Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
Spring Time is Swing Time
Deep Winter here, and as one does, I dream of Spring.
According to Classicist M. L. West, “Swinging is a recurrent feature of Indo-European springtime and midsummer festivities.”
Sure enough: in Hindu India, in ancient (and modern) Greece and Rome, in Russia, in the Balkans, in the Baltics: springtime (often Easter) is when you hang a swing from the leafing-out branch of a tree and jump on for a ride (and better it be if it's with a buddy). Half the Latvian Easter dainas that I've seen focus on swinging. There's said to be a sympathetic correlation between how high one swings and how high the crops will stand in the coming growing season.
One sees this fertility angle in India as well: at the Jhulan festival, they rock little images of Krishna and his consort Radha in a flower-decked swing. The pujari told me: “Swinging is one of Krishna's favorite pastimes.” This made more sense to me when I came across Cirlot's observation that “Swinging is analogous to intercourse.”
As always, I ask myself: if our pagan traditions had come down to us unbroken in the English-speaking world, what would our spring swing-songs look like? This premise underlies fully half of my work, and in my experience it's no mean way to begin to shape the unbroken pagan traditions yet to come. As my friend and colleague Volkhvy always tells me, “We're not reconstructing the past; we're reconstructing the future.”
Spring time is swing time,
high, high, high:
high as a bird
in the sky, sky, sky.
High as a bird
on the wing, wing, wing:
who wouldn't, who couldn't,
sing, sing, sing?
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