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The Autumn Equinox is today! The sun will spend approximately the same amount of time above and below the horizon; rising due east, setting due west, and appearing directly overhead at midday. For a brief moment, twice a year, the Earth is divided into equal parts night and day.

And now, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere begin to lean away from the sun and begin our descent toward winter. As the sunlight continues to decrease each day, we are invited to turn toward the light within.

The rhythm of nature has much to teach us. In rural Illinois, where I grew up, the Autumn Equinox symbolizes the completion of the harvest season. The crops have been gathered and stored for the long, barren winter. There is a stillness and darkness that settles over the fields. Beyond the farms, many communities see and experience plants surrendering their vegetation in response to shorter days and cooler temperatures. Their leaves drained of life-giving sustenance, eventually fall in the ultimate display of impermanence. The ground absorbs heat and moisture at greater rates and air currents circulate near its surface. These environmental cues are a reflection of our internal seasons and display the wisdom of the planet by letting go, slowing down and taking time for restorative practices.

The Autumn Equinox is an invitation into the cosmic darkness. With each passing day, nighttime arrives a little earlier and lingers into our waking hours. This is a gift! The environmental down-time encourages us to welcome and not resist the force of consciousness that pulls us inward. This is a time for meditation and rest. Use this opportunity to surrender to your inner gravity, ask difficult questions, and listen deeply for what arises. Get curious as you dive into the darkness.

Just as the Earth experiences light and darkness, we all embody light and darkness. Our shadow side encompasses all things outside the light of consciousness, good and bad. Our unconscious contains everything that is unseen or hidden from awareness, like the dark side of the moon. It makes sense that we might try to conceal our least desirable qualities. Unconsciously we may also hide our brightest attributes on account of shadow forces like shame or lack of self-esteem.

Shadow work is as important to revealing our light as it is to release our darkness. And what better time to do that work than between the fall equinox and the winter solstice? This is a time to do some digging and discover what has been churning beneath the surface, a time to invite such thoughts and emotions to gently rise and dissolve. Maybe these prompts can help facilitate this inner exploration as you contemplate, meditate or journal.

How do you plan to welcome and accept both the light and the darkness?

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