Change is in the air. The season begins to turn and the countryside is increasingly golden; all around the faintest flicker of russet and amber begin to appear as the leaves are on the cusp of a spectacular transformation. The first tree to feel a shiver is the horse chestnut, then the beech, maple and silver birch. Conkers are abundant and the elderberries are ripening, heavy with purple-black berries. The hedgerow is beginning to fill: the first haws, hips and of course the ubiquitous blackberry. It’s tempting to throw yourself headfirst into the anticipation of all the Autumn goodness to come – but there is so much beauty to be found in these in between moments of quiet magic. Here’s how I’m honouring the Autumn transition and embracing these slow, liminal days.
New Season Energy
There’s a freshness in the breeze and the first whiff of wood burners on colder days. We find ourselves reaching for a lighter coat, or maybe a scarf. Then there’s that back to school feeling, the memory of new stationery, crisp ironed shirts, shiny shoes and too-big blazers deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness. To me, this time feels more like new year than January, signalling fresh starts and organising for the season ahead. Set aside time for that new project (I find a shiny new notebook or pen always helps) and reflect on where you are now and where you want to be next season. Note down some small, manageable steps that will take you closer to your goal and, above all, be kind to yourself.
Although meteorological Autumn is technically on the 1st of September in the Northern Hemisphere (the 1st of March in the Southern Hemisphere) the Autumn Equinox, Mabon, or astronomical Autumn, on the 22nd of the month feels a lot more like the beginning of proper Autumn to me. Versions of Mabon have been celebrated around the Autumn Equinox for thousands of years across cultures. It is one of the eight holidays celebrated in the Celtic Wheel of the year, opposite Ostara at the Spring Equinox. This is a day of balance: take time to nurture those things that bring harmony to your life. It’s also a great excuse to decorate the house with pretty seasonal gatherings – conkers, changing leaves, acorns and dried hydrangea heads.
Early Autumn Evenings
Enjoy the early Autumn light that cloaks everything in a golden glow shortly before sunrise and sunset. Notice how the light reveals the unexpected, or how it casts your usual walk with a hazy magic and draws attention to things usually unnoticed. Capture the seasonal transition by going on a photo walk or take your sketchbook with you. I find that I’m more – not less – attuned to my surroundings when capturing them this way. Or why not collect some nature finds and photograph them in a flatlay or sketch when you get home.
Since Pagan times, thanks have been given for successful harvests, with the Harvest Festival traditionally held on the Sunday closest to the Harvest Moon (that is the full Moon closest to the Autumn Equinox) – this year on the 20th September in the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally, harvest loaves and corn dollies are made, and the table is decorated with baskets of Autumn fruit for communal feasts and merriment. This is a time of giving too: donate to a local charity or a foodbank – make sure you find out what they’re in need of before you go.
Preparing for Autumn
As well as time to reflect, at the beginning of each season, I like to get organised for the months ahead. First, set aside time to declutter and sort the Summer detritus that has accumulated over the months we’re often busier or away from home. Sort through your Summer clothes (did you love that bikini/ top/ skirt this Summer? If not, chances are you won’t next Summer!) and donate them to charity, organise paperwork, take stock of what’s in the larder, tidy cluttered surfaces and shelves. Then welcome in the new season: air blankets and throws, wash your knitwear in Woolite, slowly restock the larder and invest in some beeswax or soy candles for the colder months ahead – or even make your own (more soon – in the meantime you can watch my Instagram Live back!).
How are you celebrating September?