On the Wheel of the Eight-Fold Year as observed by many Pagans, the Spring Equinox (the Second Quarter) is called Ēostre or Ostara. Named for an old Germanic Goddess, Ēostre, and the month called after her (Ēastermōnaþ). This month roughly corresponded with April and is the namesake of our present usage of Easter. It is the celebration of returning life to the land after the death of winter, and often symbolized by hares or rabbits (the hare is associated with goddess Ostara), baby animals like chicks (new life and beginnings) and eggs (fertility and increase).
In Celtic or Druidic observation, the spring equinox (celebrated on March 21st) is called Alban Eiler—the Light of the Earth. The balance of Day and Night has always been seen as a powerful opportunity for magic and transition. It is a time to sow seeds, in both physical and spiritual realms.
And of course, in the present we celebrate Easter, though that date is determined by calculating the occurrence of the paschal full moon (the full moon following March 20th) and it is observed the following Sunday. Since the March full moon is on the 20th this year, Easter will be at its latest, on April 21st. Easter Sunday celebrates the Christian belief of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
Whether we are Christian or not, most of us will follow the customs of feasting, coloring eggs and having hunts for the small children. These customs are derived from the roots of all the above mentioned observances of the arrival of spring.
Rarely—usually once every nineteen years— a full moon coincides with the Equinox. The last time the full moon occurred this close (about 4 hours) was in March 2000. The two haven’t occupied the same date since March 20, 1981 however. (From the Old Farmer’s Almanac ) This year the Equinox officially occurs at 5:58 pm EDT and the Full Moon at 9:43 p.m. EDT.
This first moon of spring is called variously, the Full Worm Moon, the Sap Moon, the Crow Moon and the Lenten Moon. This is this year’s third and final Supermoon. The superlative refers to the fact that the moon is at its closest to Earth in its orbit. The actual astronomical designation for a Supermoon is perigee full moon. Not as impressive perhaps. The actual difference (the moon can look 14% larger than at its other extreme on its elliptical orbit) is very slight and barely perceptible. To see the moon look larger or largest, see it just after it rises or before it sets when its proximity to the horizon makes it appear very large.
Why wait till Easter to color eggs? Adorn your home with fresh greenery according to what is available in your area. If snow still covers the ground, use evergreen herb sprigs or store bought spring plants. Use pastel candles, forced bulbs, lichens, etc.
Feast on those things that would have been carried over winter, nuts and squashes. Add bitter greens for their tonic effect after a heavy winter diet. Toast with a robust wine and welcome the season of returning warmth.
Plant a seed or several. Whether for cut flowers, or that herb garden you’ve been meaning to start or add to. Send your blessings out to a world emerging from the dark. Use the balance of this sacred time to bring yourself into same. After all, all things are equal…
Blessings to You All!