This Spring Equinox sees us standing at the dawn of a new future. The season of rebirth, new beginnings, hope, optimism and enthusiasm after a long winter and latterly a very dark winter (looking at you coronavirus!). We have yet to reach “Peak Corona”, but already changes are evident. Positive change that shows just how delicate the balance is on our planet, between nature and human. Nature is reclaiming her rightful place.
Satellite imagery is showing massive patches of visible sky above areas previously densely blanketed in air pollution over China, Italy and parts of the US. In Venice there are swans and dolphins and fish in the canals which are clearer now than they have been in living memory. In a very short period of time, since we, the humans, have had to stop and change how we live, ie the plundering of the earth for resources to manufacture disposable stuff and commute using fossil fuels to work in industries to either manufacture or to earn money to buy said disposable stuffs, when we stop that, nature has the chance to restore the balance. I’m interested to see what happens post Coronafest, when Covid-19’s world tour has played its last venue. Will people and industry return to the ways of life B.C. (before coronavirus) or will we, the collective, finally sit up and realise that that life was not sustainable?
Mother Nature will continue to spin on her axis, pandemics will continue to happen as mankind pushes into the natural world for “growth” aka greed, releasing bacteria we can’t cope with, which needs to stay within its natural habitat. Wide spread forest fires, floods and freak weather systems become the new norm. New catastrophe following the last one. Lessons need to be learned but how many times? Because at the end of the day, we all live in Mother Nature’s house and the house always wins.
This is our chance to make the necessary changes, it’s not too late, infact the proof of the benefits of making changes is happening now. We can do more and we can do better. I don’t have answers as to all the hows, this is a complex beast we have created that now needs disassembling, but I have ideas and I know I’m not the only one.
Communities are pulling together, in every country, helping one another now. We are realising what we want versus what we need and are being forced to (re)view our priorities and values. I think it’s time government and big business start doing likewise. We are being shown the way , being given the opportunity to make the necessary changes. We are being challenged in this new dawn; which path to take? The challenge is ours should we choose to accept it.
Is it 1st March (by the Meteorological calendar) or Spring Equinox (by Astronomical calendar)? Or just when you feel the shift in the season and witness the trees budding and notice the light?
This year the Vernal/ Spring Equinox falls on Friday 20th March 2020 in the Northern Hemisphere (Autumnal Equinox for our wild ones in the Southern Hemisphere). The actual time of the Equinox is 3.50am GMT.
The Equinox is a time of balance. We have 12 hours of day light and 12 hours of darkness a the sun rises due East and sets due West; equal amounts of light and dark before we head on towards the solstice, the light ever growing.
This is the period of fertility; animals, nature, ideas and projects. Imagery of rabbits, hares, chickens and eggs symbolising fertility. The rabbits and hares reputed for breeding and eggs, and chicks who lay eggs, represent the hatching of new life, birth (never wondered what bunnies and chicks had to do with Christ’s resurrection?). The period of rebirth and new beginnings, as Spring follows the symbolic death and hibernation of Winter.
This season and festival celebrates the Maiden aspect of the Goddess. Ostara or Eostre in particular, who carried a basket of brightly coloured eggs and was accompanied by her pet hare. As they travelled they brought forth new life and regeneration to the land scattering her coloured eggs amongst the flowers in the meadows.
The Spring Equinox mirrors a women’s inner world in its Inner Spring season, where everything is new and fresh, preparing the fertile landscape, the pre-ovulation. It is also the waxing crescent moon phase. See how we are all connected ~ woman, nature, moon, our own inner cycles. All one.
The previous festival of Imbolg was embracing the last of Winter, and planning what was to come in the year ahead. This festival now calls upon us to put these plans into action. We got rid of the old and expired habits, practices and burdens and are now ready to give new life to who and what we are to be, to what we have created, to what we are to birth. The energy is one of excitement, optimism and anticipation. As the year waxes, so too does our enthusiasm.
Do you do anything special to acknowledge this Sabbat; the precursor to Easter?
Ways to celebrate Spring Equinox:
Rise early and watch the sunrise – then close the day witnessing the sunset. This is a beautiful ritual to do outside, weather permitting
Decorate your home with fresh flowers from your garden such as daffodils, primroses, hyacinths and tulips
Enjoy an eggy breakfast
Paint or decorate boiled eggs
Organise an egg hunt in the garden or local park with your decorated eggs – if it’s a nice day bring a picnic
Give a gift of a chocolate egg (instead of waiting until Easter)
Get into your Spring cleaning in earnest – throw the windows open wide and allow the old air to leave and the welcome in the fresh
Create a joyful happy play list on Spotify and get your groove on as you clean or make dinner. A kitchen disco is a great disco.
