Ostara : Spring Equinox : Blossoming
The spring equinox is celebrated around September 22 or 23 in the southern hemisphere – in 2017 it falls on September 23 – and March 20 or 21 in the northern hemisphere – in 2017 it fell on March 20. At this point night and day are of equal length, and it’s a time of balance and harmony both within and without. In the northern hemisphere however, today is the autumn equinox. Mythologically, this was when the young god reached maturity and became the lover-consort of the maiden goddess. In some traditions it marked their sexual union, and the conceiving of the child that would be born nine months later at the winter solstice; in others it was when the goddess began instructing the god in his new powers. It was also when the harvest deity Demeter was reunited with her daughter Persephone, who’d been kidnapped by Hades and, having eaten six pomegranate seeds while she was in the underworld, was now bound to spend six months of each year there. She descended at the autumn equinox, so her mother made the earth barren, then she re-emerged in the spring, when Demeter brought the land back to life again.
Astronomically, this equinox – Latin for equal night – is one of only two times in the year that the length of day and night is the same, as the sun sits directly above the Equator, creating 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark in each hemisphere. It represents the triumph of light over dark, because for the next six months, until the autumn equinox, the days will be longer than the nights.
The spring equinox, also known as the vernal equinox (from the Latin vernare, to bloom), Ostara, Eostre, Lady Day, Earrach, Alban Eiler (light of the earth) and the Festival of Trees, marks the midpoint of spring. It’s a celebration of fertility, conception and regeneration as the earth begins to bloom and the memory of winter’s harshness fades away. It’s a time of new growth, where all of nature seems to be sprouting and blossoming. Seedlings emerge from the earth, new crops are sown, the buds on the trees open, birds build nests and lay eggs, and new life and momentum is celebrated.
Energetically, the spring equinox is a time of emergence and vitality. Life force courses through the planet, as well as through us. People throw off the dreariness of the cold months and awaken physically and mentally. Exercise and activity becomes easier, and motivation returns. This is the time to sow the seeds of what you want to achieve in the coming year, blessing them with your energy and intent, and to dedicate yourself to new goals. The vibration of this season supports the blossoming and growth of your personality, your spiritual and emotional development, and your dreams. It’s a very fertile time, when you can make things happen and create your own reality.
This equinox is about growth, passion and the unfurling and release of the immense potential you have within you. On both a universal and a personal level, it’s a time of balance and harmony, of union between the physical and the spiritual, and the integration of your heart and soul. This can be harnessed to anchor your dreams in reality and enhance your own inner harmony as the balance of universal outer energies is reflected within.
Ways to celebrate
Traditionally the spring equinox was a time of resurrection, as life returned throughout nature. The leaves on the trees were budding, flowers blossoming, crops sprouting, birds and animals mating. Thanks was given to Ostara, the goddess of fertility, the dawn and spring, whose symbols were an egg and a hare, and who is still honoured around the world, albeit unknowingly, in the form of chocolate eggs and the bunnies that have come to evoke Easter, the Christian festival of resurrection. In the northern hemisphere Easter takes place around Ostara – it’s the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the spring equinox – so for pagans there it’s easy to celebrate this sabbat as the symbols of springtime are everywhere, on cards and supermarket shelves and even in ads and TV shows. In the south however Easter coincides with the autumn equinox and harvest rituals, and Ostara and the blossoming of spring occurs in September, when the chocolate eggs are long gone.
Eggs have represented new life, spring, fertility and the cycle of rebirth for thousands of years. In Ancient Rome and Persia people exchanged them as gifts, wrapped in gold leaf or boiled with flower petals to colour them, to celebrate spring and the new year. They’ve long been associated with the goddess too, with the yellow yolk symbolising the sun god and the egg white the maiden goddess, who were believed to come together at this time. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits the custom has its origin in paganism: “For a great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring.”
The other symbol, the hare, has signified abundance, life force, good fortune and fertility (due to its prolific breeding habits, hence the term “breeding like rabbits”!) from Ancient Egypt to Great Britain to China. The march hare was so named because it was nocturnal for most of the year, but in March in the northern hemisphere its mating season began and the creatures were outside all day, leaping around joyously in search of a mate. The females are incredibly fertile, able to conceive another litter of bunnies while still pregnant with the first, and birthing up to 42 offspring a year. The males are also very fertile, and very keen – if they’re rebuffed they perform a crazy dance to try to impress the female, giving rise to the phrase: “Mad as a march hare.”
