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Posts Tagged ‘Spring equinox’

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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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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

 

Although it’s started to feel like Spring in Northern NY, there aren’t any flowers yet. If you’d like to get your little ones excited about the coming season and want to add some color to your altars and nature tables, here’s a craft I came up with.  It will take a few hours or a couple of days depending on how long you let the stems dry, but that lesson in patience can easily relate to waiting for real flowers to sprout and bloom.  It also encourages hand-eye-coordination and practice with colors.  My daughter is almost three, and she really enjoyed this activity.  She loves seeing her art on our family altar!  It makes her feel part of the celebration.

Materials:

  • popsicle sticks
  • non-toxic green paint
  • brushes
  • lots of rags or paper towels to clean up (inevitable!)
  • a variety of colorful ribbons cut into small strips (older children practicing their cutting skills could help with this part)
  • tacky glue
  • a vase, flower pot, or basket for display

Process:

  1. Give your little one a few popsicle sticks, green paint, and a brush.  Encourage him or her to paint them, and talk about stems and their color.  Let these dry for a few hours or overnight.  Discuss patience and what that means.  Maybe use this time to plant some seeds for real flowers!
  2. Once the stems are dry, show your child all the pretty ribbon petals.  Maybe look at some photos of flowers for inspiration, and show how the petals look.
  3. Adults can put a small dot of glue at the top of each stick.  Toddlers can then place a petal.  Keep adding glue and petals until the child feels it’s done.  If your child is anything like mine, they will look a bit wabi-sabi.  That’s okay!
  4. Repeat for each stick and let dry for a few hours.
  5. Display on your altar or nature table, or give as seasonal gifts!

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In preparation for the upcoming Spring Equinox gathering next month, I’m experimenting with making paper mâché eggs for an egg hunt the little ones can enjoy. I would rather do something a little more sustainable than using cheap plastic eggs.

The Spring Equinox is a strange high day for me. It’s historically not very Celtic, but the authenticity of Norse traditions are also a bit contentious. My Protogrove uses it as a time to wake up and honor the Nature Spirits, with an emphasis on new life. For this reason, we do as the dominant culture and decorate with eggs. They are a symbol of spring and new life, so it works for us for now.

Making eggs and thinking about spring is a fun way to pass the time on a snowy February day…

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Though it’s snowing today in Northern NY, there is still new life all around if you just look. May you and yours have a blessed Spring Equinox.

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Basil reaching up to the sun. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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I’m not planning to do the “Easter Bunny Tradition,” but I do have a wee basket of goodies for my little Bee – including my first ever peg doll! It’s a daffodil-inspired gnome. Perfect for her growing play altar/nature table.

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On Saturday, Northern Rivers Protogrove will gather to celebrate and drum back the slumbering Nature Spirits. I can’t wait to gather with like-minded friends and honor the return to the green half of the year!

However you celebrate, blessed Spring Equinox!

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