As Fall amber light illuminates this season, take time to honor this time of deep reflection + transformation.
In this last deep breath before Winter...
Here in Southern California, seasons seem to slowly melt as Summer gently fades into Winter. My opportunity to feel a distinct Autumn breeze chill my bones or hear rustling leaves beneath my feet is rare--our change in season is more subtle, flaxen--like watching day turn to dusk. Elsewhere across the country, where the seasons are distinct and robust, a crisp drop in temperature blanket's the Earth leaving behind gorgeous colors of red, yellow, orange, and rust. As an east coast native, I often reminisce about my time spent apple picking in thick sweaters before the first frost fell. To keep spirits high and fall magic in the air, my family has to get creative when it comes to celebrating this time of year, and we do this through ceremony.
Autumn Bucket List
At the beginning of each season, I often find myself with a long mental list of things I’d like to do, people I’d like to see, and projects I would like to accomplish. Fall is one of the busiest seasons for me, so this time I’m writing it all down on paper, and more importantly, keeping my list realistic, mellow, and in line with the energy of the season.
I’ve shared my personal Autumn bucket list with you below for a bit of inspiration. Tailor yours to your seasonal goals and the environment around you. Check the boxes off as you go, and add to it as new ideas flow in.
My Autumn Bucket List
Autumn Celebrations + Important Cosmic Dates
The Autumn equinox, Halloween, and other widely celebrated fall-time celebrations take center stage this time of year. Some resonate well with the energy of the season, and other holidays we may need to tailor to support our values and ethics. Below, we forward wise traditions in honoring this seasonal shift in our own time, and in our own way.
The Equinox, Harvest Moon, Surviving the End of Daylight Savings, + More
More so than any other moon, it seems that even the astral-naive cherish the Harvest Moon (the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox). Why is this so? Well, there could be many reasons, but my theory is that this moon is deeply ingrained in our ancestral DNA. We feel it on a soul level. You see, the Harvest Moon appears very large, bright, and close to Earth, and it was this moon that allowed our ancestors to stay up late harvesting crops as the strong lunar light lit up the fields. This was both a time of celebration, and a reality that the dark and cold days were knocking on our door. It is also the transition from when moonlight steps up alongside sunlight as the dominant illuminator, as our days now grow shorter and the nights grow longer.
Autumn kicks off the season of rest and rejuvenation for the plant and animal world, but for our human society, our culture pushes for quite the opposite. Back to school, holiday parties, traveling, gatherings, the list goes on. If we take a step back and look around, we see that most of us are not in alignment with the natural world during this time.
So how to we allow space in our inner and outer world to celebrate and integrate the deep long pause of Autumn?
We have to accept the invitation to fall behind a little, venture inward, and allow ourselves to hibernate. When we cut away the extra tasks, prioritize engagements, minimize responsibilities to those which are truly necessary we are essentially pruning ourselves just like we would our favorite berry bush or fruit tree--so that we conserve our vital energy, leaving only the healthy and vibrant stalks to remain, ready to yield beautiful and succulent flowers and fruits when the warm days return.
With Winter not far off, integrating the following practices during this time of transition is essential for creating a healthy foundation to carry us through the darker times:
Go to bed early: Especially when Daylight Savings Time steps in, our mornings and evenings have grown incredibly dark and we may find ourselves exhausted much earlier in the day (especially in comparison to the Summer where we were ready to stay out past dark!) Even though we have "gained an hour", try to turn in early, even if that means your bedtime is now at 8pm. When you wake in the morning, it will most likely still be dark so please allow yourself extra time to rise slowly. Linger in bed a little while longer, pull back the curtains allowing the sun to creep in slowly, and please, if possible, do not check your phone/turn on the TV/log on to the computer until after the sun has risen so that you do not start the day by being blasted by blue light!
Turn the lights down: On the note of technology use during Autumn, try to limit use/turn off devices as much as possible when it is dark out. When its dark by 5pm I know that is incredibly difficult, but at the very least try to not have any screen exposure an hour or so before bed. The blue light that is emitted from technology severely impacts our brain function and ability to rejuvenate, (please spend some time checking out the Sleep section in the Foundations of Health Course if you haven't already!) sending our circadian rhythm for a loop. Try turning down the lights in the house, and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, try maneuvering through the home by candlelight.
