The Spring Equinox falls on March 20th this year in the Northern Hemisphere and is the second turning of the natural wheel of the year. It is the changeover point between the dark and light halves of the year when the Earth rotates towards growth and renewal and for centuries has been celebrated as a powerful time for renewal and a move into action in spiritual practice.
Recently I held my monthly New Moon Women’s Circle here in Singapore to explore the ancient lineage of the Spring Equinox. We gathered to explore how we can use the beautiful traditions around the world to engage with this most potent window within our modern lives. A huge circle arrived; each woman drawn by the deep stirring underfoot and in the atmosphere and the instinct that somehow, in some way this turning point is indeed very powerful.
The myriad of Equinox traditions and rituals of our forebears have their own unique characteristics, but what captures me is how so many beautiful themes and threads are shared in common, and it’s this commonality, these archetypal ripples through time and culture that hold all the good stuff and useful information. The trick is to survey the spiritual landscape thematically. What is clear, is that it is the natural gateway, the ancient wild field, which is being represented over and over again in the Equinox traditions. It’s aspects and unique energies have rippled through myth, story, ritual and religion as we have tried over the aeons to encapsulate it, conceptualise it and engage with it. This is the Source point and we are continually drawn to it because despite our modern lives telling us that we are separate from it, we in fact are the wild field. It run through us; it is with us; it is in us; it’s what brings us to bear.
This article lays down the major themes of the Spring Equinox and the energies it holds. I have cited only a small sample of my favourite ancient traditions here, although I encourage you to explore others more deeply. With a slightly expanded perspective and a draw to inner practice, the Equinox and the weeks that follow it present an opportunity for amazing inner shifts and changes within our lives.
At this time the sun rises due East and sets due West, giving exactly twelve hours of sunlight on the day of the Equinox and it begins its increase, which dissipates the remnant winter and triggers new growth in the earth. The sun passes over the celestial equator. Balance points in nature like this where one direction or action swings towards its opposite pole are regarded as openings to access broader fields of energy and information to support the same shifts that are happening within us. They are known in some cultures as Dragon Points and can be found throughout the natural world and also within the human body. Here’s the link to a previous article that explains this more fully: themeditationteacher.net/art-dragon-hunting
The Vernal Equinox offers a wholesale, planetary Dragon Point between light and dark, night and day, dormancy to action, inner to outer; that can be put to use in our inner practice to generate growth, movement and new directions. It’s like a Dragon-Point on spiritual steroids! It represents the soul’s journey from separation and darkness into Oneness and Light.
It’s a powerful time to enter meditation and meditative ritual with the intent to access these potentials and draw them through into our field of experience.
So much can be gleaned from names. In Pagan Europe the Spring Equinox was celebrated through the archetype of Ostara, the Germanic maiden goddess of Spring and the Anglo Saxon Goddess of the dawn named Eostra (pronounced East-ra).
The word oestrus (referring to an animal in heat) is also derived from Eostra and is also related to the Greek Goddess Eos, the Goddess of the dawn. The word oestrogen also comes from these roots. The Equinox is distinctly feminine; not in a gender sense, but in an energetic sense. The ‘feminine’ side of our human system is represented by the right hemisphere of the brain and parasympathetic arm of the nervous system. It is the softer more magnetic side which governs our sensual, creative cyclical aspects. Men and women are blessed with it and the energies of this time invite us to indulge it and nurture its strengths.
Ostara, the spring goddess oversees the budding plants and burgeoning fertility of the earth. She signals a move into action; to take germinating ideas and inspirations and bring them into the light of day through soft, creative action. The Equinox energies support us making some moves; writing that plan; starting that book; joining that class; seeking those contacts; actioning our spiritual priorities. At this time, Wiccans cast spells for careers, relationships, and love. It’s a time for planting new ideas and seeking harmony and balance in the incredible energy of the season, to project good health, good fortune, and confidence in achieving goals.
Ostara’s feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox and she along with the ancient Greek goddess of the season points us to connect with the movement of the moon cycle as a spiritual tool, and for women, to connect into their monthly cycles as powerful spiritual movements rather than what many regard as ‘a curse’. A simple way to do this is simply to track your personal cycle against the movement of the moon and to make time to enter prayer and ritual, especially in circle, at the main lunar junctures of the new and full moons. A lot can be achieved by aligning our practice and intent with the waxing and waning moonlight.
