Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring Equinox: Come On, Baby, Light My Fire!

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Spring and the sign of Aries blast into our lives in a way that does justice to the expression “living out loud.” Buds burst, light sings, the sap rises in trees and we ditch our winter slump for a love affair with high energy.

If this sounds somewhat like overdoing the happy dance because you just got a Get Out of Jail Free card, there’s some mythical truth to the matter. From a symbolic standpoint, spring is more like a season’s pass from Hell. Here’s how the story goes.

Spring Mythology

Long ago in a place far away that may have never existed, but is none the less true for its core wisdom: Demeter, the goddess of crops and harvest (the asteroid Ceres in astrology), bore a daughter with Zeus, king of the gods. The daughter’s name was Persephone. One day Persephone was out gathering wild flowers when she was abducted by Hades—better known to us in his astrological persona as Pluto. Hades took Persephone to be his lover and queen in the Land of the Dead. (Not hard to see the parallels to an unevolved Scorpio and why Hades gets my nomination for patron sinner of stalkers.)

Demeter roams the land, trying to find her lost daughter.  Ultimately, she encounters Hecate, one of the original witchy women, who advises her to go to Helios, the Sun, to find out if he saw who snatched Persephone. All is revealed in the light of day, and Helios names Hades as the perpetrator.

Naturally, Demeter pleads with Zeus to do something. He is the chief god, and as incest-laden mythology would have it, Zeus is also Demeter and Hades’ brother. (Throw sibling rivalry into this soap opera.) Zeus refuses to intervene, and Demeter, righteously angry, refuses in turn to perform her duties as crop goddess. Famine threatens extinction of the human race.

The next bit of the story, typical of legends, has a couple of different versions. One is that Zeus finally intervenes and forces Hades to give up Persephone. In another, Demeter bargains for her daughter’s release. [1] (I like the latter because it empowers Demeter as the only person I know of in the myths who deals with that devil and at least cuts a compromise.)

Once reunited, Demeter asks if Persephone ate anything in the underworld. She admits to having consumed a pomegranate seed. This act links her permanently to the Land of the Dead, where she is destined to spend part of each year as Hades’ wife. During the time she’s gone, Demeter mourns and the crops go barren. Thus we have the cycle of growth, harvest, winter—and the joy of all nature welcoming Persephone back each spring.

Spring Fire

After revisiting this tale, it’s easy to understand why, in the perfection of nature, the cycle of the Sun through the zodiac begins with the first fire sign, Aries. It’s as though Persephone brings with her a little bit of hellfire without the damnation. (That comes later when she has to go back to the underworld.)

Carl Jung associated the astrological element fire with intuition. Fire is the life force rising up in us. It gives us warmth, comfort and literal fire cooks our food. [2] Man’s discovery of fire was one of the most important moments in human evolution. It changed the human course forever. Fire’s awesome power is recognized in another myth, that of Prometheus. He is punished horribly for stealing fire from the gods and is associated with the planet Uranus. As we evolve, we better harness our own inner warmth and fire to strengthen our own self-confidence and to share our ideas and creativity. It takes an initial act of rebellion to snatch some fire for ourselves and not let the jealous gods horde it --and lord it over us. After all, it’s the life force itself. It belongs to everyone, like the sun, stars and sky.


It’s the Natural New Year, the first—and in some ways the most important—of the Cardinal Turning Points. Here are some past posts with poems, ceremonies and things to ponder to kick off your New Year with some firecrackers of inspiration and meaning:

In his book, The Inner Sky, astrologer Stephen Forrest talks about the Sign of the Spring Equinox and Aries’ psychological association with the development of courage. [3] Behind every Aries Warrior is someone working on getting up the guts to do something. If the Aries you know seem more courageous than most, it’s only because they’ve been working on it since Day 1.

This is the time of year for all of us to screw up our courage and become more Aries- like—to be Life Warriors, rushing headlong into new adventures, taking risks and starting the New Year off boldly. Burst out of your winter eggshell and fly into spring like a firecracker, tail afire!

Happy Rebirthday, All!

Photo Credit: © Jürgen Fälchle -


  1. Myths and Legends: The Yearly Agricultural Cycle
  2. The Four Elements in Astrology by Bonnie Moss
  3. Forrest, Steven, The Inner Sky, Seven Paws Press: 2007, p. 42.

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