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Posts Tagged ‘Spring equinox’

Welcome to Three Things Thursday – your weekly dose of three mini posts in a larger post.

Virtual Vernal Equinox:

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A view of the ritual space in my back yard. I tried to make it as festive as possible with a green tablecloth, pastel bunnies, colored eggs, and an Airmed flag I sewed a couple years ago. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020.

Life changed quickly due to Covid-19, and my grove adapted with an online ritual. Unlike other instances when we did virtual rites, I did all the parts. I wanted to make it as stress-free as possible, so I streamed what I did online and left quiet moments for those joining in to speak to the Kindreds at their own home altars. When I called to the Nature Spirits, a red squirrel shimmied really close, stared at me, then chirped! Online rituals are always awkward, but I tried to make it peaceful and simple. People from out of town took part or viewed it later. I’m glad that I helped others find some comfort in a scary time. It was certainly a learning experience!

Devotionals with my Daughter:

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Like many of you, I’m groping through this whole social distancing experience. As I figure out how to balance teaching my students online and keeping my daughter on some sort of educational routine, I decided to include her in morning devotionals. I usually do them on my own before heading to work, but lately I felt it was important to make it more of a family affair. She cuddles up and hugs me while we take three calming breaths. I’ve had to shorten my ritual a little, and I let her choose who she makes offerings to. I think she’s finally at a perfect age to appreciate the added comfort.

Writing Update:

As I wait for feedback on RIVER MAGIC, I’m doing my best to keep busy and improve my craft. A sequel is taking shape in the form of an outline, and I’m working on a flash fiction inspired by the Adirondack Center for Writing’s prompt. Stuck at home, writing is even more important to me. It’s an outlet and escape. It’s another way to connect to others. I’m so grateful for Brigid’s inspiration.

How are you creating and connecting to others while staying inside?

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Once more, I’m squishing three mini blog posts together into a big one for your viewing pleasure! Here you’ll find some musings on the Spring Equinox, an activity for you to do with the little ones during isolation, and a new excerpt from an upcoming short story!

Growing Food

 

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Lettuce I’m regrowing. The CSA I got it from included the root ball, so I just plopped it back in a pot and watered. Now it’s regrowing! Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

My seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds arrived a couple days ago, promptly followed by the grow lights I ordered to improve my success. With everything shutting down, the shortages, and uncertainty, growing some food at home seems more important than ever. Each little seed is a packet of hope for the future. I enjoy blessing the seeds and planting them as part of our family Spring Equinox observations. If you’re new to gardening, there are plenty of resources online, but some of the easiest plants to grow in my experience are lettuce greens, peas, and chives. Chives will flourish year after year as they are self-seeding  (and quite invasive if you let them have their way). They’re a harbinger of spring in my garden, and even thrive left in pots left out over the winter. I enjoy snips of chives in my salads, potatoes, soups, and stews.

An Equinox Scavenger Hunt

Equinox Scavenger Hunt

My daughter is sad that she’s not able to celebrate the spring with our grovies. She always enjoyed doing an egg hunt and running around outside with the other kids. When the news reported that the virus reached the West Coast, I started buying one treat each grocery visit to ensure I had a basket for her. I also plan to do a scavenger hunt. I made a graphic using free clip art on Canva.com and am including it here for you if you like! I designed it for either hemisphere, and I emphasized the three realms in a kid-friendly way. It’s meant to be open-ended. Your child doesn’t have to find a bee, for example. It could be any insect flying in the sky. Any water will do – whether you go on a nature walk, look out your window, down from your balcony, or search for pictures and videos online. The important thing is you’re having conversations with your children and reflecting on seasonal changes.

A New Excerpt

Invasives excerpt

I push down the urge to utter a curse. My mind is too rattled to fuse words coherently without causing more harm than intended.
Invasives
by M. A. Phillips

I shared a sneak peek into an upcoming short story called “Invasives” on my instagram. I’ll talk about it more as we approach Bealtain, but I’m really excited for you to see it in issue three of Stone, Root, and Bone magazine! As always, I like adding excerpts to my Three Things Thursday posts since not all of my readers use that social media. Speaking of Stone, Root, and Bone, issue one is available for free this month! Just enter the promo code SRB1FREE when you check out. You’ll be able to read my short story “Lemon Balm Tea!” Let me know what you think.

