Vernal Equinox

Embracing the Vernal Equinox: Insights from Celtic Traditions


The vernal equinox marks a significant turning point in the annual cycle of our beloved Mother Earth. It’s when the days grow longer and nature awakens from its winter slumber.

For the Celts, this celestial event held profound meaning. Intertwining their spiritual beliefs, agricultural practices and their deep connection with the natural world and the rhythms of the seasons.

When is it?

The vernal equinox occurs on or around March 20th – 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s a time when the sun is at 0 of Aries and it represents a moment of balance between light and darkness.

When day and night are approximately equal in duration it symbolizes harmony and equilibrium. Balancing our internal and external relations with ourselves and others in the world.

Celtic Mythology

Associated with the god Lugh in Celtic mythology, the vernal equinox is a multifaceted deity. Lugh is revered for his mastery of various domains including craftsmanship, agriculture, and warfare.

Lugh symbolizes the increasing strength of the sun as it ascends higher in the sky. As the sun rises higher it brings with it warmth and vitality to the land. His presence during this time represents the promise of abundance and growth. All of these attributes are essential elements for agricultural societies dependent on the fertility of the earth.

Celebrating Vernal Equinox

At the vernal equinox, the Celts celebrated the arrival of spring with rituals and festivities that honoured the renewal of life. One such tradition was the lighting of bonfires. Bonfires were believed to purify and protect the community while invoking the blessings of the gods. These fires served as beacons of hope, guiding the way towards the brighter days ahead. They also symbolize the triumph of light over darkness.

Another key aspect of Celtic celebrations during the vernal equinox was the reverence for sacred sites aligned with the movements of the sun. Stone circles, such as Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland are good examples of this. These sacred sites were constructed with precision to mark the changing seasons and commemorate important astronomical events like the equinoxes.

These ancient monuments became not just astronomical observatories but focal points for communal gatherings and spiritual ceremonies. It’s also marked as a time where the veils between the earthly and divine realms are more fluid.

The Celtic Calendar

The vernal equinox also held significance for the Celtic calendar, which was closely tied to the cycles of nature. Known as Imbolc or Eostre in some Celtic traditions, this time marked the beginning of the agricultural year. Signalling the start of planting and sowing season, it’s a time of hope and anticipation. Communities work in harmony with the land, trusting in the natural rhythms of growth and renewal.

In modern times, the vernal equinox continues to be celebrated by practitioners of Celtic spirituality and those drawn to nature-based traditions and rituals. Honouring the changing seasons, connecting with the elements, and paying homage to ancestral wisdom are carried out with reverence and respect for the Earth. These observances serve as reminders of the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of living in harmony with the natural world.

As we embrace the vernal equinox from a Celtic perspective, we are invited to reflect on our relationship with the Earth and the cycles of transformation that shape our lives. Like the Celts of old, we can find inspiration in the beauty of nature, the resilience of the human spirit, and the timeless wisdom passed down through generations.

Honouring the vernal equinox means that we also honour the eternal dance of light and darkness, of birth, death, and rebirth—a cycle as old as time itself, yet ever new.