the Vernal Equinox
when spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere
and fall begins in the Southern Hemisphere
as the Sun crosses directly over the Earth's equator at that moment.
The Vernal Equinox
The Vernal Equinox is held on or around March 21st.
Equinox means "equal"
which means that it is a time when the days and nights
become equal in length.
It also means balanced light, which also refers
to the balance of light and darkness as being equal
at this time of the year.
This makes the days become steadily longer
in the Northern Hemisphere which warms up
the northern part of the earth more and more.
It is a time when life begins to return to the land.
This vernal equinox (or spring equinox)
marks the beginning of astronomical spring.
It occurs during the month of March in the Northern Hemisphere,
and during September in the Southern Hemisphere.
At the same time that the vernal equinox occurs
in one hemisphere, it is the period of the autumnal equinox
in the other hemisphere.
Day and night are about equal in length all over the world
during the equinoxes, because the sun is positioned above the equator.
The term "Vernal Equinox"
The word 'Vernal' comes from the Latin word for 'bloom'.
It is obvious here that it means the time
when nature begins to bloom or blossom again.
Equinox comes from Medieval Latin, aequinoxium,
or from Latin aequinoctium: aequi-, equi- + nox, noct-, night,
or via french équinoxe, translated literally,
means “equal night”.
Ancient or Pagan Ways
Since this equal period of day and night happen twice a year,
the elders of the ancient ways used these equinoxes
as markers to determine when seeds would be planted
in the spring and when the crops would be harvested in the fall.
Naturally this is very regional,
depending on the location of the farmer.
The Vernal Equinox was once considered
the beginning of the Pagan New Year.
It was a time of jubilance and celebration
called forth by the resurrection of the "Light of the World"
(sun god) from the underworld of the winter,
from where he arose to join his goddess Eastre.
The ancient goddess, Eostre,
well-known as a Saxon deity who marked the passage of time,
was the primary focus of this notable occasion. This period was known as Ostara.
The legend surrounding this goddess insists
that she was saved by a bird whose wings froze by the winter cold.
The bird turned into a hare who could also lay eggs.
Therefore the symbol for this event is the egg
which represents fertility, new life and new beginnings.
Many Cultures Celebrate
The equinox observance comes from many cultures
and has its roots in the pagan tradition
long before Christianity made its entrance in Europe.
Among those observing the equinox were the
Iranians (festival of Norouz/Naw-Ruz),
Japanese (Shunbun no Hi)
and many diverse European cultures.
It seems that the Egyptians also built the Great Sphinx
so that it points directly toward the rising Sun
on the day of the vernal equinox.
Babylonians and Assyrians placed a greater amount
of importance on the Equinoxes than on the solstices.
The most important festival in ancient Babylonia
was the New Year, which occurred at the Spring equinox.
Solomon's temple (Some doubt the existance of this temple
but nonetheless the Equinox idea was apparently
important at that time period.) at Jerusalem was oriented
to the Equinox sunrise and the doorway was left open
so that the spring Sun could shine
over the high altar and into the Holy of Holies.
Relationship to Easter
Early European Christian officials decided
that they could not do away with these celebrations
and rituals, so they decided to place
one of their own religious holidays in its place
hoping that the new religion would replace the "Olde".
Celebration of the Vernal Equinox was so old
and ingrained that the new Christian religion decided
to incorporate the Eostre holiday into the liturgical calandar.
Therefore Easter was to replace Eostre.
In English the name of Easter is a derivative
of the Goddess Eostre who was revered
with rites honouring the planting of new seeds,
the fertility of the land and its people, and the hope of new life.
The symbols of Eostre were so important
that Christianity was not able to eradicate them.
The symbols of the hare and eggs are not forgotten
but you will not see them in any Christian house of worship.
The Council of Nicea acknowleged the signficance
of this important ritual time by decreeing in 325 A. D.
that Easter was to be celebrated on the first Sunday
after the first ecclesiastical full moon day on
or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox day,
usually March 21. So they did take
a little distance from the "Olde" beliefs.
Survival and Food
The Vernal Equinox was a very important period of passage
as it included rituals and invocations
for prosperity for the new crops which were planted.
These peoples celebrated for the basic reason
that they knew that their food supplies would soon be restored.
These festivities were held during the new moon
which was closest to the Equinox.
This was very important as planting crops
was akin to the survival of the family, clan or community.
The Vernal Equinox is a significant time
for people who live in certain regions on our planet.
It is the time when the Sun reappears at the northern pole
after it has been away for about six months.
And, of course, this is the opposite for the southern pole.
It is also the time when the Sun crosses
the zenith for people living at the equator.
The Vernal Equinox -Why it happens.
The Vernal Equinox is significant for astronomical reasons
as there are two times in the year when the days
are equal in length with the night:
the vernal equinox in the spring
and the fall equinox in the autumn.
These equinoxes happen because the axis of rotation
of the Earth is not aligned with the plane of its orbit around the Sun,
it, in fact, tilts by about 23½°.
At those moments the direction of the poles
are at a right angle to the Sun.
It is also significant because the Sun
crosses directly over the Earth's equator.
The Vernal Equinox is a time of transition,
a time when darkness and coldness lessen
and when lightness and warmness lengthen in the northern hemisphere.
(In the southern hemisphere the opposite occurs.)
At this point in time, the amount of dark and light is balanced,
twelve hours of each, day and night.
Each spring many people make a ritual of
cleaning out their dwellings.
It is a time of renewal in nature,
therefore many people want that renewal energy
to be reflected in their home.
This cleaning ritual removes any negative energy
that may have accumulated over the long dark winter
thereby preparing their home and life
for the start of positive growing energy
that commenses in the spring.
During the Vernal Equinox we are remembering
a distinctive time where there is
a quality of special energy in our planet.
Energy to plant, energy to grow, energy to renew our lives.
What is occurring is that life itself is being renewed,
because the growing energy is emerging from the ground
where it has been dormant in the earth since the winter solstice.
It is a good energy, a positive energy,
one we can harness to bring healthful,
pleasant, prosperous and beneficial experiences into our lives.
This is what the new spirituality is all about.
We can use this to improve the quality
of our lives and raise the good loving vibrations
to help heal ourselves, our human family and our planet!
The Vernal Equinox time is one of renewal
for ourselves in terms
of our thoughts, our aspirations, and our attitudes.
It is a good occasion to review
how we approach specific situations in our lives,
and life in general.
Our attitudes determine the path of our lives.
In order to contribute to creating a better world,
let us be Aware-fully and expect the best
and be the best that we can by doing our best.
If we want to be the honoured guest,
we have to treat others as the honoured guest.
Happy Vernal Equinox!
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Updated July 27, 2010
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