Lessons from the Spring Equinox

What nature can teach us about survival and resilience.

It's a time of tremendous global uncertainty, but like always, spring has come.

Thursday, March 19 marked the earliest vernal equinox in 124 years, making today the first day of spring.

The dawn of each spring tends to inspire humans to make changes and to invite renewal and rebirth in their lives. In that spirit, it's time to sow seeds that will grow as the weather grows warmer, to turn inwards and clean the dust out of the corners and take the trash out, to open yourself to change.

Spring is a time where the earth performs a miracle, one we tend to take for granted: It grows back after having died completely. Now it's time for us to learn from the crocuses, from the buds on the trees, from the gentle warmth of the sunlight as it pours through our windows. We're part of nature, so we have the ability to grow, too, no matter how long the winter lasts.

There are simple things you can do to practice inviting spring in and to awaken your body to the knowledge that it's here. You might prioritize sitting in the sunlight—perch yourself out on your fire escape or balcony, or even in a ray of sunlight on the edge of your bed—and let the vitamins seep into your face, soothing the deep shadows winter left. You might plant some seeds or scrape the dead leaves off a chair in your backyard, plant yourself there, and let the poems grow out of your fingertips.

Sometimes, growth can look like destruction, but nature has always practiced that rule: "For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone," says Cynthia Occelli. "The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction."

You might begin a garden (who knows, it could come in handy). Plant tomatoes, place herbs on your windows, and consider how growing your own food could become part of your daily rituals. Even the act of weeding can become a way of cleansing your own soul and mind of crowded darknesses, if you approach it with the right mindset.

You might go into the woods, or venture out into a nearby park. Go alone, or with a friend (while keeping six feet apart). You might practice a meditation together—just try it even though it'll feel strange—but focus on the feeling of the earth underneath your feet. Focus on the gentle breeze and the sounds around you. Imagine the sunlight working its way through your head all the way through your body. Imagine yourself being surrounded in an orb of golden light. (For a more detailed explanation of this practice, check out this Earth Meditation ritual).

The vernal equinox is a time of balance, a time when the day and night are equal lengths and the sun and moon are split into balanced halves. It's a time to honor both the darkness and the light as they exist in perfect harmony. In ancient times, spring was associated with the goddess Ostara, who represents fertility, rebirth, and youthful intuition.

There are many magical rituals you can use to honor Ostara, or you can invent your own. Either way, now is the time to look to forces larger than ourselves, to the lessons that the Earth has been trying to teach us, to the things our bodies know innately. What's out there, beyond the walls of the life you built for yourself? We're all about to find out. Of course, spring has been teaching us for all of time.