And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep, and Autumn was awakened.
While we are still feeling the lingering hot afternoons of the last few weeks of summer with the transition from August to September, it is hard to not feel the quiet calling of autumn upon us.
The mornings are just a little bit cooler, a little crisper, and the plants awaken to the sun with just a bit more dew these weeks than previous.
It is hard not to start having visions of quiet strolls down the street in a cozy sweater, leaves crunching beneath your feet, and start daydreaming about spicy, warm drinks that nourish the soul.
If we look closely, we might even start to see the soft whispers of the coming seasonal change. Even now, as the days are still so warm, we see the trees slowly starting the preparations of transition – of letting go. Perhaps it may come in the slight change of color in the leaves as we gaze above us.
Or perhaps it is in our garden as we see once-flourishing abundance starting to produce seeds in the place of fruit or flower, pushing the energy into the next generation – final stages as they prepare to rest or return to the earth.
Autumn comes to us like a warm hug from a long-lost friend, and brings with it the sense of peace, slowing down, and a calling for rest, balancing out the vibrant, bright energies of the past few months.
Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox
With the coming of the Autumn Equinox, we start preparing for the darker half of the year. The Autumnal Equinox is the companion of the Spring Equinox, the second time of the year in which the period of day and light are in balance, and equal in number. While it is a time where we experience a transition in which we embrace less of the external energies and look more inward, it is also a time of deep reflection and celebrating gratitude.
It is often around this time that traditionally much of the harvest would occur. We sing songs of gratitude for the abundance the earth has gifted us, and the rewards we are experiencing for our diligent tending to our gardens and fields.
It is also a time to reflect upon the beautiful, energetically-vibrant months of summer. For many of us, summer is synonymous with a time of adventure, memories, and excitement. We can hold a space of gratitude for these gifts of the previous season, and how they will live within us long into the future.
We also can express gratitude for the calmer, quieter months that lie ahead. It is during the fall that the earth prepares for a period of deep rest. The natural world slows down immensely, the energy often having a downward momentum, toward our roots and returning to the earth.
The energetics of the equinoxes are beautifully described by Simone Matthews, teacher and founder of the Universal Life Tools Wisdom School, as being synonymous with the breath. The spring equinox can be thought of as a sort of re-birth, in which nature again arises from the deep rest of winter, and energy has more of an external momentum. Therefore spring is synonymous with deep exhalation, whereas autumn is a time of drawing energy inward, moving in synchronicity with stillness, root medicine, and introspection – or deep inhalation.
If it is of interest to learn how you can further align with and celebrate the autumn equinox, we have an in-depth post dedicated to this significant date of the year, as well as suggested activities in which you can participate!
Energetics of Autumn
Like the spring, autumn marks a point of transition. It is a shift away from growth and renewal, light and warmth, toward introspection and return, darkness and cold.
Unlike the spring and summer, in which nature is in a period of celebrating birth, growth, rapid change, and vibrancy, we celebrate a different type of energy during the autumn. In nature, this time of the year marks a period in which nature is celebrating growing old, remembering and honoring those who existed before us, and marked the paths we walk today, letting go, and sacred death.
The energy of autumn aligns with the archetype of the Wise Woman. It is the Wise Woman who, as described by herbalist, teacher, and author Marysia Miernowska, “practices discernment and uses her energy wisely.” As the trees shed their leaves, immensely symbolic of letting go of what no longer serves us, we too should seek to “use this time wisely to put down your baskets of doings and over commitments. Cutaway the overextended ways that spread you thin and far, and draw yourself back into your wholeness.”
It is this energy that makes autumn such a profound time. Matter of factly, some ancient cultures believed that autumn was not a time of ending, but actually the exact opposite. Unlike much of our modern culture in which death, particularly that which happens in nature during this season, is seen as an ending, this period was actually seen as a beginning. Samhain, the Celtic holiday that marks the end of the harvest season, was often seen as what we might describe as the New Year. It is from a period of deep rest, reflection, and period of fallow in which we can be reborn.
Practices to Align with Autumnal Energy
- Express Deep Gratitude. Find a way to do this outside if you can. Perhaps you can sit in your garden if you have one and give thanks to the plants that have given so much energy to produce nourishing fruit for us. Maybe you take a walk in the local park near you, and give thanks to the trees, thanking them for producing the oxygen we breath, and being teachers for us. Perhaps you sit outside on a chair, simply breathing in fresh air and take time to reflect on the year, and what you have been given. Find whatever way suits you best, but this is a transitional time to spend with nature and give thanks.
