The transition from winter to spring was marked by a tragedy within my own community and grove. A friend, someone I started studying Paganism with back when I was in college, suddenly passed away. It was very sudden and heartbreaking, especially as he left my friend (his wife), and their daughter on the corporeal realm. After discussing his wife and daughter’s wishes, the grove (of which he was a member) came up with the idea to create a memorial dragon garden in his memory. The Yoga Center, where we have most of our rituals, allowed us to keep it on their land near the fairy gardens.
We gathered for the Spring Equinox and created it as a magical working. It was part to memorialize our friend, part to heal our hearts, and part to strengthen our bonds. In addition to studying Wicca with him when I was in Utica, he attended Muin Mound Grove for many years, then joined Northern Rivers Grove last year. The two groves came together to honor him in our working. It was probably the hardest ritual I ever lead. As we took turns placing stones or figurines in the garden, we shared memories. There were many tears and hugs.
We focus so much on rebirth at this time of year. The death of a friend and grovemate has had me focusing on the death part that is so necessary for the cycle to renew. We get caught up with the flowers in the spring that we can forget the decaying leaves that nourish the plants. Honestly, thinking about how I will go back to the Earth and contribute to that gives me a strange comfort. All the same, it doesn’t make these partings any easier.
I went into the woods around Earth Day to keep with my tradition of picking up some trash that time of year. I usually try to pick up some trash whenever I go into the woods, but I put in extra effort around Earth Day. The effort is my offering to the local spirits. I wondered if any of the Dead lingered in the woods, watching me remove the garbage…
We celebrated Bealtaine with laughter and joy. We danced around a Maypole and we jumped the embers for cleansing and good luck. We missed old friends, those who moved away, and our friend who passed beyond the veil. We called on the fertility of the land, and I contemplated the role our Ancestors have in abundance.
Shortly after Bealtaine, I took part in my friend’s very small and private funeral. We met up with his family, another grovie, and a friend from the eclectic circle in Utica. There were elderly people and babies gathered in a small circle of mud boots and umbrellas. We were surrounded by trees that held great significance to my departed grovemate and the most magical balancing stones. The sky cried buckets. While others moved soil, everyone chanted:
Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
And fire my spirit…
I thought of all the Dead around us, mingling with the soil, the waters, the air, and in our own spirits… It was a sublime moment. One that will stay with me forever.