Tag Archives: vernal equinox

The Equinox, Volume 2 *

March 21st is the Vernal Equinox in those parts of the Northern Hemisphere which lie above the tropical zone – so I shall spend some time analysing how various occult traditions treat this seasonal event.

In Wicca, the Vernal Equinox is celebration of Light. The central part of the ceremonial consists of the following invocation, which the High Priestess recites before a bonfire is lit.

We kindle this fire today
In the presence of the Holy Ones,
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
But the High Gods
Thee we invoke, O Light o fLife;
Be thous a bright flame before us,
Be thous a guiding star above us;
Kindle thou within our hearts
A flame of love for our neighbours,
To our foes, to our friends, to our kindred all,
To all men on the broad earth;
O merciful Son of Cerridwen,
From the lowliest thing that liveth
To the Name which is highest of all.

(Source: “What Witches Do,” by Stewart Farrar).

In the Golden Dawn, the Equinox is the time when the old Hierophant steps down, and the new Hierophant is installed. It is also the time when the pass-word for the Equinox has changed. The choice of pass-word is significant, for it represents a Magical Affirmation to inspire and guide the Order for the next six-months. The Equinox ceremony of the Golden Dawn when worked with all the inner magical working, is in fact a magical ceremony to put that Magical affirmation into effect.

It was for this reason that Crowley referred to the reception of the Book of the Law as “the Equinox of the Gods” – because he saw it as a cosmic Equinox ceremony to give effect to the new Word, not of the next six-months, but of the new Aeon, i.e. “Thelema.”

Those of us who are not so much interested in becoming the Magus of a new Aeon as using the Equinox formula in our own workings, may find an insightful analysis of the ceremony in Circles of Power by John Michael Greer.

The final equinox working to which I will briefly refer is that of the Elus Cohens. This was a theurgic order founded by one Martinez De Pasqually in the  eighteenth century. It ceased working in the late 18th / early 19th century, but was revived in modern times by Robert Ambelain. Ambelain’s own group was allegedly closed sometime in the late 20th century, although it is within the author’s personal knowledge that the Elu Cohen rituals are still being worked by various people to this day.

The essence of the Elu Cohen Equinox ritual is that it is a great Exorcism rite, designed to banish all evil spirits from this planet. It is in fact quite intense, as it takes five days to complete (i.e. it was worked on five successive nights).

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Have Yourselves an Esoteric Christmas

Christ’s birthday is celebrated by Christians on December 25th, but is widely believed by theologians that this is a purely nominal date – Jesus was probably born at some other time in the year (assuming He existed in the first place). Why then has December 25th been picked for the date of Christmas?

One rather superficial answer which has been bandied about so much it has become a cliché is that it is apparently the same day as when the Persian god Mithras was born. This a lot of neo-pagans trot out, smugly thinking that Christianity is just an agglomeration of other religions’ feast days.

Guys! There is just as much proof that Mithras was born on December 25th as Jesus was! I.e. none whatsoever. The priests of the Mithraic religion chose December 25th for much the same reasons as Christians later did for Jesus – not because it was his actual birthday, but because the date itself has symbolic significance.

We are getting closer to the truth when we note that Yule – the Winter Solstice – occurs two to three days before Christmas. So why is not Christmas celebrated actually on the Solstice itself? In ancient times people did not have calculators, or telescopes, or accurate time-pieces. They were not able to work out the precise moment the Sun turns north again, and they had to rely on the evidence of their five senses. The reason December 25th was chosen arbitrarily is that it is the first day after the Winter Solstice when the increase in the amount of daylight can be noticed. Thus it was quite natural for ancient people of all religions to hold Solstitial celebrations on the 25th rather than the technical Solstice a few days beforehand.

The question then arises: why did Christians choose the feast of the Winter Solstice as Christ’s birthday, as opposed to, say, one of the other Pagan feast-days? The answer is that it can be explained astrologically. When the date for Christmas was set, it was well known that human gestation lasted 9 months. Therefore, the question asked was not “When would Christ have been born?” but “When would He have been conceived?”

Counting back from Christmas Day, we get to March 25th or thereabouts – which is known in the Christian Church as “Lady Day” or the Feast of the Annunciation. Obviously it is the approximate date of the Vernal Equinox (March 23rd), and, dare I say it, would actually have been the date that ancient peoples would have celebrated the Equinox, for much the same reasons that the Winter Solstice would have been celebrated on December 25th – i.e. “Lady Day” would be the first day on which the length of the day was noticeably longer than the night-time.

“Lady Day” (or the Vernal Equinox) being the day when Christ was conceived is significant because it is when the Sun enters Aries – a very appropriate zodiacal sign, as it brings to mind Jesus’ associations with “the Lamb of God”.

But more than this, Aries is the sign of Cardinal Fire. Now as Qabalists know, Fire is represented in the Hebrew alphabet by Shin, which shares the same gematria as “Ruach Elohim”, the “spirit of God” – or Holy Spirit. It is for this reason that the letter Shin is commonly used to represent the idea of Spirit in certain qabalistic words and phrases: e.g. YHVH (God) + Sh (Holy Spirit) = YHShVH (Yeheshuah i.e.

Now again, some commentators mistakenly confuse the Vernal Equinox with Easter, thinking that because they occur so close to one another they must be the same. However, this is not the case. Easter is specifically not the feast of the Equinox – it marks the first Full Moon after the Equinox. There is a bloody good reason why the Luna influence is important. Easter would have been the symbolic date that Mary first realised she really was pregnant. So once again, we have people celebrating events not on the technical day on which they are calculated to have occurred, but on the first occasion thereafter when it was possible to ascertain by non-technical means.

Therefore, the date of Christ’s conception was determined fit in with the Equinox (or Easter) because:
• Easter is the Christian celebration of the Dying God being reborn (like the Sun), and is thus a celebration of new life being brought to the Earth;
• The Sun entering Aries signifies the rousing to action of the Holy Spirit / Ruach Elohim, through its associations with Fire. Moreover, because this happens contemporaneously with Easter, the implication is that it is the Holy Spirit which is responsible for the new life in spring time;
• Hence it is appropriate that Mary the Mother of God, via the Holy Spirit, should conceive at the time of the Vernal Equinox, which itself is associated therewith: the idea of the ecclesiast being that the Holy Spirit creates new life in the Earth, and in Mary herself.

Or to put it another way, Jesus’ conception was figured as taking place around the same time of year as, many years later, He would die and be reborn. So not only is it inevitable that Jesus should be thought of as being born on December 25th, but also that the time of His death and resurrection is thought of occurring roundabout Easter time.


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