This aspect of the Spring Equinox is perhaps the most exciting. Many world traditions around this time hold themes of new beginnings, redemption, resurrection and a rising from old states into new more expanded states. A dynasty of Persian kings known as the Achaemenians celebrated the spring equinox with the festival of No Ruz, which means “new day.” It is a celebration of hope and renewal still observed today in many Persian countries and has its roots in the much more ancient framework of Zoroastrianism. The indigenous Mayan people in Central American have celebrated a spring equinox festival for ten centuries called the Return of the Sun Serpent. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid, El Castillo in Mexico, the lengthening shadows appear to run from the top of the pyramid’s northern staircase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a diamond-backed snake in descent and taking with it old paradigms, past hurts, regrets and anything we may have held that keeps us separate from our divinity.
The Roman god, Mithras, was born at the winter solstice and resurrected in the spring, Mithras helped his followers ascend to the realm of light after death; and in ancient Rome, the followers of Cybele believed that their goddess had a consort who was born via a virgin birth. His name was Attis, and he died and was resurrected each year during the time of the vernal equinox on the Julian Calendar. The Jewish Passover is celebrated at this time as a celebration of deliverance and freedom.
These themes of new beginnings and the opportunity of freedom appear again in the Christian festival of Easter and the resurrection of the Christ, which is determined each year through the lunar cycle. Easter always falls on the Sunday following the full moon that follows the Spring Equinox.
These are but a few beautiful traditions that encapsulate the return of Light through messianic saviours. There are many more, and most follow similar patterns of the saviour dying and after a time period of three stages, rises again offering a new beginning and freedom from past low vibration states; just as the sun disappears for three months through the Winter and returns as promised in the Spring with the promise of freedom from enclosure and a feast of new growth.
Our spiritual explorations can sometimes see us fall into the mire of attachment to old useless states and perspectives of ourselves, our lives and world. So many spiritual modalities and practitioners offer ways to search, analyse, identify, name and blame the causes of the hurts, anger, blockages and illnesses we may be experiencing. Past life, karmic, familial and ancestral work is interesting and illuminating, but the Spring Equinox is reminding us that the final move is always a choice to lay it all down and move into a new day. This opportunity is open to us in every moment, but if we have built a whole identity, life and set of relationships on top of that psychic junk, it can prove sticky and hard to let go. The energies of the Equinox can be put to use here. At this time we can simply make the choice to lay it down, along with the ninja weapons, sharp words and defence shields; to go raw and to be real and claim a new beginning.
The dawn of the Equinox was a common time to enter practice and align with these beautiful movements across all traditions as is the orientation of the East. A beautiful practice is to wake early on the morning of the Equinox and the mornings that follow it, head into nature, face East and hold the intent that the rising new sun, is also rising within and dawning a new way to move forward from that moment onwards. It sounds simple, but the engagement with intent and the correspondent energies in nature, creates the shift. Just try it and see!
The increasing light at this time of year triggers growth in the botanical realm, seeds to germinate, new season animals to be birthed and eggs laid. So it is of little surprise that the key element engaged with in Equinox traditions is Fire. In Pagan Europe the threshing hay that covered the floors of houses during the long winter months was gathered and burnt. In Iran, a festival called Chahar-Shanbeh Suri takes place right before the Equinox begins, and people purify their homes burn fires and leap over the flames as a rutual of personal purification to welcome the 13-day Equinox celebration of No Ruz. In agricultural lands, the winter dross in the fields was burnt to clear the soil for the Spring planting and first season crops. Old materials were recycled into fuel for growth.
On Ostara, green and white candles were lit in homes to honour the coming of the sun and the opportunity the season brings. Fire both purifies and forges and this is the invitation of the Equinox. It is the time to dispense with the dross of low grade content, thought patterns and relationships that hold us apart from our soul calling and to garner courage to set to work in bringing it into a lived reality.
In ancient Babylon the Goddess Ishtar (pronounced Easter) was celebrated through ritualistic orgies that went on for days over the time of the Spring Equinox. Rather than the Netflix image that this tradition might invoke, it was a deliberate spiritual practice that accessed the enormous creative potential energies of the Sacral within the human system.
Ostara is usually associated with coupling of Pan, the Lord of the botanical realm and the energies of the Spring Goddess, to generate new growth, new realities; and the pagan traditions of the Equinox were marked by celebrations of romance, beauty and nature. Pan was also the Lord of the hunt, dancing and the feast and he reminds us of the importance of acknowledgement of our journey and the beauty of the game of life.
