What is the Autumnal Equinox and Why Is It So Important?

September 20, 2016

Fall is by far my favorite season. In an odd way, I’ve always thought of fall as being the start of a new year, rather than the calendar new year of January 1st. School always started in the fall, my birthday is in the fall, and everything changes in the fall: leaves, weather, clothing, and even our energy. Part of the change in energy is due to what the autumnal equinox symbolizes - death, transformation, duality, and insight.

 

Death and Transformation

The autumnal equinox is perhaps one of the most misunderstood times of year when it comes to symbolism, rituals, and celebrations. For many people, hearing that something symbolizes death is an instant turn off. That’s why many people are afraid of the Death tarot card. As soon as they see death pop up in any kind of reading or symbolic meaning, they usually shut down or become terrified. Death, however, is not something we should fear. It’s a natural transition that everyone goes through. Death itself is symbolic of rebirth and transformation. Yes, it is full of grief and loss and emotions, as anyone who has lost a loved one can tell you, and those emotions are important to our growth. However, it also brings with it a cleansing, healing energy.

 Like the Death tarot card, the autumnal equinox is a symbol of rebirth and transformation.

 

With the autumnal equinox, tree leaves begin to change color and fall off the branches. It is a beautiful sight, one that people travel from around the world to see. At its core, however, a tree losing its leaves is a type of death. It goes through a beautiful transformation and loses its leaves to make room for new ones. It cleanses itself of the old and brings in new, healing energy in the spring. These transformations apply to humans as well. In the fall we change our clothes, our daily routines, our diets, and how we perceive the world. We experience a different side of ourselves. In the spring and summer we generally have a joyous, playful, and care-free attitude. During fall and winter, we tend to become more serious, stressed, and insightful. It is a natural occurrence that many don’t care for. However, it is essential to our well-being that we experience the duality of life.

 

Duality of Light and Dark

What is so important about the autumnal equinox, anyway? It is a symbol of duality. Perhaps that’s why I connect with it so deeply. I’ve always been the type of person who could see both sides of an argument, which generally makes me a mediator for two friends arguing or even simply trying to decide where to eat. Duality is a concept that people seem to have a difficult time understanding. It is essentially recognizing the balance between light and dark, good and evil, and understanding that they are more closely related than many would like to believe. Each of us has light and dark in us. We all have duality. The world experiences duality on a daily basis.

 "To light a candle is to cast a shadow." -Ursula K. Le Guin.

Image source: Instagram

 

On the autumnal equinox, we experience an equal amount of day and night before the days get shorter and the nights longer. In mythology, the autumnal equinox is represented by the Greek tale of Persephone. At the equinox, Persephone would leave earth and her mother Demeter and return to the underworld and her husband Hades. Six months later, she would return to her mother. It was the Ancient Greeks’ way of explaining the change of seasons - in the spring and summer, Demeter would be so happy to see her daughter that the earth became fertile and bountiful. When Persephone returned to the underworld, Demeter would refuse her duties and the earth would become barren and infertile. While mythology states that Persephone was abducted by Hades at first, it seems that she decided to accept her position as Queen of the Underworld and even embraced it. Persephone showed mercy to those like Aclestis and her husband, as well as the infant Adonis. She was even faithful to her husband Hades. Persephone made the best of the situation she was forced into, and that is something we can all expand upon in our own lives. The Ancient Greeks weren't the only ones who told stories about the equinox. Many other cultures have similar myths to the tale of Persephone.

 

Personal Insight and Growth

 The autumnal equinox - and fall in general - is the perfect time for personal insight and introspection.

 

Since fall is the time of transition between the sunny, playful days of summer and the darker, colder days of winter, it comes as no surprise that many people - especially intuitives - take this time for introspection, personal insight, and developing plans for growth. There are many ways to do this - taking classes, starting a meditation schedule, picking up a new hobby to keep you occupied, or even simply starting a journal or diary. You’ll be surprised at what you find out about yourself during the fall. There’s something about the energy of fall that makes us retreat to our inner selves and find out what our next step is.

 

How to Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox