Outer to inner

by | Mar 16, 2017 | Seasons Newsletter | 18 comments

Here in Aotearoa the autumn rains have fallen — without a doubt — and the season has shifted abruptly.

What is your response?
I breathed a sigh of relief when the autumn rains first began (not knowing at that stage just how torrential and persistent they would be). For me this is always the signal of the seasonal change into autumn.

And why relief? Because my body knew it was time to slow down, to enter a different rhythm.

Autumn, according to Chinese medicine, is when warm yang energy diminishes and cooler yin energy begins to increase. This is when the life force moves downward from leaves to roots, bringing us into groundedness and stability.

Outer to inner, autumn is here

That was the phrase uttered by a friend many years ago, when she led a seasonal ritual with a group we were in. She passed around a goblet of grape juice, for us each to sip from as we repeated the phrase.

I’ve never forgotten that moment: simple words, combined with symbolic action created a shift inside me. I turned towards autumn and the season of inwardness, with gratitude and acceptance.

There can be relief from accepting the body’s wisdom, in making a shift from outer to inner, or in the case of my northern hemisphere readers, from inner to outer, as you open to the emergence of the next season, whether it is autumn or spring.

Outer to inner, yang to yin, and vice versa: these shifts are part of the rhythm of life. To try and stamp our own pattern over these rhythms can lead to protests from our bodies and disconnection from the natural energy flow.


What eases that shift?


Sometimes we don’t feel ready to accept change. Something needs to be relinquished: maybe a compulsion to keep being busy without a pause, maybe ideas about how things ‘should be’, or  resistance to entering the flow of the seasons, expecting yourself to be in one rhythm all year round.

There are two things I’m thinking of that can ease this seasonal shift.  First, to cultivate an increased awareness of what’s happening in nature — because birds, animals and plants have their seasons of shedding. Kereru (wood pigeons) and tui drop their feathers now, from March to April, and I’ve often found these offerings from the bush floor (as in the photo above).

You and the trees have this in common


Trees are always shedding bark, just as we keep shedding skin cells. If you look around a tree after windy or rainy weather you may be surprised how many bark flakes you discover.
These are from a maple tree that I visit in a nearby park:

And here are some from a totara tree at my bach:

Symbolic action


The second thing is to find a symbolic action of shedding.

Ritualising the seasonal shift can help us readjust to the new season and fall into a rhythm that is in harmony with nature.

You might like to try this, or your own variation on it. Perhaps you can incorporate these suggestions into your equinox celebrations:
1. Wander among trees and notice how they are responding to the season. Look around the base, and start collecting bark. At the same time, contemplate what you need to release in order to move forward into autumn (or spring).

2. Take a crayon or piece of charcoal and mark on the different pieces of bark, words or signs for what it is that you need to release.

3. With some friends, or even by yourself, sit quietly and set a fire in a grate. If you don’t have one, you could place a tea-light candle into a large cooking pot or wok, and set it up in a safe place.

3. Say the words aloud as you burn the bark pieces, one by one, in the fire or from the candle flame that you have lit.

4. On a piece of paper, draw an image for what you are welcoming in with the new season.

5. Complete by drinking from a goblet of grape juice or red wine, saying aloud, ‘Outer to inner, autumn is here.’
[Or, for the northern hemisphere, ‘Inner to outer, spring is here.’]

May you find pleasure in making the seasonal transition mindfully, and may autumn bring you its own richness and flavour.


Autumn falling on the garden grass
hearing the sound of the night cricket
I know autumn has arrived.

—8th century, from the Manyoshu


This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.


  1. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – I have to say I’m so glad we’re going into Spring … the light makes so much difference and in 10 days we’ll have longer evenings. I can believe we too shed by the seasons … and certainly trees can rejuvinate themselves at this time of year – the greening we get. When I came back from South Africa I really wanted the coolish weather of England and got a hot summer! Now I’m adjusted … but sometimes the weather will throw what it can at us … adjustment and acceptance helps…. cheers to you and your Autumn times … Hilary

    • Juliet Batten

      Hi Hilary, you sound very ready for spring in England. Yes, adjustment and acceptance with all the unpredictables of the weather. Thank you.

  2. penny

    Happy Autumn, Juliet. It sounds like the time has arrived for you.
    Hereabouts, we had Spring a few weeks ago and now we are blanketed with snow and freezing temperatures. Still . . . spring is slowly coming and I am ready to embrace it.

    • Juliet Batten

      Penny, you often as I recall have this dance between spring and wintry snow. It must be such a tease, but it will come your way as the earth cools in our southern hemisphere. Today I came out to the bach and found a dear little fluffy white feather on the ground, just where I found the tui feather last year. The wheel has turned. Thank you.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thanks Lynley. I’ll have a listen when I’m back in town and on better broadband connection. I’m having a long weekend with the trees!

      • Lynley

        You may know of this connection and co operation that trees have but I found it amazing. Enjoy it once you have broadband again. And enjoy soaking up those incredible trees.

        • Juliet Batten

          I had a watch last night. I’ve heard a lot of this before, but it’s always good to hear from a passionate forest ecologist, & I learned new things too. Thanks Lynley.

  3. Anne Conroy

    Beautifully put as always Juliet. Yesterday at our Autumn Equinox ceremony I had the role of speaking about shedding and opened with that lovely Haiku from Basho about the cicada. All through the ceremony we were serenaded by cicada on a most stunning day and left the grove with some reluctance.

    • Juliet Batten

      Anne, how lovely to hear of your autumn equinox ceremony. The cicadas are very loud right now, singing full throttle. Thank you.

  4. Lure Wishes

    This is really lovely, Juliet. Thank you! Such beautiful, gentle ways to make the transition to the new season.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Lure. Tonight I’ll be celebrating autumn equinox with my group. I wish you a gentle transition.

  5. vicki lane

    Inner to outer — Spring is here (almost). Such lovely meditations, Juliet! A life lived in mindfulness of and harmony with the seasons will, I believe, be richer in every way.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Vicki. What a lovely comment. I enjoy watching the seasons arriving through your beautiful photos on your blog. Enjoy spring!

  6. Wendy Gregory

    I enjoyed reading this newsletter very much. I enjoy all your beautiful words, it is so lovely to read your messages always. I wish I could attend your workshops. My daughter and I visited New Zealand nearly two years ago and it felt like a very spiritual country.

    • Juliet Batten

      Wendy, how lovely to hear from you, and to receive your appreciation; also to know that you have visited NZ. Thank you so much!

  7. virginia

    All you say in your newsletter is true and beautiful about moving into autumn. From outside ourselves we seek the inner glow. Our longing is greater for the things of intimacy, for warmth, and letting go of the light we tremble.
    Thank you, Juliet, for your newsletters filling my inbox each month. I read them and think of you.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Virginia for your beautiful words. Yes, the intimacy and warmth that comes when we turn within, that’s so true. May the newsletters follow you across the world and keep us connected.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to my newsletter

Click here to receive my Seasons Newsletter and free gift


Follow me on: