Gathering of the Ancients: Vernal Equinox Lore
From dawn til dusk they gathered: Druids in a circle around the great oak, priestesses clasping hands in the sacred grove. Chants could be heard on the wind by the villagers in town as they prepared their feasts, their prayers, and their offerings.
All were celebrating in their own ways the magical time of the equinox, the quarter day between the solstices, known as Ostara (Celtic), Alban Eiler (Druidic), or Eostre (Germanic) to the pagan folk of the world.
At the sacred time of Ostara, the day balances the night as the gods of light and dark meet in battle, the light destined to be triumphant. The great Goddess bestows new growth upon the world, and it is believed that the people who prepare themselves through ritual and custom will be blessed with the bounty of nature.
The young god weds the maiden goddess, conceiving the divine child. In a working of sympathetic magic, farmers and their wives would copulate in the fields, in hopes to encourage a fertile crop from the land. The courtship of young men and women would begin; and the elders would look for signs and omens of things to come.
The snow melts, revealing the early buds of spring. The birds nest. New life is conceived as the sun warms the naked earth once again. Joy is felt in the hearts of all as winter loses its final grip on the land, and the maiden goddess of spring blows fresh air through the boughs of the trees.
Libations of milk and cider are poured onto the earth in gratitude, and honey cakes are left out for the faeries and gnomes at night, courting their favor.
The vernal equinox is a time of magic, nature worship, gratitude, manifestation, metamorphosis, and balancing of universal forces.
It was known and understood that the energy of people’s feelings, intentions, and actions at this time would impact the next six months of their lives (up to the final harvest festival of mabon, sept. 20th), and so it was worked and directed with great purpose, wisdom, and hope.
All things that no longer served were cleared away: homes were swept and tidied, gardens were cleared of old detritus, fields were plowed afresh, tools were fixed, and mindsets were shifted from winter survival to the promise of new life, love, abundance, and fulfillment.
Seeds were sown, spring flowers were picked, wreathes and baskets woven, and herbs and plantings were sprouting. People would place fresh flowers in their homes to invite in sweetness, and display images or small figures of rabbits, chicks and eggs to symbolize rebirth, growth, abundance, new beginnings, and the continuity of the cycles of life.
Rabbits were a sacred animal of the Goddess. It was said that she would often transform herself into a white rabbit, white animals being symbolic of the otherworld. A favored hare would bring the goddess Diana gifts of eggs and sweets at Ostara, or scatter them about the land, so that she could delight in finding them as she walked.
It is believed that this was the inspiration for our modern-day Easter egg hunts.
As Christianity spread, and pagan festivals were subsumed into that religion, the pre-Christian symbols of eggs, bunnies, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth became a part of Easter. Note that Easter does not have a set date; every year it follows the first full moon after the equinox. It derives its name from Eostre, a Germanic fertility goddess who was celebrated at the time of the equinox.
While many of us may still buy Easter eggs or place bunches of daffodils on our tables and windowsills, we’ve lost touch with the deeper meaning and magical purpose of these actions. Reconnecting with their history, with the vibes of the Vernal Equinox, and re-investing our actions with intention and purpose adds depth to our lives and brings a greater richness to our experience.
Whether we are aware of its influence or not, the cycle of nature and the balancing of universal energies still has an impact on our lives. Would you approach this equinox differently if you knew your thoughts, intentions, energy, and actions could impact the next six months of your life? If you were the master of your destiny (which, by the way, you are), how would you prepare yourself for this magical time? how would you celebrate it?
Here is a list of potential equinox activities:
- Take walks in nature and soak in the fresh vibe
- Offer libations by pouring milk or cider onto the earth, or leaving honey cakes and sweets out for the faeries
- Walk around with a bag and pick up garbage in your neighborhood, in a public park, or on the beach
- Journal about where you’re imbalanced in life, and where you need to let go of the past in order to make way for the future
- Taking one big, brave action towards a goal
- Own a dream
- Make a donation to an animal or farm rescue
- Scatter wildflower seed over a natural area to help support biodiversity (make sure the seed is for plants native to the area!)
- Make a feast of honey cakes, hard-boiled eggs, ham, fresh fruit, milk ale or wine, nuts, and edible flowers
- Add pots of herbs or spring flowers (daffodils, crocus, easter lily, gorse, or violets) to your home to invite in the spring energy
- Place an acorn on your desk or dresser as a symbol of new beginnings
- Display symbols of snakes, rabbits, unicorns or dragons in your work or home creative spaces
- Share posts near Easter time advocating for "Rabbit are not cute toys" awareness and cruelty-prevention
- Fill and put out bird feeders in your garden