22nd of September marks the first day of autumn in the Norther Hemisphere but what is it exactly?
Usually, when we talk about the first day of autumn we are referring to the astronomical autumn which is defined by the Earth's axis and orbit around the Sun.
This year autumn begins on 22 September 2020 and ends on 21 December 2020.
The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degrees of tilt of the Earth's rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the Sun. Both equinoxes and solstices are related to the Earth's orbit around the Sun.
Solstices and equinoxes are considered to be the astronomical transition points between the seasons and mark key stages in the astronomical cycle of the Earth. In a year there are two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter). The dates of the Equinox and Solstice aren't fixed due to the Earth's elliptical orbit of the Sun. The Earth's orbit around the Sun means that in early January, the Sun is closest (known as perihelion) and in early July it is most distant (aphelion).
On the autumn equinox, day and night are of roughly equal length and the nights will become increasingly longer than the days, until the spring equinox when the pattern is reversed.
It also marks the time of year when the northern hemisphere begins to tilt away from the Sun, resulting in less direct sunlight and consequently the cooling temperatures.
The ancients called this point of equilibrium Mabon and considered it to be a time of perfect equilibrium dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But we are again on the cusp of transition and from now the year now begins to wane and from this moment darkness begins to defeat the light. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion, the Sun's power is waning and from now on the nights grow longer and the days are are shorter and cooler. The sap of trees returns back to their roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the fire of autumn, to the flaming reds, oranges and golds. We are returning to the dark from whence we came.
This is also a time for gratitude and celebration and was honoured by feasting from the abundance of harvest of fruits and vegetables.
In terms of life path it is the moment of reaping what you have sown, time to look at the hopes and aspirations of Imbolc and Ostara and reflect on how they have manifested. It is time to complete projects, to clear out and let go that which is no longer wanted or needed as we prepare for descent, so that the winter can offer a time for reflection and peace. And it is time to plant seeds of new ideas and hopes which will lie dormant but nourished in the dark, until the return of Spring.
Go for a walk and collect as much of nature's wild abundance as you can, while respecting the need to leave enough for everyone else including the nature spirits. You will find wild damsons, sloes, rosehips, elderberries, blackberries, hawthorn berries and more. Remember the fruit is the carrier of the precious seed.
Clear Out and Complete.
We think of Spring as the time to clear out but now is the perfect time to complete unfinished projects and clear your home of unwanted stuff. Prepare to hibernate!
This is an excellent time to plant tree seeds and shrubs. They have all of winter in the darkness to establish and germinate. Plant bulbs which will hide in the earth until early Spring beckons. Make each one a hope, idea or aspiration for Spring and wait until their little green noses show above ground - to remind you!