A Blessed Spring Equinox

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“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”Rainer Maria Rilke

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 OstaraLady DayShubun-sai, or simply the spring equinox (autumnal equinox for our Australian friends). Other Spring festivals include Holi, the Hindu festival that took place on March 17th this year, while in ancient Rome, March was packed with agriculture-related and seasonal observances. 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.

A manifestation of Spring.

A manifestation of Spring. Photo by Jason Pitzl-Waters.

Here are some quotes from the media, and from community members, on our seasonal celebrations.

“Since the earliest times, the egg has been humanity’s obvious and essential symbol for the significant atmosphere of the vernal season: birth, fertility, growth, eternity. The purely primal power, which comes from the handling of eggs at the equinox, has been a principle influence on many popular spring ritual practices throughout time and across culture. Eggs dyed red as the womb were given as gifts at the spring festivals in ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. Greeks still toast each other at the family Easter dinner by tapping hard-boiled red eggs, one person to the next around the table. The egg that survives the clinking go-round uncracked brings luck for the year to the person who holds it.”Donna Hennes, The Huffington Post

“At this time, as blossoms emerge from slumber, as leaves shoot out, birds play, and the earth awakes from a long winter, go out and let the cool breeze blow around you. Dig your toes into the dirt.  Let the sun peeking behind clouds kiss your face with its light. Draw in the moist air with slow, deep breaths.  Hold each breath for a moment and release them with gratitude. Once more, we seek renewal; for the year, the earth, the garden, and for ourselves. May we all take steps toward renewing our bonds with the natural world, its spirit and wonders. May we all grow a little further toward a healthier way of living within nature.” – Raven J. Demers, SageWoman Magazine

“The Spring Equinox arrives this year on Thursday, March 20th—not a moment too soon for those of us who have struggled our way through a tougher than usual winter. And while spring on the calendar isn’t always reflected outside our windows, the energy of the season makes this the perfect time to reboot your body, mind, and spirit. The energy of the natural world varies with the seasons, and different times of the year can give our endeavors a boost if we work with that energy instead of against it. We’re just coming out of winter, which tends to be a slow and quiet time, where the land rests and the light is dim. This can make trying to get things done pretty difficult if your to do list doesn’t say: eat, nap, eat, read, go to bed. The spring, however, is an entirely different story. The energy in this season is all about coming up and out of hiding, new beginnings, and growth. It is the perfect time to start new endeavors, or to give yourself something of a personal reboot, if you will.”Deborah Blake, Witches & Pagans Magazine

“Ostara is the dawn of Spring, the entry way to Summer. At the Spring Equinox the Earth stands fresh and renewed. Let us all be like the Earth, let us cast away the darkness of Winter and embrace the wonder of green growing things. May we find delight in that which blooms around us and let us never forget our responsibility to this place we call home. This world is magickal place, may the power of our Lady and the beauty of Nature remind us of that everyday we draw breath.”Jason Mankey, Patheos.com

“It’s hard to notice the extra three minutes of light each day, but every sunset since the dead of winter, I rejoice for the extra time we get to see the sun. Like a half birthday for the seasons, the vernal equinox marks the day that the Earth’s axis is perpendicular to the sun’s light and receives almost equal parts day and night. Also celebrated as the first day of spring, March 20 is a day of celestial balance. […] Many cultures use the alignment of light on the equinoxes to ritualize a new phase of the year. Located in the center of Chichen Itza, Mexico, El Castillo, a very classic looking Mayan pyramid, displays a large shadowy serpent that can be seen slithering down the steps only on the weeks surrounding the equinoxes. Other celebrations, from the festival of Isis to the Iranian New Year, Nowruz, celebrate this equality of light and dark as they recognize balance among the seasons and new beginnings.” – David Broomfield, VailDaily / Eagle Valley Enterprise

“New Orleans Culture also has it’s own St. Joseph’s day customs that have been going on since the influx of Sicilian immigrants in the 1800′s. There are parades, altars, and even lucky fava beans. Altars created are beautiful and complex, featuring flowers, candles, medals, and food, specifically bread. Julie Walker writes in theTimes Picayune about the tradition of stealing a lemon from the altar to get a husband. There is another tradition associated with St. Joseph’s day in the Crescent City, and that is the Mardi Gras Indians. They traditionally “mask,” or come out in costume for the last appearance of the season on Super Sunday, the Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day. So enjoy your day, donate what you can, that is said to be key. This is a feast of beggars, it is said to have gained popularity when a great famine was ended by a bounty of fava beans from an unknown source. Happy St. Joseph’s Day!” – Lilith Dorsey, Patheos.com

“On the right bank of the river Angi just two kilometers (1.2 miles) from Lake Baikal, the Ekhe Yordo mound rises above. It seems that it couldn’t be a natural formation, although geologists have not found any indication that the plates that make up the mound were brought here by people. After a 100-year break, the Yordyn Games Spring Festival of Indigenous Peoples of Baikal was finally reintroduced. Since then, the festival has been held here every four years. A main event at the games is a circular dance around the Ekhe-Yordo (Big Hill) that is a kind of marathon taking several days to complete. It takes 700 people to completely encircle the hill, and the festival has 2,000 to 3,000 visitors. The games take place over several days, and the sacred dance around the great hill continues day and night. During the festival, dancers wear out several pairs of shoes. During the festival only shamans are allowed to climb to the top of the hill.” – Dmitry Sevastianov, RBTH

“I feel like an actor ready to step onto the stage.  What is that wonderful speech from Henry V? ‘I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start. The game’s afoot! Follow your spirit…’ That is how the Equinox feels to me–as though I am leaning forward, into this rich and work-filled time. I am eager to leave the winter behind me and to get out into the world of soil and manure and food so fresh it is beyond compare. There is sweat in this season, and joy, and companions in the fields. For a few moments, I live in Hardy country–a land of magic and terror, of hares and ancient tended earth.”Byron Ballard, My Village Witch

May you all enjoy a fruitful and blessed spring!

* Technically speaking, the 2014 March Equinox happens at March 20th 16:57 UT. Check your time zone for exact calculations.