Formerly Published in the Huffington Post.....Karen Tate is interviewed by Tim Ward
Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy and Goddess 2.0...
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Spring! A relief from the winter cold, snow, and the introspective time of assessing where I am and what I need to do next. It’s about new beginnings and a fresh start. I’m sitting here laughing about this because here in Wisconsin we have four inches (more in some places) of snow on the ground. It is still snowing and they said it was supposed to stop by 8 this morning. We’re two hours past that.
Spring equinox is all about renewal, rebirth, coming alive again after the winter. The Persephone / Demeter story is one of the myths which is prominent for this time of year. Persephone returns to her mother and Demeter comes back to life with the return of her daughter....
I can remember my first theological debate. I was 7.
It was spring. My friend Mary Chris contended that Lent is called Lent because that's when you eat lentils. The Stepanoviches were Serbian Orthodox, and ate lots of lentils during Lent.
Clearly, there was a larger principle at stake here. To me, it seemed ridiculous that the larger thing should be named for the smaller. My automatic contrarian position was that lentils are named for Lent because that's when you eat them. (Not that anyone in my family ate lentils during—or even observed—Lent, mind you. But growing up in Pittsburgh, everyone knows what Lent is.)
Lent derives from the Old English word for “spring,” when the days lengthen. Had Harold won at Hastings, our four seasons today might be Winter, Lent, Summer, and Harvest.
Lentil is the diminutive of Latin lens, which meant “lentil.” (A lens, of course, is named for its lentil-like shape.) As we've been eating lentils for the last 12,000 years or so—since the end of the last Ice Age—it's not surprising that they should have their own name.
The words are unrelated. As in so many theological debates, it turns out that we were both wrong.
Friday March 20 marked several astrological events, all of which gave power to this year's Spring Equinox. Not only was it the Equinox, when day and night are balanced, marking the shift into a new season and an acceleration towards the light in this waxing year, it was also a SuperMoon and a Solar eclipse. While the eclipse was not visible in most of the Americas, the timing and power of these events were felt, subtly and not so subtly, throughout the world.
Although many Pagans mark the “new year” on Samhain or Yule, for many ancient cultures the New Year started in Spring. For while the work of the new year may be seeded or dreamed of in the dark of Winter, it is now that this new life becomes evident. Just as the baby rabbits born weeks ago are starting to come out and explore, just as the new buds that have been plumping up for weeks are starting to pop, maybe we are aware of something stirring inside ourselves....
The retrieval and revival of indigenous ceremonial traditions is a growing concern in this increasingly disconnected world, and one that has great promise for the restoration of methods of sustainable living, sound ecological practices and the preservation of ancient knowledge. Sound recordings of elders are being made around the world, as well as video recordings (where possible and appropriate) of aspects of traditional ritual. For some tribes, preservation and the training of the younger generation are key. For other native cultures, these efforts hinge around the retrieval of fragmentary and partially forgotten evidence. This is the situation with native Celtic ritual practices, some of which have died out, and others which survive in traditional Celtic-language speaking communities and which are not advertised or generally made public.
Every book, group and spiritual teacher who professes to practice 'ancient Celtic or Druidic ritual' has a completely different system on offer, which in and of itself is a red flag. The vast majority of these are based on modern occult and Neo-Pagan traditions, Neo-Shamanism of a non-Celtic provenance, and various New Age ideas, with a smattering of Celtic words or symbols. The reason for this is totally understandable: without living elders to pass along an intact tradition, or detailed written evidence that preserves such a system (provided by and approved by living descendants of native tradition bearers), there is enormous confusion and controversy over what Celtic ritual is or should be like....
While eating lunch one day a girl noticed that, having shelled their hard-boiled eggs, her parents crumpled up the shells before throwing them away. She asked why they did this.
“If you don't, the witches use them for boats,” they explained. At one time this belief was quite widespread throughout Central Europe.
“Witches need boats, just like anyone else,” she replied, and threw her eggshell, uncrumpled, over her left shoulder. A whirlwind caught the shell and whisked it away.
One day the girl was fishing from an island in the middle of a river. Suddenly, due to a heavy downpour upstream, the water began to rise. Before she knew it, her boat was swept away, and soon the rapids were in danger of covering the entire island.
Wine and cakes have become de rigeur for the ending of a ritual. Practitioners use whatever they can bring. I have partaken of Kool-Aid and Oreos as well as ale and oatmeal cookies. Some of my readers may have been there, done that. I thought I would offer up a few recipes for you to try for your next Esbat and/or Sabbat.