As we approach autumn, our sun sets earlier and the wind takes on a chill. These first few days of our beloved season of transition and grounding brings a special pocket of balance: fall equinox. This kind of balance happens only once a year (of course, the spring equinox has its own unique equilibrium). So if you’re really feeling the need for balance this season, keep reading to find your fall equinox ritual.
A Fall Equinox Poem
The last golden drops of light hang heavy, lingering on branches adorned with blushing apples and glossy acorns. As if the earth knows that with each day the darkness grows bolder.
The late summer wheat still waits, golden in the field, as the
grain spirit slips into the last sheaf. Waiting to be cut, waiting for the time of dreaming.
If you listen in the language of wind and dry stalk.
In the oracular temple of the field, the realm of the harvest goddess,
You may hear her whisper in a voice as soft as grass dancing in the wind, or sharp as the scythes blade.
She is the Grain mother, the Harvest Dame, Ceres of the golden fields, Pomona of the apple orchards, Holda of the final harvest, Demeter of the fertile soil.
The goddess of the harvest has ripened with the fruit, no longer the naive maiden of spring blossoms. She has born the seeds and watched as the fruit of her womb was sacrificed to sustain life.
She can be seen lingering at the edge of the field, at the margins. Her own sickle and foraging basket in hand, long skirts stained by berries or blood, we dare not ask.
Plucking the last hedge fruits, the ones left to the wild ones, some say they are left for the devil himself. She cuts the last healing herbs, the ones she needs for the smoking and dreaming nights of deep winter.
These are the herbs that will burn in the hearth as she spins silver spider threads, dreaming of the suns return.
The Autumn Equinox Ritual Celebrates a Balance
As the bees forage the last drops of nectar, storing the magic of summer for the winter ahead, they remind us that there is work still to be done.
At the fall equinox, you will find the sun’s realm and moon’s kingdom in equal balance. It is a quiet moment of pause before the days begin to grow shorter. As the nights become longer, our thoughts turn towards the darkening time. The sun boasts a finale of hot days and our glorious golden hours glow brighter now that they are numbered.
The Mark of the Time for Harvest
This equinox marks the time of food medicine. In the fall, we reach our summer harvest and turn to some of the oldest medicinal foods. Foods that have sustained our ancestors for thousands of years. We are invited to the orchard apothecary, the hedge bramble harvest, the brewing time, the preserving time. Is it any wonder that our forebears celebrated with a fall equinox ritual?
Many plants cast their seeds and quickly crumble into skeletal stalks in the fall. Medicinal components return to the roots to gather nourishment in preparation for the fall and winter to come. This signals the time to begin the root and fruit harvest.
Connect with the season by incorporating apples, acorns, hazelnuts, barley, wheat, flax, mushrooms, wild berries and honey.
How to Celebrate the Transition to Fall
Create an alter for your fall equinox ritual
To celebrate this seasonal shift with an autumn equinox ritual, consider making an alter to the harvest goddess. Connect with whichever form she appears to you. Set up a cornucopia – a place of beauty and abundance. Adorn it with seasonal fruits, nuts, grasses, grains, late flowers and herbs growing near you.
Connect with an ancient plant spirit
In many ancient cultures, the last sheaf of grain was ritually cut and preserved as a corn doll or other woven entity. It was believed that the spirit of the grain had retreated into the plant for the cold season. This spirit could be cared for though winter and planted anew in spring.
Another way to create your ritual for the autumn equinox is to make your own form of corn doll from a plant growing near you.
It can be as simple as a bungle of herbs intentionally gathered and braided together or as elaborate as the woven Corn dollies found across much of Europe.
Nourish yourself intentionally
Take the time to nourish yourself with the seasonal food medicine. Find blackberries, raspberries, elderberry, pomegranate, and rosehips. These are all rich in bioflavonoids, antioxidants and Vitamin C to support your immune system as the season shifts.
Have fun with it! You can eat them raw, bake a pie, preserve some jam, or make an herbal syrup! This is a time to relish in the full abundance of the autumnal equinox harvest.
Leave a small portion as an offering on your alter if you made one. Give thanks for all the earth has give.
Sami with Cinder Botanica penned this original article. Sami is an alumni of the Berkeley Herbal Center and uses bees, herbs, and a deep connections to the cycles of the planet in her regular herbal practice.
You can contact her to schedule an appointment by emailing email@example.com or find her on Instagram @cinder.botanica.
Image: Die Kornernte (1564) by Pieter Breugel the Elder (1526 – 1569)
This article has been updated by the BHC team over time.