“Open the door”, said the wise woman
“Come in and sit down.
For it is she of great worth
Who wears the King’s crown”.
I looked at the wizened face
For answers that long I had sought
Deep pools of star-filled eyes returned my gaze
And told of mysteries carefully taught.
Her countenance was hypnotic
And fingers deftly moved to and fro
Her body moving in rhythm
As the web from the spinning did grow.
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“Open the door”, said the wise woman
I moved to Ireland at autumn equinox in 2001. Autumn Equinox is inextricably wedded to migration as I remember the fourteen hour journey - three trains, a ferry and a car ride -that was the emigrant trail for me and our Household Goddess Sophie, our beloved and ancient tortoiseshell cat. At dusk on September 21st Tony's brother drove down the last road to our rental property. I was arriving sight unseen, since Tony had brought the dogs over the previous week. The sphinx like profile of the Playbank hove into view and I was completely enchanted. That mountain has never let me go.
Dua, Maat, you who were with Ra from the beginning.
Mistress of the two lands, Lady of truth, dua, hail and welcome....
Solar festivals are definite fixed points in the wheel of the year. Shortest day and longest day, and the two days when light and dark are equal. It all seems very straightforward, until you start trying to make sense of the details or work out what you, personally, want to do in response to all of this.
When do we celebrate? Is it the dawn, or the setting sun, or the sun at the height of its power at midday? When is the midpoint of true balance at an equinox? And in practice, Pagan groups are only sometimes able to gather and celebrate the day. Normal work patterns mean that we’re more likely celebrating the nearest weekend to a solar event. At which point it’s more about celebrating the idea than an immediate experience of connecting with the occurring solar festival....
We’ve not long passed the equinox, that twice yearly point in the wheel where normal Paganism stops to talk about balance, and usually alongside this, peace. World Peace Day falls close to the autumn equinox and Earth day, and Earth Hour are around the spring one. Peace and balance are, without a doubt, good things to work for.
Some days my life has little of either. On the whole, I have a quiet, easy, privileged sort of life, free from many of the things that torment many of the world’s inhabitants. Even so, I find celebrating balance really difficult. Not least because I do not see much of the balance of nature as a comfortable harmony – all too often, balance is created by things in tension, pulling in opposite directions. Conflicting needs counterbalancing each other can create harmony very easily when you look at the whole effect. The experience of any part of the whole, is not of the harmony, but of the conflict....
I just finished my spring break last week. That doesn't mean I am not still in a spring break frame of mind. You don't have to travel to sunnier locales to get there. Nor do you have to be going back to school, like myself. You can pitch a SPRING BREAK EQUINOX PARTY! Why not revisit your crazy college days and let loose? We will be experiencing the triple whammy of a solar eclipse, (new) Supermoon, and the equinox tomorrow. So we may as well go all out.
First, invite everyone you know. Heck, even invite some people you'd like to know. Let them be aware that no one gets in without donning some beach wear. Bermuda shorts, bathing suits, floppy hats, flip-flops, sunglasses, the works. Next, stock up on your surf music. If you want to keep the tunes flowing all night, mix in some ska, which always has a cheery upbeat party vibe....
Eosturmonath [April] [is] called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts [festa] were celebrated in that month.
This lone sentence from chapter 15 of Bede of Jarrow's De Temporum Ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), along with the fact that, from very early times, a Christian festival came to be called by her name, is literally all that we know about the Anglo-Saxon goddess Easter. Literally all.
Under the circumstances, scholars have tended in two directions. The Maximalists have viewed Easter as a pan-Germanic goddess, herself a reflex of a pan-Indo-European Dawn goddess whose sister-selves include Vedic Ushas, Greek Eos, and Latin Aurora.
The Minimalists—many of them clearly driven by pique that so Christian a festival should bear so blatantly pagan a name—deny that such a goddess ever existed at all, and seek alternate (and non-pagan) derivations for the name of the church's great spring festival.
In Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda, and the Cult of Matrons, Philip A. Shaw, lecturer in English and Old English at Leicester University, in a work surprisingly readable for all its dense erudition, attempts to stake out a centrist ground midway between maximalist and minimalist positions. Of greatest interest to the contemporary pagan reader (to this contemporary pagan reader, at any rate) is his marshaling of new information to shed new light on the subject.