Humans have always loved to get together and celebrate. The oldest celebrations of all were the Earth holidays, marking the seasons and cycles of change that were evident on the Earth.

At the autumnal equinox in September and the vernal equinox in March, the day and night are of equal length.

(Equi=equal, nox= night.)

The difference, of course, is that in autumn the days that follow will get shorter and the nights will grow longer, while in the season of spring, the light is returning; the days are growing longer, and will continue to lengthen each day until the peak of light is reached; the zenith of light occurs at the summer solstice.

The paradox and duality of life on Earth is revealed in these holidays, for at the peak of light, the dark is returning, and at the peak of darkness, the longest night, Winter Solstice, the light is beginning to rise. Another way to look at the duality is to remember that one region’s spring equinox, in New York, for example, is another area’s autumn equinox, for example in Melbourne, Australia.

When we humans participate in rituals to help turn “the wheel of the year” we experience that we embody these dualities, and that we, too, are intimately tied to the natural rhythms of the Earth, to the inbreath and outbreath, and no matter where we live, even in the very heart of the “concrete jungle” of the city, the heartbeat of the Earth is underneath us, beating the rhythms of life.

Our cultural holidays and religious holidays are outgrowths of our ancient Earth holidays.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, with its origins in medieval Europe, and now the over-the-top indulgence in wild celebrations of abundance and the sensual pleasures of life, featuring the artistry and pageantry of astounding costumes, magnificent floats, creative dances and competitive dance-offs by the Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans, is in anticipation of the coming solemnity and self-denial of coveted pleasures to begin on Ash Wednesday that will last through the approximately 40 days of Lent, to then be followed by Easter, celebrating resurrection.

Long before there was the resurrection of the Christ, there was the rebirth of the Earth, of the Goddess, by whatever name she was known in whichever place people were celebrating her and expressing gratitude for her abundant blessings. The term Easter was derived from that of the German goddess of rebirth, Oestara. On Easter, bunnies abound, a classic symbol of fecundity, and children hunt for eggs, a universal symbol of fertility; Easter grew out of the oldest celebration of the life-giving generosity of mother earth. And yet, even here the duality or the yin/yang of material existence is revealed, for the early time of Spring was and still is traditionally a lean time for people who live in close connection to the earth in temperate climates; gardens are not yet started, food is scarce; there is a celebration of rebirth in anticipation of and gratitude for the abundance to come, but the abundance is not actually here. It hasn’t yet manifested.

When we gather together to celebrate on this Equinox in 2021, we will not only be celebrating the return of the light and the rebirth of the Earth, we will be rebirthing our dreams, our confidence in our own creativity, our determination to live in a good way; we will be invoking healing for ourselves and our world in myriad ways, through our songs, stories, dances and visions.

It is a sacred time for gathering, and a joyous time, too. We need to cultivate kindness and community to warm us in these times when there is so much vitriol, heartlessness, and lack of civility and authenticity in our public conversation. We need to cultivate our individual and collective imaginations to reweave strong threads of connection with all that is good in ourselves and one another. This strengthens our confidence in our own capacity to contribute our unique perspective for the good of all life.

We live in dangerous times and what is commonly considered reasonable and realistic will not be enough to bring about the changes we know are needed. We also need magic. And magic is afoot. The equinoxes and solstices are hinge points, times when the gates open between the worlds of the seen and unseen, times when help can be asked for and received.

I hope you will come and join me and the wonderful men and women who will help guide the ritual, for your own pleasure and to honor all our relations as indigenous people affirm in their prayers and rituals, and as Buddhists affirm, for the benefit of all beings, and as we Green Witches affirm, May the Greatest Good of all be served. Blessed Be.

© Robin Rose Bennett

Robin Rose Bennett, an herbalist, writer, EarthSpirit educator and the founder of WiseWoman Healing Ways, is the author of Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living and The Gift of Healing Herbs as well as two meditation CDs. For more than 15 years, Robin has been offering herbal consultations at the Robert Morrow Family Medical Practice in Riverdale, New York.

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