March is abundant with ‘Holy Days’, finding voice through many cultural expressions.
For instance this year Purim, which is celebrated on the eve of the Full Moon, March 4-5, 2015 is a joyful spring holiday that features a festive meal, gift-giving, costumes, and noisemakers. The word “Purim” means “lots,” and refers to Haman’s casting of lots in the story of Esther. It is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations. Americans sometimes refer to Purim as the Jewish Mardi Gras.
This year daylight savings time comes on Sunday March 8th, so don’t forget to spring ahead!
The 15th is the famous Ides of March; which we all know is the day Julius Caesar was warned by the soothsayers to beware; the day he was assassinated.
But did you know that according to the ancient Roman calendar, the Ides of March was considered New Year’s Day, & marked the 1st day of Spring?
The 20th also happens to be the Iranian New Year celebration, Norooz, or ‘New Day’.
In 622 AD, Mohammed led his followers from Mecca to Medina to escape assassination. According to the story, when his pursuers reached the cave where Mohammed and his followers had taken shelter for the night, they found a dove nesting in front of it and the entrance covered by a spider’s web. So the pursuers passed on, leaving them in peace. Mohammed continued on to Medina, where he and his followers were able to worship freely. Muslims consider this flight — or Hijrah — to be the beginning of their calendar year. People worship quietly on this day, which begins with the 1st sighting of the crescent moon, and in keeping with the rebirth of nature is also considered the 1st day of Spring.
Here on this side of the globe we call it the Spring or Vernal Equinox, also known as: Alban Eilir, Eostar, the Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lady Day, Festival of Trees, NawRuz, Ostara, and the Rites of Spring – when the Sun enters the 1st sign of fiery Aries, as opposed to the lunar cycle used by the ancients.
Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over to the side of light. It is sacred to the twilight time of dawn, youth, the morning star and the east. The Saxon goddess, Eostre (from whose name we get the direction East and the holiday Easter) is a dawn goddess, like Aurora and Eos. Just as the dawn is the time of new light, so the vernal equinox is the time of new life.
What does it mean that this year the Equinox falls on the New moon? And furthermore it will be a Solar eclipse!
The Equinox is all about harmony and balance – that brief yet eternal time of equilibrium, when day & night are of equal length. In the fall, the darkness holds sway, but now for the spring season the light is triumphant.
What a perfect opportunity to tap into this celestial energy as it intersects our earthly ecliptic, a perfect opportunity to bring balance into our lives, harmony into our bodies.
We all have a mixture of yin & yang, darkness & light, female & male energies within us. Do they both have equal say? Or is one force overshadowing the other? Perhaps we are consciously putting more emphasis on one, to help develop that side, or maybe we just feel unbalanced & we don’t know why? Are we thinking too much, are we too sensitive, too busy doing, to just be? Is your left side tighter or looser than your right? Which side do you part your hair? Ah ha…! These are questions only you can answer for your Self.
Now vernal means green, right, so it’s not too far fetched to see a connection with St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th, with its emphasis on the shamrock and the wearing of the green.
Two other holidays also get mixed up in this ancient symbolism of Spring’s fertility. March 25th is called the ‘Annunciation of Mary.’ – the day that the Angel Gabriel announced that Mary, the Christian version of The Sophia, was pregnant with the son of god ; who is born 9 months later, on Dec. 25th. How’s that for a nice little spring fertility symbol.
It is also fitting that March is International Women’s month, since this is the time of the rebirth of nature. It’s a gentle reminder that we give birth to the future. The future is in our hands, the hands of the midwife, the lap of the mother, and the hands of the Peacemaker.
So let’s honor ourselves & thank the powers of love & light, knowing, March may come in like a lion, but it goes out like a lamb – As we re-conceive of ourselves in alignment with the powers of Spring…
Peace & Blessed Bee…
Hazel Archer Ginsberg