Transitioning between seasons: Feng Shui to prepare for Autumn
There is a feeling of fall in the air. According to the local Ship Report, Autumn started yesterday; that is the meteorological Autumn. There are two kinds of autumns. The concept of meteorological vs astronomical fall has been observed since 1780 when the Societas Meteriologica Palatina defined seasons as three full months determined by the Gregorian calendar. The meteorological seasons are based on the average temperatures, and the seasons begin about three weeks earlier than the astronomical seasons. The meterological seasons begin on the 1st day of each season: Spring- March 1, April, May; Summer-June 1, July, and August; Autumn-September 1, October, and November; and Winter-December 1, January, and February.
Astronomical calendars are determined based on the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Marked by the equinoxes and solstices, the seasons the Societas Meteriologica which occur on different dates depending upon the movement of the Earth in its rotation around the Sun. Even though we do not traditionally change seasons for about three more weeks, we can feel the change of temperature and weather conditions, and we can observe other changes (shorter days, gardens, rainfall, wind, and other climactic conditions) that let us know the seasons are changing.
This three-week period is a time when we are transitioning from one season to another, and it is a key time for preparing ourselves for movement into changes in how we live. In Feng Shui, the temperature of Spring and Summer is warmer, yang-type energy. We now move into cooler, yin-type energy and activities. Today as I stood waiting for a bus, wearing a light-weight sweatshirt, it began raining, and the thought crossed my mind that we are entering the time of the year when waterproof jackets, umbrellas, and rain gear are needed more often than not. Time to reorganize my closet and think about what needs to be done to prepare for cooler weather and Autumn and Winter activities.
We are passing through a symbolic doorway when we pass from one season to the next. Feng Shui principles focus on the importance of the door/the mouth of Chi in our homes. I would like to compare the doorway between Summer and Autumn as a symbolic mouth of Chi—one that involves how we use and handle our energy as we move forward into Autumn. How do we prepare for moving from one season into the next? We might want to begin with the door to our homes. The mouth of Chi in our homes is the front door. This is where energy flows in and out of our lives. We want to make this part of our home as nice as it can be, to encourage the positive flow of Chi/energy into our lives.
Clear and clean up the space around the front door, inside and outside. Avoid blocking the doorway (nothing should prevent the door from opening freely). Having a healthy plant, preferably one that is blooming, by the front door, is an excellent idea. Some homes have the front doors or front gates painted red. This attracts great good fortune and prosperity into a home. A red door also provides protection. If you cannot paint your door, you might have a colorful hanging on the front door (this is where you can add red without paint). The front door should have a fresh coat of paint. Hang wind chimes near the front door, and display a shiny object to attract welcome attention.
View your door as if you were a visitor, and decide what would make guests feel more welcome. Plants with red blooms (geraniums, petunias) in clay pots near the front door are very nice. A number of people also plant rosemary somewhere near the front door as protection as well. If there is something blocking your front door (a wall, another door, a pole, a tree) you can remedy this by placing a mirror above your door.
Symbolic protection. Most spiritual and religious traditions have special symbols that represent protection. In the Chinese culture, a statue of a lion or dog might go beside the front door. The Jewish custom of hanging a Mezuzah on the door frame, or the Moslem custom of hanging a Sura from the Qur’anQur’anQur’an over the entryway are both examples. Some homes have the ‘Eye of God’ symbols near the entryways. Use whatever is meaningful for you and your family.
Have a welcome mat that is attractive and in good repair. Keep the porch and entryway swept clean. In many cultures, taking one’s shoes off upon entering the house is the custom. It also helps keep the house cleaner. If this is your custom, have a place for guests to place their shoes.
To lift and increase the yin energy for Autumn, increase the amount of lighting you use. Use of full spectrum light bulbs helps ward off seasonal depression caused by lack of sunlight.
Closets, drawers, and cupboards need to be cleared of clutter, cleaned out, and changed about (if you need to move some items into storage and others out). Closets and cupboards that house items that are never used, hinder the flow of Chi/energy. Move items out of the house if you are not using them. The same thing goes with any storage area in the house, garage, basement, or sheds. Get rid of items not in use. Reduce, reuse, recycle, or repurpose.
Nourish the senses. After doing a thorough cleaning, use scent to lift energy. You may want to smudge with cedar, sage, or incense, to clear negative or stuck energy. Using essential oils or dried lavender, rose, or other fragrant plants, can be one way appealing to the senses.
