Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Vernal Equinox - Happy Spring!

Just as the crocus peeps from the ground in early
spring so new hope arises in our souls.

The spring equinox is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over on the side of light. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star and the east. The Saxon goddess, Eostre (from whose name we get the direction East and the holiday Easter) is a dawn goddess. Just as the dawn is the time of new light, so the vernal equinox is the time of new life.

This is the start of the new year for those who celebrate the festival of Naw Ruz, Persian New Year, which falls on the spring equinox. Happy New Year greetings to my Bah’a’i friends.

Spring is here! To my friends who live in the colder climates, you will understand when I say that Spring is a time when we gladly say goodbye to the snow, ice and freezing temperatures and start to eagerly anticipate the promise of Spring. Today I can actually feel a new energy entering my body and mind as Spring starts to reveal the blossoms, the leaves on the trees, the sprouting of the crops, the mating of birds, the birth of young animals.

In the agricultural cycle, it is time for planting. We are, once again, assured that life will continue. That, no matter what devastation humans are wreaking on this earth, Mother Nature has a Master Plan that cannot be stopped.

In ancient Italy in the spring, women planted gardens of Adonis. They filled urns with grain seeds, kept them in the dark and watered them every two days. This custom persists in Sicily. Women plant seeds of grains — lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers — in baskets and pots. When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the gardens are placed on graves on Good Friday. They symbolize the triumph of life over death. 

Certain foods are associated with springtime festivals: cheese, butter, eggs, pancakes, wheaten cakes, and hot cross buns. Since this is a time when young animals are being born, milk is now available for making cheese and butter. Eggs symbolize new life, of course, and wheaten cakes, grain.

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth, a time of transition when the soul lets go of the old and plants symbolic new seeds, each year with increasing determination and renewed understanding. The warmth of the sun awakens something within us; a new quest generally begins, as if by synchronicity. More hours of daylight propel most souls to move forward, to make needed changes. It is almost an internal drive.

This is the time to symbolically choose ‘seeds’ which represent the things you want to grow during the new year-— wisdom, understanding, patience, etc. Visualize those qualities coming into full bloom in your life as you plant your seeds.

The vernal equinox has been celebrated for thousands of years. There is no shortage of rituals, celebrations and traditions, personal and universal, surrounding the coming of spring. Originally, people celebrated for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. The date is significant in Christianity because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

It is no coincidence that early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it pointed directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox.
The monoliths at Stonehenge mark the position of the rising sun on the Vernal Equinox.

In Central America the Ancient Mayan Caracol Tower and Temples of the Sun and Moon also have alignments that coincide with the sun's position on the Vernal Equinox.

In China they celebrate Chunfen on the Vernal Equinox.

Vernal Equinox Day is an official national holiday in Japan, and is spent visiting family graves, and holding family reunions.

Most of us no longer spend time outdoors, enjoying all the real things that Mother Earth has to offer. Our children sit inside our homes and watch televisions and video games which show made up fantasy programs, convincing us that either the natural world has no value, or our time is better spent elsewhere.

Open the windows and let the fresh air into your homes, sweep out all of the clutter from your closets and your mind. Take a long look at the relationships in your life and ‘clean house’ if necessary. This is a time of regeneration and new life. Let the new season that is taking place in nature take place in your own life as well.

Happy Springtime to you all!

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