Qiū Fēn: Autumnal Equinox

Qiū Fēn: Autumnal Equinox

秋分 Qiū Fēn: Autumnal Equinox

秋分 Qiū Fēn, known as the Autumnal Equinox is the 16th solar term on the Ancient Chinese Solar Calendar and the 4th term of the fall season. This year it starts on September 23rd and continues through October 7th. 秋分 Qiū Fēn begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 180° and ends the longitude of 195°.

秋分 Qiū Fēn is the time when the night and day are equal in length, and the Yin Qi and Yang Qi are in balance. This means that the heat and cold are also balanced.

The night of White Dew and Autumn Equinox, one night is colder than the one before. – ancient Chinese proverb

Farmers in southern China are still harvesting rice during 秋分 Qiū Fēn and those living in the north are already planting winter wheat.

Thunderstorms calm down, insects make their nests and water dries up. – Ancient Chinese Proverb

Each of the 24 solar terms is further divided into 3 pentads or a group of five (5 days). Let’s take a look at the pentads for 秋分 Qiū Fēn:

1st pentad – 雷始收聲 thunder begins to soften
2nd pentad – 蟄蟲培戶insects make nests
3rd pentad – 水始涸 water begins to solidify


中秋節Zhōng Qiū Jié: The Mid Autumn Festival


中秋節Zhōng Qiū Jié, translated as Mid-Autumn Festival, typically falls during the 秋分 Qiū Fēn solar term, however this year it fell on September 9th. This festival is one of the four most significant annual celebrations in the Chinese culture.

中秋節 Zhōng Qiū Jié has gone several stages of evolution throughout Chinese history. Dating back more than 3,000 years, the Mid-Autumn Festival originally celebrated the yearly harvest.

Approximately 1,500 years ago mooncakes, a traditional Chinese food, entered the scene and became a tradition on the day of 中秋節 Zhōng Qiū Jié, or Mid Autumn Festival.

Approximately 1,000 years ago during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) of China 中秋節 Zhōng Qiū Jié became an official holiday.

Since that time The Mid-Autumn Festival has continued gaining national popularity and has maintained its great importance among the Chinese annual festivals.

There is also an ancient legend that tells the origin of 中秋節 Zhōng Qiū Jié, or Mid Autumn Festival.

The Legend of 10 Suns during Qiū Fēn: Autumnal Equinox

Once long ago, according to Chinese Legend, there were 10 suns. It was so hot that no crops survived and people were dying. Hardship and famine filled the land. And then there appeared a hero archer whose name was Hou Yi and who was skilled enough to shoot down nine of those suns, bringing relief to the land and people. To express her appreciation, the Queen of Heaven gifted Hou Yi with an elixir of immortality. The hero archer chose not to drink it and instead gave it to his wife Chang’e for safekeeping.

On the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month one of Hou Yi’s followers attempted to steal the immortality elixir from Chang’e when her husband was away hunting. To preserve the elixir Chang’e drank it which made her immortal. As a result Chang’e had to leave Earth, making Moon her home. Hoping to be reunited with his beloved, the hero Hou Yi presented cakes that looked like moons to the Moon on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month every year for the remainder of his life.

As the bright moon shines over the sea
From far away you share this moment with me
For parted lovers nights are the worst to be
All night long I thing of no one else by thee
To enjoy the moon I blow out the candle stick
Please put on your nightgown
For the dew is thick
I try to offer you 
The moonlight so hard to pick
Hoping a reunion
In my dream will come quick

-by poet张九龄 Zhang Jiuling (678-740) of the Tang Dynasty

Osmanthus Flowers

Picking and using Osmanthus flowers to make wine is traditional in China during this festive time of year.

You [osmanthus] are so tender, though of pale, light yellow hue
Far from caress of heart and hand, fragrant are you
How can you need the color of rose or green jade
Beside you all other beautiful flowers fade
Envious mumes should grow
Chrysanthemums feel shy
By balustrades you blow
Under mid-autumn sky
The poet Zu must be insensible of your beauty
Oh how could he forget to praise you was his duty

by poet易安居士Li Qingzhao (1084 –1155) of the Song Dynasty


The Moon

The moon is its fullest and brightest on the Autumnal Equinox, symbolizing family reunion and inviting people of all ages outside to enjoy looking at the moon. Much of Chinese folklore and art is dedicated to the moon.

“When will the moon be bright and clear
With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the deep blue sky
Not knowing what is the time of year would be tonight in the palace on high
Riding the wind, there I would fly.
Yet I’m afraid the jade and crystal mansions would be too high and cold for me
Dancing to play with my shadow, how does it compare with in the world
Turning around the vermillion pavilion, stooping through the gauzed window
The moon shines upon the sleepless
The moon should bear us no grudge
why is it oft full and bright when people part from each other
People may have sorrows and joys, partings and reunions
As well as the moon is bright or dim, wax and wane
Rare is perfect since the ancient times
May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together
Even if we are hundreds of miles apart.”

-By poet 苏 轼 Sū Shì (1037–1101) of the Song Dynasty

The West Lake “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon” in Hangzhou, China is the place to be on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. It is the prime spot to appreciate the full moon. This lake and its symbolism is so significant to the Chinese, that they even printed the image of the “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon” on the back of one Yuan note.

