Glad Bringer of Brightness, hail!
Maiden of Grace, Lad of Laughter.
Gifts of vigor are returning,
Spring’s surprise, rainbow’s embrace.
Quickened be the heart within us,
Opened be our souls to grace,
May the blessing be abiding.
Welcome sit in every face.
Caitlín Matthews, Celtic Devotional: Daily Prayers and Blessings
Today is the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, and Autumn Equinox in lands below the equator. We celebrate it as the lesser Sabbat named Ostara. In the northern hemisphere, this day is also known as Lady Day or Alban Eilir (in the Welsh and Druid traditions).
(“Lesser” Sabbat simply means that it is a holiday associated with the seasonal quarters – equinoxes and solstices – of the year. The cross-quarters, which fall between these astronomical events, are considered the “Greater Sabbats.”)
At 12:31 a.m. (Eastern Daylight time), the subsolar point (the place on the Earth’s surface where the center of the Sun is exactly overhead) crossed the Equator moving northward. We are all experiencing the same phenomenon: light and the dark are equally in balance.
After today, in the northern hemisphere, there will be more daylight hours than darkness. The forces of masculine and feminine energy, yin and yang, are also considered to be in balance for this brief moment.
As Winter departs, and Spring arrives for us in the north, the world begins anew. This time has been a universal celebration of the miraculous resurrection of life triumphing over death for many thousands of years, with the Christian God being a rather recent member of a very long lineage.
In climates where Winter was a time of constantly living on the edges of death, the return of the Sun, the lengthening of daylight, the warming of the land, and the birth of new livestock were celebrated with gratitude and joy we can scarcely imagine today.
Despite all the hardships and loss our ancestors (and we) may have endured in the Winter, this has always been a time of rejoicing. It is when we call for merriment and healing.
The Divine Ones of Spring
Ostara is a time of great fecundity, new growth, and newborn animals and thus is named for Eostre, the Saxon Goddess of fertility and Ostara, Her German counterpart. Note that Her name is the source of the words Easter, oestrus, and estrogen. In Neo-Pagan rites, these are the Goddesses most frequently invoked at this Sabbat.
This is also the celebration day, when Persephone returns from the Underworld, ending the grief of Her Mother, Demeter.
And similarly, in Japan, Amaterasu is coaxed from Her cave of mourning by the laughter of the kami, thanks to the Goddess of the Night and Stars, Uzume.
Today we honor the Green Goddess and the Lord of the Greenwood. She blankets the Earth with Her magnificent fertility, bursting forth from Her sleep. And the dazzling young God awakens and grows to maturity.
Other things to focus on at this time may include working with the energy of openings and new beginnings. Thus, you may wish to invoke Lord Ganesha, who Opens the Way.
In addition to Ostara/Eostre Herself, you might want to invite Aphrodite, Athena, Cybele, Gaia, Hera, Isis, Robin of the Woods, the Green Man, Cernunnos, Thoth, Osiris, or Pan to bless your rites. (Probably not all at once, of course!).
Happy Astrological New Year
This is the first day of the astrological year, hence it is International Astrology Day. Today the Sun enters Aries, the first sign of the zodiac and the sign of new beginnings.
The chart for this year’s Equinox shows a busy time ahead, according to astrologer Mark Dodich, who notes, “The fire and water elements are strong in a chart cast for the next three months, and that means passion and emotions. When these two elements are strong, it is wise to set goals and deadlines.
“Like a flood or forest fire,” he writes, “energy will flow where there are not appropriate boundaries. You could become so busy with other people’s needs that you do not accomplish the things you actually wanted to achieve. When you set your priorities up first, you stand a better chance of getting them done. Either way, it is a busy quarter ahead.”
The Vernal Equinox was traditionally a time for blessing the fields and seeds. Pagan customs such as the lighting of new fires at dawn for healing, renewed life, and protection of the crops still survive in parts of America as well as in Europe.
Witches celebrate Ostara in similar ways on this day, with dawn fires, ringing bells, and decorating hard-boiled eggs, an ancient practice associated with the Goddess of Fertility long before Easter bunnies replaced Ostara’s sacred hares.
Here’s a tip to save money and steer clear of toxic materials: Use unsweetened packets of Kool-Aid to dye your eggs, instead of purchasing those specialty kits.
Spring is also associated with the element of Air, so now is a time to work with communication, ideas, stories and songs, and developing new skills.
The Spring Equinox is the time for fresh new beginnings, taking action, planting seeds for future harvests, and of tending gardens. Spring is the time of the Earth’s renewal, a rousing of nature after the cold sleep of winter.
An energetic and physical clearing for your sacred hearth is ideal at this time, to welcome the new season, especially if you harness the waning Moon’s energy, after the Full Moon eclipse on Wednesday.
Spring cleaning can be much more than a yearly chore. It is a sacred rite that rids our homes of any negativity or stuffiness left over from Winter.
For instance, instead of using harsh commercial chemicals, I like to make a tea of burdock root with lemon oil and add it to my floor wash. I have found that burdock is super powerful for clearing the vibes after there have been arguments or interpersonal stress, which can often accompany Winter’s “cabin fever.”
It is also an ideal time for spellwork around fertility and abundance. The most common colors associated with Ostara are pastels, like lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink. Other appropriate colors include grass green, Robin’s egg blue, lavender, and white.
Stones to use during your Spring celebrations may include aquamarine, clear or rose quartz, amethyst, and moonstone. Rabbits and snakes are frequently associated with this Sabbat (see my March 17 post for more about the snakes).
All Spring flowers are energetically ideal, although some experts warn that the Good Folk are insulted by cut flowers, so a living plant on your altar might be more diplomatic. I love the little primroses that you can sometimes find in grocery stores this time of year.
In Perfect Love, In Perfect Trust, In Perfect Balance
Stand in the sunlight (or at least fresh air) today, and feel the sap rising in you; the desire stirring within to form new, joyful beginnings. Now is the time to start putting those promises you made at Imbolc into action, and begin physically manifesting your resolutions.
Today, The Wheel has turned and for the next six months, Light overpowers the Dark. For one brief moment, there was a perfect balance, and then, in the lands below the Equator, darkness will begin to overtake the hours of light, while in the Northern Hemisphere, the daylight outpaces the night.
This beautiful season, what will you give birth to? What will you grow in your heart’s garden? How will you celebrate this miraculous gift of sparkling new life?
May the Lady and the Lord awaken and bless the seeds of your desires. May you receive the rebirth and renewal you long for most!