What is the March equinox?
No matter where you are in the world, the March equinox is one of two days per year when the hours of night equal the hours of day (hence the term “equi-nox,” or equal-night).
Hellenistic astrology roots from the knowledge traditions of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. Because these regions are located in the Northern Hemisphere, the ancients associated the March equinox with the first day of spring.
After months of cold and darkness, this day represented the relief of surviving another winter. Around this time, the soil thaws, and leaves bejewel the branches once more. Baby lambs holler into the world, blossoms release their fragrance, and seedlings surge from the earth.
In cultures all over the world — but especially in the Northern Hemisphere — this day represents a rebirth.
This year, the March equinox occurs on March 20th. If you live in the Southern hemisphere, it marks the beginning of fall, when the leaves molt off the trees and return to the earth. It is also around now that the light starts to dwindle more noticeably, and you’re tugged to the comforts of hearth and home.
Wherever you are in the world, the wheel of the year turns, and we enter a new season.
How to build an equinox altar
Since time immemorial, humans the world over have marked the equinoxes as special, potent, and even holy. Some cultures erected monuments; some peoples made pilgrimages; others gathered to feast, celebrate, and perform rituals that helped them align with the energies of the new season.
Because of this, we wanted to offer you some ideas about how to engage with this moment. Below, you’ll find a list of altar suggestions, and below that, a list of rituals, to help you honor the seasonal shift.
If this is your first time making an altar, please know that there is no right or wrong way to do it. You can think of an altar as a physical space that you are creating to honor the seasons, your inner world, the planets, or a quiet place in your home dedicated to your psychological, spiritual, and emotional healing.
After preparing your altar, you can sit at it, meditate, pray, journal, pull tarot cards, or simply bask in its beauty. You can build an altar before or after any of the rituals listed below, or do any of the rituals without building an altar.
Altar Suggestions for the Equinox
Arrange your altar in a pleasing manner with your candle front and center. Make sure you start with a clear and clean space. The following items are selected to honor the Sun entering Aries, which is ruled by the planet Mars, as well as the Spring or Fall Equinox (depending on your hemisphere). Every planet has its challenges and positive points. We invite you to focus on the highest good each planet can offer if you represent them on your altar: for the Sun, visibility, vitality, and creativity; for Mars, courage, strength, and willpower.
Gold cloth (for the Sun); red or orange cloth (for Mars); green cloth (for the spring equinox); orange or brown cloth (for the fall equinox).
Flowers that are bright yellow, orange, and/or red in color, such as sunflowers, peonies, marigolds, citrus flowers and trees (for the Sun); cacti, thistles, plants with pointy or sharp leaves, red flowers (for Mars); grass cuts, spring blossoms, buds, pussy willows (for the spring equinox), any plants that symbolize the turning of seasons where you are geographically, including pine cones and fall foliage (for the fall equinox).
Yellow, orange and red stones, actual gold, amber, hyacinth, chrysolite, carbuncle, ruby, garnet, larimar, peridot, rhodochrosite, citrine (for the Sun); iron, ochre, bloodstone, jasper, vermillion, multi-colored amethyst (for Mars).
Saffron, frankincense, cedar, St. John’s Wort, cinnamon, eyebright (for the Sun); nettle, cayenne, pepper, cumin, basil, anything red and sharp (for Mars); any herbs that promote balance, such as dandelion, burdock root, chamomile, or milk thistle; seasonal herbs in your area, such as parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary (for the spring or fall equinox).
Ginger, oranges, lemons, turmeric (for the Sun); garlic, ginger, pepper, tamarind, radish, chili peppers, hot sauce (for Mars); seasonal fruits or vegetables in your area (for the spring or fall equinox).
Figures associated with the Sun, lions, cats, felines; anything that represents royalty to you, things that are regal, shining, opulent, crowns, etc. (for the Sun); anything representing fire, such as matches, sparklers, cauldrons, candles (to honor the fire element of Aries); figures of warriors, ram’s horns, shark-teeth, or anything that symbolizes courage, strength, self-renewal, or victory (for Mars); fresh flowers, grass, eggs and other symbols of birth or rebirth (for the spring equinox); pumpkins, gourds, apples, corn, pine cones, family heirlooms, keepsakes from ancestors, pictures of any ancestors that have passed on that you want to honor (for the fall equinox); anything that symbolizes the turning of seasons where you are geographically.
To honor the Sun or Mars, you can also carve their symbols into the candle(s) before you light it.
*The altar suggestions above, plus a separate ritual for the Equinox will be published in the CHANI app on Sunday, March 19th, at 12 pm PT. We wanted to provide you with altar suggestions ahead of time just in case you needed time to prepare.
Rituals to honor the equinox:
- Find a project, venture, or relationship you’d like to begin or bless with a fresh start. The day you begin, plant seeds in a small container. Nurture the seedlings as you pursue your venture.
- If possible in your area, go foraging. Gather the flowers, plants, fruits, leaves, or pine cones that are available in your location at this time of year. Later, you may want to place these finds on your altar.
- Restore balance to your home. Clear your closets and junk drawers. Give away or sell anything that feels like extra weight.
- Conduct an energy clearing in your house. Do a ritual sweeping of every room, brushing away all the staleness. Sweep, always, in the direction of your door — then out the door.
- Adorn your home or altar with fresh flowers or seasonal foliage.
- Meditate, or do a practice that helps restore mental equilibrium. (We’ve got you covered with an abundance of guided meditations in the CHANI app — including one devoted to Balance.)
- If there’s an area of your life where you’d like to press “control-alt-delete,” know that you can always do so. If it helps, repeat these words: “I can always begin again.”
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