On 20 March we celebrate the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere – the Celtic festival of fertility and rebirth. Here’s how we honour this special turning point in the natural rhythms of the Earth, plus lots of ideas of how you can celebrate it wherever you are.
Happy Spring Equinox from Findhorn! In the Northern Hemisphere it falls on 20 March, but we can celebrate the qualities of this special time anytime close to the date.
Traditionally our whole community would celebrate the Spring Equinox in Cullerne garden. Together we’d dig up a cow’s horn that had been filled with manure and buried in the earth at the Autumn Equinox. The idea is that the manure takes in all the life force energy that withdraws into the earth over the winter period before it bursts forth again in spring.
On the day of the Spring Equinox we’d put the well-composted manure into two big barrels of water from our pond and then stir the mixture for an hour while we drummed, sang and danced. After this we’d fill buckets with the water from the barrels, dip conifer branches (from cutting the hedges) into it, and then go all over the garden to bless fields, tunnels, plants, trees, ponds, buildings and machines, the mixture acting as a potent fertiliser for the soil.*
And of course we had a bonfire, tea and cake while we chatted and celebrated another meaningful point in the great turning of the Wheel of Life.
Astronomically the Spring Equinox or Vernal Equinox marks the start of Spring and moment where day and night are of equal length in most places on the planet. The name derives from the Latin words ‘aequi’ (equal) and ‘nox’ (night). The two equinoxes (Spring and Autumn) are the only two times in the year when day and night are of equal length and the sun rises precisely in the East and sets in the West.
So the Equinox marks a time of perfect balance, a point of standstill in the turning of the Earth. In the Northern Hemisphere the Spring Equinox is in March, at the same time as the Southern Hemisphere experiences the Autumn Equinox. The exact date changes every year and lies between the 19 and 22 March. In the North from now on each day will be longer than the night till the Autumn Equinox. The longest day comes in June (20 or 21) at the Summer Solstice.
In the Celtic tradition the Spring Equinox is celebrated as the feast Ostara and is all about fertility, renewal and rebirth. It goes back to the Germanic Goddess Eostre, who lent her name to the Christian celebration of ‘Easter’. Eostre’s companion is a hare, and the rabbit and the egg have been fertility symbols in many traditions in the North for centuries, and are still present in various springtime rituals.
Equinox celebrations focus on new growth, the return of the light and warmth, the fertility of the soil and all we want to grow in our gardens and in our lives for the year. The seeds we have sown as promises into the Earth at Imbolc (in the beginning of February) are stirring now and and showing their first shoots. We see how life bursts out in nature after the long, cold and dark wintertime: the first colours of the spring flowers, the first blossoms and new leaves on the trees. We can feel the warmth of the sun and see how the days are lengthening.
There are so many ways to celebrate the Spring Equinox, and there are plenty of long-standing traditions.
The Spring Equinox is a time to:
Go outside at sunrise and sunset and celebrate the equal length of night and day. Watch how the sun rises perfectly in the East and sets exactly in the West on this special day.
In whatever way you choose to celebrate the Spring Equinox, I hope you will enjoy the dance of spring! May your hopes and dreams blossom!
With lots of Love, Britta
*Creating the mixture to bless the gardens goes back to Rudolf Steiner who introduced it as ‘Horn Manure’.