fall versions of flower crowns and know that everyone will soon be following suit, because Libras are inherently trendy as hell.
While we don't literally hibernate (although TBH there are definitely points during the winter when I wish it was socially acceptable to sleep until it's above freezing outside), cultivating a cozy home space can be an important coping mechanism for that fun season when you don't see the sun for weeks at a time. Switch out your sheets for warmer, flannel ones. Display some ~decorative~ blankets. Get your lighting game together.