The end of March is hardly how I imagine spring. Never the less, the Spring Equinox generally falls around March 21st every year (Freeman 71). In Upstate New York, snow can cling to existence until mid April. It is chilly, mucky, and gray – hardly what one considers spring-like weather. Yet I’ve grown to shrug off this more cynical approach that many of my fellow Upstate New Yorkers have adopted. If one takes the time to look there are signs of spring everywhere. There are tiny buds starting to form at the ends of branches. Some birds may start to return. There may be periods of rain rather than snow. These occurrences justify a celebration to many Neo Pagans.
Our European ancestors may have seen the signs of spring sooner than we do now but, historically, there is no evidence that our Celtic ancestors celebrated the Spring Equinox. This time of year seems to have been more significant to our Anglo-Saxon ancestors (Ellison 169). Eostre is the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the season and eggs, hares/rabbits, and new growth are sacred to her. Many of the traditions associated with her feast have been transferred to the Christian celebration of Easter. The Easter Bunny and colored eggs are obvious examples.
I grew up celebrating Easter with my Catholic family. While Christian mythology is fascinating in its own right, I was (as most children seem to be) more enamored with the bunnies and eggs. As with the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox has become easy to celebrate simply because many of the traditions are the same. As I become more and more involved with my Irish hearth culture, the Spring Equinox gives me the opportunity to meditate on my often overlooked Germanic blood.
While the Spring Equinox is admittedly not my favorite holiday, it is fun to watch children dye and hunt for eggs. I hope to continue that tradition with my own family one day. However I don’t want the celebration of the season to degrade into the materialistic façade of modern, secularized Easter. I would much rather use the egg as an opportunity to learn about life cycles and healthy food, and the holiday as a whole as an excuse to go on a nature walk to hunt for signs of spring.
How I Celebrated in 2008
I celebrated the Spring Equinox, also known as Ostara, with Muin Mound on Saturday, March 22nd, 2008. My boyfriend and I arrived a half an hour or so before the ritual started so we were able to relax while the ritual space was prepared in the house. Thirteen to fifteen other people were there to celebrate the coming of spring. I felt exhausted after a long day spent in Syracuse, but once the ritual neared, I felt myself buzzing with anticipation.
We processed out into the ritual space. Some duties had been handed out prior, but the Senior Druid forgot to ask for volunteers to make offerings to the Earth, Sea, and Sky. I volunteered to honor the Sea during the ritual and sprinkled salt water from a large sea shell around the ritual space while chanting “May the seas not rise up and drown us.” The practice draws from Celtic lore and belief, and I really like that it’s included in the ritual.
We honored the Goddess Eostre and the God Oisin. I had been under the impression that Oisin was a Celtic hero and that Eostre was a Teutonic Goddess. I wasn’t sure how connected this was and will have to do further research.
When it came time to make offerings, several people offered colored eggs. Someone eventually offered a candle which she lit from the flames of the central candle. She placed it in the offering bowl in the middle of the many colored eggs. It was a really beautiful site. I offered a ring that I had bought myself in Salem a few years ago. It had two angels/fairies holding a pentacle and was significant to me when I was Wiccan. It was still significant to me because it represented where I came from on my Pagan path. It also represented my recent reconciliation with Wicca after having felt some negative feelings towards the movement for a year or so. Giving the ring was my way of thanking the Kindreds for helping me to learn some much-needed lessons.
After the offerings were given, an omen was taken through the use of Ogham. The Arch Druid, Skip, read the omens and said they were positive, however I cannot recall what the particular sigils were.
I enjoyed this ritual. During the potluck I realized that I was slowly becoming a part of the grove. I was recognized, though everyone didn’t always remember my name. It has nearly been a year since I started to attend Muin Mound for the holidays and I think that I would like to become an official part of the grove.