They say that March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.
As I wrote this (for Autostraddle, on the 4th March) snow was falling thickly past my window, and the idea of spring seemed far away. Yet here we are, three weeks later about to celebrate the equinox, the first day of spring.
Here in the UK (and everywhere east of this), the equinox falls on March 20th, though in many parts of the US it will be the 19th. Check this map for your local date. (And if you’re down under, you’ll find a short piece on the autumnal equinox here.)
Winter snow and then the warmth of spring, night and day, moon and sun, light and dark…the vernal equinox is a festival of balance. The sun leaves watery Pisces and moves into fiery Aries around this date.
Much of the information available about this festival focuses on ‘the union of male and female’. The maiden (often the goddess Brigid) and the ardent, potent young male coming together to create new life. The ‘masculine’, active energy of the sun and the passive ’feminine’ moon. I prefer to queer this by sidestepping the gender essentialism of the language so often used in spring traditions, and focusing on the deeper meaning, which is all about blending those opposites to achieve something wonderful. When we can get fire and water working together, our outer lives and our inner lives given equal attention, magic happens, things begin to grow, new life springs forth, new possibilities emerge. It reminds me very much of the Temperance tarot card, with its themes of blending water and fire – apparent opposites.
Related: Temperance also featured as the key card in this tarot reading for a genderqueer person looking for ways to get their masculine and feminine sides working together.
From the Dreaming Way Tarot
At Imbolc, when we were still in the midst of winter but could feel spring on its way, we looked forward to new growth and prepared for this time. Now – we are ready to act, to make the inner and outer work together. How can you begin to manifest the ideas you have been incubating? How can you enact what you hold inside, making your inner desires tangible and real? How can you make the impossible possible?
Balance, from the Wild Unknown Tarot, and Temperance, from the Shadowscapes Tarot
Glennie Kindred – my favourite writer on Wheel of the Year celebrations – offers this simple ritual, using a symbol of potency frequently associated with spring: an egg.
Pass an egg or imaginary egg around the circle, each focusing on what they have been incubating since the autumn and wish to bring out into the world. This is the fertile time. Being aware of your direction will greatly enhance the outcome. Share your thoughts with each other if you want to, before passing the egg on to the next person. At the end place the egg or imaginary egg on the shrine.
Glennie Kindred, Sacred Earth Celebrations
Spring’s element is air, whose qualities of clarity, foresight, cleansing and light blow in on the breeze. Spring cleaning traditionally takes place now (if you didn’t already do this at Imbolc!); we are ready to de-clutter, physically. As sunlight returns we notice the dirt on our windows, the dust in our homes, the clutter that builds up in the winter months.
A few ways to celebrate Spring Equinox:
- Try Alexis J Cunningfolk’s ‘Brightening’ tarot spread
- Make crafts that celebrate the wind and air: colourful flags, streamers and kites. Then get out and run with them and watch them fly in the wind!
- Spring cleaning and decluttering. Or try this spring cleaning tarot spread
- Especially, clean your sacred things – wands, crystals, altar items. You can make a traditional cleansing wash using hyssop by adding drops of the essential oil to water, or make a simple tea and use this to wash your things.
- Try this spring equinox meditation which works with the energy of Demeter, goddess of fertility, and explores the ‘bigness’ of your being.
- Read all about dragons!
- Climb a hill and breathe in the fresh air, taking in the view.
- Decorate eggs – hard-boil them or blow them and paint in bright colours. You can give them as gifts or decorate your home. Or host a good old-fashioned egg-hunt.
- Make tea or tincture from cleansing herbs – cleavers and nettle are both traditional spring tonics.
- For your altar: Daffodils and yellow flowers, catkins, eggs, dragon-like symbols. Symbols of air, like feathers.