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Mother Earth's Big Day
by Adele Dubois

Published in Ellora’s Cave Lady Jaided Magazine and the Cerridwen Press Newsletter, March, 2008.


     March is the month of rebirth, resurrection and fertility, when Mother Earth begins to awaken from her long winter slumber, when the sap begins to flow again, when seeds are planted, and daylight begins to outlast the darkness.

     It all starts on the Vernal Equinox, which occurs on March 20 or 21 and is marked by celebrations of all sorts that reach back far in time. Many cultures celebrate the New Year on the Equinox, also known as Eostar. To others, it's Mother's Day. For ancient Greeks, the Equinox was when Persephone returned from Hades and Dionysius came out of his winter long depression. Ancient Germans celebrated Ostara, and Saxons the goddess Oestra, whose feast day was the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. According to legend, Oestra mated with the sun god on the Equinox and produced a child nine months later on the December 21, the Winter Solstice also known as Yule. Long before the birth of Christ, Mediterranean Pagans worshipped a goddess whose consort was born to a virgin and who died a martyr's death and was reborn on the Equinox.

     Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Sunday after the full moon following the Equinox. In 2008 the Vernal Equinox occurs March 20, followed by the full moon March 21 and Easter Sunday on March 23.

     As modern Christians prepare for Easter, nearly 40,000 people of all faiths and nationalities will flock to Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. There, the Mayan pyramid Chichen-Itza offers the most spectacular view of the Vernal Equinox in the world. The equinox, known as El Castillo, occurs when the center of the sun points directly over the earth's equator, shining above and below the horizon at every location on earth at exactly the same instant. Day and night become nearly equal in length, and the astrological calendar moves into Aries, the last sign in the zodiacal year.

     The Mayans believed the shadow of the serpent god Kukulcan was slowly snaking his way down the enormous steps of Chichen-Itza when the Vernal Equinox crossed their magnificent temple. The ancient Egyptians pointed the great Sphinx directly toward sunrise for the day of the Vernal Equinox.

     Due to the importance of the Vernal Equinox to so many cultures, March 21 was chosen by John McConnell, San Francisco's president of WE, Inc. (now called the Earth Society), as the date for Earth Day. This "special time to draw people together in appreciation of their mutual home" was first celebrated March 21, 1970.

     Names assigned to the March full moon are less auspicious than its religious function would seem to call for, though American settlers called it Lenten Moon. Some names, such as Seed Moon and Sap Moon, indicate its agricultural significance. Others, such as Storm Moon and Moon of Winds, refer to the brutal March weather in much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Adele Dubois is the author of DREAM TRAVELER and INTIMATE ART. To learn more about her visit her website at www.adeledubois.com



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