After Today, There Will Be More Darkness: Setting Intention at the Equinox

Today is the autumnal equinox. The equinox means there is an equal amount of light and dark— and the days, which have been growing steadily darker since the summer solstice, are now giving way to longer nights.

The equinox is a time of celebration in many religions — Pagans, Neo-druids, and Wicca all celebrate the equinox. (Go here in case you missed my post of fascinating equinox traditions. ) There are also holidays like the Christian Michaelmas (which you may remember feeling confused by if you’ve ever read a Jane Austen novel), that while not explicitly equinox-related, fall right around the same time. 

I went looking for a secular way to acknowledge this turning point. It’s a time of balance, something I sorely need in my life at the moment, after an intense period for one of my freelance projects. I think it’s also important to acknowledge the darkness aspect. It’s too easy to reduce darkness and light to some sort of struggle between good and evil. For one thing, it ignores the fact that darkness also brings life. We humans require darkness for for most restorative rests. Like how certain bulbs require frost to sprout again in spring.

The equinox also brings with it an extended period of nesting, and setting up winter stores. I think it can be time for self-reflection, and answering for myself: what is my winter, and how can I be ready? How can I take care of myself in a way that will sustain me through cold nights? I know logically that winter is approaching again, and in the same way, I have to know that hard things are out there, and will happen again. It’s not about frantically preparing for all the unknown disaster; instead, it’s giving myself permission to engage in self-care as a kind of fortress, rather than wait until I “need” it.

And finally, the Autumnal Equinox is a time for harvest, and I think part of it should be taking stock of that harvest. What have I to show for the last year? Am I happy with it, or do I need to reconsider things?

Unfortunately this year I’ll have to put off my proper equinox celebration until the 24th - however, to acknowledge the piece about balance, I will set aside the work I’m frantically trying to finish to join a much-needed restorative yoga class. 

On Sunday I’ll try starting some traditions of my own. To acknowledge the harvest, I’ll pick the wild apples that grow around the property, and make a little crab apple pie. As greeting to the Jade Rabbit, I’ll try to find the snowshoe hare that hangs out near the brambles. And I will welcome the coming darkness.