As Equinox Approaches…

 

“Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”                              — William Shakespeare

It occurs to me that we, as human beings, are all some combination of light and darkness. The task is to balance the two, without letting either one have the greater power. Too much darkness will engulf us into the depths of fear and depression. Too much light will make us blind.

The light is active, warm, affirming and life-giving, but excessive sun will give us sunstroke. The night is silent, contemplative and restorative, but too much darkness will cause inertia.

At no time of year are these truths more evident than at Equinox, when light and darkness occupy an equal number of hours in one day.

The light and darkness can also be compared to personalities. Somewhere along the line, darkness got a bad rap. This of course, is vastly unfair. It is true that no one likes “morbid Morticia”. She is rude, harsh, abrupt, maybe revealing a bit too much of the cold, hard truth.

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However, the sugar coated “positive Pollyanna” can grate on our nerves as well. She is too happy. We are jealous. Who lives in a 24 hour sunshine? We want revenge!  Can she be for real?

(You know the types 🙂 )

Think whatever you want about morbid Morticia, but she has some wicked, hidden secrets to reveal. Are you interested? Of course you are! She is the night, the wisdom, the no-holds-barred exposure of the soul. Positive Pollyanna can keep these harsh truths in perspective. She is the illumination, the goodness and the gentleness, forever reminding us of our light within. We need both of them.

“To light a candle is to cast a shadow.” — Ursula Le Guin

There is an ancient Taoist belief that all of nature is a reflection of humanity, and vice-versa. We humans are more like the elements of nature than we might suspect.  Our life cycles stand parallel to those of plants and flowers, going through the same phases of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Therefore, if we seek to heal anything within ourselves, we need only look to nature for the solution.

In the northern hemisphere, we now greet Autumn. We gather our harvest, embrace the last glimpse of summer and prepare for the darkness to come. In the southern hemisphere, we greet Spring. We begin planting, kiss the night goodbye and prepare for the long, fair days to come.

Both are important for our well being. Both are important for the well being of our planet.

At this Equinox, take some time to reflect on and embrace both the darkness and the light within yourself.  Blessed be!

light and dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating Ostara

The very name sounds romantic, doesn’t it? It slips across the lips, sizzles the teeth, makes a guttural R in the throat. It conjures visions of stars and wistful moonlit nights.  Oh. Star.  Oh, star, ahhhh.   Indeed, spring is a good season for star gazing as the nights get warmer and the constellations clearer.

a starry night

Ostara is the official Pagan name for the vernal equinox.  It marks a 24 hour period when the earth’s angle is tilted to receive equal parts of sunlight and darkness, usually around March 20-23rd.   Ostara was first celebrated among ancient Germanic Pagans.  It is a feast that honors the goddess Eostre  who rules growth and fertility.

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The names Ostara and Eostre might sound suspiciously like the Christian holiday Easter, also celebrated at this time of year.  No coincidence there.  In Christian faith, Easter signifies the day in which Jesus rose from the dead, leaving his tomb rolled open — and empty — to the astonished Mary Magdalene, who was, btw, the only one brave enough to visit her rabbi’s grave.  Easter therefore is a celebration of life everlasting.

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene--Olsen

The name ‘Easter’ is attributed to Saint Bede the Venerable, a 6th century Christian monk.  Bede was a great scholar who wrote many spiritual treatises.  He was also an expert in chronology and developed a method of dating events relative to Christ’s birth (A.D. and B.C.)   Saint Bede the Venerable is thought to have anglicized the name ‘Easter’ from its original Eostre or Ostara.

 

Easter Sunday  is always celebrated in the spring, but the date changes.  Ever wonder how this is determined? There is a pattern to it. If you check the calendar you will see that   Easter always falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox.  In this year of 2016, for example, the vernal equinox will occur on March 20th, the moon will be full on March 23rd,  and Easter Sunday will occur on March 27th.  See how that works?  It’s the same every year, and has been since the Middle Ages.

Legend has it that Jesus pondered his fate of crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane under a full moon, on a Thursday night (Holy Thursday) after the vernal equinox.  He was crucified the next day (Good Friday) and rose from the dead on that Sunday.

Ted-Neeley---´Jesus-Christ-Superstar´

 

Moving on to chocolate!  Ever wonder where we got those traditions of chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps?

chocolate-bunny-with-flower

 

No, not just to give the candy industry extra business,  although it is a great marketing tool.  They are actually symbols traditionally associated with the goddess Eostre;  eggs, chicks and rabbits (yes, for fertility.)  Eostre is also associated with early blooming flowers such as daffodils, jonquils, lilies and tulips.

ostara 1

 

In modern times, it is essential, necessary and fun to celebrate Ostara!  Growth and fertility are the building blocks of human life.  There are several things we can do to honor this special time:

  • Plant a garden, or use starter seeds indoors which can later be transported as the weather gets warmer.
  • Dye and decorate eggs. Use pastels, the colors of the rainbow  🙂

colored-eggs-in-easter-basket

  • Decorate your home with sweet smelling lilies and bright flowers.
  • Be friendly to your local rabbits. Feed them carrots and spring greens.  While you are at it, save some for yourself.  Replenish your body with vitamin A and C.
  • Take a walk in the woods, mountains, beach or local park.  Get in touch with Mother Nature.
  • Bird watch. You’d be surprised at the amazing things robins are doing these days.
  • Eat chocolate bunnies!  Chocolate is full of the chemical compound  phenylethylamine  which releases feel-good endorphins.  Dark chocolate can improve heart and brain function.
  • Oh, and most importantly! Make love not war  🙂

forest lovers

Have a Blessed Ostara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ostara Sonnet

ostara 1

Ostara goddess Eostre rules the dance

She  tends her lovers’  hopes in red clay earth

The witches’ turning wheel reveals the chance

To bring the flesh explosion love and birth

spring witch

Before the dawn, desire awakens lust

The moon is full and washes silver land

His kiss is pure in perfect tender trust

Her tulips parted in his gentle hand

 

 

The spring is brilliant crystal morning dew

His gifted fingers digging to her flesh

His seed is passion pushing rich and true

And in that wave of glory do they mesh

Pan_and_Selene

A bounding leap of rabbits through the grass

Connecting carnal,  every lad and lass.

eostre 1