Editor’s Note: For updated information about the 2021 Spring Equinox, click here.
Is there anything more exciting than the first promise of spring?
Personally, I am grateful to live in a part of the world where the seasons are clearly demarcated by Nature’s travels around the Wheel of the Year.
As a quick refresher of high school science (which I paid little attention to, I can assure you), let me share the basics of what happens during the Vernal Equinox.
The spring (vernal) equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is the fall equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. So while I, in Canada, was enjoying spring last year, my daughter, while in Australia, was celebrating the Autumnal Equinox. We celebrated with equal joy, but I was sowing seeds of hope for the year while she was harvesting what she had sown on her journey in months past
Here is the scoop about this year’s spring equinox:
In the Northern Hemisphere, Spring Equinox will occur on March 20, at 22:45 UTC.
There will be a total Solar Eclipse, Friday, March 20, 2015, on the day of the equinox, (USA, Central America, Europe, Asia, Northern Africa). Wow!
For the Southern Hemisphere, Spring Equinox will occur on September 23, at 08:23 UTC
(Australia, New Zealand, South America, Southern Africa).
Night and day are nearly exactly the same length—12 hours—all over the world. This is the reason it’s called an “equinox,” derived from Latin, meaning “equal night.” It’s not an exact twelve hours but close enough.
What actually happens?
The Earth’s axis is always tilted at an angle of about 23.5° in relation to the ecliptic, the imaginary plane created by the Earth’s path around the Sun. On any other day of the year, the Earth’s axis tilts a little away from or towards the Sun. But on the two equinoxes, the tilt of the Earth’s axis is neither pointing away from nor towards the Sun.
Okay, no more science, let’s make some magic!
New Beginnings. That’s what spring is all about. The triumph of light, planting new seeds both physically and metaphorically. Planning new adventures, stepping out in faith for dreams that make us yearn for the unknown, the new, the unchartered in our life.
There may be new relationships, life changes, pregnancy (after all, it is the feast of Fertility of the Goddess!), exploration of the spiritual, new love—this could be also for oneself, not necessarily between you and another.
The Festival of Eostre (recognise the word Easter?) or Ostara is the rite for fire and fertility, which celebrates the return of the Sun (son?) or the God, and the fertility of the Earth Goddess. Goddess stretches herself over the land, bringing new life and God walks the green fields and shows delight in new life sprouting.
That is positively romantic, this coming together of God and Goddess energy to bless all who inhabit the planet.
There is beauty in the potential of what can be when we allow ourselves to have hope for the future.
In times past, Dragon processions marked this powerful turn of the wheel, and eggs were the symbol of rebirth. A resurrection of what went below the earth at the Winter Solstice, the energy of all things that grow, is now anticipated as new life springs forth in field and womb. The resurrection theme is also celebrated at Easter, which happens on the first Sunday following the first full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox.
Make a picnic and share it with whoever suits your fancy. If it’s freezing, have it inside, but otherwise try to spend this day as much outdoors as possible.
Take some kites out to a hilltop and run like a spring hare! Shriek with laughter and enjoy the wind! Spring is here and nothing can stop you from the new beginnings you have been craving.
Plan a dinner with a new love. Dress your table with Birch branches, a pot of daffodils, crocuses and primroses, colored eggs (I use red onion skins to color mine), white and yellow candles, and spring foods which might include asparagus, spinach, green onions, dandelion greens…depending on your area.
Gift a friend with a crystal or two. Appropriate for this time of year are yellow citrine or yellow beryl…these can be used as a spring time talisman.
Gather a circle of sisters around a fire, to share stories, laughter and music. I’m usually naked dancing by my first bonfire if the neighbors are not up for the week end, or indoors by the wood stove.
A Simple Ritual: (Can be done alone or with others)
Take a cleansing bath, imagine yourself in the ocean, which is the womb of all creation.
Light some incense of your choosing, and three white candles.
Stand facing the east, the place of the rising sun. Salute the east by saying this:
“Welcome element of air, fountain of insight and inspiration. Let the creatures of the air surround me with clarity of dreams.”
Imagine yourself in a field of green wheat, the wind making waves through the standing stalks. Smell the air and notice the freshness of spring. You might feel a physical gust of wind, or see the candles flicker as the element of Air surrounds you.
Turn clockwise to the north, the place of Mystery and Groundedness, and the element of Earth. Salute the north with these words:
Welcome element of Earth, fountain of fertility, creativity and strength. Let the creatures of the Earth surround me with power and a nurturing spirit.
You may have a vision of an animal that comes to share in your experience, this is your totem. Imagine the animal sitting beside you as you reach out to pet him or her. Feel their companionship, they have always been there but you may not have connected before.
Sit in a spot between north and east, and taking up your pen and journal, begin to access our dreams. Write whatever comes to you, do not judge it, nor question it. Just write. Remember the things you truly crave, the creativity lost or the love needed.
Allow yourself to feel. You can also lie down and meditate, if you cannot write.
When you are done your work, say a few words of gratitude to the elements and send them back to whence they came with love. Thank your animal companion and allow him to slip away. Let out three breaths of gratitude.
Leave an offering to the God and Goddess, such as some bits of chocolate. Blow out all your candles before leaving the room, the element of Fire can be tricky.
If in a group, discuss your experiences. Eat a light meal to ground yourself.
Blessed Be your journey into the green, fertile ground of your aspirations. So it has been written, so mote it be.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Renée Picard
Images: Wiki Commons