So here it is, my first blog on the Wheel of the Year. Why start here? Why not Imbolc, Winter Solstice or Samhain? All of which have been taken by some that because of their placement could be seen as the start of the year, if you can actually say Pagans have such a thing as a “new year” given our wheel is a cycle forever spinning, “with no beginning and never ending”, from one secular, linear year to the next. (Please note: don’t get me started on this little rant!).
So why start here?
1. I was uber busy in the run up to Imbolc sorting out the PF’s Pagans with Disabilities Online Imbolc Festival, and
2. More importantly, my Coven follows the Astrological Wheel of the Year, where the “new year” starts when the Sun enters the Sign of Aries, towards the end of March. This is also the start of the Magical Tide of Activation (the first of four tides in a year… More information on this concept can be found in Patricia Crowther’s Lid off the Cauldron.)
So, for us, our Equinox celebrations fall on or near the occurrence of zero degrees Aries. Another fact that dictates when we celebrate are peoples’ work commitments, including those of my non-pagan other half, so we tend to go for the closest Saturday night either just before or just after the shift of the Sun from Pisces to Aries, so that most members have Sunday to recuperate before work on Monday. During the festival we focus on the balance between dark and light, with especial emphasis on the increasing amount of light that this time of year represents, and the Sun’s effects upon the Earth and Nature around us.
Given that my oaths prevent me from saying what we actually do, I’m going to focus on our preparation for this festival. What have we actually, practically done in order to be able to celebrate our Equinox festival? Well, since you last saw the ritual room way back when, in between our seasonal celebratory festivals and esbats the room has been undergoing a necessary makeover. It has been redecorated (I’ve casually termed it “Smurf Blue”), a true, full spring clean to prepare for the positive burst of energy and activity signalled by the start of the Tide of Activation.
The previous tide, Lustration, has seen us take a break from esbats, full moon workings, and our yearly training group. Much as the Earth and most of Nature retreats into itself during this period (Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox), the energies we work with also retreat, and so we take a break from magical workings (unless absolutely necessary) and look after ourselves, nurturing our bodies, minds and spirits.
With the Spring Equinox hailing the start of the Tide of Activation, everything we haven’t done since Winter Solstice begins again in earnest; this includes preparing materials for the Training Group for both “year groups”, restarting magical workings for esbats, and continuing with the celebration of the festivals of the wheel.
As I’ve said, I (or we, when other coven members have been available) have spring cleaned the ritual space. Normally, this means an extra thorough clean of the tools on the altar, the altar itself, and the room and the furnishing therein. This year, as I’ve already said, has been a bit different as we have had to have the roof of the ritual room replaced. This made a lot of mess, and managed to ensure that redecoration was necessary!
In the run up to our ritual, we look through the possible scripts we could use from our BoS, Book of Shadows; we decide which one we like, if we want to use it “as is”, or make suitable and agreed (amongst the coven) additions, or create a new one that fits the symbology of the Sabbat. Roles are assigned where needed, once everyone confirms their attendance (or not), and words are learnt. Ritual equipment , both altar tools and extra seasonal “bits and pieces” are checked for suitability, maintenance, etc., and a shopping list of missing items and consumables are added to my shopping list… Typical items on this list include:
Cake (which is Gluten, Wheat, Lactose Free and Low FODMAP)
Seasonally appropriate flowers for decoration around the ritual room (for this festival there will be daffodils)
Seasonally appropriate decorations
And then we celebrate; Coven members arrive about an hour before the ritual starts, we catch up with each other, and sort any last minute preparation needed – mainly making sure that everything we need is in the ritual room. Someone lights the candles and the incense, we go get changed, and then we celebrate!
If you have any comments, questions, etc.m please feel free to get in contact, especially if there is something you would like covering about one of the upcoming sabbats, and I’ll see what I can do within the limits of my oaths!
I hope you have a blessed Equinox however you are celebrating it, and I will see you for our next instalment of The Wonky Wiccan’s Guide to the Wheel of the Year, just before Beltaine!