Clean and Organize the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home in many ways. Certainly in Feng Shui, it is the room that represents the health and prosperity of the family. Keeping our kitchen well-stocked, clean, and organized, allows us to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is a good time to clear off and clean all counters, and rethink what you need for the changes of seasons. You might want to put away some of the appliances you use more in summer than autumn, and change the linens and tableware. Some friends are still in the process of canning, making jams and preserves, and pickling vegetables to stock the winter shelves. Smoking fish and perhaps doing some final gardening and fishing, allows you to take advantage of taking advantage of the season’s harvest.
Decorate to reflect the seasonal changes. Use colors that go with Autumn. Put squash and pumpkins on your porch, and have a big bowl of fresh apples and pears available for snacks. Prepare a harvest feast for family and friends, and celebrate the impending changes.
Bring water into your home. When we are outside, we often spend a lot of time around water, at the beach, lake, river, or streams. We need to drink more water now, and we can increase the water element in our homes with a fish tank or a water fountain.
Organize your social life. Get your correspondence in order. Buy a new address book, and get those numbers written down so that you can connect with friends and family throughout the year. The new school year is underway for most everyone, and now there is some time to plan for the year ahead. Get your calendar in order, and set some goals and intentions for the next year. Write down numbers that may only be found on your cell phone, and make sure you have important information written down and at hand. Make some plans to enjoy yourself over the next year in addition to planning projects and work. Include some pleasurable experiences in your life, and make plans to exercise regularly. Take a daily walk, sign up for a yoga class or swim a few times a week. Take a Tai Chi class or walk around the track with a friend.
Remember what matters. Display photographs or art that remind you of the people who mean the most to you. A photo of your loved ones on your desk remind you of the balance you need in life. Also display pictures, photos, or reminders of what is inspiring to you.
Create boundaries and limits. We all need to be able to say ‘yes’ to what is enlivening, and ‘no’ to that which drains our energy. Determine what you need to feel more connected with and what you need to disconnect from, and then take steps to move in the direction that is nourishing, uplifting and safe. Let go of whatever is creating conflict, distress, or depression. Physically, shut out views of whatever is distressing. Separate your work, rest, and relaxation spaces from one another. Set time limits for yourself, and give yourself specific time off. Take regular days off, and take a vacation at least once a year. Break your vacations up into several long weekends if you want, but take time off. We all need a change of scenery and a change of pace. It allows us to have a different perspective on our lives.
Change your viewpoint. Move things around in your life, to give yourself a different view of life. Move your bed, or pull the couch up to look out the window. Make sure your bed is situated to give you the best light and view. Change the bedding, the bedcovers, and maybe the curtains.
Clean up and freshen up the bathroom. Get some new towels and a couple of soft, colorful rugs for the bathroom. Change the shower curtains and the shower curtain liner. Clean out the drains, and clean up the window sills. Prepare your bathroom for restful bathing by getting some handmade, organic scented hand soaps. Fill a basket with some fresh hand towels, and set a small lamp on your counter. Use a low-watt light bulb, so that in the evenings and early mornings you can have a gentle, soft light. Take your morning shower by candlelight, and wake up more slowly and calmly. Play some music in as you bathe and prepare for the day.
Develop daily spiritual practices. Set aside some time in the morning and evening for meditation, prayer, contemplation, a gentle yoga practice, or some inspirational reading. Take time to be grateful (a gratitude journal) and let go of stress and anxiety by turning fears, conflicts, and problems over to your Higher Power. Have a God jar (put your problems in the jar for God to deal with), or have a regular ritual of letting go of problems, habits, or fears by writing them down and then burning them. Practice releasing attachment to whatever you are worrying about, and spend more time focusing on being grateful for what you have, and less time bemoaning what you do not have.
Take good care of yourself, and give yourself time alone to appreciate being yourself. Take daily walks. Write thank you notes or notes of gratitude to friends and family who need it. Take care of your bills and be glad you can. Read uplifting and enjoyable books. Reread old favorites, and find something new to challenge you to learn something new. Watch a film in another language, and see if you can learn something new about another culture. Plan a big trip, and plan two smaller ones, and then put them on your calendar. Everyday, take one step in the direction of a dream, a desire, or a project you want to complete. Do one thing you've 'been meaning to do', or admit you're not going to really do it, and then forget it. Turn off the television, and more importantly, turn off the voice in your head that says you ‘can’t’ do something. Be open and receptive to opportunities, and act on ideas that could expand your horizons and make you a happier, healthier, more creative person. Celebrate life, for it is a gift.