A Blessed Spring Equinox

A Blessed Spring Equinox March 20, 2012

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). 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.

“Eostre” by Thalia Took

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.

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

28 responses to “A Blessed Spring Equinox”

  1. I’m actually glad to see the Equinox for once.  It usually one of my least favorite festival days.  I might even dye some eggs with the wee one when I get home.

  2. I want to be an absolute boor here and point out that, if you call the Winter Solstice MidWinter, this should be Mid-Spring, not the start of it.
    Happy equinoxes!
    Terri in Joburg..where it is Mid-Autumn 🙂

  3. Happy Equinox, Jason!

    For once it feels seasonally appropriate to celebrate spring today. I’m so used to this day being the tail end of deep winter that it’s hard to celebrate. I know this hot spring in the NE US is an aberration and one I probably shouldn’t be excited about…. But I am. It’s so very lovely outside.

  4. Happy Equinox to both hemispheres!

    I hope to be celebrating it here in NYC by popping down to Coney Island on my lunch break and having the first cotton candy of the season 🙂

  5. Except that the terms mid-winter and mid-summer refer to the archaic Germanic and thus also Anglo-Saxon practice, described, for instance, in Bede’s De Temporum Ratione, of dividing the year into two seasons, not four. Spring, then, was not a separate season but simply the beginning of summer.

  6. Happy Ostara, Vernal , autumnal equinox to all . Aye bunnies are for shagging , eggs are for renewal, rebirth ……..to paraphrase on of my fav comedians , Eddie Izzard

  7. Jason is correct , by the old two part celtic year  winter and summer . This is the beginning of summer , winter begins at the autumnal equinox.altho the new year is at Oct 31st,Nov 1st. So from that calculation Yule would be more midwinter as would June 21 be midsummer.  That is by old Celtic ways . Kilm

  8.  In our tradition, Spring starts at Imbolc (Groundhog’s Day), so the Equinox is more a “quickening” of Spring energies for us….AND it’s my birthday!  YAY!

  9. I just got told by the Washington Post that Obama sends the people of Iran a public greeting for Nowruz, the solar fire-festival Persian New Year. Evidently he’s been doing this every year.

    The Ayatollahs in charge are edgy about the holiday, I’ve read elsewhere. Not a surprise; it has Pagan roots and, being annual, it’s a solar holiday in a country that uses a lunar calendar for both religious and secular purposes.

  10. On any other year this would be the end of winter for me, not Mid-spring (though this year it is now the beginning of summer for some reason).

    This sort of disagreement is why I don’t understand the use of the equinox/solstice marker days as the holidays, when the actual seasons vary by location and may not correspond even remotely close to the astrological positions.

  11. Solstice and equinox are astronomical as well as astrological moments. At equinox day and night are equal. At solstice comes the longest day and the shortest night or vice versa. Some folks find magick in such drama in the heavens, and put it to use.

  12. The Solstices & Equinoxes are astronomical/astrological phenomena. 🙂 Each takes place at the start of the Cardinal signs of the Tropical Zodiac, the signs that *begin* the seasons. Spring starts with Aries, Summer starts with Cancer, Autumn starts with Libra, and Winter starts with Capricorn. The other two groups of signs are the Fixed signs (the fullest expression of their season), and the Mutable signs which are the transition periods from one season to the next, and thus have qualities of both their season and the one they’re ushering in. 

    So traditionally, none of these dates are “mid” anything. Though with the massive fluctuations in the weather patterns these days, it’s easy to see the reason for the confusion! 80 degrees in March here in PA today!

  13. That’s very interesting -thank you!- and being 0.25 German myself, I see it.
    But I’m 0.75 Celt and inclined to start Spring at Imbolc, or more importantly when my landbase tells me it’s Spring . 🙂
    I’m also an astronomer by degree and that wins out. If we cut the year into 4 parts they should be of equal length. Bloody OC of me I know. I guess that makes me 1.0 obsessed idiot.
    Terri in Joburg

  14.  Right, but in terms of specifically associating them with seasons and seasonal highlights of the year (which is what is occurring in this post), that I don’t understand.

  15.  There are also other ways of determining the seasons aside from the astrological. The meteorological way sees the seasons as beginning on the 1st of whichever month, in the case of Spring on March 1st. I’m not sure why it is that people tend to give the astronomical method preference. In some places people also use their observations of the temperature or plant life etc to determine when seasons begin. In that case seasons don’t begin on fixed dates but can vary each year.

  16.  the Iranian authorities are especially worried about the “Fire Wednesday” Chaharshanbeh Souri, the Wednesday before Norouz/Newroz, regarding it as unruly; in Kurdish speaking areas of Turkey, the police has violently cracked down on Newroz celebrations this year. There but also in Kurdish speaking areas of Syria, Newroz has a far more openly political character and is linked to the ancient legend of Kawa the smith and prince Feridun overthrowing the tyrant Zahak of Niniveh (the historical root of this may be a the destruction of Niniveh by the Medes in 612 BCE), this years Newroz rally at Diyarbakir/Amed on the 18th drew around one million people despite a police ban … a vvideo of the rally … interestingly, Newroz/Norouz is spreading to countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan since the 1990ies

    Biji Newroz! Newroz Piroz Be!

  17. There but also in Kurdish speaking areas of Syria, Newroz has a far more openly political character and is linked to the ancient legend of Kawa the smith and prince Feridun overthrowing the tyrant Zahak of Niniveh (the historical root of this may be a the destruction of Niniveh by the Medes in 612 BCE)”

    There may be a historical connection, but there is a deeper mythical origin, concerning the slaying of the three-headed dragon Azhi Dahaka (the name becomes ‘Zahak’) by the hero Thraetaona (whose name becomes ‘Feridun’).

  18. Yes, they’re not exactly equal because the Sun is a disc rather than a bright dot and doesn’t turn on and off like a light switch.

  19. I also wrote a Blog entry highlighting some of the themes of Ostara (the IE dawn-goddess motif), and the evidence and proof of the existence of the goddess Ostara Herself, that I will be writing about more exhaustively once I get back to working on my book: http://paganisemper.blogspot.com/2012/03/heralding-ostara-ladys-day.html