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  • Writer's pictureJean Linville

Autumnal Equinox & Ecdysis

On the 23rd of this month the autumnal equinox will occur. This is the day when the number of daylight hours is equal to the number of hours of darkness. After the equinox, our daylight hours here in the northeast will continue to shorten until we reach the winter solstice in December. Many people lament the arrival of the equinox and the ensuing shortening days, but I don't. Although I will miss days filled with hours and hours of sun and working our gardens, I do welcome the "guilt-free" free time that emerges during this time of year. With the yard needing little from me and the short days limiting my time outside, I can turn my attention to other things such as reading and working in my studio. It is time to change my skin so to speak and a few days ago I found a positive omen for this transition.

Sitting in one of our gardens just outside our front door, next to the sage, was an amazingly intact and incredibly detailed snake skin. The process of a snake shedding its skin is known as ecdysis, which is more commonly referred to as sloughing or molting. Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin. Unlike human skin, a snake's skin doesn't grow as the animal grows and eventually the skin reaches a point where further growth is not possible. When that occurs, a new layer of skin grows underneath the current one. As soon as it is complete, the old skin peels away, leaving behind a snake-shaped shell along with any parasites that may have been attached.

​​What a powerful metaphor for living! Although we may not be able to shed an entire layer of our actual skin all at one time, we do have the capacity to shed parasitic thoughts and behaviors and then grow into a new rhythm of life. The snakes are showing me the way! I am definitely going to embrace the change of the season and settle into a new autumnal "skin" in which I take advantage of the quiet night hours. Want to see Basil the snake shedding his skin? Click on the image to the right.

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