The Equinox invites us to tap this aspect of ourselves as well. To celebrate union with our lovers, to feast with our friends and nurture gratitude for our blessings of friendship, abundance and love, things that many of us reprioritise in busy modern lives. The energies that these activities invoke are correspondent with the energies rising in the wild field around us and generate inspiration, movement and productivity.
Another important shared symbol of this time is the rabbit or hare. It is the first animal to make an appearance when the snow starts to melt and is known for its fecundity. In ancient Egypt and Japan, the markings of the Spring full moon were believed to represent a jumping hare. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol. The female of the species is super-fertile and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. Ostara’s consort is the white hare and she was believed to take on its the form when delivering messages and prompts for action and movement through nature.
These beautiful energies of fecundity and productivity support all actions at this time. Procrastination will be met with higher than usual feelings of discomfort and frustration.
Eggs and seeds were commonly used in Equinox celebrations and rituals and supermarket shelves today are already stocked with shelves upon shelves of chocolate eggs. The symbol of the egg has very ancient roots. In pagan Europe, seeds and eggs were incorporated into seasonal feasts and eggs used for a beautiful tradition of writing the intents on the shell and then burying them into the earth near the front door of the practitioner’s home with new spring plants planted on top, a practice still used today by Wiccans.
Eggs for this reason were also coloured and placed in bowls in the home. Seeds were also used to carry whispers and prayers into ‘the other’ by breathing intent into them and planting them in the garden and crop seeds were honoured with ritual before the first season planting.
Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings of coloured eggs to the Ostara at the Equinox. In fact, most cultures did pay homage to their springtime goddesses with gifts of eggs, including the Egyptians and the Greeks.
The golden yolk of the egg represents the Sun God. The white shell symbolizes the White Goddess, and the whole egg is a symbol of rebirth. Today, we know that chickens begin egg production as the days grow longer. Egg-laying, is intricately connected to the lengthening of days at the Vernal Equinox.
The Druids dyed eggs scarlet in honour of the Sun, using gorse blossoms and madder root. They also ritually ate the eggs at sunrise on Ostara.
One popular legend in the Germanic tradition is that Eostre found a wounded bird late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs…the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre, hence our tradition of the Easter Bunny was born.
To alchemists, the egg also has symbolic associations with the four elements: the shell representing the earth, the membrane representing air, the egg white representing water, and the yolk fire.
To the Christian the egg represents the empty tomb of the risen Christ.
However, it’s the traditions of the Eastern Europeans, particularly the Ukrainians that honour the symbol of the egg in the most beautiful ways. They created intricately coloured eggs called pysanky as amulets of fertility, protection, and prosperity. Pysanky can be found in many homeware stores at this time. Another Ukrainian magical egg is the krashanka. Krashanky are hard-boiled and intended to be ritually eaten at sunrise on Ostara and were associated with healing, extraction of illness and low-vibrations, protection and were believed to increase production of crops and honey.
These symbols represent the immense generative powers of Spring and are also symbols of the embodied human spirit, that holds the potential and infinite possibilities of our highest expression in life. They remind us to look within to our innate spiritual design for revelation and transmutation. All that we require to rise is within us.
For me, the most complete information around the spiritual potential of the Spring Equinox can be found in the Runes. In ancient times, the Nordic and Celtic runes were far more that an alphabet or divination tool as they are commonly understood to be today. They were a series of energetic correspondences, collapsed into symbols and they hold much information relevant for us now as to how to engage with the Wheel of the Year. The Runes for the Spring Equinox (by their Anglo-Saxon names) were in order: Tyr, Eoh and Beorc.
This combination of runes captures the creative forces that unite to bring the manifest world to bear and they are no more detectable than at the time of the Spring Equinox. Tyr is the God Rune (Father Sky) represented by the spear. The rune speaks of action and direction. Its characteristics are order, justice, social values, oaths and courage. Beorc is the goddess rune (feminine mysteries) and is represented by the birch tree. The symbol speaks of birthing, regeneration, growth, caring, creativity and fecundity. And in between the two is Eoh, represented by the horse. This symbol speaks to use of our own spiritual vehicle of the human system, movement, adjustment to various situations on the move, partnership, cooperation and the astral or energy body (the call to get your spiritual game on). Together they encapsulate both the energies of the Equinox and the connections we can make to engage more fully with this incredible wave of energy that is stirring within and around us.
Happy Spring Equinox! May the growing Light bring you freedom, celebration and a shift into your true purpose and life.
For more information on Spring Equinox energetic correspondences for your home and practice and simple meditations and rituals for modern living, contact me at [email protected]
Originally published at themeditationteacher.net