In Native American cultures, many ceremonies begin with the ritual of Calling in the Directions. The West, the North, the East, and the South. Each of these directions has a corresponding element, animal, energy, and season. Autumn belongs to the West. The setting sun. Each and every day we let go of the sun. Knowing it will come back to us in the East. Fall corresponds with water. We use water not only to nourish us, but to wash ourselves clean. Washing away our old habits, all of which no longer serves us. The animal of the West is the snake. Snake sheds her skin continually. Leaving behind the cells that she outgrows. Snake leaves the past behind without looking back, lamenting, or questioning. Snake medicine is powerful. The snake is the symbol of medicine in many different cultures, including Western medicine. Our skin cells are constantly multiplying and shedding all at once, without us noticing. When it comes to parting ways with remnants of our past however, like old clothes or old photos, we often cling to things as if when we let them go, the memories we associate with them will fade away too. But Snake shows us not to force it. She glides right through the now hollow cast of herself. Teaching us not to be afraid of parting ways with the past. Slither on towards the setting sun. Aho.
Below is a simple cleansing meditation to help you get ready for fall. Give yourself plenty of time, but at least twenty minutes will do. Find a nice quiet space. Maybe some of your favorite ambient music. You can do this alone, or with a loved one or two. For this meditation you will need some water, and if you have some sage, or palo santo I highly recommend burning it throughout your meditation for cleansing. If not, lighting a candle or incense would be nice, but it's not necessary. (Unless it's a pumpkin spice scented candle and then yes, it's necessary.)
Begin by creating a space for you to meditate. Burn sage or palo santo if you have some. Maybe set out your favorite crystals. Get comfortable. Begin by setting a clear intention. Write down one thing that you must let go of. Whether it's your perfectionism, your fear, something from your past, you decide. Write it down on a small piece of paper. Crumple up that piece of paper and set it aside. Now write down three things that you are creating space for. It can be as simple as love, friendship, or just more space. Or it could be as specific as a new place to live or new job. Set this paper aside.
Now comes the water part of the meditation. If you are doing this meditation alone you can make your water ritual a bath or shower. Wash away whatever it is that you are releasing this fall. If you are doing this meditation with others, a bowl of water is fine. Add some flower petals in the water to make it feel more ritualistic. Each of you will dip your hands in the water and symbolically cleanse away that which no longer serves you. Either in your bath or shower, or with your hands in the bowl of water, face West and repeat the mantra, "I release." Repeat the mantra 5-10 times, or for the duration of your bath or shower. Take the crumpled piece of paper on which you wrote down the thing you are releasing and soak it with water, either in your bath, shower, or in the bowl of water.
After you've finished the water portion, sit down to meditate, preferably facing West. Repeat the mantra "I release" as you exhale. And as you inhale, repeat the mantra "I receive." Keep in mind what you are releasing and what you are receiving (the three things you wrote down). Meditate for as long as you'd like 5-20 minutes is fine.
Finally, take your soaked crumpled piece of paper and try to read what you wrote down. The words will likely be illegible. Washed away from the paper. And symbolically, washed away from you. Keep the piece of paper where you wrote down 3 things that you are creating space for in your wallet until the winter solstice.