As we arrive at the Autumn Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere, in a year that feels as if it has been running at fast speed, the Southern Hemisphere celebrates the counter opposite, the arrival of spring. What a difference in feelings these two points evoke – one looking forward to the returning light and warmth and witnessing life’s beginnings and the other a sense of closing down as darkness will soon be dominant over light and a chill is in the air as much of nature begins to prepare for its winter sleep. Our world split by light and warmth, dark and cold, life and death and for many people it is a split of either feeling full of hope or despair. Change is always difficult to cope with and many of us feel out of sorts as we adjust to the time of the year.
The Celts marked the end of their year at Samhain/All Hallows Eve and we have our New Year in the middle of winter which in some ways seems at odds that we don’t see spring as the year's beginning. Perhaps this move towards darkness is the time when we most need to celebrate as we make the most of the daylight hours and find new ways to inhabit the darker hours. Rather than just carrying on as normal as if no change is happening, let’s embrace the change and explore the potential of darkness. We can cosy up, read a good novel, replace salads for soups and stews, drink warm chocolate drinks, wear snuggly jumpers, eat crumbles and pies, explore the night sky and wonder at its infiniteness, walk in the darkness and gain comfort from the distant lights of others homes and discover that much is still going on in nature during the darker hours. The Autumnal equinox is a time to prepare. We can replenish our pantry by pickling, making jams, jellies, syrups and luxurious alcoholic drinks. We can think about what we are going to be doing over the darker and colder half of the year and make ready for the many celebrations that take place to bring light, warmth and joy. The current soggy weather means we will be bringing our bonfire into our inside hearth, all the debris from the recent storm will be burnt another day, but for this equinox we will be warm by our fireside making plans for the months ahead, taking stock and unwinding a little after the wonderful busy summertime we had. A vegetable and bean casserole will be our simple feast and a toast of ale given to welcome autumn and all its beauty.