TWH – While for many today marks the festive celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, this coming week brings the vernal (spring) equinox and the astronomical beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. The actual equinox occurs Mar. 20 at 6:29 am EDT (16:15 UTC). At the same time in the southern hemisphere, it will be the autumnal equinox, and the beginning of the fall season.Many Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists celebrate the spring equinox as Ostara, Lady Day, Shubun-sai, or simply the coming of spring. Within their own varied and diverse traditions, they find ways to honor or recognize the warming days and renewed growth, as winter makes its slow departure.
In addition, Apr. 1 brings the celebration, so to speak, of April’s Fools Day, which reportedly has roots dating back to the 1500s in Europe. In 1957, the BBC published its famous spoof video documenting Switzerland’s early Spring spaghetti crop. The video reportedly garnered mixed reactions. If nothing else, the video demonstrates the levity that the season can bring.
While the exact roots of April Fool’s Day are unknown, there is some speculation that the tradition is tied to the spring equinox with the season’s changeable weather and unpredictable weather patterns. In addition the day has also been linked to the story of life’s journey found in the progression of the major arcana of traditional tarot. April corresponds to the first card, the Fool, which is considered the point of life’s beginnings.
Other March and early springtime festivals and holidays include Holi or the Hindu festival of color, Higan in Japan, the Naw-Rúz or New Year in the Baha’i faith, the Christian holy days of Good Friday and Easter, and the Jewish holidays of Purim and Passover. There are many others both secular and religious, including St. Patrick’s Day.
The spring equinox also marks the beginning of the U.S. Pagan festival season with the opening of Equinox in the Oaks held in Florida. This year, the festival is being hosted the first week of April.
While much of the country is still shaking off winter and even experiencing snow, Florida’s early spring weather is ideal for an outdoor camping and ritual event. Equinox in the Oaks, now in its fourth year, launches the festival season, which then expands north across the country as temperatures rise and winter recedes completely.
Here are few quotes celebrating the seasonal holiday….
What Are the Best Ways to Celebrate Ostara? I think the sabbats should represent what is going on in your back yard. Are trees budding and flowers blooming? Then celebrate that. Is it snowy and cold? Then build your ritual around the promise of warmer days or go out and have a snowball fight. There are no right or wrong ways to celebrate. – Jason Mankey, “The Witch’s Guide to Ostara”
The stormy side of spring here in Nova Scotia is foremost in my mind rather than the cuteness of eggs and bunnies at least partly because my youngest son has recently turned thirteen. The last thing he wants is an Ostara celebration like way back in his childhood days. His declaration hit me like a nor’easter. The wheel of my life has turned and I’m suddenly beyond making holiday magick happen for my sons. While trying to sort out what Ostara will look like without the cuteness, my thoughts wandered towards the deeper meaning of the Equinox.- Cyndi Brannen, “Hekate and the Spring Equinox: The Winds of Change and the Balance in All Things”
The first day of spring and the festival of chocolate…or so it feels like, which is OK with me. Darkness and light are in balance and we now enter a time of renewal and rebirth, the Earth is beginning to stir and starts to send out the first signs that spring has arrived. Celebrate fertility, abundance, new beginnings and put those plans and ideas into motion, get that manifesting on the move! – Rachel Patterson, “Magical Food for Ostara and Spring”
While perhaps only tangentially related to the holiday, it feels appropriate to include the alleged incantation that Isobel Gowdie used to turn into a hare. Gowdie, a Scottish woman in the 17th century, famously made four confessions admitting to witchcraft. Few records survive from that time so it’s unknown if she was executed but very likely did happen.
To turn into a hare, she would chant:
I shall go into a hare,
With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
And I shall go in the Devil’s name,
Ay while I come home again.
To change back, she would say:
Hare, hare, God send thee care.
I am in a hare’s likeness now,
But I shall be in a woman’s likeness even now.
However you celebrate or honor this seasonal change, happy holidays to you from our family to yours!