Spend time in nature + soak up the sun: Autumn is such a welcoming time to spend in nature. Apple picking, corn mazes, the pumpkin patch, collecting leaves and foraging for mushrooms and acorns... These days spent outside are important and so incredibly beneficial for things ranging from our mental health to our immune health. When you spend time outdoors, particularly in the sunlight, our body receives signals that are essential for integrating the changes during this time. Vitamin D levels are boosted (important for over 8,000+ processes in the body), the circadian rhythm is regulated, and neurotransmitters are up-regulated. Bundle up and take a long walk, spend the afternoon outside gathering leaves, or any other of your favorite fall activities to ensure you are getting plenty of time in nature.
Eat whats in season: This time of year there is a ton of inspiration for incorporating earthy and nutritious foods that so beautifully compliment what our bodies are craving at this time. Head over to the Nourishment section to learn more about warming and grounding foods designed to help us through the cool Autumn days.
After a fruitful and busy Summer, Autumn rituals are an incredible way to help us shift into a slower, more intention pace. The two rituals shared below are favorites, one for using what we have harvested, and the other for giving back to the Earth to make sure we have bountiful harvests in the years to come.
Autumn Simmer Pots
Back in medical school I learned about the benefits of steam inhalation (simmering specific herbs or essential oils and inhaling the steam) for head colds and congestion. I enjoyed this practice for not only the way it tended a snuffy nose, but for the way it carried a beautiful aroma throughout my home. Little did I know that this practice was actually a thing--simmer pots--that folks have done intentionally for years to bring about inviting scents into the home. Year round you can find a simmer pot bubbling away on my stove, and the way these warm Autumn brews invite a transformative aromatherapeutic journey rivals any essential oil diffuser or scented candle. The bonus? Stand over the pot and take a deep inhale to take the medicine in, and let it warm + humidify you and your home.
Making a simmer pot is pretty simple, and there really is no need to buy extra ingredients--you most likely already have the fixings for a simmer pot within your kitchen. Save citrus peels, left over culinary herbs, and fallen pine cones and needles for a zero waste simmer pot that is absolutely delightful. Get creative with ingredients, and use the list below as a guide to pull ideas from.
- Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add your chosen ingredients, boil for a few minutes, then turn the heat all the way down to a gentle simmer.
- Set your timer every 30 minutes or so to remember to top up your simmer pot with water. You don’t want the pot to run out of water and burn the herbs, and certainly do not leave the house with your pot left on the stove!
- Citrus Peels (Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, etc.)
- Cinnamon sticks
- Wild rose hips
- Star anise
- Vanilla extract
- Bay leaves
- Pine cones, Pine needles, etc
The idea to share this practice came to me as I was harvesting Red Raspberry fruits and leaves in the cold rain, pictured here, at a friend's property in Montana. My fingers stung from the embedded tiny little hairs from this champion botanical, and as I plucked them out one by one I found a few seeds stuck to my jacket. Seeds are the wise offspring of their highly intelligent botanical mothers, and the methods by which they ensure the proliferation of future generations is astonishing. Whether traveling by wind, animal, insect, or human, the spreading of seeds is an Autumn ritual that is both ceremonial and necessary for allowing all creatures here on Earth to thrive.
When you step out into nature this season, whether you find yourself tending your garden, walking along city streets, or heading down your favorite trail, make note of the native species in your area, what sort of habitat they like to call home, and study them well. On your next venture out, tuck a small napkin or envelope into your pocket to sort and collect seeds in. Ever so delicately collect the seeds and spread them in like-minded areas that they will thrive. This can be as simple as tossing seeds into your yard, or burying them below the soil. Research each species to find out more about what kind of care they need. This rewarding practice benefits all that call this Earth home.
Cleaning and clearing our lives is often associated with the Spring, a time of great transition. Autumn too is a time of great transition that thrives when we create space, both symbolically and physically, in our lives. When we create space, it creates in invitation for old energies to go, and new energies to come in. If you already have space clearing practices that work well for you, please practice them at this time. If not, read on to learn some of my favorites.
Clearing the home/office: Go through room by room tidying and organizing. In each room, if possible, select 3 items to donate or give away. They can be as small or big as you'd like. Clear out the spider webs, the dust bunnies, and give floors and windows a good wash with bucket of soapy water and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Open all of the windows or doors to allow a fresh breeze to roll through and light some Sage or Palo Santo, etc and walk through each room allowing the smoke to clear any stagnant energies. Repeat as needed.
Clearing technology: This may be one of my favorite practices! Go through your phone, computer, and other technologies and delete text messages, photos, emails, voicemails, notifications, apps, and documents that you no longer need or find useful. After doing so, I invite you to go on a 3-day digital detox (no phone or computer use unless absolutely necessary) for an added bonus.