Spring Equinox 2016

March 19th is the Vernal Equinox this year:

Spring is the dawn of the new zodiacal year in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t you just love the word “equinox?” I have to decide each time whether to say it with a short or long “e”. The equinoxes are the two times during the year when the dark of night and the light of day are in balance or equal. Another name for the Vernal Equinox is Ostara, from the name of a German Goddess of fertility, Oestarae.

She is the deific equivalent of the Greco-Roman goddess, Aurora, the personification of the sunrise. Consider that the Sun rises in the East and her name is where East and Easter both come from. The Christian Easter date was decided by the Council of Nicaea to fall the first Sunday after the first full Moon occurring on or after the March Equinox. This effectively removed its observance from conflicts with either Ostara or Passover.

There are many holidays and customs associated with March besides Easter. Click here to browse a few.

Signs of Spring:

Aries (Mar 20-Apr 19), Taurus (Apr 20-May 19), & Gemini (May 20- Jun 19)

Symbols of Spring:

Baby animals, rabbits, lambs, colored Easter eggs, robins and tulips

Foods of Spring:

Asparagus, artichokes, strawberries, apricots and fresh greens

Colors of Spring:

The pale green of young leaves, white of apple and pear blossoms, pink of camellia, azalea and cherry, yellow of witch hazel and forsythia, and all the colors of tulips.

Stones of Spring:

Ruby, diamond and red jasper are the traditional stones for Aries.  Amethyst. aventurine and rose quartz are traditional for Taurus, agate, moonstone and tiger eye for Gemini.

Activities of Autumn:

Walk in the arboretum under the cherry blossoms, go to the garden show and purchase plants and seeds for next year, make camping reservations for Summer!

Ostara’s place in the The Wheel of the Year.

Click these links to learn more about Spring and Equinoxes:  Rites of Spring or March Equinox Explained.

And… Since you know how I love this kind of thing, here is a site that discusses all the things that are wrong with Easter for Christians.


It’s February Second

Happy Groundhog day!

It was also known as Imbolc or Candlemas in the old European Calendar. These mid-season holidays fit between the solstices and equinoxes in what is called the Wheel of the Year. Candlemas is the final deadline for Christmas or Yule decorations to come down. But you are wondering about the weather, here is the full poem for the day:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another flight.

If Candlemas day be clouds and rain,

Winter is gone, and will not come again.

~ E. Holden

The US tradition honors the groundhog, or marmot depending on what they are called in your state, as the local weather prognosticator. Other countries honor the fox, the robin and a host of other animals. The animal chosen is not important, nor is the forecast supposed to relate to a whole country, but is said to describe a local micro-climate phenomenon. So don’t look at the TV News, look out your window. Today is was overcast and cold in the morning but sunny and mid-forties by 9 am so a groundhog, robin, fox, or human would have been able to see their shadow. I guess we are in for a longer Winter. Actually,  I was greeted by these when stepped off the porch today. They are right on time, next the true crocuses will come up and then the camellia will bloom, then the riot of bulbs will begin and we’ll have narcissus, tulips, muscari, and iris until the lilacs and then the roses take over. Are your crocuses opening up yet?

WP_20160202_13_00_03_Pro

Some fun links:

The American Ground Hog: Click here to visit Punxatawney Phil’s official site.

For some of the science behind the tradition, yes, there is a wee bit of science, see the Farmer’s Almanac article.

The History of Ground Hog Day in Seattle on My NW.com

Most importantly, watch Groundhog Day again. I love this movie.

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Celestial Events to see in 2016

mercury

Illustration by ESA, NASA, SOHO

No, not the Golden Globes, National Geographic: Stargazing has a lineup of real stuff worth going outside at night to see.

Total Solar Eclipse — March 8

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower — May 6

NB In dark countryside in the Northern Hemisphere, they say you can expect around 30 meteors per hour, while those in the Southern Hemisphere may experience an hourly rate as as high as 60.

I may have to plan a trip to somewhere where they have something like a dark sky outside to see this since the 7th will be our 34th Anniversary.

Transit of Mercury — May 9

NB In Classical Astrology, planets are generally believed to be burned up or ‘combust’ by close proximity to the Sun because they can’t be seen in the brightness of the Sun glare and therefore lose their power. This zone of combustion extends to 8 degrees around the Sun except in the case of extreme closeness called ‘Cazimi’ or within 17 minutes of the Sun, which the astrologers believed gave the planet more power because of being right ‘in the heart of the Sun,’  as they are when they are still visible during a transit over the Sun as in the picture.

Celestial Line-up — August 23

NB  Mars, Saturn and Antares, the two malefics with the bright star of Scorpio, Yikes

Venus Meets Jupiter — August 27

NB the two benefics together, Ahhh🙂

 

Mars and Lagoon — September 28

There is more detail and notes about visibility and where to direct your binoculars at the National Geo site. Enjoy!

Click National Geographic: Stargazing

 


September 23rd is the Autumnal Equinox

first-day-of-fall-2015-northern-hemisphere-6003706315145216-hp

The google doodle for Sep 23, 20015

Today is the day the Sun enters Libra and the beginning of Autumn. In the same way that the Solstice marks the days of longest and shortest “light,” the Equinoxes mark the day of equal light. Nox is the Roman goddess of night so equinox literally means “equal night.” The glyph for Libra represents the setting sun expressing the balance between night and day. In traditional Astrology, the Sun is “exalted” in Aries while halfway through its circuit along the ecliptic, it is in “fall” in Libra, Aries’ opposite sign.

