Tomorrow morning at 4:02am PDT the Sun will be directly over the equator, marking the Vernal Equinox and the first day of spring. All over the planet tomorrow there will be roughly equal parts of day and night. The Sun will rise directly in the East and set directly in the West. Some say that on this day the cosmic forces are so balanced that you can stand an egg on its end. Others say any one gullible enough to believe that you can balance an egg on its end at the Vernal Equinox should suffer the fate of wasting the day trying to do just that. The egg, of course, symbolizes new life and springtime itself—a time of rebirth and renewal when we all feel more vital and energetic. I’ve been feeling it in particular since St. Patrick’s Day this past Sunday, coinciding with Mercury turning direct. Some strong practices this week and large classes—it seems that everyone is feeling it, the Sap of Life flowing more strongly through the veins. I find that the more energy I give to my yoga practice, the more it gives back to me. This is a great time for Tapas—the Sacred Fire that removes impurities and brings us to our senses. For myself, I’m hoping to burn off the extra two kilos that I put on over the winter so I can do poses again like supta kurmasana, pashasana, and tittibhasana. Of course this will also require me to be more conscientious about my diet—avoid those empty calories, eat plenty of greens to make my liver happy, and spend more time outdoors walking, biking, and body surfing. The days are getting longer and warmer so it is a pleasure to be outdoors to see the springtime perennials blooming. Two of my favorites are nasturtiums and sour grass, both edible and good for the liver. The ocean is getting warm enough that I have thoughts of donning my spring wet suit and diving in. I think it might just be the rite of renewal I need to celebrate the Vernal Equinox tomorrow. There are many Holy Days in different cultures that are celebrated around this time—Passover and Easter, for example. The origins of Easter are linked to an ancient pagan festival celebrated on the Vernal Equinox called Ostara, named in honor of the Goddess Eostre, who symbolizes the passage of time as well as new life and fertility. Eostre was once rescued by a bird with frozen wings that was magically transformed into a magical , egg laying hare. There is a particular type of rabbit known as a March Hare, who has his mating season at this time of the year. Normally these hares are nocturnal, but during the mating season they are so crazed that they barely sleep. The female hares are capable of conceiving again even while they are pregnant. Both the rabbit and the egg are symbols of fertility and new life—a hare that lays eggs is a particularly potent symbol for the energy of the season.
I always reread the Ramayana in the spring. Rama and Hanuman were both born in the springtime and Rama and Sita were also married in the spring. Rama is associated with the sign Aries (Mesha in Sanskrit), the Ram. Over the years I’ve read many versions of the Ramayana. This year I have just started the Ramacharitamanasa (translation by R.C. Prasad) by Tulasi Das, the great 16th century poet who wrote the Hanuman Chalisa. Inspired by Valmiki’s Ramayana, the Ramacharitamanasa is Tulasi Das’ gift to the common man, written in the language of the people—a dialect of Hindi called Awadhi—rather than the more scholarly Sanskrit. Tulasi Das writes with great devotion to his subject. In India it is commonly believed that anyone who reads this divinely inspired text will receive a great spiritual blessing—something we can all use!