The wheel of the year keeps on turning, the sun rises earlier every day (and wakes me up, blast it), the snow on the ground turns to, um, slushier snow… Yes, spring is nearing here in the Ann Arbor area, and as always, our thoughts turn to baseball. Oh, and our equinox ritual. Yeah, that too!
Here in SLG, this is one of the two high days where we honor Ana, the goddess of the local rivershed, whose contacting I described in an earlier blog entry so I’ll spare you the recap. One of us (usually the ritual leader, but not necessarily) retells her story, and we offer her flowers. Okay, that doesn’t look exciting when I type it, but her story is a really powerful one, when told properly. I won’t ruin it for you, in case you don’t know it and you’ll be at the ritual, but here’s a hint: there’s water involved.
So what other traditions have we evolved for this holiday? One of our favorites is the egg hunt, where we hide several colored eggs in the outdoor section of the site that we rent for the occasion. This is based on the old Ukrainian pagan tradition of “pysanky”, which evolved throughout the years into the Easter Egg tradition that you’re no doubt familiar with. We collect the eggs before the praise offerings begin, and we use the eggs as both our focus object and the main sacrifice. The year we added this to the ritual, I wasn’t sure whether people would really respond well to it, given its association with that decidedly non-Pagan modern holiday, but seeing grown men and women running outside full tilt to look for eggs convinced me that this practice is deeply meaningful to us in its own weird way.
(And for those wondering, yes, we hold this ritual indoors. Sometimes the weather is nice enough that we could get away with doing it outside. Usually it isn’t, at least to normal people who think that fifty degrees Fahrenheit isn’t a comfy temperature for standing outside for several hours. I could probably handle it, but then I don’t want to do the ritual alone, so we play it safe and do it where we know it’ll be warm. Ideally we will one day have a site where we can do the ritual either indoors or outdoors and decide it at the last minute, but the site we use now doesn’t want us doing rituals in the yard, so we do it indoors.)
Another tradition we added to our spring equinox ritual years ago was the blessing of the seed. Back when we planted emmer wheat seeds every year – a tradition that we’ll bring back as soon as we get a good site to actually grow the wheat again – we blessed the seeds at this rite. We added an opportunity for people to bring in their own seeds, bulbs, and gardening tools to be blessed, and then we changed that to allow folks to bring the tools of whatever vocation they follow. (I usually bring a part of my computer, for instance.)
This year’s ritual will be on the 22nd, at the Friends Meeting (1420 Hill St., Ann Arbor) at 2 PM, and don’t worry if it’s snowing, it’ll be indoors, honest! So what new traditions will this or future years bring to our spring rite? Only time will tell. If you want to help us put together this years ritual, you can attend either of our planning meetings, on the 4th and the 18th. (7 PM, 263 Larkspur, Ann Arbor) Yes, anyone can attend, really! No reservations required!
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF
All about Ana: http://www.shininglakes.bravehost.com/deities/ana.html
Ukrainian eggs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pysanka
More on Ukrainian eggs: http://www.helium.com/tm/258206/easter-traditions-important-symbolism
SLG Schedule of Events: http://www.shininglakes.bravehost.com/schedule.html