We don’t have evidence that Ye Olde Celts celebrated the spring equinox. But there are always options, if you do want to celebrate it, or a holiday near that time.
In Scottish folk tradition, Latha na Caillich (Day of the Old Woman) is observed on March 25th. To be clear, there are multiple spirits referred to as an Cailleach in Scottish lore, and Cailleach Bheur shows up in Irish lore. So they should be referred to as nan Cailleachan, plural, or if you are familiar with one of them from a particular locality, be clear about which Lady you are calling on!
La na Caillich- essay on Tairis
Latha na Cailiche- Brian Walsh
An Cailleach Bhearra- on Tairis blog, about her possible Irish connections to the spring equinox
Naomi J has also done a lot of research and devotional work with Baoi/an Cailleach Bhearra, the goddess of the Beara peninsula in Ireland. 30 Days of Deity Devotion posts.
Some polytheist alternatives to St. Patrick’s Day have been proposed-
Hero feast for Cu Chulainn- PSVL (pronounced cuh hull-linn) Look thru the Cu Chulainn tag for further ideas.
My personal idea is to honor the sovereignty goddesses Eriu, Banba and Fodla, specifically Eriu, for whom Eire is named.
Ruadhan, a Boetian polytheist of British & Irish descent, honors Britannia & Hibernia, the Roman national personifications of Britain and Ireland. Though they have been adopted by the natives and Hibernia is also various called Eriu, Kathleen ni Houlihan etc. He even wrote a myth explaining their origins.
In another post he notes: “One thing that I regret not posting about this year is my ritual and prayer for my re-envisioning of Shrove Tuesday as Pancake Feast of Britannia and St. Patrick’s Day as Bacon & Cabbage Feast of Hibernia.” I’m always interested in seeing creative polytheist alternatives to St. Patrick’s Day- or for that matter interesting spiritual takes on any secular holiday. (just yoinked that from my post on Tutelary Goddesses)
and here’s PSVL’s thoughts on Hibernia
Other people honor deities and spirits they associate with this time of year, if it’s more springy in your area, that might be Angus Mac Og and his swan-maiden lover, Caer Ibormeith.
Just to remind folks, I have a Call for Submissions List for Pagan and polytheist related books that I hear about. They are listed in order by which deadline is the soonest. I went thru and deleted the ones who had passed. Crossing the River, a devotional anthology for the Beloved Dead, did not receive enough submissions, so Camilla Laurentina has extended the deadline to the 28th of September- so currently it’s listed at the bottom of the page.
My fellow Cauldronite, Jack of Dreams is putting together a Pop Culture Paganism devotional anthology
I may also add anything that isn’t Pagan or spirituality related, if it’s just something that happens to catch my interest.
I’ve also realized I am following a lot of blogs that are not on my blog-list so I will need to go thru and add those!
Looking thru my Celtic Polytheism Resources page, I realize there is way more I could add. There are other webpages that I link to that have good scholarly resource lists, so I decided to focus on books, organizations and personal pages that are specifically Celtic Reconstructionist. I don’t consider myself CR as I did when I first started the page. What I would like is posts that have good lists of resources for a particular deity, holidays and so forth. I’ll start with the Spring Equinox- using the generic name since a bunch of names could be used depending on what culture you are focusing on.
Paganicon is coming up soon- it’s like Pantheacon, but a more manageable size and price, in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. Register here!
Signal boost. Personally I tried Hellenismos for a while but had too much trouble connecting with the culture & the disconnect with the northern climate.
