Friday, February 7, 2020

Spring Equinox / Ostara: March 19th, 2020


The Vernal Equinox is a scientific event marking a near-equal length of day and night during the spring for the Northern Hemisphere.  Historically, the Babylonian calendar would begin on the first full moon after the spring equinox, and was strongly tied to the ascent of the Sumerian goddess Inanna.  In Abrahamic religions, Passover typically falls on the first full moon after the March equinox as well, and Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after that full moon. In Scandinavia, the Norse would celebrate a blot, or sacrifice, to the disir and Valkyrie around this time, though not exactly in correspondence with the equinox itself.  And the Romans would celebrate Liberalia around the time of the vernal equinox, a festival that honored the maturation of young boys into men.

Because of the historical and scientific importance of equinoxes and solstices, the Spring Equinox inevitably made it onto the Wheel of the Year, a modern Neopagan/Wiccan calendar shaped in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  There, it's called Ostara, likely after a purported Germanic goddess of spring named Eostre.  Because this goddess was only mentioned once by English monk Bede in his work The Reckoning of Time, it's questionable as to whether Eostre existed or, if she did, how widespread her worship was.  

All that being said, the modern celebrations of the Spring Equinox mark the first day of spring and focus more on fertility, renewal, and life.  With symbolism including the rabbit and the egg, we honor the new flowers, the budding trees, and the return of warmth.  By this point, we can actually go out, till the soil, and plant seeds.  Symbolically, planting of seeds is akin to creating goals in our lives, thus the Spring Equinox can be used as a time of planning and goal creation, setting forth intentions to be realized within the year. Because the equinox is also a balance of night and day, this gives us two chances to focus on balance in our lives - what is needed and what is not.

This year's spring equinox occurs on Thursday, March 19th, 2020 at 9:50 PM CST.  Every year it shifts slightly, so I would suggest checking Archaeoastronomy.com if you're coming to this article after 2020.

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