March 20 is Oestara, the Vernal Equinox in the northern hemisphere, when the Sun ingresses into Aries—the sign of its exaltation—and we celebrate the start of spring. The day and night are equal in length, held in balance before the lengthening days overtake the shorter nights. It is a time for honoring new beginnings and appreciating the return of life after the months of winter hibernation. This year, as the Sun enters Aries, its ruler Mars is in Gemini just two signs away. The waxing crescent Moon is also in Gemini, while the ruler of Gemini—Mercury—is in Pisces, the sign of its antithesis and fall, conjunct the asteroid Pallas. The Sun is exalted in Aries in part because of the days growing longer than the nights, an indication of the Sun increasing in its influence, authority, and strength. Aries is cardinal fire, sparking the flames of new beginnings and the ignition of initiative. With Mars and the Moon in Gemini, this equinox is also a time for gathering information, formulating perspectives, and determining how to act on the knowledge we’re creating. Mars is applying to a trine with Saturn, encouraging principled, deliberate action and bringing long-term, focused discipline to what we choose to initiate. While Mercury may struggle to manage details in the emotional tides of Pisces, its conjunction with Pallas suggests strategic thinking, the wisdom to direct power well, and tenacity to protect those who are made most vulnerable. Pisces carries currents of compassion and inclusion, so at this equinox, as we celebrate the return of life, may our compassion inspire strategic wisdom for protecting the livability of all. With whatever we are beginning or initiating, may we collect the information and data that we need in order to synthesize actionable analyses with long-term vision. May we boldly speak up and dare to make connections that require us to adapt and change our perspectives. If you ritualize the equinox, I hope these words can inspire your rituals.
[First image reads “Astrology of the Wheel of the Year: Oestara, 20 March 2021” in golden letters on a dark green field of flowers and stars. Second image shows the chart for the moment of the Sun’s ingress into Aries, and reads “Oestara, 20 March 2021, 5:38am, Columbus, OH, USA”]
What is magic?
Magic happens through collaborating with mystery and surrendering control.
Two of my favorite definitions of magic come from Dion Fortune and Phyllis Curott. Fortune gave the definition, popularized by Starhawk: “Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will.” Curott teaches, “Magic is what happens when you have encountered the Divine” and “the Divine is everywhere present in the world”—including one another and ourselves. Magic is an encounter with our sacred inter- and intra-connectedness, the will to shift consciousness into an experience of relationality and belonging to that which exceeds our limited, individuated, separate selves. Whether through witchcraft, ritual, divination, or communing with ancestors, plants, or stones, we cultivate abiding awareness that the lives we are living are not only our own and never simply of our own design. We are participants in a larger ecology of relations that constitute and sustain us. We are moving in currents that were in motion before we arrived and will continue after we are gone. We do not and cannot know or control all that shapes our lives nor all that our lives are shaping. Magic is the art of changing our consciousness to recognize our lives as encounters with the Divine and learning how to collaborate with this mysterious immensity, learning how to shape change, following adrienne maree brown.
When we work with magic in these ways, I think we are engaging in anti-oppression practices because so many of the systems of oppression with which we struggle in imperialist, colonialist, white supremacist, human exceptionalist, capitalist hetero-patriarchy (re: bell hooks) depend upon obsessions with control and certainty. When we practice moving with mystery and abiding in the consciousness that our lives are never only or fully of our own but rather we are always emerging in collaboration with countless relations of which we are composed, we resist the compulsions toward certainty and control endemic within the systems against which we struggle.
[Image reads “What Is Magic?” in dark glowing letters on a pink field of flowers and stars.]