Channeling autumn’s slower energy
Autumn signals the end of summer, but channeling autumn’s slower energy can herald another beautiful revolution in your ever-changing year…
As we settle into September, amid the last heady days of an intermittent summer, it’s clear that the seasons are shifting, and the earth is readying itself for change. We often find change hard, and the shift to autumn and winter, and the darkening of the days, can feel challenging. But channeling autumn’s slower energy means we can sink into the season more easily
Yet autumn is potent, powerful and a good time to reframe and develop your relationship with the natural world. That helps you move with the energies of the earth, bringing rest and rejuvenation when you need them.
Autumn reminds us that we are not meant to bloom all year, and that change and loss – as much as life – are part of our existence. The autumn equinox, in late September, is a rich time of transition. The sun hovers directly above the equator, day and night are the same length, and we find ourselves in a state of stillness and balance.
‘We were meant to slow down and bleed and howl and then get silent and internal, and all this happens as our bodies and energy levels are shifting and changing,’ writes Becca Piastrelli in her beautiful book Root & Ritual. ‘Though we live in a modern era, our bodies’ processes are ancient and deserve our respect.’
This is what I like to call the sacred pause – channeling autumn’s slower energy. It happens four times a year, as one season shifts to the next. The sacred pause calls us to stop for a moment and look at where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. We can reflect on a bountiful summer, abundant and expansive, and look ahead to the turning of the year, mirroring nature as we do.
Autumn is the season of the water element. This represents giving thanks and letting go, the ebb and flow of life through us all, and the changing yet constant nature of water.
‘Autumn is an adventure, a season of transformation and a time to prepare for the long winter ahead,’ writes nature author Louise Baker in Autumn: an anthology for the changing seasons. ‘It is a thousand leaves falling to the ground and nourishing the soil beneath… It is the refreshing winds that sweep the haze of summer away; it is the calm before the storm.’
This is the time to root ourselves deeper into the earth. Just as trees begin to focus their attention below ground, their sap levels falling, directed from branches to soil and roots, so we can turn our focus downwards and inwards.
‘Autumn isn’t the season of decay or death, but one of wealth and renewal,’ says Baker. ‘It is the changing landscape, the subtle anticipation of winter. Autumn is to be enjoyed.’
September is a great time to start channeling autumn’s slower energy. And I love a simple grounding practice. In the morning, spend just ten minutes with your bare feet on the earth in your garden. Feel the changing temperature on your skin, the shift of the seasons. Perhaps the ground feels wetter underfoot, and the air crisper, with each morning. Listen to the change of the birds’ calls; the way the light is different at the same time each day. And, with this shift, allow your body to reset too.
Conjure the energy of the water element with wild swimming, dipping your toes in a stream, or simply mindfully taking a bath and connecting with the feeling of water on and around your body. Feel the way it moves, its weight and warmth, its softness and its strength.
As September moves into October, the days grow shorter, the nights longer. We lose over two hours of light from our day in the weeks following the autumn equinox. When darkness slowly returns, and the night lengthens, can you bring an intentional shift to your morning and evening rituals?
‘Morning pages’ are a wonderful way to gently awaken to a new day. This daily practice of writing three longhand pages of thoughts, without design or agenda, allows what’s in your heart to flow onto the page. Undertaken first thing in the morning, they are less about writing and more about bringing a sense of flow and movement to your consciousness.
‘They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only,’ explains Julia Cameron, who created the concept in her landmark book /The Artist’s Way/. ‘Morning pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritise and synchronise the day at hand. Do not overthink morning pages: just put three pages of anything on the page… and then do three more pages tomorrow.’
As the nights lengthen, set aside a small window in your bedtime ritual to channel autumn’s slower energy b y creating a moment of light-filled reflection. A simple five-minute meditation can be a beautiful way to ground and centre you before sleep, thinking about the day that has been and the rest ahead. Take this opportunity to release the day, just as trees release leaves. Reconnect with the element of water: imagine a waterfall gently washing your body from head to toe, sending the day back to the earth.
As October continues, the nights close in, and we approach the sacred time of Samhain and All Souls’ Day. Both ask us to step back and remember those we have lost. Far from being morbid, this is a potent time for connecting with our roots, our lineage and our ancestors – and, in connecting with them, perhaps connecting with ourselves too.
‘Autumn is associated with intuition, healing and divination, as what you have learned from your journey becomes integrated into wisdom,’ writes Isla Macleod in her book Rituals for Life. She reminds us that autumn is an opportunity to tune into our innate knowing, our female intuition: ‘This is a powerful time to communicate with your ancestors and guides in the invisible realms. With the autumn wind blowing, you are invited to remember, to rejoice and give thanks for the myriad ways you are supported by life.’
This is a lovely time to channeling autumn’s slower energy by creating a remembrance altar in your home. This sacred space doesn’t have to be big, but gives you a focus for remembering those you have lost, and the generations of women and wisdom that came before you. Create a quiet, daily ritual of standing before the altar, one hand on your heart, and silently giving thanks for the divine inner wisdom that flows through you still. Welcome the sense of loss, because it is part of the deep and rich fabric of life.
Even November’s darkness brings a pause and reminds us of the balance of light and dark in our lives. At this time of year, it helps to think of the darkness as a metaphor for challenges in our lives. Sometimes we need to let ourselves sink into pain and loss, to allow ourselves to move through and beyond them. We cannot see the strength of our own light if we aren’t prepared to go into the darkness to find it.
‘The seasons have become such internal experiences,’ observes Piastrelli, ‘perhaps giving me a glimpse of what my ancestors felt long ago.’
As November shifts towards winter, another sacred pause is ahead of us: the winter solstice. Allow yourself the space to look back over the past three months. Read through your morning pages, add to or change your altar, continue your grounding practice and reflect on how the ground beneath your feet has changed from day to day, week to week.
Winter will come, and it will make way for spring. But, for now, channeling autumn’s slower energy allows us to hold ourselves in the pause, and remind us of the balance of light and dark, love and loss. It comes to bring space for reflection and the deep inner work that we can always do; the continual journey through the year, and through our lives.
This is the season of surrender and slowness, of feeling the wisdom of nature, and all she has to teach us. ‘Nature does not rush and I am learning not to rush either,’ says Piastrelli. ‘So much anxiety can come from resisting whatever is occurring in the now, however challenging it may be. I breathe with it. I rest my body. I trust that we are never stuck and that the wheel is always turning.’
Next: The Mind-Body Connection