Springtime is all about fertility, rebirth and renewal, so to absorb the energy of the season, paint some hard-boiled eggs and decorate them with symbols that represent your desires, or make some chocolate eggs, meditating on your own metaphorical fertility and your ability to manifest your dreams into reality as you do so. Gift some to your friends, wishing them success in their own endeavours, or display them on your altar or your breakfast table.
Go outside during the day and breathe in the fresh spring air, filling your heart with new inspiration as you fill your lungs with oxygen. Walk around your neighbourhood and check out all the beautiful flowers that are blooming, and become aware of the energy coursing up from the earth. Feel it reinvigorate and inspire you, flooding you with a sense of renewal and fresh starts. Wear flowers in your hair or perfume scented with jasmine, roses or violets. Plant a seed or a tree in your garden or just in a pot in the kitchen, infusing it with your intent and determination. Then nurture it along, seeing your own progress symbolically reflected in its growth.
In many cultures, including that of the Ancient Romans, whose calendar ours is based on, and the modern Iranians, who use the old Persian calendar, the spring equinox is the first day of the year, with its attendant sense of hope, optimism and new beginnings. In Japan, the springtime Cherry Blossom Festival takes place, while in India, Nepal and several other eastern countries the spring festival of Holi is held, which celebrates the season of growth and new life with rituals to ensure the blessings of the gods for good harvests and fertility.
Welcome this energy of rebirth into your life by spring cleaning your home. Sort through your closets, clean out the kitchen cupboards, organise your office and go through your garage. Let go of what you don’t need, giving it to charity, to friends or posting it on eBay. Decluttering is a key principle of the ancient science of feng shui, which balances the energy of your environment to enhance your life and promote health, wealth and happiness. Possessions you no longer need, use or want weigh you down and literally drain you of energy and motivation. In clearing clutter you’re inviting transformation to occur, and opening the way for positive new opportunities to enter your life. You’ll be flooded with new ideas, meet new people and feel more energised and positive about everything in your life.
In your journal
Spring is the growing season, so celebrate it by connecting with the energy of growth. Plant the seeds of the things you want to achieve in the coming year, which means being clear and taking action to make what you want happen. Crops don’t grow unless you sow the seeds, and dreams don’t come true until you work to make them happen. It’s amazing how many people talk about how desperate they are to do something, yet they never start. Even the wildest dream can be achievable if you break it down into little steps and patiently work towards it. Detail your plan in your journal, writing about what you actually seek and the specifics of what it involves and requires. Outline the first action you need to take, and the next – and then start today.
If you want a new job, rewrite your resume and send it to companies you want to work for, or sign up for a course that will qualify you for the career you aspire to. If you want to travel, open a savings account and set up an automatic payment plan today, and research the countries you long to visit. If you want to meet a partner, write a list of the qualities you seek and the things you don’t want, focusing on what you want to manifest. Deal with any issues you have from past relationships and let go of bitterness, anger and regret. Forgive your exes, and yourself. Make your own happiness your priority, because when you’re the best person you can be – content, at peace, doing what you want to do – you’ll attract someone with the same qualities, be it a romantic partner, business colleague or a friend.
The equinox is about harmony and balance, so it’s a good time for unions, partnerships and initiations, both with others and with all the parts of yourself. Do a ritual or simply write in your journal about all the subtleties and shades of your character, the positive and the so-called negative, and integrate and accept all of them. Finding balance involves an acceptance of all aspects of the inner self – your protective side and your nurturing side, the aggressive and the gentle, the masculine and the feminine. Many people deny a part of themselves, afraid to be considered too emotional or too driven, too girlie or too tough, but getting in touch with your true self and all aspects of your personality is crucial to being the best and most effective person you can be, to achieving your dreams and finding true love and contentment.
Spring is also a time of newness and fresh starts, so let go of any mistakes you’re obsessing over and wipe your slate clean. Write about any situations you regret, being honest about the part you played and looking for any lesson you can take from it, then release it. Scribble down a word or draw a symbol to represent the event, then light a green candle and burn the paper in its flame, feeling the vibration of the wasted emotion or past incident leaving your body and your mind, and embracing the energy of a new start, a new future, a new dream. Ostara is the goddess of the dawn as well as fertility, and symbolises the dawning of a new day and all the potential and promise inherent in that. Make a resolution that reflects this new start, and feel its energy and power as you begin afresh.
In the coming months, re-read your journal at regular intervals and be re-inspired and re-motivated to keep aiming for your dream. Go over the plan you outlined and reassess how you’re progressing. Like a little seedling breaking through the earth, you need to nurture, protect and guide the progress of your goals…