Almost Spring! This Wednesday is the Spring Equinox, the halfway point in the Sun’s journey between Winter’s southern-most extreme (short days, long nights) and Summer’s northern-most point (long days, short nights). Equinoxes, this one in March and its opposite in September, mark the midpoints, when day and night are equal.
Those spirals above? That’s the “Sun Dagger,” a petroglyph on Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, a remote site in New Mexico. Angled noon light marks the sun’s seasonal passage: at Summer Solstice slicing the large spiral’s center (top), at each Equinox bisecting the smaller spiral (center), and at Winter Solstice bracketing the large spiral (bottom).
The Solstices are times of contrasting extremes: heat or cold, light or dark, sun far north or sun far south. The Equinoxes are – in sun-terms – times of balance. Days and nights are of equal length, and the Sun is “balanced” along the horizon: It rises due East and sets due West.
Chaco Canyon and its extensive ruins are something of a monument to Equinoxes, with alignments to that twice-annual sun-balance embedded throughout the vast site. Chaco was also the “only culture known in the world to align their buildings to the Moon’s cycle.”*
Spring Equinox is a spring-feverish time as we break out of Winter. Here in the Rocky Mountain West, Ostara can bring new buds or blizzards, or both. Mama Earth kicks off Her blanket of snow, and starts to stretch and wake up… and then maybe curls back under Her snow-covers again for a few days. But from Wednesday onward, the days will be longer than the nights… She’ll be wide awake and leaping up soon enough.
On Wednesday, I’ll watch sunrise and sunset, and note my shadow’s shape at noon. Balance. But meanwhile, the weather can’t make up its mind. The winds are wild and the clouds are crazy… well, me, too. Spring fever sets in, an undercurrent of anti-hibernation sensory awareness. So I’ll explore my imbalances and move gently to adjust them, but I might enjoy them, too. “Dance like no-one’s watching…” The world is new again.
* Anna Sofaer, quoted in the video “The Mystery of Chaco Canyon.” More on Chaco, and understanding and working with Moon and Sun cycles in A Magical Tour of the Night Sky. Chaco Canyon is an Ancient Puebloan site, c. 850-1140 BCE, and is designated a National Historic Park, covering nearly 34,000 acres.