- Let Go and Cut Back. Living in alignment with the seasons is to follow the lead of nature. At this time, nature is preparing the process of letting go. Trees will shed their leaves, and it is often that our gardens are putting all of their energy into either the last of their fruits, or are producing seeds. Perennial plants may be starting to turn brown as they prepare to go dormant for the winter. In our gardens, this is the time in which we cut back plants, preparing our beds for winter rest so that we may plant anew in the spring. In what ways can you let go of what no longer serves you? What things can you say no to that do not inspire you or bring fulfillment to your life?
- Honor Your Ancestors. For many cultures, autumn is a time of remembering those who came before us. This is reflected in such dates as the Celtic Samhain or Día de los Muertos that is celebrated in Mexico. It is believed that during this time, the “veil” between this world and the next is thinner, and our ancestors and loved ones are able to return to our plane for a brief period of time. We all have ancestors who come before us, who have helped shape the path we walk today. Take some time to reflect on what that means for you, and how you might honor them.
- Explore the Concept of Sacred Death. As we experience in nature, there is a balance of life and death. As we are cyclical beings, nature too exists in a cycle. Often, our culture does not like to acknowledge death, and instead we focus on youth, trying to hold onto it as long as we can. We do not embrace the blessing that is growing old and wise. Herbalist Marysia Miernowksa accurately states that, “When we do not allow for the season of Fall to enter our relationships, creative projects, bodies, minds, and souls, we overextend Summer, trying to do, produce, and expand – and we burn out. Being unable to tend death in our lives also prevents us from rebirthing ourselves, and we may become sick, weak, uninspired, depressed or ill.” It is during this time of the year that we may observe how nature embraces death and the sacredness of this transition. Perhaps you might take some time to explore your own thoughts and feelings around death. What comes up for you and why? Explore this concept without judgement or preconceived ideas.
Herbal Allies for Autumn
As with each season, the plant world has many allies that stand ready to share their wisdom and energetic alignment with autumn. Calling upon and working with these herbs can help us further come in tune with the transition from summer to fall.
It is during the autumn that root medicines come to shine. At this time, the energy of nature is shifting downward as plants prepare to return to the earth. Therefore, less energy is spent in producing fruit or seed, but instead in producing larger root systems. When we harvest roots at this time of year they are at their most potent and bring us the most amount of nourishment, because this is the time of year when the plant is sending its energy down into the roots for the winter. Recommended root medicine herbs to work with in the autumn include astragalus root, dandelion root, burdock root, and marshmallow root.
We can’t have an article about being in alignment with autumn and not mention cozy, warming herbs that take center stage during this season! There is a reason these have grown to have such comforting familiarity in our culture, and are so beloved. They have a warming effect in our body, enhance our mood, and aid in invoking digestive fires. These include such herbs as cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. Check out our blog post all about these herbs to dig in further: Fall Herbs & Spices
Lastly, an herbal ally and widely-recognized symbol of autumn is apple. Apples were often offered during rituals and harvest festivals in thanks for abundance. Apples have many benefits, including being a nourishing source of fiber, and contribute to healthy levels of cholesterol. We can also work with weaving apples into a gratitude practice, infusing our energy into them as we bake a pie to share with loved ones.
Join us for Seasonal Energetic Classes!
Did this post resonate with you? Are you wanting to go deeper? If so, we are so excited to welcome you to join us in a seasonal workshop series at Golden Poppy.
Each season, we will offer a class that is comprehensive and in-depth, teaching participants how to align themselves with the rhythms of each season. This class series will take a deep dive into the energetics of the seasons and how these affect your body and your state of health, and apply this knowledge in easy-to-use ways so you can begin to match your body to the rhythms of nature.
We will discuss energetics from an Ayurvedic, TCM, and Western herbal perspective; touching on ancient traditions as well as their modern counterparts. We will cover herbs, foods, and lifestyle habits for each season to help bring, and keep, your body into harmony with the world around you.
These will be longer, lecture-style classes, so come prepared to take notes and discuss!
Seasonal Energetics: Fall Community Class
Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 6pm MST
This will be a hybrid in-person and zoom class, those of you who live nearby the store can attend in-person, it will be held outside. We will also (attempt) to live-stream it through Zoom, so if you can’t make it live you can still sign up and get the recording.
Thank you so much for joining us on this exploration of autumn energy, and we hope to see you soon!
- Benefico, Jules. “Fall Equinox Rituals, Herbs, & Recipes to Celebrate Mabon.” Five Flavors Herbs. 21 September 2020. Retrieved from: https://fiveflavorsherbs.com/blog/fall-equinox-rituals-herbs-recipes-to-celebrate-mabon/
- Matthews, Simone. “Equinoxes & Solstices.” Universal Life Tools Wisdom School. 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.universallifetools.com/2017/01/equinox-solstice/
- Miernowska, Marysia. The Witch’s Herbal Apothecary: Rituals & Recipes for a Year of Earth Magick and Sacred Medicine Making. 2020. Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc.