What is the Spiritual Meaning and Significance of the Autumn Equinox?
A quick scroll through any social media platform proves that fall may be everyone's favorite season. But while the itch to throw up your Halloween decorations and devour all things pumpkin spice in honor of autumn might hit as soon as Labor Day weekend rolls around, the planets tell a different story. The season marked by fiery-hued leaves and snuggling up in your coziest hoodie begins annually on the fall equinox when the sun is positioned exactly above the equator and the day is equally as long as the night.
As a seasonal and astrological transitional moment, the autumn equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is a time for self-reflection and bolstering spiritual awareness. It also happens to go hand in hand with the kickoff of Libra season, which occurs annually from approximately Sept. 23 to Oct. 23.
This time is marked by an increased desire to connect one-on-one and to celebrate partnerships (whether romantic, platonic, or professional), to bring more balance and beauty into your daily life, and to be more of a social butterfly — however that looks for you.
Here's what you need to know about the fall equinox in 2023, its spiritual meaning, and what it'll bring each sign.
When Is the Autumn Equinox in 2023?
Because the sun's movements change from year to year, the exact date of the autumn equinox varies as well. In 2023, it will occur on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 2:50 a.m. ET/Friday, Sept. 22 at 11:50 p.m. PT. That's not only when the sun will be precisely over the equator but also when it'll move from mutable earth sign Virgo into cardinal air sign Libra.
What Is the Significance of the Autumn Equinox?
The autumn equinox is one of four major transitional moments throughout the year in which we move from one season to the next. With summer in the rearview mirror and winter around the corner, the equinox kicks off fall officially. It has also historically marked the beginning of the harvest season in the Northern hemisphere, during which we gather crops to prepare for the more barren land that comes with frost.
What Is the Spiritual Meaning of the Autumn Equinox?
The beginning of each season offers us a blank slate on which we can project our vision for the next three months — and autumn, with its cooler, darker days, feels like an especially auspicious time to do just that. The time period's associated with the harvest also can't help but be mirrored culturally. It's a time of year when we reap the fruits of our labor from past months, gain clarity around preserving the things we want to hold close, and allow aspects of life that aren't serving us any longer — be that unhealthy habits or problematic bonds — to fall away before closing out the year.
The moment has also inspired various spiritual celebrations around the world. In the UK, the traditional harvest festival falls on the Sunday of the full moon closest to the equinox, and druids gather at Stonehenge to mark the occasion. And a traditional Buddhist custom called Ohigan stems from the belief that the land of the afterlife is due west, and during the equinox, the sun sets directly west, so people visit their dearly departed loved ones' graves and gather with family.
Astrologically speaking, the autumn equinox marks the transition from cerebral, health-conscious Virgo season (which urges you to put your head down and focus on the details in order to be of service to others and yourself) to that of harmony-seeking Libra (which amplifies your appetite for socializing and a desire to avoid conflict and bring more beauty and balance into your day-to-day). It makes sense that autumn generally leads to craving more time with loved ones, stepping up the aesthetic appeal of our spaces, and feeling inspired to start planning more get-togethers and celebrations as we move into the rest of the year.
In 2023, the equinox happens to occur just days after Mercury, the planet of communication, will have ended its third retrograde of the year, offering a green light to once again build momentum on collaborative projects, planning, and connecting with others. And this year, Libra season encompasses one of the most game-changing lunar moments: a solar eclipse and new moon in the sign of the Scales on Oct. 14, which will encourage you to think about how you're relating to others, showing up in your closest partnerships, and finding more balance in life.
What the Autumn Equinox Means For the Zodiac Signs
On the day of the fall equinox, the sun moves into Libra. For everyone, the sun's journey through the sign of the Scales will bolster self-reflection and communication around Venusian subjects like partnership, values, and beauty, and potentially spur even eye-opening realizations and game-changing heart-to-hearts. Here's what the autumn equinox will bring every sign. (Be sure to read your rising sign/ascendant, too!)
