Today is the first day of Spring. The magic balance of the Equinox has graced once again the seasonal cycle of light. In the Northern Hemisphere, we start the eager trek towards the Summer Solstice to celebrate the longest day of the year.
Let us pause for a moment though, and remember the powerful symbolism linked to this moment when life is ready to renew itself and shake off the constraints of winter. Animals, birds and insects, awakened by the stronger flow of vital energy, respond to the mating impulse. Life is quickening in trees and grasses, and the birds' song gets louder and more intense.
Persephone re-emerges from Ade. For six months, she leaves behind her Underworld mate to re-join her mother Demeter and infuse the world with the joyous energy of growth and expansion. In ancient Greece, this was the time to perform the Little Eleusin Mysteries, invoking fertility and abundance. People ritually used the synergy of the moment to anchor and deepen the same energy in their own personal lives, as well as in the life of the community.
Although some of the northern world is still under a heavy blanket of snow, the first signs of Spring might already be felt in the way air smells. Perhaps the first flowers pierce through the frost. Stop and feel it, for as faint as it may still be. Celebrate it in your heart if you cannot join a gathering. Reconnect with your ancestors’ rhythms in understanding and participating in the seasons.
“Sniff the Wind” as they did in Mesopotamia and in Egypt. Even today, many go outdoors to catch the Spring breeze. By taking it deeply into your lungs, attune with the natural changes happening around you.
And of course, there is Easter, mirroring the feast of Pesach, which recalls the "passage" of the Jewish people through the Red Sea under the guidance of Moses. It is a celebration of freedom, in both traditions. Jesus frees itself from the grip of death, and the enslaved Jews leave behind their Egyptian enslavement. We leave behind Winter, and its limitations, the gates open and life flows once again like sap in the branches of a young tree. It is a resurrection.
Easter shares another interesting link with the Celtic festival of Ostara, in honor of the goddess Eostre, goddess of light, the" Star of the East ", also the planet Venus, bearer of the light of dawn. During the Equinox Eostre blesses the daily increase of the light.
Did you ever wonder where the Easter Bunny comes from? Eostre loved the hare, which was dedicated to her, as a symbol of fertility and for its agility in the frantic spring mating. The hare found its way to today, disguised as a rabbit that brings the eggs to good children!
On a less playful note, yet worth remembering, the Rune associated with Eostre is Berkana: growth, birth, rebirth. Berkana is also connected to the Anima Mundi (the Soul of the World) in its feminine aspect, as a welcoming, nourishing, vivifying, life-giving presence.
In the cosmology of the School Of The Origins, we remember Unì, the Intelligence of the springs, where water returns to the surface cleansed and fresh after a long cyclical journey. When you seek rebirth and renewal, let your soul pilgrimage lead you to the springs.
In Berkana and in Unì we remember the reawakening of the universal life force within us, at all levels of existence: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. A lot of energy is released and directed towards the continuity of life at the Equinox, in the month of March. In fact, in ancient Rome, the month of March (which also corresponded to the New Year), was dedicated to Mars, a god filled with action-directed energy.
In ancient Zoroastrianism, the Equinox was also the time for the New Year to begin, still celebrated by those following the Baha'i faith, a time filled with hope for renewal. At this time, houses are cleaned, renovated and decorated with flowers, bonfires are lit in the streets around which people sing and dance and traditionally wear bright colors. The "festival of colors" is also found in the Holi Indian tradition, a celebration in which the triumph of Good over Evil (the Light over Darkness) eliminates the distance between the castes and thousands of people descend into the streets singing, dancing and throwing colored pigments over each other. It is quite a scene!!
In Japan, this season the landscape is dominated by the magic of the beloved cherry blossoms (sakura). For hundreds of years the hanami, literally the "looking at the flowers", has been observed to predict the progress of the earth’s productivity for the current year. Picnics are enjoyed in the shade of the flowering cherry trees, with specially prepared foods like mochi and picnickers drinking sake until late at night, when the flowering plants are illuminated to mark "the night of the cherry trees ".
Take a moment to focus on what you wish to attract tin your life, what you wish to water and nurture, and tend to make it grow. I wish you strength, positive energy, love, courage, and zest for life.