Spring Equinox or Oestre, is celebrated when the sun moves out of the sign of Pisces and into the sign of Aries. This is the beginning of the astrological year, when darkness and light are of equal strength and duration, and we begin to experience the increased daylight hours which herald the onset of the planting season. It is a time of balance and equilibrium, as well as a time for accelerated growth internally and externally.
For some it is a time of purification, and for some it is a time for nurturing new projects into being. Many of us will find our creative urge is at the fore, and fertility of ideas and visions might be the predominant theme.
Springtime contains divine energy associated with new beginnings, dawning realities, rebirth and resurgent life. This is an opportunity to embrace our fertility magic, and the development of new concepts and plans that will reshape our future. It is a chance to resurrect or welcome back any energies or pursuits that have been allowed to fall dormant.
Oestre [pronounced Ester] is the name of a Germanic tribal Goddess, who has associations with Spring, and with various celestial deities such as Aster, Astrea, Astara, Astarte, Ashtoreth, Ishtar, Isis, Esther, and Ostara.
Oestre is an aspect of the ‘Great Mother’, and is often portrayed as a long necked bird with breasts and a vulva, with her wings spread wide. She has evolved into Mother Goose, and the Goose that laid the golden egg. She is a goddess of ovulation and conception. The same root word gives us oestrogen and estrus.
This time of year conjures many images and symbols of fertility, purification, sacrifice, and renewal. The Easter Bunny, like the March Hare, is unmistakably a fertility symbol, and just in case we miss the point, he delivers eggs, another ancient symbol of fertility and mystery. Many cultures celebrated the Spring mysteries with egg trees, egg pyramids and gifts of decorated eggs.
Eggs are a symbol of ovulation, conception, fertility, and the resurrection of life. They represent the hidden or secret incubation of emerging reality, and hint at immortality, as well as the mysterious primal growth which occurs inside a perfect container. It is hard to know what is inside just by observing the surface, yet when we ponder the egg as a symbol we allow ourselves to believe in the possibility that the hidden things in life, or those which are not yet visible, can and do exist. The egg assures us of the active possibility that the mystery will manifest.
The question of “Which comes first the chicken or the egg?” reminds us that fertility cycles are continual, and assured. If there is an egg, we are assured of a chicken to come, and vice versa. As Spring emerges out of Winter we are aware that Summer and it’s riches are on the way.
The egg is an exceptionally strong form, that perfect container, which protects anything which is not yet fully formed. At this time of year we may ask ourselves: “What are we incubating that is about to hatch?”
The strength of the egg is balanced by its vulnerability, and the symbolic breaking of an egg could be seen as representing another aspect of the fertility cycle. After all in order for human reproduction to occur, the boundary of the egg must be crossed by the sperm, and in order for the chick to hatch the shell must be broken from the inside. Often something in life must be broken through or even destroyed in order for creation to begin.
Shaped like a zero, the egg symbol also corresponds with the Tarot’s Fool, whose number is zero. This archetypal energy embodies pure spirit, and latent potential, as well as the ability to live in the present moment, allowing the future to emerge one step at a time. He represents The Sacred Void, or the great unmanifested principle from which all life emerges. He is the perfect April Fool, the unpredictable, risk taking free spirit.
The ‘Orphic Egg’ In ancient Greek tradition hatched the primordial hermaphroditic deity who in turn created all the other Gods and Goddesses. The orphic egg is often depicted with a serpent wrapped around it, which is another symbol of sacred sexuality and transformation.
The ‘Cosmic Egg’ is a mythological motif found in many creation myths in a variety of cultures and civilizations, and represents the origins of the universe.
One egg’s lower half transformed
And became the earth below,
And its upper half transmuted
And became the sky above;
From the yolk the sun was made,
Light of day to shine upon us;
From the white the moon was formed,
Light of night to gleam above us;
All the colored brighter bits
Rose to be the stars of heaven
And the darker crumbs changed into
Clouds and cloudlets in the sky.
Spring is known for being a perfect time for cleaning house and letting fresh air flow through the home. It is also a suitable time for liver cleansing and other tonifications. Spring rites were often preceded by ritual cleansing and purification rituals in preparation for rebirth and resurrection of life.
In England there was a tradition of the Pace-Egg which involved ritual cleansing and purging by way of pelting people with eggs. Mock beatings were often given to husbands by wives on Shrove Tuesday [shrove = to shrive or purge] just before the fasting of Lent, and then on Ash Wednesday the husbands would return the favour. On Moravia on Easter Monday [moon-day of ovulation hormones] young men of the village would ‘beat’ the young women with braided decorated whips until the men were given some eggs.
Spring corresponds with the element of Air in the Wiccan tradition, and therefore with the oxygenating functions of heart and lungs. The expansion and contraction of these organs is essential to our well being. Breathe deeply and feel the energy of Spring lift your spirit.
The Heart Chakra is the place of exchange, of giving and receiving, embracing and releasing, and the place of balance and equilibrium. Thoughts of love prevail in the Spring, and a sense of romance is in the air. This is the realm of the birds and the bees, and the natural world reminds us of the primal urge to create, and re-create.
At Equinox we are reminded of the balancing principle, and how it is the process of negotiating balance (rather than the absolute achievement of it) which gives us the most reward. We move closer to and farther from the state of balance as we move through our lives, and although we have moments of equilibrium, when everything is aligned and ‘perfect’, they are relatively fleeting. This is an essential part of our growth cycle, and if we were to have absolute balance as a constant state of being, we would soon find life to be too static and would likely create some sort of chaos to disrupt things once more.
If, however, we align ourselves with who we know ourselves to be, deep within our heart of hearts, and make our life choices in accordance with this way of being, we can find a state of grace. Over time the scales tip less dramatically, and we come to accept the ebb and flow of life as part of it’s richness. Perhaps this is true equilibrium: the acceptance of continual change within the constancy of being.
Whatever path you tread this spring, I hope it is blessed with the light of love, and that it fulfills your heart’s desire.
“The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, Uffizi Gallery, Florence
“Easter Eggs” clownfish @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. All Rights Reserved.
“Easter Egg” IsisDragon @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. All Rights Reserved.
“Lavender light” clownfish @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. All Rights Reserved.