Charge some fresh water with Equinox energy by leaving a dish of water on the window sill from sunrise to sunset then use it to water your plants or make flower essence tincture.
Reset your altar or shrine to reflect the change in season.
Spend some time in meditation and contemplate balance, rebirth and what spring means to you.
While it’s not been a particularly cold winter here in the UK it has been a blustery and stormy one, and with the arrival of Coronavirus / Covid-19, and I for one am ready for Spring and all that she brings forth.
Maiden. What does that word mean to you? What image immediately springs to mind? All it means is an unmarried girl or young woman, and sometimes an older unmarried woman; spinster or maiden aunt.
It can, perhaps, seem like an old fashioned word. The images I automatically think of are of fair maidens of Ye Olde England in the style of Maid Marian from the Robin Hood tales.
What I am referring to with the word “Maiden” is the first phase of a woman’s life when she transitions from girl to young woman. It begins with Menarche – her first bleed – and commences around 12 years old, give or take a year or 2 (I was 14 years old at the time of my Menarche, although that was not what I called it or EVER even heard it referred to as such until only a few years ago). This is the start of her journey through the cycles; not only monthly but through the rest of her life, moving through the seasons of each from Maiden to Mother to Wise Wild Woman to Crone (Elder) to return to the earth.
The Maiden phase is when she is most valued and least prepared.
Why am I writing about Maidens you may be wondering. I am writing about Maidens, because in today’s world, in Patriarchal society, this is the phase of a woman’s life where she is most valued and least prepared. We need to redress this balance.
How do we do this? By acknowledging the importance of Menarche, what being a Maiden means to the individual young woman AND her Mother (or primary female care giver), what we can learn from her and what we can teach and tools/skills we can can equip her with as she walks her path to fully realising the wonderful woman she is, celebrating this rite of passage and honouring the blood rite. And we do all this collectively in the village, the community, the Circle, the Red Tent.
Take a minute to think back to when you had your first period. Were you prepared beyond the basic biological chat from your Mum or School Nurse? How did you feel – embarrassed, ashamed, confused, ill, empowered, proud, “like a grown up”? Looking back, is there anything you would wish had gone differently? Hold on to that thought for a bit longer – we’re going to come back to it later.
Lets now look a bit deeper at this “Maiden”. As girls we transition in to the Maiden phase of life from around the age of 12, give or take, and it lasts until around age 29, when we then transition into the Mother phase. Regardless of whether we have birthed or will go on to have children is irrelevant, as women we all cycle through the each of the phases, experiencing the shifts in energies and our purpose. Some women will have an overlap of the two phases when they birth their children in their teen years or twenties, but the archetype of the Maiden still stands strong – that doesn’t change. Why? Because this is the season of Spring where everything is new and fresh, preparing the fertile landscape, the waxing crescent moon phase ( and in our monthly cycle, the Maiden/Spring phase is pre-ovulation). See how we are all connected ~ woman, nature, moon, our own inner cycles. All one.
As I mentioned, this is the phase of life when young women are most valued and least prepared. What I mean by that is that we live in a Patriarchal Society where a woman’s value and worth is determined, for the masses for the past few thousand years, from the dominant perspective; by men. Don’t believe me? Just look to see who is making decisions on women’s healthcare and rights in government, particularly in the US – it’s the menfolk! But back to value and worth. The young Maiden is the prize, the trophy wife. She makes older men feel youthful and powerful, and if desired, likely to easily produce an heir (or more). Socially, it is perfectly acceptable for an older man to have a much younger wife or partner, when the reverse is much less so.
This is a time of contradictions of epic proportions
This Springtime energy the Maiden is exerting is what makes her attractive and magnetic. She is beautiful, youthful, energetic, confident and ambitious. This is a time for immense growth, but also for facing the shadow side to all this exuberance; naivity and the desire to be independent and free without consideration of consequences. In efforts to make it on our own, this is the time when mistakes are made (some small, some not) and lessons are learned (some the hard way), generally without the framework of strong support in the right places. This is the time of contradiction of epic proportions, contradictions that can be as confusing as fuck, without the that support.
