We were lucky enough to get sunny, warm weather for our official Spring Equinox weekend work this year -- warm and sunny enough to light the first fire of the season on the highest point of our nature sanctuary -- called the God's Hill -- with magnifying glasses! Well, we did have aid of Apollo's gunpowder placed on a specially decorated bit of tissue paper (a mehndi-style lotus designed by yours truly), but I think we could have done it without the gunpowder all the same.
I designated a magnifying glass for each person who represented an element in our formal rituals that day. I was delighted to be Air, which is the element of Spring, but I was especially keen to lead the fire-making charge because kindling my inner fires is a big part of my work for this year. We focused the sunlight via our magnifying glasses upon a single point on the gunpowder, situated at the heart of a large yet tidy hill of dry tinder collected and assembled by the men (Star Farmer and Apollo). The other quarter officers followed my point, and the tininess and dazzling white brilliance of that dot of light was remarkable. I had never seen anything quite like it before. It reminded me of Kether, the undifferentiated point of God at the top of the Qabalistic Tree of Life. And just as I thought I might fall into that tiny, tiny point of light, it went up in a sudden hot blaze, and we all pulled back reflexively, laughing. The First Fire was on!
Those of us who wished to share them stated our intentions for the new year as we watched the fire burn. We'd have to let it smolder down to red-hot coals before we could transport it to the lowest part of the land, otherwise known as the Goddess Glade, to light the fire there, marking the official return of green, growing life to the land.
While waiting we partipated in an impromptu ceremony -- a formal welcome to Hermit, our new Steward of the Land. Apollo, who held this title for a year and a half until last Fall, presented to her a special lantern symbolizing the important role she was taking on. Almost exactly like the lantern depicted in the Hermit card, this special gift represents our Hermit's solitary quest for knowledge and the shining beacon she would be to all who visit her. Welcome, Hermit!
Some readers may wonder what 'rituals' we're doing up there in the forest. First I should say that the purpose of ritual, to my mind, is to help one focus on a particular energy or intent -- in this case, a formal recognition of the joyous return of Spring -- by creating sacred space with sacred words, movements, tools and elements. By elements I mean the obvious -- Air, Fire, Water, Earth. We follow a largely Golden Dawn tradition with a bit of Wiccan thrown in. This is by no means a deity-specific thing; you bring your own faith to it, be it Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, etc. Even so you may choose to use a particular pantheon to help you focus even more, if you feel the need. It is simply a way of turning your concentration upon specific forces and the many manifestations of what we call God (or whatever one chooses to call the Intelligent Mind that moves things around here).
Oh, speaking of whatever one chooses to call something, I interrupt this post to bring you a word about nomenclature: surely you have noticed that "Star Farmer" and "Apollo" and "Hermit" are not my friends' real names. They're monikers I've given them, you know, to protect the innocent!
So back to the Equinox. When the fire had gone down to a slow, low burn, Star Farmer and Apollo collected some of its coals in a wheelbarrow and carted these down to the Goddess Glade, where we women had prepared the 'navel' in the belly of the goddess to receive the fire. The coals were placed, and with the help of several sets of lungs acting as bellows and a few handfuls of dry leaves, the fire was happily consuming its fuel and Spring had officially come to our land.
Sekhmet, protectress of this land, was brought out of her winter home and placed on her usual spot in the Goddess Glade. (You may follow the link above and wonder why a deity who appears so bloodthirsty should find a home in such a gentle, peace-loving nature sanctuary. Well, understand that her story is much larger and more ancient than it appears at first 'click.' Go here and, if you're really curious, here to find out more about this goddess. Suffice it to say, where Ima goes, Sekhmet is, and in the end I can't think of a more reliable goddess upon whom to call for protection!)
We shared dinner in Hermit's new house and returned the next morning, when we decorated blown eggs symbolizing whatever it was we wanted to bring to fruition this year (Springtime does, after all, mark the beginning of the growing season, resurrection, and all sorts of births in general). If you're really on the ball, you hatched (no pun intended) some idea of what your hopes and dreams for the year would be at Yule and nurtured that idea throughout the season of gradually growing light until now, when it is time to plant seeds. My seeds have to do with kindling my internal fires for all sorts of transformation and passion, finding a better balance within myself, discerning my life's purpose and being a better student worthy of all the subjects I follow.
We took our eggs to the garden, where we have the Qabalistic Tree of Life spheres mapped out in ten separate gardens. Each garden is assigned by Ima to one of us, and we tend it and meditate in it while cultivating within ourselves the virtuous qualities of that particular sphere. I am in Netzach -- better known as Venus -- again this year, still trying to put my finger on what really draws and inspires me, in preparation for how I can use that as a career (that will be a Hod/Mercury function). I have a much better handle on it this year than last but I am happy to be here again to further strengthen my understanding and to look after the roses and scented geraniums I planted there last summer.
We placed our eggs in the garden that represents Earth, or the material plane of existence: Malkuth. We ascended the tree, activated it by placing a special stone in the top of the tree (the sphere known as Kether, or 'crown'), and sent a charge down the tree to 'power-up' our eggs as sort of talismans to help us achieve the work we set out for ourselves.
It was truly a great weekend, and being able to capture it in pictures made it even more pleasurable for me. "What pictures?" you say? Well, as a reward for reading this far, here you have them. You'll have to maximize your screen for sure, as the images are fairly giant. I'll have to remember next time to scale them down a bit, and to place them in chronological order!