Originally posted on A Forest Door:
I am considering writing a short book on celebrating festivals in a Hellenic polytheist context and wanted to get some feedback from you all. Basically, I have spent 15 years doing various iterations of Hellenic festivals, both ancient and wholly modern, including the many years Sannion and I spent creatively crafting our own festivals together, and I thought it might be helpful to share some of that experience and knowledge with other polytheists who might be struggling with the festivals, which are so important to the Hellenic tradition. I am well versed in the ancient festival calendar, but am more interested in how to distill the basic concepts of ancient festivals and put them into practice in a totally contemporary manner, one that both properly honors the gods and daimones, and is also personally fulfilling and enjoyable. I was thinking of covering topics like:
* why festivals are important, and reasons…
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As I’ve discussed before, I was raised in the United Methodist Church, with parents who were involved in racial/social justice organizing both within the UMC and in broader society. Most Protestant denominations in the United States broke apart over the question of slavery or of integration. Many of them have made official apologies, acknowledgements of wrongdoing to African-Americans and sometimes American Indians depending on their history. Unitarian Universalists are a largely white denomination and we too have been working at racial reconciliation. Some congregations have made apologies to the family members of Black ministers that they didn’t call, there is at least one U.U. church that has a plaque in honor of the slaves who built the building. We have a long way to go, and are far from perfect, but we are committed to this journey. Recently I read “The Selma Awakening” by Mark Morrison-Reed, a book about U.U. involvement in the Civil Rights movement. Before the march to Selma, U.U.s had made various proclamations against racism, and made some attempts at integrating the ministry, with very mixed results. When Martin Luther King Jr. called upon clergy of all faiths to come march to Selma, many U.U.s heeded the call, and this was a turning point in the U.U. commitment to racial and economic justice.
I am trying to take what I am learning about U.U. racial history and apply it to a Pagan community context, but in some ways I find the situations are not very comparable, probably no more so than if I were to compare to the history of the United Methodist Church.
- Though considered heretics and persecuted at times in Europe, in the U.S. for the most part, Unitarians and Universalists could practice their faiths openly and freely with formally recognized churches and clergy
- Wicca came “out of the broom closet” in the 1950’s, and Paganism more broadly in the 1970’s. There were earlier groups, the Church of Aphrodite was formed & legally recognized in 1939 in New York, but they are outliers.
- While tending to be mostly white, and sometimes insular, people of color could technically join both U churches, though they were not always accepted.
- Covens and esoteric orders, being initiatory and secretive, tended to stick to a mostly white middle-class social network.
- Public, celebratory groups and festivals opened up Paganism to a broader spectrum of people, book publishing and the internet even more so.
- The Unitarian Universalist Association is one organization, albeit a loose structure, that congregations belong to as members.
- Pagan groups are mostly small and local, with a minority having a larger organizational affiliation. Most Pagans are solitary. (There’s one similarity- there are many U.U.s that do not have a local congregation or fellowship)
- Unitarian Universalism affirms social justice oriented values- while some Pagan traditions (like Reclaiming Witchcraft) may affirm commitments to peace, environmentalism, gender equality, etc. and individual Pagans might connect activism with their personal beliefs and practices, Paganism in general is not united under any set of principles, and even Wicca specifically does not require any socio-political commitments. (Which is fine, by the way- I’m certainly not proposing a platform for all of Pagandom!)
I think we need to delve into our history in order to understand where we are now. I am going to start by talking about Wicca and related ceremonial magic groups and esoteric orders in Britain and the United States. This is partly because I simply know more about this history, not because other traditions don’t matter, and also because of the influences they have had on other forms of Paganism. American Asatru arose as a separate movement, with different socio-political and cultural influences, so it makes sense to discuss it separately. If you have information about the history of inclusion and exclusion of various ethnic and other groups from your tradition of Paganism, polytheism (or insert preferred label) that you would like to share, please link, I’d be interested in hearing about it. (Also please let me know if I get anything wrong!)
For a while, I’ve known about the Kemetic Round Table, a group of bloggers that share/respond writing prompts about Kemetic Reconstructionism/Revivalism- that is Egyptian. Though not Kemetic myself, I appreciated the idea of open discussion that welcomes people of differing views within the same religion, or spiritual spectrum- there are folks who participate who are not recon, but honor Egyptian deities.
Their current topic is- What about modern priesthood? What does being a priest mean in the modern era?
Deadline March 18th, 2015 Be sure that your post is tagged #Kemetic Round Table.
We look forward to your responses!
