The Spring Equinox or Vernal Equinox as it's also known marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator which is the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator from south to north. This happens on March 19th to the 23rd every year and is one of the eight witches sabbats although the equinoxes and solstices were a later addition to the four greater sabbats of the early pastoral Celts. They are a genuine part of pagan tradition as it exists today.
The spring equinox is also a celebration to the Teutonic Goddess Eostre or as is known today as Easter which falls anytime just after the spring equinox to - just before Beltane depending on the moon. Christians celebrate Easter on the first sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Its funny to me how the christians Easter is depicted by the moons cycle (the Pagan Goddess), which is the very thing they have tried to stamp out over the years, even banning the celebration of halloween in many church of england junior schools. Back to the spring equinox and the Goddess Eostre, whose name is probably another variant of Ishtar, Astarte and Aset (the correct Egyptian name 'Isis' being the greek form). Here we find the brightest star in the sky 'Sirius' who is 'Isis' which descends from our skyline on the spring equinoxes and then she rises again on the Autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere. My own destiny with Isis has come in many forms and synchronicity and has been like a big jigsaw puzzle which i have been putting together over the years, i give thanks to Isis & Osiris everyday.
The main focus on the spring equinox is the balance of night and daylight hours, where we have twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of night. The emphasis is on the light, as from now the daylight hours will begin to grow. It is said that on the equinoxes it can be a time of hauntings as we are in neither one dimension or the other (day or night) where restless spirits can slip into the veil between the two.
The first green shoots of plants and trees are visible now as they push up towards the light, new life is breaking out all around, where as at Imbolc everything was still in the belly, under the earth. The first stirrings of spring are so magical as even on the duller days the light is still more intense. The birds are starting to mate and lay eggs, the song of the blackbird is so beautiful as is the song thrush whose song is one of the first to be heard. The bee's are emerging and life seems to be kick started again.
Hare's have long been associated with Eostre as are snakes and dragon's. Here the dragon's energy of the earth and within ourselves is 'Awakening' at the spring equinox. The young Goddess which gave her name to words such as oestrous and oestrogen, which are associated with female sexuallity in both animals and humans, carries with her an egg, the symbol of fertility and new life and is accompanied by a hare. There are many legends to explain the Goddess's association with the hare and some can be found in Viking origin. Another symbol of the Goddess that we recognise at this time of the year is the snake, which comes out of hibernation in March to bask in the growing sun. It sheds its skin which is an ancient symbol of new life coming out of the old. A snake coiled in a circle with its tail in its mouth symbolizes everlasting life and a snake wrapped around an egg was called 'world egg' laid by the snake as a symbol of the Goddess. Every spring the serpent helped the world to hatch out from this egg. Hence the connection with Eostre.
Celebrate the spring equinox with one of our lovely moongazing hares. Click on Image.
In Witchcraft the altar and the room is filled with yellow flowers of the spring such as daffodils, primroses and gorse and other spring blossoms. There would also be a wheel symbol on the altar, anything that is suitable, you could cut out a disk as long as you paint it yellow or gold and decorated with yellow flowers. A bouquet and a chaplet of spring flowers is put aside for the crowning of the 'Spring Queen'. A younger women of the coven would be appointed for this. She would be crowned with the chaplet and then given the fivefold kiss from the High priest and from each male member of the coven in turn. The altar would also have a bowl of hard boiled eggs which would have already been painted and then saved for the feast afterwards, along with the cakes and wine.
Here is a recipe for some Ostara cakes as follows which have long been traditionally made throughout England at Easter time.
4oz/125g wholemeal flower
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1oz/25g chopped mixed peel (lemon)
4oz/125g soft brown sugar
Juice of half of lemon
1 tablespoon of milk or brandy
Heat the oven to 180c/gas 4. Put the flower and spices into a bowl and rub in the butter. With your hands, mix in the currents,peel and sugar. Make a well in the centre. Beat together the lemon juice, egg and brandy and pour them into the well. Mix everything to a stiff dough and nead it lightly. Roll the dough to a thickness of about 6mm. Stamp it into rounds with a 6-7cm biscuit cutter. Lay the rounds on a floured baking sheet. Bake them for 20 mins, or until they are firm and beguinning to brown, lift them onto a wire rack to cool.
Lemon, Honey and Barley water.
A pure fresh, non alcoholic drink to give health and zest for the new season.
2oz/50g barley 3 lemons 2 1/2 pints/1.4 litres of water 2oz/50g honey.
Put the barley into a saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil. cover and simmer for 20 mins. Meanwhile, grate the rinds from the lemons into a large jug or bowl. Cut away all the white pith from the lemons. Thinly slice the flesh and add it to the grated rind. Strain the hot liquid from the barley over the lemons and rind, stir in the honey. Leave the drink until it's completely cold and pour straight into your chalice without straining.
I do hope you enjoyed my blog and it's somewhat complexity. Enjoy the cakes and lemon barley and most of all enjoy the energy that this beautiful time of the year brings.