What is this support I am referring to? The support of women, trusted women who can share the knowledge and wisdom of the blood mysteries, the strength and power that comes from knowing and understanding our cycles, how to care for our (physical and mental) health properly, are a trusted support network of mothers, grandmothers, older sisters, friends and aunties that will guide and be there without judgement to catch us when we fall. This is what is missing today. The Red Tent/Moon lodges of yesteryear were destroyed and outlawed. The passing on of female wisdom and the teachings of the shared community is long gone, but thankfully not lost. The remembering, awakening and reclaiming of the old ways is happening. And it is being driven by the very real desire and craving for the connection to each other and the support we need. 21st century living is not connected, we are all separated in insular living units, judging one another and hiding our truths. Bugger that! It’s destructive and unhealthy. We are striving rather than thriving, the decline of mental health highlights this. We live in our heads and online.
It’s no wonder the Maiden years are so conflicting. The messages sent out to all are that girls are princesses to be saved – firstly Daddy’s Princess then growing up to be a “good girl”. Any boy/young man who dares show interest in wanting to date a girl has seen the slew of memes around having to face Daddy and his shotgun, the Daddy who wants to look his little girl up until she’s 35. Obviously these are attempts at humour but the subliminal message is chastity and remaining pure are the most important aspects of respectability. Good girls don’t, sluts/whores/slags/tramps/easy girls do, but if you don’t you’re frigid. Don’t love yourself, you stuck up bitch. Flirty and enjoying self or promiscuous and deserve to be scorned. Ambition synonymous with hard faced, woman hating bitch sleeping her way to the top. Having children in teen years, what a stupid slapper, not having kids in teens/20 is leaving it a bit late, tick tock. Fat shaming, the epitome of beauty is skinny with jutting collar bones, a thigh gap, big boobs and a pout that looks like a swollen vulva. Is it any wonder the Maiden years are a bloody minefield with all this toxicity?
It is time to bring back the Sacred Circles and initiate our daughters into the fold
It is time to bring back the Sacred Circles and initiate our daughters and nieces and friend’s daughters into the fold, into their power, in the safety of those who love and trust. Lessons learned in the village include self respect and trusting their own intuition as to what feels right or doesn’t in any given situation (#metoo anyone?), discovering the workings of life without any fear of shame or embarrassment. Learning not just the biological function of the menstrual cycle but how to live with it and how to best understand what each of the phases of each month mean – again intuition to listening to the their body. This may sound a bit woowoo, but remember your own teen years or your 20’s. Personally, my maiden years were pretty mental – I had bouts of depression, utter recklessness, carefree abandon, was super secretive, made friends and lost friends, was confused by what I thought were the “shoulds” versus my wants/needs, was incredibly insecure but very outgoing, desperate for independence and individuality, made highly questionable choices, accrued horrendous debts, was incapable of living my natural feminine truth instead struggling and failing to be more masculine in my career (I’m not made that way and it made me ill trying, several times). I was a mess who hid it for the most part fairly well, I think. The support network during that period was from different friends at different times, those friends who were also trying to figure out and negotiate their own messes at the same time. What we needed was guidance from a trusted source(s). If that person is not the mother, then a suitable mentor. One both the maiden and her mother trust. She is found within their circle as well as the support from the collective within that Circle. When I think back to all the #metoo situations I have experienced, I am angry and frustrated with myself as well as the situations but am convinced that those situations wouldn’t necessarily not have happened, but they would have been called out at the time and dealt with. Being in Circle, gaining the wisdom and learning the teachings, allows for the self confidence to be able stand up in truth, the ability to determine personal boundaries and authority to honour them, meaning that we no longer tolerate or put up with shit and deal with it at that time, not years later.
The Circle community doesn’t just support the Maiden, but her mother too. Having the support to guide her daughter through these turbulent years, knowing that she is not doing it all alone, even when there is conflict of opinion as the daughter is differentiating her individuality, she is not alone. She also has the additional comfort in knowing that if she can’t assist her daughter for whatever reason, there is another woman/women there who can. This is not to drive wedges between the mother/daughter relationship but to strengthen the bond and give enough space to breath and grow.
Now, I ask you to remember the feeling from earlier, about what you would change from your own time of Menarche and through the Maiden years. Do you still feel the same, or have you changed your mind? Do you wish the Red Tent had been part of your life at that time, and remain so now? Would you be looking to share in Red Tent with your daughter if there was one available? If so, I encourage you to find one or start one.
