Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring and The Archetypal Mystery of Sacrifice, Death and Rebirth

I have been mindful for a number of weeks now that it has been a long time since I have written in these pages.  While various ideas and topics have floated in my thoughts in recent days, nothing captured my  attention sufficiently to set words to paper.

This morning was different.

Today is the first day of spring and I welcome it in Antigonish, Nova Scotia where I have a small monthly practice of spiritual direction and Jungian Analysis.  The weather is beautiful – blue sky and a warm breeze. The unforgettable smell of new growth is in the air. 

I started my morning reflections with the sense of relief after the long winter and the anticipation of new life. My thoughts turned to Persephone in the Homeric Myth to Demeter and the beginning of Spring heralding her return to the upper world from the underworld. In the myth, Demeter agrees with the Gods, in exchange for the return of her daughter, Persephone must return to the underworld to be with her husband Pluto for 3 months of the year.  During those 3 months, the land lies fallow. Nothing grows. All of the activity lies in the unconscious - below the level of consciousness.   Much like my blog entries, my thoughts and reflections have been fallow.

The theme of this myth is very present in the modern day Easter ritual and Lent, and speaks to the archetypal journey of sacrifice, death and rebirth. It is a theme that is still psychologically relevant. At this time of year,  we are called to sacrifice something – an old attitude, outmoded belief, a way of seeing ourselves in the world – in order for something else to be present or to emerge from the empty space.

The archetypal significance of sacrifice to the Gods or to something larger than oneself is found in many spiritual traditions. The word comes from Middle English and means to make sacred.  Martha Blake in her paper “The Psychology of Sacrifice” proposes that the essence of sacrifice comes from the innate human need to purify and to give new life, and which takes the form of a conscious action. We need to actively let go of something of  value in service of something larger. In the days leading up to Easter, the 40 days of Lent marks the time of letting go, and giving up something in preparation for the death and resurrection inherently symbolized in the Easter Weekend.

The ancient journey of the divine feminine is also present at this time for it is the lunar cycle that defines the timing of the Easter Ritual. The name Easter is derived from the goddess of fertility and birth — Eostre.  Eostre was worshipped by early Anglo-Saxons in what is now Central Europe and Britain during the vernal equinox. The Vernal Equinox is the beginning of the astrological new year and the first day of Aries. The Aries Point is regarded as a highly significant point in astrology.   The sign of Aries speaks of action, initiation, and pioneering.  The shifting date of Easter is tied to this point and is calculated for the first Sunday following the Paschall Full Moon.  The Paschell Moon is calculated from the 14th day of the lunar cycle following the Vernal Equinox.

As we approach Easter Weekend in approximately 14 days,  we are in a liminal sacred time.  Treat this time with reverence and mystery and reflect on what are you prepared to let go or to give up in order for something new to come into your life?

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Professional Astrologer and Consultant with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She is graduate of the C.G. Institute Zurich. Her practice purpose is to empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is

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