Spring Equinox 2023:
Northern Hemisphere, March 20 @ 21:24 UTC
Southern Hemisphere, September 23 @ 06:50 UTC
Who are your allies for the Spring Equinox and this season in the Wheel of the Year that begins today and ends with Bealtaine, traditionally celebrated on May 1st in the Northern Hemisphere and November 1st in the Southern Hemisphere?
For me, well it’s a team of allies including some of the Maiden goddesses of Spring, the element of Air, the creatures of Air (birds), the direction of East, and the plants of spring that are a refreshing tonic as we leave winter energies behind us, and the creative energies of beginnings and renewal.
Spring is a tipping point between the energies of Winter (North) and Summer (Fire). These are opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, with Fire in the direction of North and Winter in the direction of South. Spring brings in the breezes of the Air element, freshness and longer days. The leaves and catkins open on the trees welcoming a new season. The sunshine triggers the sap to rise in the trees, awaken the herbs and grasses of the earth, and the flowers of Spring such as violets, primrose, daffodils, cowslips and forget-me-nots.
All of these correspondences have commonality in their energies. For instance, Father Sun always rises in the East, heralding a new day, fresh beginnings, illumination after darkness, a clear mind refreshed by the dawn breezes, the inspiration of the “dawn chorus” as the birds (and the crowing of the roosters) awaken the plants, trees, animals (including we humans!).
And if the Wheel of the Year represents our life span, then East and the Spring Season is the time from birth to the passing from childhood into what was considered early adulthood or “coming of age”, those rites of passage experienced around the world by young men and women such as the natural cycles of puberty for girls (menarche, breast development, pubic hair, etc) and boys (pubic hair, facial hair, testicular growth, deepening of the voice, etc), and the cultural/religious traditions such as Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, Quinceañera, Sweet 16, Rumspringa, and Walkabout.
This youthful energy of innocence corresponds to the energy of The Maiden goddesses in the Women’s Wheel of Life such as the goddesses pictured — Artemis, Brid aka Brighid, Diana, Kore aka Persephone — and other goddesses such as Freya, Grainne, Ostara/Eostre, and Maia.
One group of animal allies most strongly associated with The East are the creatures of the Air, birds. For many, the Eagle is the ally of the East with it ability to soar and float on the breezes, its clear sharp vision and its aeries (nest) perched high atop tall trees and cliffs. But perhaps a different bird speaks to you. I often visit the Pacific Grey Herons in at Stanley Park, here in Vancouver. At this time of year they return to their nests perched high in the trees to lay their eggs and rear their young… beautiful new beginnings!
What birds come into your awareness in Spring, as they return from their winter homes, build new nests, mate and raise their young?
And in other traditions — Celtic, Druidic, pan-European, and others — animals of birth and fertility are the keepers of the East and new life as symbolized by the Hare. This fertile creature is associated with the goddess energies of Spring and Easter, including Beandia An Ghiorria (The Hare Goddess, in old Irish), Freya (aka Freyja), Cerridwen, Andraste, the White Goddess/Earth Mother.
In Irish lore, the direction East was associated with the colour purple, perhaps from the spring blossoms, and with prosperity. And spring was associated with the hare. The Irish hare — An Giorria Éireannach — had a reputation for shape shifting and could take on the form of a woman of any age. Folks were told not to eat a hare as it could be their grandmother! One can find many stories about hares in dúchas.ie, such as the following two. Please note that they are copied as is from the site, errors and all!
One day a woman went out looking at her cows. When she was walking along the river she saw the hare sucking the cow. The woman took a stone and struck the hare and the hare fell back as if dying. The woman went down but when she was below the hare was gone. She went home and went to mass. When she was on her way home from mass she heard that there was a woman sick. She went to see the sick woman. When she went into the room she asked her what was on her and the sick woman said "there is nothing but what you done to me". The other woman said "what did I do to you?" The sick woman answered "don't you know the morning you struck the hare with the stone? That was me".
Long ago there lived a man in County Mayo who owned a lot of land near Ballycastle. He used to have cattle grazing on it. Every morning when he went milking one of the cows he used get no milk at all from her. So one night he decided to wait up and see who was milking her. At dawn of day he saw a hare milking her. He got his two hounds and followed the hare. He followed him until he came to a house where the hare went in the window; but before he went in one of the hounds pulled a bit of fur out of the hare. It is said that when the man went into the house he saw nothing but an old woman sitting on the hob. He asked her did she see any hare coming in and she said she did not. Then the man lifted up the woman and he saw a pool of blood under her which went to show that instead of a hare it was a fairy woman that was in it all the time, and who took the form of a hare when milking the cow.