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Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox: An Ancient Solar Festival

Updated: Feb 26

It is time to welcome Fall & celebrate the Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere! Like the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, this is a time of balance & equality. A time when day & night are equal, this solar festival acknowledges both the Yin & Yang, feminine & masculine. The expansive Yang energy of Summer begins to dwindle as the torch is passed to the inward, restorative, Yin energy of Autumn/Winter. As we prep for Winter, we take this moment to celebrate the Sun & all we've soaked up this past year!


The Autumnal Equinox is typically celebrated between September 20th - 23rd, with the height of it being early morning on September 23rd this year. You may also see this Pagan holiday written as, Meán Fómhair, Alban Elfed, Mabon, The Witch's Thanksgiving, etc.. No matter what you call it, this time honors the last harvest with the cool Autumn nights upon us. A time to give gratitude for everything this year has brought, & pay respect to both the Yin & Yang aspects of nature.


I share a simple ritual at the bottom!


Brief Altar Ideas: One simple way to rejoice is to create or refresh your altar. Place the cardinal directions/elements on your altar - North (Earth), East (Air), South (Fire), West (Water). I provide elemental offering ideas below (+specific symbols of the season), if you're unsure of where to start. You can also add any magical objects/tools to your altar - pendulum, divination cards, bones, salt, herbs, wands, etc.. Don't forget to cleanse your space!*


Offerings for the Elements + Directions:

  • Earth / North: marigolds, gourds, acorns, grains, crystals, herbs, pomegranates & apples

  • Air / East: feathers, incense, fallen leaves, dandelion clocks, smudge sticks (sage, myrrh, etc.)

  • Fire / South: orange & yellow candles, clear quartz or citrine spheres, gold, sunflowers, mirrors

  • Water / West: seashells, water, oil, passionflower, water crystals (orca agate, moonstone, etc.)


Symbols of the Autumnal Equinox:

  • Cornucopia: a symbol of abundance, & the Divine masculine/feminine

  • Trees / Green Man: folks will make berry pies, tarts, muffins, etc. to honor the death of the Green Man that comes with Fall. Giving gifts to trees (wine, cider, herbs, fertilizer) is another common celebration!

  • Acorns: a sacred symbol of sisterhood with a deep rooted connection to the archetype of the Witch, the acorn represents connection, acknowledgement & fertility.

  • Apples: who doesn't think of apples when they think of Fall?! Apples have been engrained into our society as a symbol of wisdom & immortality, but did you know that they are also very connected to divination & the heart as well? Apples rule the heart, they even look like the classic "Valentine's Heart" when you cut them in half!

  • Pomegranate: a symbol of fertility & mortality, the balance of life & death. This fruit is also featured in the Eleusinian Mysteries as Persephone descends into the Underworld, signifying the "death" of summer as we prep for the barren, cold months ahead. Luckily, Persephone, the goddess of Spring, is reincarnated at the Vernal Equinox along with the flowers!

  • Calendula (marigold): a symbol of good luck & prophetic dreams! Make your own luck, & place a marigold flower underneath your pillow to increase visionary dreams.

  • Amber: this crystal connects us with our ancestors & past lives as it's comprised of ancient tree resin. It is also deeply connected to the Sun, as are trees, & in turn connected to our solar plexus chakra. It energizes & soothes inflammation within the solar plexus, aiding with digestive fire.

  • Grains, Oats & Bread: a time to celebrate the harvest - making baked goods is common!

  • Herbs: sage, cinnamon, myrrh, rose, milkweed, passionflower, thyme, hazelnut, mugwort

  • Oak: a sacred tree to the Fae, oak also brings forth ideas, strength, magic, protection, empowerment, & endurance!

  • Corn: making a corn dolly, setting intentions/sewing seeds for the year ahead is a ritual that has lasted ages!


Did you know that the Full Moon which appears closest to the Autumnal Equinox is the one that is deemed the "Harvest" moon? This year, we have the Full Harvest Moon appearing in Aries during the wee hours of the morning on September 29th.


Crystals for the Autumnal Equinox & Sun Stones:

  • Citrine

  • Honey Calcite

  • Diamond

  • Clear Quartz

  • Amber

  • Sunstone

  • Goldstone


A Simple Ritual:

Take a cleansing bath to release & let go of what no longer serves you. Leave any old habits, thought loops, patterns, etc. in the Summer, & head into the Fall with ease & balance as you shed old layers.

  • Always start by making sure your bathtub is clean!

  • Set the mood: light incense, spray some mist, light candles, play music, etc.

  • Grab anything you'd like to place in or around the bath: flowers, herbs, essential oils, crystals, etc.. Here are a few ideas to get you started -

    • Hematite: this is a great grounding crystal that purifies & protects - perfect for releasing & letting go! Remember, not all crystals are safe to place in water, some can be toxic!

    • Smoky Quartz: this crystal is great to strengthen & cleanse the kidneys, & your kidneys also happen to connect to the water element (perfect for your bath)! Smoky Quartz cleanses & transmutes, & it pairs wonderfully with Rose Quartz to bring in healing love.

    • Flowers: you can use dried flowers/petals, but they can be a bit messy & clog your drain, so I prefer to use fresh flowers with the stem cut off, that way they float above the water.

    • Spring / Moon Water: if you have spring water from a local or favorite body of water, that could be nice to add to your bath to energize. Moon Water is another great addition to your bath! Learn how to make Moon Water here.

    • Essential Oils: Copaiba, Rose, Frankincense, & Ylang Ylang are beautiful floral & resin essential oils that bring in that high vibrational Lemurian energy. Lemurian energy is highly connected to water, light, & love. Don't forget to mix your essential oils with a carrier oil before adding it to your bath! Seashells, dolphins, mermaids, wales, & larimar are all totems of water / Lemuria.

  • Once your bath is filled up & at a proper temperature, set your intention to release & let go of whatever you wish to. Is there something that is holding you back from being your best self?

  • Step into your bath & take time to relax. Option to scrub your body with a loofah, envisioning the scrubbing away of old layers. Or, maybe you'd prefer to stay still, as you meditate on letting go as the water washes away old habits & patterns.

  • Once you are ready to get out of your bath, drain the bathtub. Stay in the tub until all the water drains, imagining any gunk or waste from your life floating down the drain.

  • Step out of the bath when you are ready, & give thanks to the element of water** for her purifying & loving qualities.


Take a moment to give gratitude & celebrate the warmer months that are coming to a close. This might look like giving an offering, meditating, journaling, ritual work, autumn crafts, etc.. However you do it, allow yourself to celebrate both the big & little things! I leave you with this question - As Summer fades, what are you looking to let go of & release that will no longer serve you in the months to come?


Learn more about other holidays within the Wheel of the Year in the Moon & Magic section of the Embodied Ambrosia blog.


Looking for holistic clean beauty & body care products that you can trust? Check out the Embodied Ambrosia Clean Beauty Collection in the Shop!


*How I clear my space: I typically clear my altar & wipe it down with either lemongrass or cedarwood essential oil. Next, I will either spray a smudge blend I've made, or burn one of the following: sage, palo santo, cedarwood, or resin of dragon's blood / frankincense (keep your windows open when smudging).

**Water is the direction of West, which symbolizes endings, cleansing, & letting go.


Sources:

  • Hinds, K. & McColman, C. (2020). The Spirit of the Celtic Gods & Goddesses: Their History, Magical Power, & Healing Energies. Weiser Books.

  • Hopman, E. E. (1995). A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year. (1st Edition). Destiny Books.

  • Lafranque, S. (2020). Moon Energy: A Practical Guide to Using the Lunar cycles to Unleash Your Inner Goddess. Skyhorse Publishing.

  • Lister, L. (2017). Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic. (1st Edition). Hay House UK.

  • Starling, M. (2022). Welsh Witchcraft: A Guide to the Spirits, Lore, & Magic of Wales. (1st Edition). Llewellyn Publications.


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