Today is the first official day of Spring, and it’s about time too, by Gods, because this Winter has been making me feel like this:
I don’t normally make a big deal about the Vernal Equinox, but this year’s a special case. This Winter has been incredibly hard, long and cruel. It started early, just one week after Halloween, and since then we’ve accumulated at least 86.1 inches of snow in my area (so far – we’re due for some more any moment now). I’ve slipped on the ice on my way to and from work at least six times, banging my elbow and my hip pretty good. Also, the extreme cold temperatures – which went down to –32° Fahrenheit on at least one occasion – irritated my cavities and forced me to get several fillings over the past few months. Not only did this hurt financially; it also caused me to have a constant migraine headache throughout the entire season. The fact that my wife had to undergo carpal tunnel surgery over the holidays didn’t help, either. Normally, festivals like the Winter Solstice and Imbolc are supposed to be cheery occasions that make us feel hopeful during the darkest parts of Winter, but we were both pretty miserable on those occasions.
It’s still a bit early to celebrate Spring, for Winter is still threatening to bring us more snow. But thankfully, the temperatures have been lifting lately (32° Fahrenheit doesn’t seem so cold in comparison to –32°), and most of the snow has already receded dramatically. Nothing’s turning green just yet, but at least you can see the solid Earth once again. And at least there are robins flying around all over the place, which is always a good sign at this time of year.
What I love most about Spring is that it’s sort of like “Autumn in reverse.” Instead of things dying or going to sleep, they’re being born or awakened; but if you recorded it on camera and played it backwards, it would look like it’s time to carve some pumpkins and get ready for trick-or-treaters. Perhaps that’s why I always love breaking out the Halloween movies again at this time of year. I’ve realized that I not only enjoy watching them during the Autumn but during the Spring as well (especially when the temperature starts climbing up to the 50s or the 60s). Perhaps Spring’s backward resemblance to Autumn is also why the ancient Europeans considered the night of April 30 (i.e., Beltaine or Walpurgisnacht) to be the polar opposite but equal of Samhain or Halloween. Both are the only two nights of the year when faeries, demons and the spirits of the dead can freely roam the Earth en masse, but one occurs while the Earth is going to sleep (i.e., Halloween) and the other happens while it’s waking up (i.e., Walpurgisnacht).
I associate the Vernal Equinox with the resurrection of Osiris and the maternity of Isis. It’s also when the Sun is traveling through the constellation Pisces (which it just entered on Wednesday the 12th, and in which it will remain until approximately April 18). For me, fish represent the lost phallus of Osiris, which is both a symbol of Seth’s strength (since, by murdering Osiris, He proved that He alone can slay other Gods) and of Osiris’ strength (since He was still able to impregnate Isis with Horus without having His real penis). And to my mind, fish also represent the hope for a never-ending supply of water in the Field of Offerings, which I think would have meant a great deal to ancient Typhonians who lived out in the North African deserts.
The Vernal Equinox is also the origin of what most Westerners now call Easter. The name of Easter comes from an Anglo-Saxon Goddess called Eostre, who presides over fertility and who was especially worshiped on the Vernal Equinox. According to Jakob Grimm (i.e., of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”), Eostre once owned a beautiful bird that She decided to magically transform into a hare for some reason. (Why, you might ask? Who knows? She’s a Goddess, so She can do whatever the hell She wants.) Miraculously, this hare could still lay eggs just like a bird, and he later became our “Easter Bunny.” Eggs and rabbits are both perfect symbols for fertility (because eggs represent unborn life coming into the world and rabbits are definitely some of the fastest breeders). Later, when Christianity began to spread throughout Europe, the Vernal Equinox was used to calculate the ever-changing date for Easter (i.e., the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox), which of course became a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Virtually every culture has celebrated the idea of a “resurrection” on the Vernal Equinox, and it makes sense since this is the time when everything starts to come back to life. (But keep in mind that for people living in the Southern Hemisphere, the Vernal Equinox actually happens in September, while our Autumn Equinox is happening up here in the Northern Hemisphere.)
Anyway, I probably won’t be doing anything to celebrate this year – I’m just too goddamn tired – but I’m at least grateful to the Gods that the Vernal Equinox is here. Even though Winter isn’t quite down for the count in my neck of the woods, it’s reassuring to think that it’s now officially Spring at a cosmic level, at least. Here’s hoping that everyone has had a great day today and that everyone has a great evening as well. Happy Equinox, everybody!
The Resurrection of Osiris