This festival celebrates the balance of energies and the lengthening of the days. The usual date is 21 March, when the Sun moves from Pisces to Aries and the day is as long as the night. The Spring Equinox is a minor festival, held at sunrise.
At the Spring Equinox, the energies of the Earth are in balance: light is equal to dark. In order to get to this balance, Nature does its own Spring cleaning, as you may well have noticed in 2002. Unsettled weather and unsettled minds lead to all kinds of trouble.
Storms raged over the British Isles for many weeks at a stretch. They were sweeping clean the outer world. In the inner world, old patterns and old karma are swept away, too. This manifests itself in health problems and difficulties in relationships.
But the balance of the Equinox brings an end to all that and offers the promise of brighter days to come. The festival happens during the Root or Leaf Moon, when Spring is really bursting forth. Nature is moving its energy form deep inside the earth upwards and outwards. And we are called upon to do the same.
Colouring eggs is a fun thing to do at this time of year. The most ancient traditional colour for eggs is red, which is reminiscent of blood, the essence of life. Eggs of course are concentrated vessels of potential new life. And an egg takes centre stage in my ritual.
For Witches and Wiccans, this festival is called Ostara, after the Germanic Goddess who gave her name to Easter. Sacred to Ostara is the hare, who by now is thinking about extending his family. On the continent, where I come from, people still speak of the Easter Hare, who is the forerunner of the Easter Bunny. Both Hare and Bunny hide coloured eggs in the garden for children (young and old) to go and find.
The Spring Equinox corresponds with the Eastern point of the Wheel of the Year, so that is where I place my altar. On it are the usual symbols of the Elements, as well as a hard boiled and dyed egg. In the centre of the circle stands my cauldron.
I cast the Circle and invoke the Elements. Then I state the purpose of the rite, breaking through the final resistance and reaching out, and invoke the Goddess. She is Bride, the Spring Maiden dressed in tender green.
To start with, I dedicate the egg to magic. I let Universal energy flow into it and empower it. Then I meditate on the meaning of the egg. I saw the yolk as my essential Self, the white as everything that aids and nurtures that Self, and the hard shell as the things that hold it back. I then think about what it was that was holding me back. When I have identified it, I break its power over me by cracking the egg, and peeling away the hard shell.
I then raise energy with a chant and direct it into the egg. I take some time to feel my essential Self inside of me. As I eat the egg, I let it grow and envelop me. This is the me I am meant to be and am meant to show to the world.
I make a commitment to the work in the outer world by promising each Element, in each quarter, that I will do something with it. Something with the gifts my mind with the help of Air in the East, something with the gift of creativity form Fire in the South, something with the gift of love from Water in the West, and something with the gift of my body from Earth in the North. I also make a pledge of faithful practice to Spirit at the Centre of the Circle. In six month's time I will be back here, giving thanks for the harvest of what I have achieved.
As usual, I finish with a feast of homemade bread and wine. Then I thank the Goddess and any spirits who have come to visit and I open the Circle.