Stay well everyone.

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Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

A warm cup of tea on a cold day. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

Kitchen Magic With My Daughter

Bee is showing more interest in both cooking and magic, so showing her how they can mix is a no brainer! Tonight I taught her how to boil water in the kettle (with supervision, of course). She likes to make things for other people, so I suggested she prepare me a cup of tea while I bake. I instructed her to focus on the water and send a happy wish for me into the beverage. Watching her concentrate was adorable, and she was so proud of herself!

spring equinox river magic excerpt

A dusting of snow fell the morning of ritual, but the group was determined to meet outside among the trees. They gathered at the trail they recently walked in Alexandria Bay. Crimson buds dotted some branches, but the lack of leaves gave their Vernal Equinox an ironic, wintry character.” – Excerpt from RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips

Writing Community

Over on Instagram, I’m participating in a couple writing challenges. It’s been a great way to make new connections in the writing community. It comes with so much inspiration, feedback, and support! I’m so grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts, especially the excerpts from my writing. Furthermore, I was touched this week when two more wonderful people stepped forward to beta read my manuscript! As the cherry on top, many others sent me messages of encouragement and excitement as I strive toward my dreams. I’m pleased to inspire others. The writing community is such a vibrant and beautiful place.

“Mercury in Gatorade”

 

My friend Artemis Fox in Watertown recently started a Pagan podcast called “Fire Burn Cauldron Bubble.” He and Luna Hawks are three episodes in, and their most recent episode was particularly interesting. Cheekily titled “Mercury in Gatorade,” they interview astrologer @illexxandra about the notorious Mercury in Retrograde. I learned a lot! Be forewarned, this show is for adults. They occasionally swear, so you may want to save this until the kiddos are in bed! There are a couple audio issues in places, but they don’t detract from the content. You can download or subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Libsyn.

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It’s that time of year again – there’s a major Christian holiday with vast cultural reach in America.  Pagans like me celebrated the Spring Equinox last week, but many of the people in our lives are excited for their religious observations this weekend.  There isn’t a big Jewish population where I live, so the default on everyone’s lips is, “Happy Easter!”

Unless you’re someone like me.  It’s like Christmastime all over again.

I’ve come up with several ways to respond that don’t give away my actual religious identity and lack any antagonism.  Nobody means to be a jerk.  While “Merry Christmas” has definitely become a political statement to some, everyone who wished me a Happy Easter as I left work or kickboxing genuinely meant well.

The most common exchange:

Them: Happy Easter!

Me: Thanks!  Have a good weekend!

Sometimes people ask questions.  Those have required some quick thinking, but I’ve got some stock phrases ready now.  I’ve become skilled at equivocating.

Them: Is your daughter excited for Easter?

Me: She loves anything that involves candy.

*

Them: Is your daughter excited for the Easter bunny?

Me: She loves rabbits.

*

Them: Are you taking your daughter to any egg hunts?

Me: We went to one last weekend.  (They don’t need to know it was part of a Spring Equinox celebration.)

*

Them: Any Easter plans?

Me: Relaxing!  (They usually say something like, “Me too!”)

*

 

I’m not ready to explicitly tell people, “Actually, I don’t celebrate Easter,” especially at work.  I have to really, really trust someone to say that.

Have you given any vague answers related to Easter questions?  I’d love to see them.

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Daniel’s Memorial Dragon Garden – Photo by John Crump, 2017.

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.

I spotted these daffodils growing in the hedge.  I wonder if someone tossed a potted plant and now they’ve gone feral.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

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.

No buds, but the wildflowers were growing in late April.  I need to go back and visit…  Red trilliums are such a beauty to behold.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

I collected big, heavy bag of trash in the woods for Earth Day.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2017.

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.

