Equinox Blessings & Happy Norooz!

Aries_collage_1_THUMBI’ve just been for my regular morning walk with Colette into Chalice Well Gardens on this rather overcast Spring Equinox morning.  The wellhead has been beautifully dressed with daffodil heads, and the gardens are being lovingly prepared for the Equinox celebration at 12 noon today.  The actual moment of the Spring Equinox occurs at 5.31pm today.  This is the moment when the Sun enters the sign of Aries in the tropical zodiac, the beginning of the astrological calendar, a moment still marked as the New Year (Norooz) in the Persian Calendar, following the Zoroastrian tradition. So today is a day of great celebration for Iranians, especially.  It’s a special time of the year for me too, being an Aries child of the Equinox – my birthday is just a few days after (hint, hint!).

The Spring Equinox is one of two days in the calendar when day and night are of exactly equal length. In the great drama of the annual cycle, the light of the Sun has overcome the darkness of night, as daylight lengthens, and night diminishes. In Egyptian mythology this is the moment in the year when Horus overcomes Set. It represents the renewal of life. In Christian mythology it is the time when Jesus, the Son (Sun) of God is resurrected. This is the celebration we know, of course, as Easter.

In nature, it is a time of fertility and new growth, with new life breaking out everywhere! Buds are breaking out on the branches of trees, daffodils burst into flower and light up the garden! The soil is fertile and ready for new seeds to be sown. In our own Celtic tradition, the Goddess of Fertility is celebrated at the Spring Equinox. She is the Madien of Spring and goes by the name of Eostre or Oestre. the root of the word oestrus, the time in the cycle of female reproduction when oestrogen, the hormone that stimulates ovulation is produced.

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The origins are the Easter (deriving of course from Eostre) are most certainly pagan in origin, as are the traditions of the easter egg, the easter bunny, and the hot cross bun. People often wonder why Easter falls on a different date every year.  Well, it’s fairly straightforward, if surprising to many when they first hear it.  The date of Easter is tied to the date of the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.  This is known as the Paschal full moon (like the paschal lamb), with the Sun in Aries and Moon in Libra.  The first Sunday after this full moon becomes Easter Sunday. This way of calculating the Easter date was established at the Council of Nicea in 325AD. The Christian festival was directly overlaid onto the existing pagan festival of the resurrection of the Sun and the renewal of life. This year the full moon falls on 30th March, so Easter Sunday is set for 4th April.

hareThe “Easter Hare”, as it was known, was originally an otherworldly “rabbit-spirit” who oversaw the fertility in nature. Rabbits and hares are capable of producing multiple births and were seen as a potent symbol of fertility. The Egg is an obvious symbol of new life and have been used in spring festivals for millennia. The hot cross bun is often linked to the full moon and also to the “sacred ox” (saxon word, bo-un), sacrificed at the Celtic feast of Eostre. Supposedly, ox horns were carved into ritually prepared bread. The tradition of carving a cross onto bread would also have represented the cardinal cross that mark the four turning points of the ritual year – the equinoxes and solstices. This translated naturally into the Christian cross. The marking of the ritual bread in either tradition would have been a highly sacred act.

aries_collage_3_THUMBSo today, our new alchemical journey around the year begins, with Aries kicking us into action, and initiating the new cycle. Aries is a sign of passion, of courage, of enthusiastic action. It is a fire sign, red, potent, single-minded and liable to bursts of anger and aggression, like its ruling planet Mars. We can liken the Arien impulse to that of the life force that bursts through in the first bud of Spring, the quest for the expression of life overriding all else in one singly-focussed breakthrough. Arien energy is that of the new-born child, arriving head first into the world with a scream! The passion of Aries breaks through the membrane, it cracks open the protective shell that encased it and exposes the innocence and vulnerability of new life.

Aries is a call to adventure! It hastens us to act, and to trust whatever passionate impulse is stirred within us and to act upon it. The Arien phase of the alchemical journey challenges you to risk what is known for the life-generating experience of what is not. As we embark on the alchemical journey, our enquiry focusses around these themes.  So here are some questions you might want to reflect on about yourself over the next month:

    • What are you passionate about?
    • What’s burning in you?
    • What’s stirring in your soul?
    • What is calling you to adventure?

As we have already seen, this is the most fertile season of the year, the soil is rich and alive with the impulse to grow, traditionally a time where we turn the soil and sow the seed. So another important part of our enquiry this month is to do with what we are sowing in our own lives. The seed of intention planting consciously and deliberately will bear fruit later in the year. So this is a good time to ask yourself:

    • What is my intention for the coming year?
    • What seed am I willing to sow?

Equinox Blessings & Happy Norooz!

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