A Prayer to Spring–
Spring dances change into the turning of the year, into the turning of our lives. She shrugs off the slumber of winter and warms the cold earth with a cloak of flowers. Some changes we anticipate with eagerness, and some we plan with exquisite detail. But some come unwanted, with pain and reluctance. To all these changes, Spring brings us the gift of perspective, beckoning us to expectation, hope, and rebirth.
May your sunlight and the rain be reminders that as the Earth is renewing, so can we.
(our family prayer for the coming Spring)
Its almost Spring Equinox! Or, if you prefer, Ostara. Or in our family, First Blooming/. Either way, spring is in the air…
The speedwell and chickweed are blooming, and apparently (I love this blog) so are the bloodroot, skunk cabbages, and trout lilies (if you live in the right place for it). Plus the stinkbugs* are on the move again…blegh. I even saw a blue bird just the other day on the branch outside my living room window.
Either way, Winter is leaving, the Sun is nearing Equal Time, and Spring is arriving for the year. The wheel is turning, and the time is upon us to celebrate the seasons.
On the twenty-second day of March, a pine-tree was cut in the woods and brought into the sanctuary of Cybele, where it was treated as a great divinity. The duty of carrying the sacred tree was entrusted to a guild of Tree-bearers. The trunk was swathed like a corpse with woollen bands and decked with wreaths of violets, for violets were said to have sprung from the blood of Attis, and the effigy of a young man, doubtless Attis himself, was tied to the middle of the stem.
(from The Golden Bough by Sir James G. Frazer)
For some, its time to celebrate Ostara as part of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year ritual cycle, to others perhaps its a time to celebrate Eostre (who may or may not be a historical goddess), or maybe it might be time to celebrate the resurrection of Attis by Cybele, the Mayan return of the serpent of the sun, or one of many other global traditions for this time of year.
In our home its Chickadee’s birthday; as a result our celebration of First Blooming gets moved around a little bit so that we don’t celebrate them at the same time (we usually take weather into account too–sometimes Spring is a wee bit late, or early). But either way, we celebrate First Blooming (Ostara) as one of four solar holidays. Part of our celebrations will be our spring planting, an egg scavenger hunt, bake a “birthday cake for the sun” (we used to do this ever sabbat, but our observation of the sabbats have evolved a bit so that we only celebrate the “sun’s birthdays” on the quarter days), and have a special meal, followed by a small ritual.
A “Pagan Lent”…I opted out of resolutions again this year, in favor of “goals”. And I don’t really start them on Jan 1, but rather use that time to think about how to realistically meet them. Instead, I observe a sort of “Pagan Lent” between Imbolc and Ostara**, in which focus on making the negative changes needed to meet those goals (and by “negative” I mean subtractive, rather than bad)–I focus on the stuff I have to get rid of, literally, metaphorically, or spiritually.
One goal is the ever popular “exercise more and eat healthier”, though I’m hoping to make that one a bit more targeted. I’ve dusted off the abandoned food journal (which, in this day and age, means I’m re-downloading the app that I abandoned when I had to set my phone to factory settings). Another goal is taking better control of the finances–for the first time in a long time, we finally make enough money to hypothetically have a disposable income, which means we can pay off the remainder of our medical debt and any other outstanding bills. We just paid off one car and my student loans, which are a huge burden relieved… And the third big one is to continue to expand and deepen the relationship with our bioregion as individuals and as a family, but I’m a cold weather wuss and this February was cold and snowy (and icy).
Life in general… Its been an interesting year. This winter break was time for Sharkbait’s medication reevaluation. Most of my regular readers know about Sharkbait and his ADHD–well, we started stimulant medications at the beginning of the school year with mixed success (we were already using non-stimulant meds). At first, it seemed to be great–it helped his ADHD in class, but we ran into problems with his teacher and him being a poor fit for one another, which cause his anxiety problems to flare up again. Not knowing the extent of the problems there, when we increased the stimulant dosage, it triggered his OCD (Sharkbait is a prodigious collector–usually its controllable, but this time it was not). It got so bad that (after decreasing the dosage) I ended up taking him off stimulants and pulling him out of school for the last four days before Winter Break. We went back to see the doc, and put him on a new stimulant (Vyvanse), which seems to be working great so far!
