The term equinox (from the Latin for equal night) refers
to those times during the year in which the length of the day
and the night are equal. The equinox occurs twice yearly, at the
beginning of spring (around March 21) and the beginning of
fall (around September 23). From an astrological perspective,
the equinox occurs when the sun appears to be at the point
where the celestial equator (the Earths equator imaginably
projected outward into space) meets the eliptical, the path that
the sun appears to take as viewed from earth. As people observed
the heavens in ancient times, among the first phenomena
that became noticeable to them were the apparent movements
of the sun, especially the different points on the horizon
at which it rose day after day, and the variant length of days.
The longest and shortest days (the solstices) and the equinoxes
were important markers in the annual calendar, as were the
points halfway between each of these days, signaling as they did
important activities in the agricultural season. Very early these
points became ritualized, the occasions for feasts and celebrations.
In astrology, the spring equinox is the beginning of the new
astrological year. At that time the sun enters 0° Aries. At the fall
equinox it enters 0° Libra. The planetary configurations at the
time of the equinoxes have a particular importance in the interpretations
of mundane astrology (the astrology of nations).
Epworth Phenomena Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
The astrological year was largely replaced by the Christian
calendar in the West, but came back into use for marking the
year with the rebirth of ritual magic in the nineteenth century.
It was notable that magician Aleister Crowley named his biannual
journal Equinox. However, as with most ritual magicians
and astrologers, the equinox, while being an important marker
in the calendar, was not a particularly significant point for ritual
activity or horoscope interpretation.
Ritual significance was poured back into the equinox within
the Neo-Pagan Witchcraft Movement launched by Gerald
Gardner in the mid-twentieth century. Gardner revived the
eight annual sabbats, two of which occurred on the equinoxes.
Cunningham, Scott. Wicca A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.
St. Paul, Minn. Llewellyn Publications, 1988.
Farrar, Stewart. What Witches Do. New York Coward, McCann
& Geoghegan, 1971.