Traditionally, September 22 marks the first day of Autumn as the Equinox. Astrologically speaking, Libra, often denoted as a balance scale spans September 23 to October 22.
However, Celtic tradition says Autumn (Lughnsadh pronounced LOO-nah-sah) starts around August 1 as the beginning of the harvest season. Scots would use the word Hairst (Pronounced Hair-st Hair like “hair” and “st” like stop) or harvest to denote this time. My goodness, there’s a lot of tradition surrounding harvest time! Regardless, autumn ushers in a time of balance to prepare for the coming of winter (Alban).
Fall’s a time for self-reflection. Journey deep within first asking ourselves about our personal balance as we prepare for the cold season, which will often arrive much sooner than we anticipate. Beginning some inner work now makes the heart and spirit sources of inner-joy and warmth. An inner-voyage helps us identify lifestyles that no longer serve us or actions that disrupt our life instead of nourishing it for the expected time of cleansing. When an outside winter world becomes inhospitable, the better prepared inner world… inner self will help us through because we harmonized during harvest. Meditation can be a good avenue for deeper contemplation allowing the inner-self to surface. What fruits have we produced? What can be harvested from our lives that may be shared by me and others for nourishing our whole being, body, mind, spirit?
Harvest time generates opportunities for sharing, giving, and celebrating. These opportunities embrace cultures throughout the world and have for centuries, probably back to the time of Stonehenge.
This season embraces sharing and giving thanks for the provisions of Mother Earth as she has done her part in the cycle of planting and harvesting. Inhabitants plant and cultivate the land they have in their charge. The inhabitants give back to the earth and each other through turning the soil in preparation for new planting in the spring (Imbolc) and sharing the bounties of the harvest. It’s such a festive time of reaping. Celebrations emerge as a natural sequence rewarding the labors of the previous seasons.
Integrated with the celebrations, sharing emerges with the sense of community solidifying relationships with friends and loved ones. It’s so easy to eat locally grown, healthy meals throughout the seasons. Focus on the foods that are in season. Depending on where we live, the nutriment of that region should predominate our diet. This practice encourages a healthy diet. Several varieties of foods are more accessible in the present day thanks to new modes of transport.
Local apples may adorn the table now. Yet, when local supplies run low, they’re shipped in from elsewhere to supply the demand, perhaps even another part of the globe. The same may be said for vegetables, meats, or fish. Eating local is healthy for the body, but it’s also viable for a stronger community and economy. There’s nothing wrong with obtaining imported foods occasionally. Just try to focus local to appreciate the sense of community and to support each other. Share the harvest through trading or giving the fruits of gardens, potluck meals, or providing meals for those unable to care for themselves. Sharing through gatherings elevate the senses, playing music, dancing, expressing gratitude to one another, give away what no longer serves you. This process also teaches us the magic of simplification of life.
Harvest ushers in a time of culmination which can include finishing projects, even saying goodbye to people and habits that no longer serve us well. While Mother Nature passes the peak of her full maturation, we may also begin to say goodbye to the year and all that we have accomplished. We may grieve some at harvest time, often a natural progression in the flow of life. Those finding themselves carefully woven with nature’s rhythm, the very heartbeat of Mother Earth, may enjoy saying goodbye to some things now. Feeling overloaded with the transition may create increased pains from stress and tension. This can be a time to seek forms of bodywork to reconnect with the flow of life’s rhythm through Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, or a therapist for massage or energy work, like Reiki.
A deeper connection to Hairst teaches us about relationships, community, self- care, and the nurturing reminder that who we are now is not a permanent state. So, think on flowing, growing, uniting with earth and our community. We are part of a cycle that affects each of us individually and collectively on every level. This is the natural cycle, a wheel of life. No state is permanent, and the closer we align ourselves with the natural world around us, the closer we become to ourselves and each other.
Embrace the elemental appreciations for Autumn.
Note: Special appreciation to Meghi Aine Ni Domhnaill for her inspiration to write this blog