Ode to the Vernal Equinox

by Tracey Couto

 

I always breathe a happy sigh of relief when the month of March rolls around because it means that winter is gradually loosening its bone-chilling grip on the world and the warmth and floral beauty of spring will reign supreme once more. The sights and sounds of nature awakening and resuming her work tickle the senses and inspire one to commence work on her own creative projects. The official first day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox, arrives this year on March 20 at 12:33 p.m. GMT and marks a time of balance when night and day are equal in length. The Sun has come full circle in his travels through the zodiac to begin again at zero degrees of Aries, called the Aries Point by astrologer and author Celeste Teal.

In her book Predicting Events With Astrology, Teal states, “the zero degree of any cardinal sign is representative of some entanglement with the world at large ... [and] indicates the involvement of people outside the usual circle of associations.” She believes that fame is also affiliated with these four points that mark the beginning of each season. According to Celeste, the Aries Point “is a point of spectacular out-rushing energy ... associated with new undertakings and ... personal issues that arise.” The sign of Aries is all about exploring new vistas in the quest to find a sense of self. So if you’ve just been dying to get out there and make a brand new start or name for yourself, this is definitely the time of year to do it.

For Neo-pagan communities around the world, the reawakening of nature and rebirth of life is celebrated via a fertility festival called Ostara that honors the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess of spring, Eostre. Eostre is said to awaken from her long winter nap with her entourage of hares playing at her feet and birds flying overhead, and a basket of colored eggs swinging gracefully from her fingertips. The warm gentle breeze stirs the spring flowers crowning her hair as she spreads her colored eggs of fertility throughout the fields to rouse the Earth back to life. Similar to the tale of Eostre are the customs of the Christian holiday Easter, with its tradition of baskets, bunnies and Easter egg hunts. Echos also ring through of the Greek myth of Persephone, whose mother Demeter brought life back to the Earth upon her return from the underworld.

No matter how you choose to celebrate this splendid and rejuvenating time of year, I think we can all agree on one thing — that the time has finally come to step away from the cold dark night and embrace the warm and gentle beams of the Sun’s golden rays. The sights, smells and sounds of spring inspire one to throw any past grievances, grudges, resentments and misconceptions right out the window and let joy, hope and new understandings lead your steps instead. Spring-cleaning your home is an excellent way to embody the concept of the sweeping away of problems and negativity and making room for growth and positive energy.

Now is the time we turn our thoughts to renewing our dreams, aspirations and sense of identity along with our relationships and new projects. This is when the seeds planted at Imbolc can really prosper and grow with each step taken toward executing the plans made. Let the magic of spring flow through and move you toward realizing your gifts and potentials. The following is a slightly modified Ostara ritual from A Year in Ritual: Sabbats & Esbats for Solitaries & Covens by Sandra Kynes. It is best if done in the late morning or early afternoon on or around the 20th of March.

An Ostara Ritual

The night before, decorate a few dozen hard-boiled eggs with colors associated with spring, such as grass green, violet, white and pastels. Put a few in some baskets and place them around your home and on your altar. Save the remaining eggs for an Easter egg hunt to be held after the ritual.

When you are ready to begin, take a few deep cleansing breaths to center your energy with the Earth and read the following paragraph aloud. You might want to record it beforehand and play it back while closing your eyes and continuing to breathe deeply.

Since the winter solstice, you have been sojourning into yourself. But now, it’s time to come back out into the light just as the animals return from their hibernation and Persephone re-emerges from the underworld. The Young Prince of Light born at Yule meets Persephone, and their dance creates warm sunlight that greens the Earth and causes flowers to appear. This is the time of Spring’s return — a joyful time when Earth is bursting with life and breaking through the shackles of winter. Today is Ostara, when day and night are in perfect balance; a time to celebrate the balance of all opposing things such as: Male/Female, Spiritual/Physical, Light/Dark. Today we celebrate the reawakening Earth and the Sun King’s journey toward longer days, and we welcome the return of spring. Open your heart and seek renewal and harmony in your life.

Place your gift of one cut flower affiliated with spring, such as jonquil, poeny, violet, iris, daffodil or jasmine on your altar, and create sacred space by saying:

Equal is the Light and Dark
With this gift, my space I mark
As warm sunlight greens the Earth
The Maiden and Lord dance with mirth

Light a green candle for Earth and say:

Bring the beauty of your lush green meadows

Light a baby blue candle for Air and say:

Blow away the staleness of winter

Light a red candle for Fire and say:

Coax the seeds from the womb of the Earth

Light a navy blue candle for Water and say:

Bless the land with dew-filled mornings

Light a bright yellow candle for the Prince of Light and say:

You wax to the fullness of youth
and bless the world with your bright spirit

Finally, light the white candle for the Great Mother and say:

As your web of life renews the Earth,
light that spark within me to awaken my soul

Now it’s time to do a method of divination of your choosing. For this ritual, we will use Tarot cards, but feel free to substitute with another. While shuffling, ask the goddess Eostre for her insightful wisdom and necessary information that will help you along on your projects this spring season. Then turn the cards face up and pull the cards under the Empress, the Fool and the Ace of Wands cards and her message will be revealed to you.

Now take some seeds (preferably daisies as they are associated with spring, light and the Sun) and place them in the palm of one hand, then cup your other hand over them. Close your eyes and recall the wish you made at Yule and the intention you set forth for the New Year. Fix them in your mind, and then let the energy and vision flow from you into the seeds. Visualize your wish coming to fruition. Once finished, open your eyes and place the seeds in a cup or small flowerpot and cover lightly with soil and a little bit of water. Now pick up your basket of colored eggs and ask the goddess to bless them with her gifts of fruitfulness and success. Next, dance to meditation music or drumming until energy is released. Then extinguish the candles and say:

Great Mother, I ask that your blessings remain in my heart and that I live in harmony with all that dwells on this Earth. Lord of the Spring and budding new life, I welcome the growth and beauty that you bestow upon the greening land. Thanks for the waters that nourish the land, the fire that provides new beginnings, the air and precious breath and the Earth that brings forth new life. I will now go forth with the love the Goddess sends ...

Take both the flowerpot and the basket of eggs and place them outside for 24 hours to absorb the Earth’s energy, then place them in a spot where you can watch the seeds of your intentions grow. Have a feast with foods affiliated with Ostara such as: ham or fish, leafy green vegetables, the first fruits of the season, biscuits, cheese, and honey cakes. Close the festivities with an Easter egg hunt for the whole family to enjoy. Other activities in tune with the day are long nature walks and starting a garden.

Blessed be, and have a happy and prosperous spring everyone.