It is important to slow down during this time of year and focus on self-nurturing, maintaining your inner peace, and safe guarding your emotional wellness.

May you continue to balance and harmonize yourself as we transition into the Autumnal Equinox. Maintain your inner peace and enjoy the journey!

Additional Resources

Looking for more information on this time of the year? Try these resources below, and enjoy!

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Lì Qiū: The Ancient Chinese Autumn

Lì Qiū

Preparing for each season is one of the oldest forms of preventative medicine, and once they have arrived, well-being and inner peace come from harmonizing with them.  The 13th term in the Ancient Chinese Solar Calendar begins on Saturday, August 7, 2021. Lì Qiū 立秋, marks the end of the solar term Major Heat and the beginning of autumn.

It does not however mean that the hot weather is finished with us. In fact, the next 30 day period of hot days are referred to as the “Autumn Tiger” and are typically more sweltering than those in Major Heat.

While according to Chinese records this time is said to have extreme heat, it also means that the harvest season approaches, and for this we can be grateful. Let us look at the meaning of Lì Qiū:

立 Lì : Begins or Commences
秋 qiu: autumn; consists of two parts, he (禾, rice) and huo (火, fire) – the ripening of rice.


Lì Qiū (Autumn) According to the Ancients

“Go to bed early and get up with the chickens. This will cause all mental faculties to become calm and peaceful, and moderate the downward blow of autumn. Reel in your mental energy to be in harmony with the condensing quality of autumn Qi. Do not disperse your energies, and the lung Qi will be clear. This is the way of nourishing life in accordance with the nourishing and constricting Qi of the autumnal harvest season. Going against these principles will harm the lung network, eventually causing diarrhea in winter, when things should really be in a state of storage rather than leakage. The Qi of Autumn is dry, and so it is advisable to consume some moistening sesame to counteract the dryness. Avoid cold drinks, and do not wear damp and cold clothing close to your skin.”

黃帝內經 Haungdi Neijing Su Wen

“This is the changing or pivoting point when the yang, or active, phase turns into its opposite, the yin, or passive, phase. Just as the weather in autumn turns harsh, so does the emotional climate. It is therefore important to remain calm and peaceful, refraining from depression so that one can make the transition to winter smoothly. This is the time to gather one’s spirit and energy, be more focused, and not allow desires to run wild. One must keep the lung energy free, full, clean, and quiet. This means practicing breathing exercises to enhance lung Qi. Also, one should refrain from smoking and grief, the emotion of lung. This will prevent the kidney or digestive problems in the winter. If this natural order is violated, damage will occur to the lungs, resulting in diarrhea with undigested food in the winter. This compromises the body’s ability to store in winter.”

黃帝內經 Haungdi Neijing Su Wen

Lì Qiū (Autumn) Indications

In Ancient Chinese Medicine, autumn starts the phase of Yin energy.  It corresponds with the Metal element which represents the lungs, the large intestine and the skin organs.

During this time, slowing down, focusing on what we have accomplished and unburdening ourselves by letting go of that which no longer serves us is recommended. Just like processes are happening in nature, we should also begin our gradual transition from the expansive growth of spring and summer to the introspective expression of fall and winter.

The Metal element is associated with the nose, the emotions of courage and sadness, the color white, and the sound of weeping. Likewise, the climate is dry, the season is ripening and ready for harvest, and the taste is pungent.

According to Ancient Chinese Medicine, autumn and winter are for the nourishment of the Yin Qi. Focus on self-nurturing and maintain your inner peace.

Common symptoms associated with lung and large intestine imbalances are respiratory issues, sinus infections, as well as, constipation, and dry skin problems. Now is the prime time to put prevention in high gear and focus on boosting your Zheng Qi as well as safe guarding your emotional wellness!

Make sure you step outside and breathe in the fresh air as well as get your daily sunlight during the SAFE hours of the day. Remember that the moment your body feels thirst, it has already entered into a dehydration stage. Prevent that from happening by drinking water.

“Remember, you are basically a houseplant with complicated emotions.”

Strengthen and enhance your overall endurance with coordinated breathing and Dao Yin principle based exercises from ancient times. Breathe!

And remember, sleep allows your body time to repair and heal.

Yíngyǎng (营养) Nutritional Corner – The Ancient Chinese Autumn

It is recommended in Traditional Chinese Medicine to transition from cold and uncooked foods to more warm and cooked foods during the autumn months.

If you are a Yang Body Type, consider adding more of the following fruits to your diet:


  • Pomelo
  • Loquat
  • Kumquat
  • Star Fruit
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Olives
  • Grapefruit

If you are a Yin Body Type, consider adding more of the following fruits to your diet:


  • Pumpkin
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Grapes
  • Bell Pepper
  • Butternut Squash
  • Acorn Squash
  • Pineapple

A Note From Jiao Shi

As we transition from the time of dà shǔ 大暑 (Major Heat) into the qiū fēn 秋分 (Autumn Equinox), the days will still get hotter and hotter. It is very important to protect yourself from the increasing heat and make sure that you hydrate with the fruits that were covered in the last few episodes of Jammin’ with Jiao Shi.

These cycles have been ebbing and flowing for the last 6,000 years, so this being the hottest point of the year is nothing new. May you continue to balance and harmonize yourself as we transition from late summer to autumn.

Jiao Shi


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