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Archive for the ‘Spring Equinox’ Category

I do consider Samhain to be the beginning of my spiritual year, but I also cannot deny the status quo in regards to modern society.  Generations have looked to the point between December and January as the threshold to a new year and the continual existence of all. I can’t deny the power associated with such a movement, even if I don’t always observe it with much excitement.  Last year I spent it quietly with my husband.  We relaxed.  This year, I’ll likely spend it helping my sister move and then celebrating with some of my tribe.

Another thing I want to do is clean my home as best as I can.  Many people believe that what you do at the end of the old year will follow you into the new year, and that we should strive to surround ourselves with the qualities we want to fill our lives with.  I want my apartment to be cleaner and I want to take more time making it thus.  I spent some time today cleaning and organizing the kitchen.  There is still work to be done but it’s slowly getting better and more user-friendly.

I also find myself looking forward to the green half of the year.  With the Winter Solstice pretty much over (I plan to take my decorations down on the 6th.  There’s an old Irish belief that it’s unlucky to do so before or after.), I find myself excited for Beltaine.  I feel a bit bad about that since I don’t feel as giddy over the next high day, Imbolc, which is sacred to my blessed Lady Brighid, but to me that’s more of a quiet holiday for counting one’s blessings.  The Spring Equinox has never been that festive to me either.  Beltaine, though, is another story completely.  The ground will finally be completely or in the process of thawing.  The leaves will be blossoming and the robins will assuredly be back by then.  It is when my grove erects a May Pole and we dance about it to provoke the Earth Mother into fecundity.  It is a flirtatious and celebratory time!  I find myself excitedly looking through seed catalogs and humming Jonathan Coulton’s “First of May”…

This time of year is also when I find myself a new calendar.  This year I am going to use  The Artisans Guild of Ár nDraíocht Féin 2011 Calendar.  It supports the guild I belong to and features the work of several amazing Pagan artists – including a couple of my dolls!

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The Spring Equinox

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.

 

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I am so blessed to have a husband who is willing to have rituals with me despite his lack of religion.  There are even days, like today, where I feel “out of it” and it’s him encouraging me to do the things I value so highly.  I’ve been feeling congested all day as well as kind of depressed.  I knew I wanted to acknowledge the new season in some way but felt blase about it at the same time.  Hubby kept asking and asking so I finally decided that we would do a very laid back ritual closer to my longer devotionals.

Hubby said he enjoyed it.   He helped out by making a couple offerings and drawing the cards for the omen, even helping me interpreting their meaning for our lives.  To me, it was such a bonding activity.

We honored a being I’ve been calling “Forest.”  I see her as the guardian spirit of NY.  I don’t really know her real name so just call her that because that is where I feel her strongest.  There is a wildness about her and yet a tameness – much of it imprinted on her by us, but she nourishes us through the fertile, tilled fields where thick trees once stood.  She’s the localized Earth Mother who is waking up after a winter nap.

The omen we received was similar to what I got in my last ritual, and yet hubby felt there were other meanings too, which made a lot of sense.  The kindreds are calling us outside, to travel to our tribe, to dive into our different projects, and to not worry so much.

That last bit is something I need to work on…  Really, it’s probably the crux of my personality flaws.  I worry too much about what I need to do, whether or not I’m good at something, whether or not I’m attractive, etc…  I need to just stop and be.  It’s these things that are acting as hurdles to my spiritual development.  My mind is sometimes far too busy and it needs to relax.

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Happy spring!

Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox and I went down to Utica for a reiki workshop led by friend and reiki master Imagickat.  This was her first class on reiki and the first time she’s given attunements.  I must admit, before the class I knew very little about reiki.  She’s given me reiki treatments before and they always really helped.  They make me feel at peace, like massage but in a different way.  This will sound strange, but I love to be touched.  Not in a sexual way – but spiritually.  It’s warming and comforting.  
Back to what I was saying.  I’ve been largely ignorant about reiki.  It’s something I knew existed and, like I said, even experienced from time to time.  For whatever reason I never bothered to read about it.  This is mostly because I have so many other interests that it never dawned on me.  I always (wrongly) assumed it was derived from Shinto  practices in Japan.  I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to dapple with.  However, I learned that it’s adaptable to any spiritual practice and that it was even brought to America (by the Japanese) and changed so as to be better understood by Westerners.  It’s also incredibly modern, the practice only having been founded in 1922 by Mikao Usui.  
Learning this put me at ease.  Originally, I felt inclined to attend the workshop because I wanted to learn more about using and sensing energy.  I wasn’t sure if I would actually want to go further than learn, but in the end I’m glad I did.  The attunement wasn’t orgasmic, but I definitely felt something.  I’m much better able to sense energy within myself at the moment, but practicing yesterday enabled me to better sense it in others.  I was practiced on so much yesterday that my sinuses cleared for a whole day.  I later practiced on willing family members who said they felt at peace, that headaches vanished, and that they felt something sucked out.  I sensed a weird energy in my mum’s knees and she said they’ve been bothering her recently.  It’s all very interesting.  
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the ritual at Muin Mound in Syracuse.  I was feeling ill yesterday morning and felt that I shouldn’t go after an already busy afternoon (especially considering the necessary and long drive home afterwards).  I missed it but it was wonderful to see my old Pagan friends in Utica.  I’m hoping to do a Druidic ritual with my husband later.
I hope everyone has a blessed celebration of spring!  Just ignore the snow we had this morning.  😉

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Spring is Coming

I heard geese today!  That’s a sure sign of spring!

It feels so comfortable outside.  I love these transitionary moments.  I can feel the energy and the potential in the air.  Things are stirring.  Life is stirring.

In other news, I finally attended a CUUPS meeting.  It was held in the Watertown UU (Huge, lovely building, by the way.  I was surprised at how large it was!).  My husband came because I was nervous about meeting new people – Pagans in particular.  You see, as much as I love my religious community, it can’t be denied that we attract some folks with questionable stability and, sometimes, morality.  I was delighted to find a group of inviting, intelligent, sane people.  Really, I’ve only had a couple of freaky experiences – both relatively minor to others I’ve heard of.  But still.  It doesn’t hurt to play it safe, especially as a woman in an area full of testosterone, economic uncertainty, and a pool of people potentially dealing with PTSD.

Anyway, first impressions are everything and, as I said, these seemed like good people.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and prepare for the Spring Equinox.  I was a little put off by the use of an Edain McCoy book, but otherwise the research was pretty spot on to a lot of history books I’ve read.  Of course there was the usual duotheistic slant I’ve come to expect from most eclectic groups, but I am fine with that so long as they understand (or try to understand) the cultures from whence the holidays came.  I was even more impressed that the group was attempting to have a casual ritual open to people of all paths.  There will be no calling of quarters, no main deity called, no offerings given, etc.  Basically, the point of the ritual is to welcome spring and raise some energy that will be put back into the Earth.  Following that there is to be a potluck.  I offered to bring quiche.

I am looking forward to the ritual but also have some minor trepidations with the group.  Again, it is not their personalities or anything of the sort.  I think, more than anything, I feel really new but also really experienced.  The two women doing most of the talking have been Pagans longer than me, and that’s awesome.  But everyone else seems really new and quiet.  I felt that I had a lot to say but was really reluctant to open my mouth for fear of overstepping boundaries.  I’m also uncertain as to their true feelings about ADF.  I was impressed that they knew about it, Muin Mound, and some of our beliefs.  They said they had done some ADF rituals in the past but I got the feeling they really weren’t keen on them.  Something about being too complicated (they’re long but logical, in my opinion).  They’re not for everyone, but I definitely get something out of them and I would hate to work with people who turn their noses down on my tradition.  I guess I’ll just see how things go next time and consider whether or not I go back… It’s hard being the newbie.  I’m uncertain how they see me and what they really think.

You see, I’m struggling with wanting to find a local community and friends that I can feel safe with, and feeling like I already have too much going on.  Whenever I participate in ADF chats or attend Muin Mound, I feel really fulfilled.  I like being on a similar wavelength to others, and it’s not like I’ve severed ties with my eclectic Pagan friends in Utica. I just…  I don’t know.  I’m lonely but then I’m not.  Growing pains, I suppose. I guess I’ll just see what happens!  At the very least, I would like to give the CUUPS a chance and maintain a positive relationship with them.

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