The Equinox is just a few minutes away.
I’ve always thought of the Solstices and Equinoxes as the beginning of the seasons, with the Fire Festivals being the height. So to me Spring begins today, and Beltane, with it’s verdant greens and fertility associations, is the height of Spring. People sometimes wave the “why is the Solstice called Midsummer’s day then?” card at me, but we have inherited as modern Pagans a blend of many ways to mark the seasons. So Midsummer’s Day was around the 24th June and I’ve heard (and I don’t know if it is 100% accurate) that Midsummer and Midwinter were part of two smaller festivals with the 24th/25th being the midpoint, hence Midsummer. Also, for some, Beltane is the start of Summer, not the height of Spring. These days, dates, and names, have come from different peoples of this island, many of whom brought their own festivals from other lands. So I don’t think it matters how people personally relate to the seasons. The good thing is that we do. They don’t pass us by unnoticed.
Yesterday about 55 people gathered at the Long Man of Wilmington to celebrate the Spring Equinox. The Anderida Gorsedd was founded at the Spring Equinox in 2000. 17 years ago. There were 7 of us at that first gathering, and by Beltane there were 40, with the largest being one Winter Solstice with around 120. Now it’s anywhere between 50 and 90 people. The Gorsedd has been there come rain, sunshine, snow, ice, wind, whatever, it has happened. Sometimes as you’re standing there getting soaked or frozen you realise why indoor sacred spaces were invented… But to me what is important is marking the time of year.
Meeting at the same place is also a good thing. Over the years you become very familiar with the view, and the surrounding trees and plants. Looking out over the Weald at Imbolc was different from yesterday. You can see the seasons slowly moving and changing. And we are lucky enough to be able to do this throughout the year about once every 6 weeks or so with our Wheel of the Year. We take stock, notice where we are, ask ourselves how we are doing, taking time to reconnect with the flow of life. It’s a blessing.
So, to me Spring is about to begin. I’m counting down the minutes. Winter is nearly behind me, and if it does snow, which it sometimes does even in April, it’s not Winter snow, it’s Spring snow! The Goddess has awoken, and soon the Green Man’s face will look out from every tree, every shrub, and the fields will be filled with the green face of John Barleycorn, as he throws up his head, and amazes us all once more.
Have a wonderful Equinox my friends! Whether that’s the Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, or the Autumn for all of you down under.