The seeds planted at Samhain, lying dormant at the Winter Solstice. having moved on their own at Imbolc, have now sprouted, and are above the surface of the Earth.
In the cycle of manifestation of, say, an idea, it is at this point where the idea becomes manifest to others. This, then, equates with the moment of birth. Tender as it is, others can see it. The year/idea/project/baby is born. The first breath of Spring.
And the light at this time of year is doing the same – it is moving upwards - towards the summer.
Equinox means "equal night," and anywhere on the Earth, given a level horizon, the Sun rises due East, and sets due West. Equal day and night. But, while equal and balanced, in the northern hemisphere, the momentum is definitely towards the Light.
The Spring Equinox was a critical time for the ancient astrologers. They started their astrological year then - as the Sun moves into Aries - this sign, bursting with initiating energy, like the seed bursting through the top soil, characterized this time of year. (You may be aware that astronomically, on the 21st of March, the Sun is no longer in Aries; it is much closer to the beginning of Pisces. Thus the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. This has to do with the Precession of the Equinoxes and the 26,000+ year wobble of the Earth.)
15 Ides of March – The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar , which is said to have been devised by Romulus , the mythical founder of Rome . Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity.
The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:
Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides.
17 St. Patrick – everyone knows this one, but some sources also say that it is Joseph of Arimathea's day as well. Both of these Saints spent time in Glastonbury.
19 St Joseph – husband of Mary and father of Jesus, is the patron saint of carpentry, defender of the family and symbol of generosity and benevolent patriarchal protector. Why do you think his day is just before the Spring Equinox?
20 St. Cuthbert of Lindesfarne – accepted the decrees of the Synod of Whitby in 663 (see below), which committed the English Church to following Roman customs that had been introduced into Canterbury by Augustine instead of their older indigenous Celtic Christian traditions.
21 - Equinox – equal day/equal night – anywhere on Earth. On this day, a line drawn from the centre of the Earth to the centre of the Sun crosses the Equator.
Easter – One of the Major decisions made at the Synod of Whitby in 644 CE was the way Easter was to be determined. The Celtic Church arrived at the date one way, and the Roman Church used the method that eventually won out. After Whitby, Easter was officially defined as the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. What a pagan way to determine the most sacred moveable feast in the Christian Calendar! It was the Venerable Bede who set the rules of how to determine this date. Unfortunately, due to the precession of the Equinoxes. the use of the 21st of March as the date of the Equinox became more and more inaccurate. Even by the time of Charlemagne only several centuries later, the date of the Equinox, had already slipped back to the 17th or 18th rather than the 21st of March. By the end of the Middle Ages, Ptolemy had been rediscovered, and it was obvious that his interpretation of the Earth standing still and the Sun and other planets was the way to go. Anyone could see that was how it was. But then, along came the unfortunate Galileo who,based on the earlier work of Copernicus, claimed that the Earth rotated around the Sun! Heresy! Recant! Which he did.
But it was the Church's on-going need to be able to accurately predict when the Spring Equinox was that eventually proved Galileo correct. The answer lay in the use of meridian lines, a line drawn from north to south that goes directly over your head. The Sun is on the Meridian (the highest point in the sky on any given day) at noon. You need a box camera to make this work. Cathedrals, large dark chambers, fit the bill exactly. Prior to this time, the major entrances to sacred spaces were oriented towards a significant astronomical (usually horizonal) event (think of New Grange in Ireland which was oriented towards the Winter Solstice Sunrise, or Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, which was oriented towards the Equinox Sunrises). But with this need to be able to accurately predict Easter, the astronomical uses of sacred space changed.
The ability to determine this date became of critical import to the Church as much of the yearly cycle of liturgy was based upon an accurate date for this moveable feast of Easter. (For example, Lent is forty days before, and Pentecost (Whitsunday) is fifty days after Easter. As the date of the Equinox shifted farther and farther away from the 21st of March, the Church became more and more frantic to be able to determine it accurately. A universal Church should needed to ascertain this critical date accurately.
But the Church astronomers in cathedrals like the Duomo of Palermo or Toscanelli meridiana in S.M. del Fiore in Florence (completed in 1755) were able to put a small hole, high on the southern face of the church wall that allowed a dot of sun light to fall upon a line drawn on the floor. Each day, the astronomers could track the Sun at noon - from its low point in the winter to its high point in the summer. The dot created an analemma, a path through the that looked like a lopsided eight. Observing this path showed the Church astronomers that Ptolemy was wrong and Galileo was correct.
So, in the cycle of growth,
the Spring Equinox is a time of sprouting,
that initial manifestation,
of the ideas that you planted at last autumn at Samhain.
It is a time of balance,
a time of growth,
a time of equality.
What is at a balance point in your life?
May it grow and flourish as we move on towards Beltane.