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The beautiful silver charm and box created by our talented Tan.  Also pictured is the beeswax candle used in the blessing.  Photo by Cassandra, 2016.

About six months ago, I performed my first Mother Blessing for my friend and grovemate Cassandra.  During my protogrove’s Spring Equinox rite, I had the honor and pleasure of leading a baby blessing, or saining, for the bundle of joy who arrived around Imbolc.  I performed the blessing as one of our magical workings.  It was largely inspired and informed by the saining Rev. Skip Ellison performed for my daughter.

I blessed the baby in the name of the Kindreds – by fire, well, and tree.  As I recited the prayer, I circled the child, held by her mother, with a beeswax candle.  Then placed some of our blessed water upon the baby with a silver charm handmade by one of our grove artisans, Tan.  Next, I placed my oaken wand against the child.  Finally, as I recited a translated charm from Carmina Gadelica (page 192 from the CJ Moore edition), I sprinkled the baby three times with “wavelets” from our holy well. This resulted in much squirming from the wee one, and chuckling from the circle of onlookers.

Next I presented the child and mother with a quilt the protogrove put together.  Secretly, I reached out to our members near and far, asking for bits of fabric representing the baby, her family, and protection.  I received such a variety, and some of the personality of the group came through.  I practiced using my growing needlepoint skills, Bee scribbled on some with fabric marker, there were fluffy foxes, whimsical owls, fireflies, spirals, a Goddess symbol, and several runes.  It was the biggest thing I’ve ever quilted, and although it challenged me, I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!  We passed it around the circle, touching in and putting our love into the blanket.  Charged with care and protection, it represents the safety, love, and guidance of the community.  Muin Mound presented a similar quilt to my daughter at her saining, and I loved the idea of a communal quilt as a sacred object – a child’s first magical tool.  When feeling sad or scared, the child can wrap up in the blanket and feel the support pour in.  As my protogrove grows, we develop our own special traditions.

After taking an omen for the child, I moved on to thank the Kindreds.  I don’t think I planned the end of the working all that well, but my grovemate seemed moved and very happy with the working.  Perhaps I should have some sort of musical signal, or a final exclamation?  I also wish I had thought to set aside a special chair ahead of time, as I had to awkwardly find one right before initiating the magical working.  As always, I’m growing and learning as I go along!  Serving my community is such an honor.  There’s definitely a pressure in that I want to do it to the best of my abilities, but it’s extremely fulfilling.

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Photo Mar 27, 2 30 22 PM

The beautifully colored St. Lawrence River at Alexandria Bay, NY.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

I went with my family to an Easter Brunch near the St. Lawrence River.  It felt like a homecoming in many ways; I hadn’t seen the river in a few months, and my heart swelled to see her.  Like a vibrant ribbon against brown fabric, the bright blue-green of the river certainly gave a spring feel to an otherwise sleepy land that hasn’t quite woke up after winter.

As I took in the majesty, I reflected on how lucky I am as a Pagan.  Sure, there were times in the past where I resented celebrating my Christian family’s holidays while they could barely remember mine.  Things have changed.  We’ve all grown.  My family has worked to show respect to me and my path.  I think it’s cute how my mother gives me Easter cards but crosses out her holiday’s name and writes “Spring Equinox” in its place.  It’s the little things, right?  It’s helped me feel more accepted, and I’ve become less threatened acting; more accepting myself.  I’ll be the first to wish them a “Happy Easter,” and I gave my niece Easter stickers in a basket with other goodies.

I thank the Kindreds for how lucky I am.  I sometimes get annoyed that my family doesn’t celebrate my holidays more, but they make gestures.  Honestly, I’m just happy to be together.  So many in Pagan traditions live in fear of their family finding out, or they’ve actually been isolated because of it.  Meanwhile, tempers are flaring in the Pagan and Polytheist communities, and the world at large is so full of hate and chest thumping…

I’m not sure how the world could become a more peaceful place, but I’m glad that my daughter and niece get to experience different traditions and see that we can still love one another and find commonalities.

 

 

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