This afternoon, at 2.31 pm, the Sun crosses the celestial equator (or the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth's Equator) from South to North and the Autumn Equinox will occur. At that particular point, days and nights are of equal length, a moment of balance between light and dark, a threshold between two seasons.
As I write this, the scene on our patch of Welsh countryside is typical of Mabon time. Looking out, the landscape is still mainly green with only a few dots of autumnal yellows and oranges here and there and the blue sky continues the summery vibes. Sunshine is flooding the room where I am working and there is a light, warm breeze outside; out of the corner of my eye, I am aware of a blue tit coming and going, feasting on one of the ripe figs on the tree by the front door; there is a vase of homegrown dahlia blooms adorning the dining table. However, the signs are there that we are on the cusp of the new season that will have us journey towards the darkness from now till the Winter Solstice in December. The energy from the Sun is weaker now and plants are using their remaining strength to ripening their fruit rather than grow. The forecast for the rest of the week warns of cold temperatures at night and has me gathering the winter squashes and pumpkins rather than risk them being nipped by frost.
Today, on the Autumn Equinox, we are on the point of balance and it feels important to acknowledge this equilibrium, however brief and momentary it is. In our polarised world where societal division is rife, where politicians readily fan the flames of conflict and discord and where complexities and nuance are abandoned in favour of simplistic, either-or approaches, I think that the Autumn Equinox reminds us to take the long view from the standing point of the threshold between the old (but not completely done Summer season) and the new (but not quite settled in Autumn). It offers us a refreshing chance to stand still in between polarities and opposing forces within ourselves and find our own centre. Personally, I welcome this opportunity to pause, reflect, look back at what has been and look towards what is to come.
“Within you, there’s a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse
How can we find our own centre, our own point of balance? I find that connecting with my breath is a reliable, easily accessible way to my centre, a place of strength, inner calm and aliveness, a threshold of neutral awareness between my thoughts and feelings. Taking just three or four smooth and rhythmic breaths is often enough to make my mind slow down and enables me to ground and get closer to my centre. Another method to get there is to pay attention to our feet on the ground, noticing the quality of contact they make with the floor or ground they are standing on. This takes us out of our heads and into our bodies to bring ourselves into balance, in mindfulness rather than mindlessness. Doing this outdoors can be a very rich experience at any time of year as nature greatly enhances our capacity to find our centre; doing it on the Equinoxes can be a deeply rooting ritual that can help us transition through the seasons and ultimately journey through our own lives.
May this Autumn Equinox bring balance to your inner and outer lives and teach you to find your own place of equilibrium as and when you need it.