Happy Spring Equinox 2017! March 20 2017
March 20th or 21st always marks “the first day of spring.” Jokes abound in the Northeastern part of our country because it often doesn’t feel at all like spring on this inaugural day.
But the real event is a cosmic one that takes place in the stars and planets. This is why the exact day is not possible to state without stellar calculations. The day is called “The Spring (Vernal) Equinox.” It’s partner is “The Autumn (Autumnal) Equinox.” On these two days the days and nights are exactly even – balanced. Both have pagan a religious ceremonies in human history designed to celebrate the miracle of this perfect balance.
“Land of Heaven Astronomical Travel to Other Worlds and Description of Current Conditions of Life on the Different Planets of the Solar System,” French illustration, 1884; public domain.
The Solstices are the counterpoints to the equinoxes in the cosmic year. On December 21st, the shortest day of the year occurs and is celebrated in festivals around the world in different forms. In June on or around the 21st, the longest day occurs, and also has traditional celebrations to mark the day. These are the most imbalanced days in a year.
The Spring (or Vernal) Equinox is particularly thrilling as it marks the coming of spring. Easter and Passover are two religious markings of this extraordinary day. Like the variable events themselves, these holidays are among the last surviving events that are determined not by convenience but by lunar and solar calculations. Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Equinox. Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, begins on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nissan.
Both of these holidays are metaphors for the transformation of spring: new birth, overcoming death and slavery, new life, new lands – just as in the spring’s overpowering of winter.
On this day, it is said that an egg can balance unsupported because of the conditions in the heavens and on the earth. One Waldorf teacher did this with a class and reports that the egg balanced itself for 45 minutes while the second grade class held its breath, remained silent and tiptoed in the classroom to keep it balancing as long as possible. Try it!
In any event the moving of the earth in response to the Sun’s hovering in absolute equality with the moon for a brief moment before exercising its strength in longer days is an astonishing event, hard to fathom in its miraculous alteration of everything on earth…subtle at first and then bursting forth in response to the increased warmth.
Brown Earth into yellow crocus
Is undiluted hocus pocus!
– Piet Hein, scientist/mathematician