So, to the Maiden phase of a woman’s journey, we experience her in our physical youth, we experience her energy in the pre-ovulation week of our menstrual cycle (if you are menstruating), and we can attune to her energy in the waxing crescent in the lunar cycle. She is associated with Spring time and the Element of Air, the East as the dawn of the sun. Her colours are white and green. Her energy is joyful, dream filled and fresh as she learns to step into her personal power.
If you are interested in learning more about Menarche, Maidens and yourself, I am at the moment putting together a workshop which is coming soon…stay tuned for further info on that.
We are currently between the new moon and the full moon, completely in the Maiden phase, as we are in the season. Imbolc and Ostara (Spring Equinox) are both sabbats acknowledging the Maiden. I hope you are enjoying the shift in the air and feeling the coming of the light and bright.
The Wheel of the Year turns once more and now we, in the Northern Hemisphere, are awakening to the first rustlings of Spring and the Sabbat of Imbolc.
As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens
Depending upon your point of view, Imbolc represents the start of Spring, the inbetween-ey time between Winter and Spring, or consider it be to very much a Winter festival with Spring still a while off yet.
Regardless of how the Sabbat is considered, it remains one of the least celebrated of the 8 seasonal markers, to be honoured in the natural year. This is possibly due to people not understanding its significance or unsure of the associations with milk! So what on earth is Imbolc?
Imbolc, or Imbolg or Oimelc depending on your Celtic heritage, generally means “in the belly” or “ewe’s milk” – the ewe’s are lactating, we have milk once more and deep in the belly of mother nature, life is stirring and awakening. This is a festival of renewal and purification and as such, a far more appropriate time for making and sticking to new resolutions and goals. January is still very much a time of hibernation, darkness and heavy soul nourishing food not about diets and lack, but February with its longer and lightening evenings has a more spritely feel; a lighter feel both in the sky and in mood.
We are familiar with the solar festivals which quarter the year into the seasons : Spring / Autumn Equinoxes and Summer / Winter Solstices, but there are 4 cross quarter fire festivals which complete the 8 Sabbats on the Wheel Of The Year: Imbolc / Beltane / Lammas / Samhain. The solar markers are masculine energies while the fire festivals are very much feminine. Imbolc has an incredibly feminine feel to me. All that is happening on and around Imbolc is happening down here on and in the earth; Mother Nature, Gaia, Earth Mother. It is also the first festival in the cycle where the Maiden aspect of the triple Goddess is honoured. She is also known as Brigid, Bride, Brig and is associated with poetry, healing, fertility, fire energy (and skills relating to fire, home, hearth or forge), inspiration and muse.
Imbolc is absolutely a time for women; mothers & daughters, friends, female family members spending time together, perhaps learning a new skill or just enjoying being in one another’s company, outwith the daily chores of home. Last night after the sun was down and the moon was high (made all the more magnificent by the fact she was a super blue full moon) I gathered with 3 other women for an evening of Ecstatic Dance, a new experience for me and one which I will definitely be repeating.
There are many ways to honour this sacred time, whether you celebrate it from sunset on 31st January, or the 1/2 Feb or around the lunar Imbolc, or just when you feel the season start to shift, the actual calendar date is not important, there is no dogma dictating set times for the cross quarters, just what feels right for you. Alternatively you may not consider Imbolc at all, and look upon Candlemass as a marker in your year, or may not have anything at all and the start of February is the start of a new month as per any other. But if you wish to celebrate Imbolc you may wish to stock up on the candles (symbolic of the returning light, plus it is a fire festival), gather your girlfriends or relatives for a meal or a sacred circle, go out into nature (even if that just means your garden) and observe it; what do you notice, smell, hear, feel? Begin the purification of your home and by that I mean Spring Clean!! But go gently, a little at a time, just like nature, not a full on KonMari over one weekend or scrub the place from top to bottom until it stinks of bleach, easy does it (and hold back on the bleach, not good for nature or for you). Cultivate your own rituals and practices that you can revisit each year and reflect on the previous one. I have a bag of snow in the freezer that I collected the other week when it was lying thick in the ground. I will place this in a bowl with a candle to gently melt, taking with it the last of winter as the heat and light of the sun returns. I also make my own butter at Imbolc and use the butter milk to make scones. If you want to see my previous Imbolc celebrations, you can here.
I hope you have a wonderful Imbolc, Imbolg or Pinch Punch First of the Month.