March 20th this year is the Spring Equinox when light and dark are in perfect balance. Twice a year we experience the Equinox, literally meaning Equal Night, when day and night are each twelve hours long. The sun rises at six in the morning and sets at six in the evening. Within this momentary balance at the Spring Equinox light and dark are equal, yet we know the light is growing stronger. We can be sure of a gradual warming of the earth and all that the sunshine brings. This is one reason the Spring Equinox is celebrated as the Festival of Promise.
All around us we can see rapid growth – a metamorphosis in the emerging leaves and flowers. In the cycle of our own year, our ideas are taking shape. Tender as they are, they can now be seen. The soft yellow primrose with its vivid green leaves shows us the mood of this time. It is now time to tend the seeds of new projects and new directions, meditated on through the quiet of winter.
Now is the time to start taking action. The amazing growth we experience now can feel overwhelming. Am I really ready for this?
For each of us, we face all sorts of challenges all year round, large and small, that test us. If we are to create something new, it is at this time of year that we are the most challenged. For this is the time to undergo a metamorphosis in our being.
There is a difference between metamorphosis and growth. Growth is more of the same – a leaf and then a bigger leaf, a stem and then a longer stem. Metamorphosis is a complete transformation in form – a new leaf unfurling on a bare branch, a bud opening into flower.
In spring nature undergoes its most dramatic and visible metamorphosis of form. For us, with nature as our mirror, spring is the time for us to undergo a metamorphosis of our own. How can we trust the chaotic process of creativity that we need to allow if we are to emerge differently?
At the Equinox, if we listen, we can hear the call to evolve and bring something new into being. We are asked to find courage and respond to the challenging call in whatever form that may take. This can make us feel insecure and unsure of our ability to act outwardly to shape the year ahead in a new way.
This hesitancy is reflected at this time as it is so changeable. One minute it is bright and sunny, the next it is icy cold. Nights can plunge way below freezing so we awaken to a frosty world which melts in a blast of hot sun through the morning. This journey from the Spring Equinox to Easter is a transitional time. Celebrating the Festival of Promise is a special time to unite with all the people of the world who share this one day together on the Spring Equinox. This can be as simple as lighting a candle to bless your journey from now to Easter, or standing with arms outstretched, poised in perfect balance and union with the world. Or creating a feast for friends and sharing your wishes and intentions together for this year of new beginnings. The poem below by John O’Donohue expresses something of the mood of this time.
by Louise Flower, from the Cycle of the Year
For a New Beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
~ John O’Donohue ~