Aries (March 20-April 19)
The fall equinox brings your focus to romantic relationships as well as one-on-one bonds with friends, colleagues, and loved ones, thanks to the sun kicking off its trip through your seventh house of partnership. You may be inspired to have a long-overdue conversation with someone near and dear about the state of your relationship and issues of reciprocity.
Taurus (April 20-May 20)
On the fall equinox, the sun moves into your sixth house of daily routine and wellness, and you'll get the sense that it's time to get a bit more detail oriented with your health routine. You may be inspired to dive into research or lively conversations with friends or loved ones about how you can best take care of yourself on a day-to-day basis through the rest of the season.
Gemini (May 21-June 20)
The sun's shift into Libra and the fall equinox lights up your fifth house of romance and self-expression, stimulating your creativity and desire to start an emotionally charged artistic project or to hit pause on work for more joy and fun with friends and loved ones. You'll feel more introspective and self-aware, which can only serve to bolster your bonds.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
The fall equinox and the beginning of the sun's trip through your fourth house of home life can make you feel like even more of a homebody than usual. Exploring deep-rooted emotions and embracing the process of healing old wounds as a self-care routine can be tremendously beneficial for you now and through the rest of the year. In the midst of this transitional moment, you can come out of your shell and share what's in your heart with loved ones.
Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)
As your ruler, the sun, moves from your second house of income into your third house of communication, your curiosity and desire to connect soar. You've likely had your nose to the grindstone on moneymaking efforts, but as the fall equinox moves in and the sun moves through the sign of the Scales, you'll want to put the books aside to see what friends and colleagues have to say. Brainstorms can be particularly productive.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
As the sun moves out of your sign and into Libra and we mark the fall equinox, your focus shifts from personal aspirations and how you're showing up in the world to what you value and how that goes hand in hand with earning. During the sun's time in the sign of the Scales — which lights up your second house of income — setting aside time to process your thoughts and feelings (maybe through journaling) can help you identify and plot your money moves.
Libra (Sept. 23-Oct 22)
The sun slips into your sign as the fall equinox hits, and the season of the Scales — your birthday season! — will be in full swing. In turn, you'll be extra conscious of how you're presenting yourself to others and in tune with the big-picture passion projects you want to pour your energy into. You can more intuitively articulate exactly what you plan to accomplish.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
On the day of the fall equinox, when the sun moves into Libra and your 12th house of spirituality, prioritize a bit more solo time, tuning into your dreams, and working through emotions that have you feeling restless. This may be a sleepy time, but the seeds you plant now set you up for more success once we step into your season a month from now.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
The fall equinox and sun's move into Libra activates your 11th house of networking, firing you up to be even more of a team player than usual. Collaborative efforts with friends and colleagues feel intellectually stimulating and emotionally satisfying. You can easily get back to work on a project that was previously put on the back burner or even have a productive team meeting that'll lay the groundwork for a rewarding group effort.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
With the sun moving into your 10th house of career, the fall equinox will fire you up to be even more driven. You want professional recognition and are willing to step into the spotlight or take on more responsibility if that's what it'll take. But because Libra tends to be more interested in hearing all sides of an issue and investing in socializing versus industriousness and moving the ball forward to achieve practical goals, be sure to embrace patience and lean into the steady side of your Sea Goat MO.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Though you're generally a creature of habit, this season was made for switching things up — for you especially. That's because the fall equinox occurs as the sun moves into your ninth house of adventure and higher learning, fueling your desire to get out of your comfort zone. You may be compelled to focus on activities that are both spiritually and emotionally satisfying — not to mention horizon-broadening.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
The fall equinox correlates with the sun's move into your eighth house of intimate bonds and joint resources, so you'll be compelled to open up to loved ones about what you need to feel comfortable — emotionally and financially. Thankfully, you'll feel empowered to put what's in your heart into empowering words. Prioritizing your peace of mind — particularly within your closest relationships — is a must.