And Autumn Arrives
And suddenly autumn arrives. With all the rain the last few weeks, I do not feel prepared to surrender summer! What about you?
The Celts did not have a word for the autumn equinox, but Mabon has become associated with this day, after a Welsh mythological character called Mabon ap Modron His name means “great son,” and he is also in the Arthurian legends. In the Christian calendar, the equinox lines up with Michaelmas which celebrates the feast of St. Michael. St. Michael, who is also an archangel, defeated Lucifer and is seen as a protector against the darkness.
Now our nights and days are equal, and in the weeks to follow the darkness of night will grow longer and longer. Now we literally “reap what we sow,” and so we work to reap our own harvests and to promote justice. Now we also collect ourselves and complete projects. And finally, we offer thanks for the bounty in our lives.
As I see women rising up to support and protect each other, I feel immense gratitude. We are gathering a storm to bring justice. These rituals are ways that you can mark this time in your own life and in your circle. So we can strengthen ourselves and our resolve.
1/ DANCE OR SPIN
Put on some music you love and move sensually. Or you could go for nostalgia and play music from your college years or another time of your life. I love Madonna or the Go-Gos. Raise your heart beat by moving to the beat of some drums. Spin around. Look silly. Sing too, if you’re so moved. When I’m in a singing mood, I go for a Broadway showtimes mix. Lately I’ve been singing Mary Poppins in preparation for the new film.
2/ EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE
Write a thank you note to someone who has been helpful and supportive of you. Who do you pick up your phone to call or text most often? That’ll be a clue to whom you rely on the most. Let that person know by writing a personal note that will demonstrate you are willing to take the slow and thoughtful time to express your feelings.
3/ GATHER FRIENDS
You could host a meal or a movie night. Here is a roster of fall-themed movies to consider. Or gather to listen to a podcast like this interview with Marianne Williamson who discusses who we can be in a crisis and how to embody compassionate resistance. Or take in an audio book together like Girl, Wash Your Face while knitting or doing needlework. Gather a group of friends to do some phone banking for the election in November. Our homes are our sanctuary, and the ability and willingness to open our homes to others is a sacred act.
4/ MAKE NOISE
Bang on drums or hit your pillow. Women are righteously feeling a lot of anger these days. The body is meant to express emotion, so do so. Scream, bang, hit. Cry. Tears are cleansing. In February 2017, as a part of their annual Seeing Deeper program, the Washington National Cathedral sponsored a drumming circle. In that space, the noise was amazing! Last month, the Kennedy Center hosted one. Look for one in your area. Or create your own.
5/ READ A POEM OR PRAYER OUT LOUD
Words have power, and when we say them out loud, they are imbued with even more power. When you read a poem and use your voice, you notice rhythm and meaning you can miss when simply reading in silence. A few poetry suggestions would be Fall by Mary Oliver or Autumn Song by Dante Gabriel Rossetti or To Autumn by John Keats.
One prayer I love is from my Celtic Devotional.
6/ RECOGNIZE YOUR INNER CRONE
Make a list of what you’ve learned so far this year. Assess your own life’s harvest by making a list of your proudest achievements. Instead of a to do list, write down your “have done” list. Make a note of even the small items. Sometime for me - it’s simply survival, managing to make meals, sorting through my mail. Celebrate your wisdom too - what you have learned. And then figure out how else you wish to grow and what else you want to know. And make a plan to go do that.
7/ REFRESH YOUR ALTAR
Clear your altar and dust it. Place some items of the season such as a small pumpkin, an apple, or seeds and nuts. I love cardomon seeds because they remind me to stay cozy. My latest addition is a small bowl of salt to symbolize purification. This is a good time to add something that symbolizes your gratitude such a photo of a loved one or a coin for your wealth. Flowers can evoke abundance, and a stone or branch can represent the earth. I have the statue of Mary that I got when I was 10 years old, as a reminder of the female aspect of God, the Mother God.
8/ PRUNE YOUR LIFE
What can you declutter in your life and in your relationship? Shed whatever does not make your heart sing. Look at your schedule too. Ask yourself if you are doing too much? What can you eliminate? What people are taking your time and energy away from your vocation and your own desires?
9/ SMUDGE YOUR HOME
I love using sage to refresh the energy in my home. I’ll do it whenever I need but at the thin times of the year, such as the equinoxes and solstices, the practice can be especially powerful. Clean your home and open the windows and doors. Go clockwise around your home starting from your front door. Make sure to hit the corners and closets and your laundry room! Here’s more on how to smudge and clear the energy of your home and sanctuary.
10/ TAKE A RITUAL BATH
You know the drill - salts, essential oils, baking soda. Another idea is to shower in the pitch dark. The deprivation of sight will heighten your sense of touch as you wash yourself. I love to use an exfoliating mitt (like this one) with some Moroccan black soap. (I like Moroccan Rose Beldi Soap. Another good one is Sahara Rose Moroccan Beldi Soap). Then I play some deep rhythmic music such Shadow or In the Dark Woods by Akira Kosemura.
How are you marking the Fall Equinox?
What balance are you seeking in your life?
What can you prune?
What have you harvested? What are you most proud of?