Earth’s New Year- Spring Equinox
Can you feel it? It’s happening everywhere. The birds are singing. The trees are budding out, bursting forth overnight with flowers and leaves. There’s a bright new sparkle everywhere. The air smells different. So fresh, so new. Spring is springing forth. Flowers are blooming; sap’s rising. Energy is rising too.
Modern Americans celebrate the New Year on January 1st, yet the agricultural year begins on the Vernal or Spring Equinox. Day and night are of equal length. This year the Equinox occurs on Saturday, March 20th.
People have recognized the Vernal Equinox as a significant annual event for thousands of years. It marks the beginning of the astrological year when the sun enters the sign Aries, the ram. Many rituals, traditions and monuments surround the coming of spring. In fact, the ancient Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it faces directly toward the rising sun on the Spring Equinox.
The Goddess and the Bunny
There are some wonderful stories around this holiday. Did you ever wonder how eggs and bunnies and Peter Cottontail got associated? The ancient goddess, Eostre, was a Saxon deity who symbolized new life and fertility. She was the key symbol of the equinox celebration which was also known as Ostara. Legend has it that a bird whose wings had become frozen by the cold of winter saved the goddess. This process turned the bird into a hare. And, as folklore tells the tale, this was no ordinary cottontail; this long-eared rabbit could also lay eggs! The egg represented new life or beginnings, and the rabbit/hare, fertility. Sound familiar?
Even the latter day celebration of Easter acknowledged the significance of the Vernal Equinox. The First Council of Nicaea decreed in 325 A.D. that Easter was to fall upon the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox.
As Christianity spread across Europe and Britain, these older symbols became incorporated into the new faith’s holiday of Easter; even the name seems similar to Ostara. The festival that originally celebrated the arrival of spring was in honor of the Goddess Ostara. The old rites honoring the planting of new seeds, the fertility of the land and its people, and the hope of the new life arising in the world were replaced by the Christian symbology of the resurrection of Christ as the hope for that new life. The old tradition’s remnants are the Easter bunny delivering Easter eggs.
In modern times we bring in the new and turn over the old by the tradition of spring-cleaning. Spring-cleaning comes from a Jewish ritual of searching for leaven in homes to clean all of the old leaven out. There is a ritual where they search throughout the homes with flashlights. To make the most of spring-cleaning, physically, get rid of material things you no longer need or want. Spiritually, discard energies and ideas that no longer fit who you want to become.
Springtime is the season of renewal, a time to plant seeds of all kinds. Decide what qualities you want to plant for your personal evolution this cycle. Plant some seeds in a pot to symbolize this growth. Use your understanding of this natural cycle to be a gardener of your soul. Sow seeds of growth to bloom in the future. Harvest time will come, with all its joy and abundance.
The advent of spring could be called a Renaissance, a time of rebirth. This energy is a natural current that is available to anyone who wishes to dip into it. It’s a time to set goals in motion. Water them and fertilize them. See what manifests!
How will you celebrate this Equinox? What do you want to grow this spring? Plants? Flowers? Vegetables? A new sense of self? What do you want to let go of this spring-cleaning? Old stagnant energies? Fears? Limitations? Dust? This Equinox, do yourself a favor. Let go of what no longer serves you. Plant and nurture that which you want to grow. Then step back, and watch yourself and your life bloom.
©Cristina Smith. All rights reserved.