The Vernal Equinox and the Wheel of the Year

It’s the Vernal Equinox! I like to look backward before I look forward…

I live in Southern California. Celebrating the Celtic calendar creates cognitive dissonance for me. As a shaman and a witch, I work to align myself with nature’s cycles, but those cycles, at least in my surroundings, don’t match up with the High Holy days. I’ve been toying for some time with shifting my approach, and now is as good a time as any.

Celebrating the Solstices and the Equinoxes still makes sense to me. They are, after all, very clear cycles; but they don’t match up with the beginning of the seasons here. As it turns out, they’re not even the darkest and lightest day of the year. Likewise, I do see the thinning of the veils at the beginning of May and November, and it only makes sense to me to celebrate their counterparts at the feasts of Brid and Lugh. It’s the seasonal aspects inherent in the traditional celebrations that don’t work for me.

Right now, it’s bitterly cold and alternates between clear/crisp and damp. But that doesn’t really start until the end of December, and lasts until February-ish, when it shifts to a lot more rain. The rain goes until early May, generally speaking, and then we have gloomy fog until July, when it starts to heat up. The heat peaks in August and September, but doesn’t really start to get cool again until right around the end of October. It’s downright bipolar until December.


So the seasonal references should reflect our wheel, not the wheel of the Celts (or anyone else, really). This means that the meaning of what we have traditionally called Harvest and Fertility festivals is going to shift. It means, too, that the time of the Big Sun and the time of the Little Sun shift. The height of summer is more aptly celebrated at Lughnassadh, or even the Autumnal Equinox. That means that the depth of winter is more properly celebrated at Imbolc or the Vernal Equinox. We are only starting to move into the womb of the wheel at Winter Solstice. The Summer Solstice is more like the start of Spring here in the Coastal Southwest.

I’m going to take this year to really play with this idea, letting “they way we’ve always done it” fall by the wayside, and just listen to what Nature has to tell me. I’ll continue to celebrate the New Moon, because that’s not seasonally dependent. We’ll see what happens with everything else.

The above post originally ran at the end of 2012. As we’re coming up on the Vernal Equinox, and I’ve changed my personal practice to focus on the energies of astrological observances (whether solar or lunar) rather than the “traditional” observances, I wanted to talk specifically about the energy of the Vernal Equinox. Spring or Vernal Equinox is that point between Winter and Summer Solstices, when the hours of dark and night are equal. It is a time of balance. Equinoxes are a time of stasis and balance, which technically should not exist, so they become a moment outside of time. This is truly a time to start things, to sweep out the old in preparation for new things, and to see where our course needs adjustment, regardless of what your weather or planing schedule looks like.


If you are looking for some direction on how to observe this solar marker, you could start by working to get rid of those things which create imbalance. Make a priority list of your things, activities, and beliefs. At the top of the list are those things which foster healthy growth and spiritual progress. Next is that which keeps your life moving. Everything else becomes lower priority and can probably be set aside. Meditate on your list and see if your Spirit wants to rearrange anything – we are sometimes unaware of what fosters growth for us.

You can also contemplate the ideas of newness, re-emergence or rebirth, and new growth.
* What seeds are you ready to plant, metaphorically speaking, for the coming year? What do you want to bring forth?
* If you made New Year’s resolutions, it’s time for a progress report – have you laid the proper foundations?
* Looking back over the last 3-6 months, what challenges have you walked through? What did you learn? How did you triumphed? How have your experiences changed you? What are your new strengths?

I would love to hear what comes up for you!

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