Chickadee and Sharkbait are both in gymnastics and (mostly) loving it. Sharkbait sometimes gets frustrated by not being able to just run around and jump on things, and Chickadee sometimes gets frustrated (and psychs herself out) with her own perfectionism. We started just last spring, and Chickadee is almost ready for XCEL (USAG’s recreation teams)…not sure if she will make it by this spring or this fall’s selections (my pocket book is okay with later rather than sooner). If she does well and really gets into it (and wants to of course), we might eventually switch her to the Junior Olympic track. Sharkbait on the other hand, just likes to flip and jump and swing on things…which is a-ok with me. He just got the hang of the handstand and now feels compelled to do them pretty much everywhere. And I do mean everywhere, appropriate or not.
Work for the Hubby and I is very work-like. Blegh. Can’t we just win the lottery already? Though, I guess we’d need to play the lottery. Otherwise, we are anxiously awaiting the camping season and watching lots of YouTube (True Facts by zefrank=hilarious). Really, nothing at all exciting. Except we got a almost brand new mattress (its SO comfy) from our neighbors who got stationed on the other side of the country and weren’t taking anything with them (also got a coffee table, a microwave (which is now in my office at work), and a new crock pot, among other things). Also, we have two cats now, much to the chagrin of my allergies.*** And I guess there’s really not much else going on at the moment…just waiting for beach weather!
Tarot for Spring: The Spring Equinox is a time of equilibrium and balance, where what will be is poised for something, but the great churning of gears to make things happen have left that something up for grabs. Spring is a time of beginning, and the end is still unknown…but hopeful. The Wheel of Fortune reminds us that life is a gamble, while Temperance reminds us that the flowers need equal part rain and sun to grow. The Lovers because, after all…tis the season for all that canoodling, and The Star because the uncertain future has plenty of promise.
Moment of Zen: Use ritual for changing your brain
The leader of the workshop talked about the importance of repetition as part of the magic or power of the chant. She explained that repeating the chant over and over is a transformative act. When we begin, she explained, the chant feels new. We are learning the words and melody and appreciating their beauty. After a while, however, repeating the line over and over again becomes boring. A little longer, and it begins to sound like nonsense, like senseless babble. This is where it becomes truly tempting to stop; where we might begin to feel foolish. But if we can keep going through this phase, we will come to a place where we begin to feel transformed by the chant.
We repeated the same line again and again, and it was just as she said. At some point, it was like the chant began to sink into my body, like it was absorbed by my flesh and bones and became a part of me, or I became a part of it, somehow. And I felt myself changed by it, touched by the loving, compassionate energy of the goddess we sang to.
Rituals are those things we do, over and over and over, until they wear tracking deep into our mind and body, changing our selves at the most basic level. Scientifically, this has been described as experience-based neuroplasticity–by changing an experience (or our perception of it), we can create changes in the wiring of our brains (but, this only goes so far). As Pagans, we can use rituals and magic to transform ourselves from the inside out and beyond–out into the world by changing how we interact and connect with those around us, with our locus, the greater oikos of the Earth and Humanity.
A Parting Thought:
If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
*Stinkbugs (the non-native ones) are awful–they can have up to 5 breeding generations in a year (in tropical climates), and females can lay some 240 eggs per generation. In “good” (for them) conditions, they can reach sexual maturity in 2 weeks. They eat pretty much everything and are now confirmed in 41 US states and Canada, in a matter of 13 years since it was first introduced. Plus, no natural parasites (though there may be some hope on that horizon–one parasitic wasp has been be found to take them on, and there may be a fungus that likes them). If you have these non-native stinkbugs, kill ’em when you see ’em.
**”Pagan Lent” became a “thing” on my radar a few years ago. I’ve observed it one way or the other (with more or less success) depending on the year. Its popped up from time to time since then on some other blogs.
***I am severely allergic to cats. We are somewhat managing to keep it to a minimum with weekly baths, daily brushing (not by me) an anti-allergen spray for the cats between baths, an anti-allergen spray for the furniture and carpet, daily vacuuming with a HEPA filter vacuum, a HEPA filter in every room, a washable filter for the AC unit, and a change in allergy medication. Plus, no cats in my bedroom. And the soft paws–because I get a huge welt if I get scratched, the cats all have claw covers.