Today is the vernal (spring) equinox*. It is the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Wiccans, Heathens, and various modern Pagans celebrate this day as Ostara, Lady Day, Shubun-sai, or simply the spring equinox (autumnal equinox for our Australian friends). Several current secular Easter traditions including the Easter Bunny, and dying/decorating eggs are considered remnants of pre-Christian spring celebrations. It is a time for the celebration of the renewal of life.
Here are some quotes from the press (and Pagans) on this day.
“Pagan and witch Lizzy Rose, of Keilor East, said the autumnal equinox was traditionally a time of celebrating the harvesting of crops and preparing for winter. ”Witches and pagans have lots of parties,” said Ms Rose, 42. ”It’s all about feasting, laughter, picking and harvesting … Sometimes gifts are exchanged and sometimes they’re not. It’s very festive and very loving.” The equinox will be celebrated worldwide, although those in the northern hemisphere will mark the spring equinox, considered a time of rebirth.” – Stephen Cauchi, The Age
“The earliest vernal equinox in over a century arrives March 20th at 05:14 Universal Time, which means for those of us in Los Angeles, spring is sprung tonight at 10:14 thanks to the miracle of Daylight Savings Time. And what better to add to your equinox celebration than by giving a rousing toast to British mystic, magician, mountaineer, sexual rebel and poet Aleister Crowley who is being presented as posthumous write-in for president of the United States?” – Lisa Derrick, La Figa (Firedoglake)
“In Chinese thought, spring is associated with the color green, the sound of shouting, the wood element, the climate of wind, things sprouting, your eyes, your liver, your anger, patience and altruism – and a green dragon. Not surprisingly, spring is also associated with the direction east, the sunrise direction as Earth spins us toward the beginning of each new day.” – Deborah Byrd, EarthSky
Naturally, this is the season to celebrate the victory of life over death, as any nature lover will affirm. And the Christian religion was not misguided by celebrating Christ’s victory over death at this same season. Nor is Christ the only solar hero to journey into the Underworld. King Arthur, for example, does the same thing when he sets sail in his magical ship, Prydwen, to bring back precious gifts (i.e., the gifts of life) from the Land of the Dead, as we are told in The Mabinogi. Welsh triads allude to Gwydion and Amaethon doing much the same thing. In fact, this theme is so universal that mythologists refer to it by a common phrase, ‘the harrowing of hel’.” – Mike Nichols, The Witches’ Sabbats
“Ostara was the Germanic goddess of the land, and she was celebrated as the days became longer, the chickens began laying eggs, and the cows started giving more milk again. The winter food supplies were running low, and the spring foods were just beginning to come in during this time.” – Kari Tauring, Southside Pride
May you all enjoy a fruitful and blessed spring!
* Technically speaking, the 2012 March Equinox happens at March 20th 05:14 UTC. In my neck of the woods, that means that the equinox actually happened last night. Check your time zone for exact calculations.