The rising of the constellation Libra marked the beginning of the New Year in ancient Egypt. Equinoxes are the two points in the year (March 19-21 and September 21-23) when the Sun crosses the celestial equator. At these times, day and night in Northern and Southern hemispheres are of equal length. The Spring (vernal) Equinox occurs midway between the Winter and Summer solstices; the Autumnal Equinox occurs midway between the Summer and Winter solstices. The Autumn equinoctial festival of Mabon mirrors the spring equinoctial festival of Oestara with the Light and Dark forces of the Universe switching ascendancy.

In myth, the goddess Persephone departs the earth to join her husband in the underworld. It is time to give thanks for the summer and to welcome the impending dark. Traditionally, this was when some of the heaviest work of the agricultural year began. The harvest was stored away, the farm animals were measured against their feed and decisions were made about how many to keep and how many to slaughter and eat. This is why so much Thanksgiving feasting went on now. Fresh meat and fruit only last so long.

Symbols of Autumn:

Blackberries, cranberries, wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, nuts, corn, apples, pomegranates, ivy

Foods of Autumn:

Breads, nuts, apples, squash, pomegranates, and pumpkin pie.

Colors of Autumn:

The colors of the sunset: violet, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold.

Stones of Autumn:

Libra is pink tourmaline, opal and rhodochrosite. Scorpio is topaz, bloodstone, and yellow agate. Sagittarius is turquoise and jasper.

Activities of Autumn:

Making cider and wine, gathering seeds and seedpods, walking in the woods, Halloween, and Thanksgiving celebrations, Christmas shopping.



Welcome Spring!

The Equinox Tradition:

Spring is the dawn of the new zodiacal year in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t you just love the word “equinox?” I have to decide each time whether to say it with a short or long “e”. The equinoxes are the two times during the year when the dark of night and the light of day are in balance or equal. Another name for the Vernal Equinox is Ostara, from the name of a German Goddess of fertility, Oestarae.

She is the deific equivalent of the Greco-Roman goddess, Aurora, the personification of the sunrise. Consider that the Sun rises in the East and her name is where East and Easter both come from. The Christian Easter date was decided by the Council of Nicaea to fall the first Sunday after the first full Moon occurring on or after the March Equinox. This effectively removed its observance from conflicts with either Ostara or Passover.  Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome Spring!

The Equinox Tradition:

Spring is the dawn of the new zodiacal year in the Northern Hemisphere. Don’t you just love the word “equinox?” I have to decide each time whether to say it with a short or long “e”. The equinoxes are the two times during the year when the dark of night and the light of day are in balance or equal. Another name for the Vernal Equinox is Ostara, from the name of a German Goddess of fertility, Oestarae.

She is the deific equivalent of the Greco-Roman goddess, Aurora, the personification of the sunrise. Consider that the Sun rises in the East and her name is where East and Easter both come from. The Christian Easter date was decided by the Council of Nicaea to fall the first Sunday after the first full Moon occurring on or after the March Equinox. This effectively removed its observance from conflicts with either Ostara or Passover.  Read the rest of this entry »


Happy Halloween!

The traditional European festivals of Hallowe’en, Samhain, the Feast of the Dead and All Soul’s Eve’ are celebrated on or around October 31st in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, this is the seasonal equivalent of our May Day. Samhain, the hallowed eve’ (or Halloween) marks the true end of Summer and the beginning of Winter’s quarter of the year, the portion of the year dedicated to the night forces. Persephone assumes her role as Queen in the underworld and according to tradition, this is when the dead walk among us and return to their homes.

Celebrations honoring the dead, both departed loved ones and scary ghosts, are found as far back as ancient Egypt and within as varied cultural groups as the Iroquois and Huron in the New World, and the Celts, Romans,  Britons in the Old.  I haven’t found any evidence that Central American countries celebrated this holiday until after the Spanish Conquest but they’ve made up for lost time with their three day El Dias de los Muertas. All of these festivals take place between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, although the Huron festival was only celebrated every fifteenth year or when the tribe made a major geographical move, leaving behind the bones of the departed.

This year’s Day of the Dead festival will end with a total Solar Eclipse on November 3. It will be visible from the South Eastern part of the US. Check it out on Time and Date.com

Commemorate this time by listening to Mozart’s Requiem and lighting a candle to honor your ancestors, your teachers, those explorers who have gone before and who walk among us this night.  Watch some movies dealing with the supernatural: The Wizard of Oz, The Gift, Sixth Sense, Stir of Echoes, or Dead Again are some of my favorites.

Click here to read some great articles about Halloween, curses and zombies from Archeology Magazine.

Click here for local events from the Seattle PI.

So Mozart’s Requiem Mass is one of my favorite pieces of music in the whole world. Below is the complete Karl Bohm version from YouTube and it is beautiful, very lyrical and grand. We have several versions and the one of Peter Shreier conducting the Leipzig Radio Chorus from 1983 is actually the one I would recommend over this one so if you are looking to add it to your collection, get that one. I have listened to it hundreds of times and it still both gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears. I just looked it up on Amazon for you and … Interesting, I’m glad I’m not completely off base, it is considered good by much better informed listeners than I. Click here to read about the Schreier Requiem.