Preparing for a Spring Equinox Rite on March 17th

The Vernal Equinox approaches and, as is customary because of our modern schedules, Muin Mound is to celebrate on the weekend – March 17th, to be exact.  For those of you who live under a rock, that’s St. Patrick’s Day.

A column from the General Post Office in Dublin on O’Connel St.   If you look close, you can see the bullet holes from the Easter Rising in 1916.    Although the story is more complicated than religious differences, such tension plays a part as Catholic Ireland wanted independence from Protestant England.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe.

Last year, I posted about why I use this day to celebrate my Irish heritage.  I also discussed why I no longer buy into the celebration of “All Snakes Day” or “Return of the Snakes.”  To summarize, it all comes down to a desire not to focus on religious divisiveness and instead celebrate a commonality.

A few days before Muin Mound’s Imbolc celebration, I woke up from a dream and felt very moved to lead the Spring Equinox Rite to honor Éire, Ireland herself.  What better time than when so much energy is focused on her (albeit mixed with racial stereotypes and green beer)?  My grove was favorable of the suggestion so I’ve been working on the ritual outline for the upcoming occasion (despite all my other obligations.  My ancestors insisted quite a bit.).  In addition to honoring Éire, we’ll also pay respect to Amergin, the ancient bard who made a pact with her which allowed our Irish ancestors to settle there.  In my opinion, this began a tradition of reciprocity between us and the land.  For allowing the Míl to live on Ireland (and defeat the Tuatha de Dannan in war), Amergin promised Éire (and her sisters Banba and Fódla) that Ireland would forever carry her name.

The challenge for me was how to include the celebration of Spring into this mix.  Many in the grove still wanted that emphasized which made sense to me.  I decided to include language that praises the green of Ireland while also welcoming the return of our own green here in America.  I also focused on a rebirth of our spirituality, inspired by Ireland, just as the spring marks new life.  Thus, we will meditate on physical and spiritual rebirth.
Another challenge was a grovemate’s request that I teach a tutorial on making felted Ostara eggs.  True, this would take place early in the day and well before the rite.  Yet the expectation is likely that many will use these as offerings.  Indeed, I made one to be the main offering!  Of course, there’s the very Anglo-Saxon energy of Ostara eggs which is not, at first thought, compatible with a rite to honor Ireland.  What to do, what to do…?

I remembered reading about the supposed Druid Egg, a magical stone/egg produced by snakes and used by Druids.  The snake, in many cultures, represents rebirth and is as good a spring symbol as the chicken!  And I find myself, in trying to avoid an “All Snakes Day” celebration, making felted, Ostara-inspired, snake eggs.

There is cosmic humor in this.

Still, our recent Irish ancestors, influenced by Germanic settlers, did dye eggs to mark Easter. So we will be honoring the ancient and more recent ancestors of Ireland.

If you are looking for a way to tap into the energy of St. Patrick’s Day without the Catholicism or mixture with Spring Equinox customs, I highly suggest reading this post, “Liberalia, Hero-Feast of Cú Chulainn” by Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous.  It’s inspired me to do a private devotional to Cú Chulainn this month.

And I’m curious about my readers – how are you marking St. Patrick’s Day if at all?  What about the Spring Equinox?

13 thoughts on “Preparing for a Spring Equinox Rite on March 17th

  1. Glad to hear it, and that you got something out of my post!

    A small correction: the land of Ireland is now called Eire (I can’t do acute accents on the present keyboard–my apologies), not “Erie,” and the name of the goddess is Eriu (also with an acute accent over the “e”). It’s always good to get the name of the one praised and honored correct, I think! 😉

    1. Right you are – thank you for your keen eyes and thoughts on the Goddess’ name. I had always thought Eire and Eiru were the same just changed through the history. This just shows how green I am! 😉

    2. Well I went through my ritual outline and Eire was spelled correctly each time. I must have been really loose on the keyboard today!

      Also, thank you for being very polite and helpful about it. There are many who, while more knowledgable, often bite off a noob’s head when they make a mistake! It can be very disheartening. We need more people like you. 🙂

  2. This is actually a huge pet peeve, to allow convenience to trump reality. Myself, I’ll be observing the equinox on the equinox, and it will run over the very minute that it occurs. The whole point of a holy day is that that day is separate from other days. You don’t find observant Jews putting off the sabbath; they arrange their other affairs around it, even when that makes them less competitive or more discriminated against. On a day that is ordained by the universe, I don’t believe man can just change it and expect the same benefit.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. I wish it were easier for the group to celebrate on the actual days, but the demands of life and the associated stresses (job security, debt, family obligations) are what they are. Part of being a modern Pagan is making the best of it and adapting our ways to modern life. Not all Jews are as strict either – there are many liberal sects who have to do the same. It is unfortunate, but true. Now on my own, I can do it as I please, but the politics of the group mean that some concessions are necessary. I tip my hat to your ability to do your rites on the actual days – especially if you are able to organize a group ritual.

      1. That’s where we disagree. I don’t compromise or adapt religious practice. If a religious observance (or moreover, a natural one, in this case) isn’t important enough to do what needs to be done at the time ordained by the sun and the earth, then it’s just a social gathering, which is fine for what it is, just like a poured concrete tree is fine for what it is. It just isn’t a tree, and an equinox on any other day is not an equinox. By all means, though, enjoy the fellowship.

      2. Also, not to be contentious (just sharing my beliefs), but while observing the changes in nature, we are also honoring the spirits and I feel we can do that any day. Sure it’s not *exactly* on the Equinox – but at least we are taking time to honor them together. 🙂

  3. Damn we got the same kind of troll on the Wild Onion FB page, pratting on about the date of Lughnassadh last year (eyeroll) Anyway our grove is actually doing the Hero-Feast of Cú Chulainn for our Spring Equinox ritual after a Grove member posted the above mentioned article on FB (maybe she found it here?) We will be celebrating on March 24th like the heretics that we are too 😉

    1. So glad to read that you’ll be feasting in honor of Cú Chulainn! I look forward to hearing how it went. I think it’s a really intriguing idea for those with an Irish hearth culture!

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