Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Equinox Traditions

Yesterday, I pulled The Mists of Avalon from my shelf, with a little thrill of excitement -- time to re-read!

For some reason, I'm drawn to this epic story time and time again, usually in the spring.  Maybe it's because the first time I read it, I had never heard of Beltane, the cross-quarter day between the spring equinox and the summer solstice -- more familiarly known as May Day. As kids, we brought lilacs to school, twiggy stems carefully wrapped in tin foil, to place at the feet of the Blessed Mother for a little outdoor ceremony at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Beltane, as observed in the Avalon story, is a far cry from that.

So last night at dusk, the first day of this long-awaited spring, I hurried to clear everything up and settle down with my book.  I lit the fire and there were my runes, scattered on the hearth, left over from the Moon Goddess Meditation Circle.  I had shared with the group how I often pick a rune on the high holy days of the wheel of the year, the solstices and equinoxes. The moon goddesses chose either oracle cards or runes, marveling at the accuracy of the guidance offered. I waited until yesterday, the equinox itself, to pick mine.

I rested my hands on the warm, smooth  stones, all face-down.  One of my fingers felt the magnetic pull of one of the stones, so I drew that one.

Breakthrough!   Transformation Day -- the final rune of the cycle of initiation.  It calls for radical trust.  In keeping with what the goddess circle had just discussed as the winter waned, The darkness is behind you, daylight has come.

Now I open my worn book.  The very first paragraph refers to the spring equinox:

Even in high summer, Tintagel was a haunted place; Igraine, Lady of Duke Gorlois, looked out over the sea from the headland.  As she stared into the fogs and mists, she wondered how she would ever know when the day and night were of equal length, so that she could keep the Feast of the New Year.  This year the spring storms had been unusually violent; night and day the crash of the sea had resounded over the castle until no man or woman within could sleep, and even the hounds whimpered mournfully.

I had never noticed this before, but I can imagine how the author, Marion Zimmer Bradley, smiled to herself as she composed these first sentences of this, her master work, by noting the very day that marks new beginnings.

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