What is happening in Nature?
On or around the 20th of March, depending on our preferences and schedules, we as pagans celebrate the spring equinox. Day and night are of the same length, and after today, the days will get longer and warmer – winter has finally ended! So the equinox is a time to celebrate: new growth is visible in nature as new flowers rear their tender heads to the sun, and we too shed our thick winter clothing and start walking barefoot to feel the new grass underneath our feet.
On this day, I honour Anann, my matron, in Her aspect as earth goddess, as She is the land, the green country that starts to blossom now.
Themes of the sabbat
For this sabbat, we concentrate on balance. As much as day and night are balanced, we too need to look for balance in our daily lives – balance of work and pastimes, balance of mundane and spiritual activities, balance of time spent alone or with loved ones. The equinox, with the return of the sun after a period of darkness, is also a time of rebirth and new beginnings (Blake 2009: 125). So in a ritual we can ask ourselves which groundwork we need to do before we can express our souls and deepest desires. How indeed can we find space and time for cultivating the soul (Freeman 2001: 72)?
How can we celebrate it?
With kids around, we can make the celebrations of the equinox a very lively, joyful one – for example, we can colour eggs together with them, or play football games or tug-of-war to symbolize the war between darkness and light that on this day comes to a standstill (Kondratiev 2003: 164; 168).
When working alone or with a group of adults, a meditation on the sleeping Oak King can be appropriate; we will visit him in his winter resting place and wake him up to journey with him and behold his rise to full power on Bealtain when he marries the Flower Maiden (Kondratiev 2003: 166ff.).
For my solitary celebration, I start with setting the altar with candles in spring colours (pastels, greens) and daffodils. My husband and I have pancakes for lunch as a symbol of the sun.
After a ritual shower which I use to attune with Manannán, whose element is water, I go to circle in the early afternoon (usually I hold ritual at night or at dusk, but for a spring celebration feeling the sun on my skin seems more appropriate). Usually I’d use 9 candles to mark the circle, but today I’m going for petals.
After calling the quarters with meditations found in Kondratiev’s book, I invite my Gods and Goddesses, as well as my ancestors* and the landvaettir.
I then meditate on the new season and find one (or mostly two) areas where I find I need balance in the months to come.
I end my ritual with feasting on coloured eggs. This year, I use store-bought ones; I’ll colour eggs myself together with my little brother at the family Easter celebrations (watch out for my “H” post on holidays with the family where I’ll delve further into this topic).
my altar for the spring equinox
An obvious symbol to choose for altar decorations today is the egg that brings to mind the Cosmic Egg of the Druids that hatched the world. Kondratiev (2003: 164) also suggests red eggs, as red is the colour of blood and hence fertility.
Other choices could be the hare – or Eostre bunny if you’ve got kids -, chickens or birds like little geese that fly freely in the warm spring air; basically anything that is afoot now in your area seems a good decoration.
Fresh flowers to me are also a must; I usually go for daffodils, but any flower that is in bloom now or that has a bright sun colour is appropriate. Any further decorations, like candles or the altar cloth if your tradition uses one, can be done in pastels – any nice, warm colour that you associate with springtime is great.
If you choose to do a meditation on where you’ll need balance you might also want to have or create a symbol of whatever you want to implement in the coming months. So you have a visual reminder of which work needs to be done.
What can we take with us after the celebration is over?
For me, the spring equinox celebration isn’t over once I end my ritual. The plans we made at Imbolc still have to be implemented and put to action (Blake 2009: 126); for me this would be getting back to the novel and plot.
Also, I’ll do a spiritual spring cleaning (Blake 2009: 128ff.) once the weekend approaches and I’ll have more spare time on my hands; this will include:
- cleaning the house – swiping the floors, de-cluttering cupboards and wardrobes, cleaning the windows, the whole nine yards
- clearing away negative energies – after cleaning, I will use incense to rid my flat of any residual negative energies
- cleansing my body – by meditations and affirmations said each night before bed
I don’t know if I’ll get round to it in the end, since I have a presentation and oral exam coming up, but I’d like to try and follow up on my spring equinox meditation. So either each day, or at least once a week, I’d like to revisit my goals so I can grow and sit back on the autumn equinox and reap the seeds I’ve sown now.
* a note on my ancestors: thanks to a hint I picked up somewhere in the PBP, I now see my ancestors not only as my family members who’ve passed. I also call upon those ancestors who have worked in the same craft as I do, e.g. writing, so I’ll ask my favourite German poet to be present, too.
Blake, Deborah. 2009. “Speing Equinox.” In: Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac Samhain 2009 to
Mabon 2010. Ed. by Ed Day. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide.
Freeman, Mara. 2001. Kindling the Celtic Spirit. New York: HarperCollins.Kondratiev, Alexei. 2003. The Apple Branch. A Path to Celtic Ritual. New York: Kensington.