The Magic of the Equinox
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By: Sarah Grace Powers – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
It’s time to celebrate the turning of the seasons, this Wednesday is the first day of Spring!
(My apologies to our friends south of the Equator, I’m writing about Spring Equinox ritual and lore here today. In the southern hemisphere Wednesday will, of course, signal the beginning of Autumn. You might want to read this one: 5 Rituals to Celebrate Balance and Invite Renewal at Autumn Equinox.)
Whether you are welcoming springtime or the fresh breezes of Autumn, this is a day when the light and the darkness will be perfectly balanced. There is a magical power and energy with this that can be harnessed through ritual, or just simple quiet time and observing of this miracle of nature.
And whether it’s Spring or Fall, Equinox time is ideal for doing a bit of internal detox and cleansing—on both the physical and emotional levels. Next week I’ll share some tips on this. But today is all about celebrating the Equinox!
For those of us in the more temperate areas of the North, the signs of nature’s awakening are everywhere. How can we not feel the magic when the frogs are croaking their love songs from the puddles outside the window? When tiny robins strut and peck their way through the yards, and the garden and grassy fields sprout with tiny shoots and buds?
It seems like we barely finished celebrating Imbolc (also called Candlemas or Groundhog’s Day) and here we are welcoming the Equinox.
Also known as the Vernal Equinox, this day marks the third celebration day (or Sabat) in the Pagan Wheel of the Year. As I noted in my post on Winter Solstice, ancient and modern-day Pagans celebrate the cyclic flow of the year at eight points during the year’s cycle, beginning at the Winter Solstice and traveling through the Equinoxes and four ‘cross-quarter’ days.
These eight festivals span many more religions as well, and versions of them have been celebrated in Ancient Rome as well as in the Pre-Columbian Americas.
Spring Equinox has always been a time of great joy and celebration. Even today, when we have electric lights and packaged foods, there is a sense of renewal at this time of year, when the days grow noticeably longer and we can feel the growing warmth of the sun.
Ancient Roots of Spring Equinox Celebrations
In ancient times, this season was vitally important. Crops could be planted, animals gave birth, the sun warmed the frozen earth, and winter food stores no longer needed to be rationed. People looked forward to fresh food and full bellies again.
Because of the importance of spring to human survival, there has always been religious mythology, both Christian and Pagan, to explain the change of seasons. The tales usually revolve around a god or goddess descending into the underworld or some sort of crypt, where they spend three days before returning.
Some think that the theory of the three days stems from lunar cycles. While we now take note of the New Moon on a single day, it actually is hidden from our view on the day before and after as well, giving three nights of darkness.
Northern European Pagans (along with many other cultures) celebrated Equinox with great fanfare and elaborate ritual.
The Celts of Britain lit giant bonfires to scare away the evil spirits of cold and darkness, thus freeing the sun god to bring light and warmth back to the earth. In many parts of the world, bonfire and candle burning still survive as a springtime tradition.
The Pagan Spring Equinox celebration is referred to as Ostara, or Oestre, or sometimes Eostre. These are all variations of the name of a Germanic lunar goddess. We can clearly see where the name of our modern Christian holiday, Easter, comes from.
But strangely, the early Christians decided that Easter would not be celebrated on the Spring Equinox itself, but rather on the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the Equinox. (Who the heck thought of that one, I do not know!)
That’s why the actual date of Easter varies, from around March 23rd to April 21st.
This year, since the Equinox actually falls on a Full Moon, the New Moon doesn’t happen for two more weeks, making Easter on the latest date it can possibly occur—April 21st.
The exact time of Equinox this year is 2:58 Pacific Time on March 20th, while the exact Full Moon occurs at 8:43 in the evening. If it’s a clear night be sure to catch that moonrise!
Ostara was, and still is, celebrated as a fertility festival honoring the birth of spring and the reawakening of life from the earth. The people rejoice as the goddess awakens and blankets the earth with fertility.
The Easter celebration shares many components with Spring Equinox celebrations of old. Pagans and Christians alike celebrate Spring Equinox and Easter with symbols of spring such as eggs, baskets, seeds, birds and rabbits.
Rituals to Honor The Turning of the Year
Celebrations and rituals included decorating hard-boiled eggs in honor of the fertility goddess. The egg is an important symbol of spring, with its golden sun-like yolk representing the sun god and the outer white casing associated with the white goddess. As a whole, the egg holds the power of new life and symbolizes rebirth.
In pagan rituals eggs are dyed with natural substances such as onion skins, and celebrants sometimes eat them as part of their ritual.
Seeds are like eggs. While eggs contain the promise of new animal life, seeds hold the potential of a new plant. A seed ritual is a powerful way to acknowledge and celebrate the Spring Equinox. Such a ritual can be as simple as planting a few seeds in a small pot, while meditating on your intention for the coming months.
What do you want to nurture and grow in yourself or in the world?
I find it especially cool that this year the energy of the Full Moon and Spring Equinox are on the exact same day.
Full Moon rituals often involve releasing what no longer serves you. So, it could be especially powerful to make a list of the things in your life you’re ready to let go of—habits, behaviors, situations, even people. Read your list aloud and say a little prayer of acknowledgment that you now release these to the Highest Good. You can then burn the paper, or tear it into tiny pieces and scatter it outside.
Follow this this by writing out another list, this time of your intentions—what you’d like to manifest in the coming season. You can also do the seed planting ritual mentioned above, but it still carries weight to simply write these down and speak them aloud while acknowledging you are drawing on the energy of this magical day to magnify the power of your intentions.
You could even celebrate the Full Moon Equinox by planning a gathering that includes song, prayers and dance. Each person can take turns stating their intention for the new season as they plant their seed into the earth.
There are many ways to celebrate this auspicious day, the point is in acknowledging how the changing seasons of nature affect our inner landscapes as human beings.
So, during the coming days and weeks, have some fun with spring celebrations. Boil up some eggs and dye or paint them with your favorite colors and symbols. Place them in a beautiful basket to decorate your table. If you have used natural food-based dyes you can even eat the eggs with your children or some friends.
Most importantly, remember to go outside, take a walk in the warm sunshine or the soft spring rain, and breathe in the new life awakening around you.
Sarah Grace Powers is a Holistic Life Coach and EFT Practitioner. She works with women over 40 who want to embrace ageless living and who are ready to release the weight—physical, mental or emotional— that holds them back from achieving their dreams and making their impact in the world.
In her previous career she owned and operated an herb shop and has practiced holistic living for more than three decades. Find her at sarahgracecoach.com
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