The leaves are changing, the air is brisk, and the days are getting shorter. All these things could only mean one thing: Fall has finally arrived. But according to the calendar, the new season doesn’t officially kick off until the autumnal equinox takes place on Sept. 23. Though the end-of-summer blues can make it difficult to embrace the seasonal change with open arms, there’s no reason to fret. Once you understand the spiritual meaning of the autumnal equinox, you’ll recognize just how reinvigorating the astronomical event can be.
Fall has been the symbol of new beginnings throughout our lives, from the first day of school to new wardrobe opportunities, so it makes sense why the season holds so much significance to cultures all over the world, including Indigenous communities. According to astrologer Brilla Samay, this time of year is often associated with “the Corn Mother, a figure representing the abundance of the harvest” in Indigenous traditions. As a result, the astronomical event also has close ties to the harvest season.
Of course, the autumnal equinox isn’t just historically significant — it’s also quite spiritually significant, as well. Ahead, Samay explains everything you need to know about the equinox so you enter the new season feeling refreshed and prepared.
What’s The Spiritual Meaning Of The Autumnal Equinox?
Per the Farmer’s Almanac, an equinox occurs as soon as the Sun’s center crosses what is considered to be the Earth’s equator from space, aka the “celestial equator.” According to Samay, the autumnal equinox denotes a “profound shift in the seasonal cycle” as it provides a rich opportunity for abundance, both on the farm and beyond. In return, this time of year may inspire a new sense of gratitude within us. “As the leaves change color and fall, the equinox invites us to reflect on the passage of time and the impermanence of all things,” says Samay. “It's an opportunity for inner growth, letting go of what no longer serves us, and embracing change with open hearts.”
Though the full Harvest moon doesn’t arrive until Sept. 28, the autumnal equinox and the lunar event are still closely linked. According to Samay, the September full moon rises soon after sunset, providing an extended amount of natural light to aid farmers as they harvest their crops. “The Harvest moon is a beacon of light during the transition from summer to autumn, offering a spiritual connection to the Earth's rhythms and a reminder of the cyclical nature of life,” the astrologer tells Bustle.
The autumnal equinox will coincide with the first day of Libra season, which begins on Sept. 23. Libras are known for being extremely balanced individuals, so it’s fitting that the event will provide a balanced amount of daylight and night (depending on where you live, that is). With so much symmetrical energy surrounding the day, you might find yourself yearning for a sense of congruity.
“The equinox is a symbol of balance, representing the harmony between light and darkness,” says Samay. “It encourages us to seek equilibrium in our own lives, finding the middle path between extremes. This moment reminds us of the need to balance our inner energies and emotions.”
How To Work With The Autumnal Equinox’s Energy
You won’t want this equinox to pass without taking the time to refresh, renew, or recenter yourself. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to usher in the fall season, starting with a Leaf of Intent fire ceremony. Samay shares that this can be done by writing your “intentions, hopes, and dreams” for the upcoming calendar year on a series of crispy, colorful leaves before setting them ablaze in a fire-safe environment. “As they transform into ash, visualize your intentions being carried into the universe on the smoke,” says the expert.
To ground yourself within nature, you can’t go wrong with a meditation session underneath the stars. On the night of the equinox, Samay recommends laying down in a field far away from the city lights and meditating to “immerse yourself in the vastness of the cosmos.” After you’ve done this, the astrologer suggests offering an environmentally safe token to the Earth to symbolize your “commitment to the planet and your dreams.”
Finally, if you have access to a forest, now is the time to connect with your ancestors through nature. “As you walk among the trees, allow the sights, sounds, and scents of the forest to envelop you,” Samay instructs. “Choose a tree that resonates with you and spend time in silent meditation, seeking guidance from the spirit of the tree or connecting with your ancestors.” If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to admire the fall foliage.
Brilla Samay, astrologer, mentor, and spiritual advisor