The Autumnal Equinox
Five beautiful ways to engage with the meaning and energy of the season
Over September 21st to 23rd the Autumnal Equinox swings into action in the Northern Hemisphere, peaking on September 22nd. It’s one of my favourite turns of the wild field. And even though the markers in nature are not as exaggerated here in Singapore, close to the Equator, what I find so fascinating with these windows, is that the archetypal themes of the season can be witnessed in the subtle shifts in the light and botanical realm, wind patterns and perhaps most fascinatingly, in people’s behaviours and impulses. There’s a wave of influence, that, when understood, we can all engage with in life affirming, positive ways.
For our ancestors of the north, this time was all about completing the harvest. With the main grain harvest safely gathered in over Lammas in early August, the last grain stalks were cut and dried in the final weeks of warm sun and the harvesting focus turned to the final yields of fruits and vegetables. For this reason, the ancient festival of the Autumnal Equinox, known as Mabon, was also known in various northern traditions as the Harvest Home, The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, the Fruit Harvest, the Feast of Avalon and the Great Feast of Thanksgiving.
These cyclical turns of the wild field are captured particularly in the ancient myths and legends of the Divine Feminine, given the interconnectedness between the feminine cycle, stages of a woman’s life, germination, growth and harvest, and the moon. Many ancient traditions honoured these shifts with veneration of the reflective Triple Moon Goddess. They are also seen in the Three-Person Goddess cults related to the Earth – Maiden (Spring), Mother/Queen (Summer), Crone (Autumn). In the Sumerian myth Inanna and in the ancient Greek and Roman legends of Demeter, Ceres and Persephone the Goddess eventually descends to the underworld with the waning strength of the sun (The Sun God) and growth and abundance of the Earth draws to a standstill (Winter). And at Mabon, the Goddess transforms to Her third aspect.
We have entered the Season of the Crone!
The word Crone is commonly associated with the 13th century French and Old English entomology, a derogatory term meaning old and ugly woman. This meaning emerged through the 300 years of the Inquisitions. However, in the time prior to this, when the women were acknowledged and revered as refractions of the Goddess as her natural life cycle mirrored that of the wilderness, the youthful beauty, fertile nurturing mother and wise elder, the word ‘crone’ came from an earlier entomology meaning ‘crown’. The Crone signified the keeper and teacher of wisdom, mastery, healing, storytelling, the maintainer of meaning and ritual. The older post-menopausal women held the esteemed roles of counsellors, midwives, healers and seers. They were honoured and respected, cared for and deeply loved by their communities and dwelt at the centre of the family and community structures. They were crowned in age-accumulated wisdom and intuition.
This Season of The Crone, whilst captured in the Goddess mythos, is of course archetypal. It is not pegged to gender, age, race or religion. It is a metta-pattern that rises every year at this time and is one we are all invited to explore and nurture within us.
How we answer this beautiful annual invitation is by translating the themes and patterns of the season and festivals of our ancestors into modern meaningful actions; to don the Crone’s Crown. Here are five of my favourite ways to engage with the Season of the Crone:
Clear your fields
With the final crops being harvested before the winter months arrived, the fields were cleared and often burnt to allow the soils to rest and replenish over the winter. This movement of clearing and decluttering is absolutely in the air currently. I see more than usual ‘decluttering’ posts on social media at this time. The students in my transformative courses are clearing out old paradigms, fears and defunct beliefs that are holding them back. And lots of people are reporting the desire to clear the decks in the home space. Now is the time to clear our fields.
Choose a weekend with the family to reorganise clothing, books, kitchenware and toys
Supermarkets are very willing to give you their empty stock boxes if you ask. Set each person in the home up with a ‘keep’, ‘sell’, ‘donate’ and ‘recycle’ box. You’ll be amazed just how many items a family can accumulate through the busy seasons of the year. You can even support each other and join forces to tackle one room together at a time. Put on music, open windows to fresh air and celebrate the abundance in your life as you do. Ensure anything in good condition is donated to others who can use it. There’s an important metaphysical principle here that cultivates a beautiful ongoing flow of abundance.
Clear your relational fields
Choose an important relationship that has faded or soured during the frenetic phases of the year and make an effort to forgive, restore contact or if required, to let it go emotionally and allow it to fade by no longer entertaining reactive feelings towards them.
Clear your physical field
After the summer months and especially the mid-year holidays, Mabon is an excellent time to clear toxins and unnecessary weight from the body. If you keep a sacred space or altar at home for your inner work, now is an excellent time to dismantle it, return natural items to the earth, cleanse and recharge crystals and power objects and allow the space to rest before the next wave of inner workings rises again.
Celebrate your journey
Our modern mindset and pace of life offers few windows to take a step back and celebrate our progress in all areas of our lives. The intense pressures of work and family and the western cultural focus on having more, doing better, staying ahead of the pack, totally devalues this incredibly important spiritual step.
Mabon is a celebration of the year’s harvests and our ancestors made a point of holding grand feasts and making offerings for the abundance of the year to date. At these festivals it was appropriate to wear all of your finery and dine and celebrate in style.
The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer were made at this time.
I encourage all of my course participants to make time for doing this and my go-to way is to use journaling. Make some time in an uninterrupted window to run through each area of your life and write down your wins, expansions and new insights. Where have you grown within the roles you play in your life, as a professional, a parent, a sibling, a spirit-seeker or a creative, for example? What have you learnt so far this year? How have you healed, changed, expanded as a person? How has your offering to others matured? What qualifications or learnings have to attained? What have you released?
If you run a business or project like me, audit your growth. How many new clients have come to your door this year so far? What other products or services have you expanded into? How has your network of influence grown and reshaped? How has your income flow and income streams developed so far?
This can be an enormously satisfying Mabon activity. Not only does it provide a lot of helpful insight for yourself and your activities, it makes you feel fantastic. Try it and see…and then get the family, team or friends together and share a meal of celebration. 2020 has sped towards the Autumnal Equinox at warp speed. The impact of COVID has had many of us feeling like we’re behind the wave, struggling to keep well, keep active and purposeful. This year more than ever, a retrospective journey of how you have managed and thrived under incredible circumstances may very well surprise you and garner confidence in your inner-strength and enginuity.
Another beautiful way to connect with the season is to switch your grocery shopping to local farmer’s markets instead of the big super markets. Ingesting seasonal foods that are recently harvested is one of the highest forms of natural medicines. The mineral and vitamin content of late summer/autumnal foods is at its peak and the tastes and textures provide a sensory engagement with the season.
With a clear understanding of just how far you have come in the year and what you have learnt and achieved, the only natural response is gratitude…and Mabon is the season for expressing it!
One gorgeous way to do this is with the whole family is to start a Gratitude Jar. Find a lovely big glass jar and once a week over a family meal, have each person share and write on a piece of paper, one thing they are truly grateful for that week. Pop the paper in the jar and then in the new year, as a family new year’s ritual you can take turns to pull out the blessings and read them to each other. It’s a very simple family ritual that can be embedded into your family culture easily and it has so many wonderful benefits. It cultivates joy and fulfilment, which in turn heals the physical body. It magnetises more of the same blessings into the family field. It counters victimhood, negativity and pessimism and it bonds the family in abundance. Divine!
Another beautiful Mabon move is to identify three people in your life who enrich it with wisdom, love and support and write them a thank you card. Yes, I realise this is old-school and possibly Jurassic in the eyes of today’s youngsters, but oh my goodness it’s a powerful action, both for the giver and the receiver. So just as the Druids made offerings to the Sacred Trees, identify the tall beautiful trees in your life – the people that offer nourishment, shade, sweetness and strength to you, and let them know how much you appreciate their presence in your life.
And perhaps there is someone in your field who has not had a plentiful harvest this year; who’s doing it tough. You can let them know that they are loved and that abundance can take many forms by making and gifting them a typical Mabon cake…and there’s nothing that says ‘Mabon’ more than apples! Apples have long been associated with the Feminine Mysteries and Mabon for lots of reasons.
The Autumnal apples are bountiful, sweet and also store well. And beautifully, when you slice an apple horizontally the central seed formation is a five-pointed star, which is the ancient symbol for harmony between the elements and the Goddess! Apple cakes and pies were typical Mabon treats and gifting a freshly baked apple-anything is like giving a warm cinnamon kiss.
At the Autumnal Equinox, the night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, are in balance. We can use the energy systems of our physical bodies to cultivate balance across all of our koshas – the physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual. Yoga asanas are a wonderful way to do this. Whether you’re are an established practitioner or not, pick one of the balancing asanas and make a choice to practice and master it during the season of Mabon. Three of my favourites are Tree Pose, Warrior Pose and Crow. If you need some guidance, find an established and well-regarded local yoga teacher and ask for some tips. It’s worth it!
Another beautiful and accessible practice for establishing balance in the nervous system and brain activity is the breathing practice (or Pranayama) called Nadi Shodhana, which means alternate nostril breathing. I practice Nadi Shodhana every day for ten minutes during my dawn meditation and have done so for years. It is proven to bring the brain into coherence by synchronising the central nervous system. This allows a shift into present awareness and it is in a state of present awareness that The Crone truly rises with clearer intuition, revelation, insights, memory and physical restoration of cells and balanced chemistry. Nadi Shodhana and other life-nurturing practices are offered in my online meditation course RETURN.
Reverse the Flow and Fold in
Mabon is on the cusp of transition and from now the energy within the wild field begins to wane. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion. The sun’s power is decreasing and from now on the nights grow longer and the days become shorter and cooler (well maybe not here in Singapore, but certainly slightly further north). The sap of trees returns back to the roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the gorgeous autumnal pallet of fiery reds, oranges and golds. There is a reversal in the flow of order, a drawing down and in. The season supports slower activity and more rest.
Reversing the flow internally can be as simple as choosing a sharing attitude rather than a getting and holding attitude each day. You’d be surprised what experiences surface when you start each day with asking yourself “How can I be of service today?” Or if this feels a little clunky for you, choose one day each week over the Mabon season, say each Wednesday, and commit to being extra responsive to anyone or in any situation where you can help. I can guarantee that you will be put to use with this attitude. Experiences of service will appear, like helping an elderly person cross a road, to being called into a new project team for your experience and knowledge. It can be as simple as committing to smiling first when you have eye contact with people you pass during the day.
This flow reversal can be particularly powerful in the workplace. Perhaps this Mabon season you can enrol in the mentoring program at work, or get involved in HR’s induction program for new employees. You can be more generous with ideas and offering support, or simply affirming a work colleague on their great work or innovation. You can nominate someone for the employee achievement award or simply informally take a newbie under your wing and show them the ropes. With work teams still largely working remotely, these ‘softer’ interpersonal approaches add much greater value currently.
And as the light folds into darkness and the wild field turns towards winter, it’s an excellent time to reprioritise your downtime to include far more gentle nurturing activities, more rest and ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. And this includes the content you’re taking in too. We live in an awesome age of open access to highly inspiring minds, through books, podcasts, film and talks. Feed your inner Crone with wisdom and inspiration!
So welcome to Mabon – the Season of the Crone! I hope you feel inspired to put some of these simple ideas into action and notice the beautiful benefits and deep engagement with the season. May the Crone within us rise!
If you have any questions about meditation or intuitive healing, do get in touch. You can also visit my website to explore online courses and useful content to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living.
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