By Anne Elspeth Rector, Intelligencer Writers Group
March 17, 2011
The welcome season of spring officially arrive(d) Sunday (3/20), at 7:21 p.m.
This vernal equinox is one of eight key dates in the ancient calendar of the Celts, marking crucial moments in the passage of time. Exact dates of equinoxes and solstices vary about a day or two, year to year, governed as they are by natural cycles rather than human calendar.
Ancient Celts felt close to the land that sustained them, so their lives were guided by the passage of time, the changing seasons, the influence of the sun, and the lunar path. Certain activities were held in harmony with a particular phase of the moon.
Each part of the year is also associated with a specific tree, whose qualities hold sway over life for that period. March 18 to April 14 is believed influenced by the alder tree, (Fearn in Celt); characterized by fire, purification, and water resistance.
A symbol of staying power, durability, and persistence, it speaks to emotional strength.
Alder is also used to build boats and bridges, its potential to help cross life’s oceans, seas, obstacles and doubt.
Celts consulted animal divination and sacred herbs, and revered the power of place and the interpretation of dreams. Story, legend and myth intertwined with wisdom and knowledge.
Words were central to ancient Celtic culture, an almost exclusively oral tradition.
With Irish and Scottish heritage, I come by this honestly.
Known in ancient folklore as the solar festival of Oestre, spring’s equinox marks the peak of energy and a time of renewal in nature and home. Night and day are in equal balance, and the earth awakens as outdoor activities resume again.
The word equinox means “equal night.” Night and day are again equal six months later, on the autumnal equinox, or festival of Mabon – Sept. 23 this year.
Such cycles of natural and celestial worlds held spiritual significance.