“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face,”
~ John Donne, English poet
Last week’s blog focused on the beautiful harvest full moon which put a spotlight on our lives and offered some time of introspection.
Today, I’m focused on the Autumnal Equinox, which happened yesterday, September 22nd. The Autumnal Equinox signifies the point of transition from longer days toward longer nights. It’s the beginning of the Yin phase of the year an the leaves start to change colors and then drop. One reason I enjoy living in Pennsylvania is that I get to experience the five elements in the seasons. With the Autumnal Equinox, we shift from the Yang time of the year and into the fall season, or the Yin time. We are moving toward the metal phase where contraction and release occur.
Life follows the five elements and for many baby-boomers, this is the beginning of the Yin stage of life. Many people that had children have seen them move off into their own lives, and now the focus is on simplifying. Even those baby-boomers who didn’t have children are looking into downsizing and finding the appropriate surroundings to enter into the next phase of life. Many find their large, Yang-style homes are simply too big and too much work. They’d rather expend their energy on other pursuits. Because of this circle of life, we see an exodus of baby-boomer age people from suburban lifestyles to more urban settings or planned communities, where most things are within easier reach.
Perhaps by understanding the Yin aspect of this stage of life, and the withdrawing, contracting, and releasing that goes with it, we find the reason so many retirees relocate to warmer (Yang) climates. For the most part, the warmth of the Yang sun creates a greater sense of being alive, with the ability to be outdoors in all seasons.
While there are benefits to the Yang sun and warmth year round, there is something to be said for following nature’s path of retreating and doing inner work at this Yin time of the year, for all of us, no matter our age. This introspective time of the year offers a wonderful opportunity to consider the choices we need to make. This Yin season is the perfect time to let go of all that is not needed, to separate from unnecessary attachments, and to prepare for the winter months.
As I mentioned above, the element of this Yin time of year is metal. The shape for the metal element is curved. Metal, especially a curved metal, is able to cuts through things. and that’s why we often use metal wind chimes as Feng Shui cures. Metal is part of the Five Element Cycle, appearing in the cycle after Earth. Metal emerges from the Earth or, as is sometimes said, Metal is fed by Earth, the element of the transitional time we just left. The cutting and releasing aspect of Metal causes the leaves to fall back to the earth where they decay and become nourishment for the spring season.
Perhaps during this introspective, quieter, retreating time of the year, the cutting and releasing aspect of Metal helps us metaphorically cut through our “stuff” to get to the heart of the matter so that we can make decisions about what to release and what to carry with us into the new year. Let’s make use of the beautiful autumn season. Enjoy the color, the stillness, the quiet, and the crispness of the air to consider what we want to release from our lives and what we want to nourish for a spring rebirth.