This Week’s Fall Equinox Is the Most Important Time of Year To Reflect on Growth—And Set New Intentions

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While the start of any season can deliver fresh energy for self-reflection, the beginning of fall, marked by the fall equinox, sparks a particularly significant time for transformation. In the northern hemisphere, it occurs on September 22, when the sun passes directly above the Earth’s equator, making day and night equal length, and ushering in a period when summer light gives way to increased darkness. Both astrologically and spiritually, the meaning of the fall equinox hinges on practicing gratitude for the bright spots of the year and clearing the way for a new beginning.

You can also use this season to enjoy the fruits of any intentions you set in previous months. “The fall equinox marks a time for reflecting on what we’ve successfully created in our lives over the past year,” says astrologer Rachel Lang, author of the forthcoming book Modern Day Magic. In fact, becoming aware of what was illuminated for you during the bright summer months and what you achieved as a result will help you prepare for the relative darkness of winter. “This is a time to connect with your moon sign and characteristics, and to honor the cyclical nature of your personal growth,” says astrologer Corina Crysler.

“This is a time to connect with your moon sign and characteristics, and to honor the cyclical nature of your personal growth.” —astrologer Corina Crysler

Because of summer’s long, light days, that season is generally seen as a time of expansion (for broadening your horizons, making strides toward your goals, and traveling) whereas fall reflects contraction. And during periods of contraction, we’re pushed to look inward and confront the self, which can feel particularly uncomfortable for those who typically suppress intuition or emotion, says Crysler. Even so, she stresses the power of a contractive phase in terms of gaining personal clarity. “It allows for rest, creativity, and rejuvenation to prepare for new beginnings,” she says.

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The meaning of this year’s fall equinox in astrological terms:

Astrologically, the fall equinox always marks the day when the sun enters the sign of Libra, but this year, the equinox also brings a grand trine between the sun, Saturn, and the north node, which is the celestial point where the moon crosses the ecliptic plane as it heads north. Grand trines generally reflect flowing, harmonious energy and an emphasis on the qualities of whatever astrological element the associated planets or points are in—which is, in this case, air. That means you could feel a surge in cerebral, intellect-driven energy that’s particularly apt for this time of self-reflection.

Pair that with the cardinal energy of Libra season, and you have the recipe for active transition and transformation. “Cardinal energy emphasizes initiating change and moving forward in some way in our lives,” says Lang. “So from an astrological standpoint, the fall equinox is a favorable time for taking initiative.” She adds that because Libra is the third of the four cardinal signs, placing us halfway through the astrological year, “we’ll also have more perspective on things now than we did at the spring equinox in March.”

How to practice gratitude for the old—and make space for the new—during the equinox:

Because the meaning of the fall equinox is centered around both gratitude for the year’s highlights and transitioning to a new phase, you can honor its energy with an out-with-the-old or in-with-the-new ritual.

Start by preparing a space in your home to give thanks, says Crysler: “Here, you can honor the sacredness of light by setting things on your altar for which you are grateful, like pictures of people, objects that have positive symbolism for you, or anything else you love.”

To reflect the energy of autumn, Lang suggests incorporating objects in colors of brown, orange, gold, or red, as well as apples or apple cider, which are both associated with Libra season. “You can also work with herbs to create an oil blend that captures the essence of this holiday, incorporating chrysanthemum, marigold, sage, or blackberry into your ritual, too,” she says.

Once you've created a space for gratitude, light a candle to honor the end of the light summer season, and write a list of things for which you’re giving thanks, says Crysler. Similarly, you can also write a list of things that feel heavy or that which you’d like to release from your life. Then, say them all aloud to symbolically move them into and then out of your consciousness.

Because Libra rules over the seventh house of relationships and partnerships, it’s also possible that many of the things for which you’re grateful and from which you’d like to distance yourself at the moment may be linked to the people in your life. Consider what relationships might need a review, suggests Crysler. “Notice the people you feel good around, and those who make you feel drained,” she says. In this transitional time, making more space for those who uplift you—and perhaps setting boundaries in regard to those who don’t—can be a powerful way to move your life forward, with more flow.

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