So I was pleased to see that there is now also a Celtic Round Table (which makes me think of King Arthur!) Like KRT, it welcomes both beginners and experienced practitioners from throughout the Celtic polytheist umbrella. They are also on Tumblr here.
The March topic will be: What, if anything, is your view of the afterlife? How much of this view comes from mythology? Entries should be submitted or tagged by March 28. #celticroundtable and #celtic round table
Another one is for Pagans of any flavor with non-binary gender identities such as: agender, genderqueer, demigender, neutrois etc. Non-Binary Mysteries #NBMysteries
“This month’s theme is Solar and Lunar Symbolism.
Optional questions to answer:
Who are the sun/moon deities that make most sense to you? Are they even from your tradition?
What bugs you most about the way solar/lunar symbology is constructed or described?
Do you have sun/moon UPG that integrates your identity?
If you don’t work with or honor sun/moon deities/energies at all, why not?
What does your solar/lunar magic look like? How much of it did you have to build by yourself from the ground up?
Responses will be collected on March 31st.”
Various places, I see people who are new to Paganism, particularly after they’ve been studying it awhile and then actually meet other Pagans ask, “To be Pagan do I have to be (identity x) dress this way, listen to this music?” While there are various hobbies, types of fashion and political opinions that are popular among many Pagans that does not mean you need to participate. You do not need to buy the “Pagan Lifestyle Combo Pack”! Now, as your spiritual path develops, you might end up questioning some types of mainstream values and social norms, or for that matter, norms and values you find among Pagans! That’s a natural part of spiritual growth.
I came across something called Project Pagan Enough a while ago, ironically from someone who was complaining that it would lead to more watering down of the definition of “Pagan”. At this point, I think a much bigger threat to our communities is all the division and in-fighting. Yes, it’s very tricky to define “Pagan”, and using more specific labels is often a better idea, and people identify with them more. But we are all such small minorities, that sometimes we do need a broader concept to band together, especially when dealing with institutions like the jail/prison system and the military. A Discordian parent faced with losing their kids in a custody dispute, a Heathen who loses their job, and a Gardnerian witch who is outed in a political race might not seem to have much in common, but they will not get very much help if they insist on only sticking with people like themselves.
Personally, I’ve had my own ups and downs with my local Pagan community, but while Druid groups came and went- or were started in places I couldn’t get access to by bus, Pagan Pride, Paganicon and the Covenant of the Goddess Northern Dawn Chapter were still there. I’ve never felt excluded for not being Wiccan, polyamorous, a cat-owner, or whatever else some may think is “required”. I know some polytheists, and various other types of people have felt excluded in their communities, and that’s wrong. I won’t deny other people’s experiences, I am just sharing my own.
- You are Pagan Enough, because you try fervently to explore what it means to be pagan and apply it to your life, despite your physical appearance, personal tastes, level of experience, or other factor that others might use to say you are not pagan.
- You recognize others are Pagan Enough despite how they may look, act, or believe, as long as that person feels they are fervently seeking the divine on a pagan path.
- You attempt to debate those that have opposing viewpoints, learning from one another despite how passionate the debate becomes, instead of simply writing others off for not being up to your standard of ‘pagan’.
- You welcome, befriend, and encourage others in the pagan community despite their physical appearance, level of experience, age, or other physical or superficial characteristic.
- You promise to treat members of other religions and spiritual paths with equality, fairness, and grace, setting a good example for the Pagan community both in and out of the community, not judging the individuals based on fringe members of their same faith.
- Went to annual Bisexual Organizing Project meeting in January, was thinking of signing up to be on a committee or two. There weren’t enough people running in the board election, so I threw my hat in. I won. At-large director, one year term.
- This an unpaid position, but it has important responsibilities, and involves training, so I figured it would not only be a way to serve my community, but also gain some skills & non-profit experience, so I’d make it my job.
- Helping plan the BECAUSE conference, April 17-19th serving as the liaison between board & University of Minnesota Queer Student Cultural Center, who is hosting the event.
- (Tentatively) Will be on a panel presentation about neurodiversity and bisexual & trans* identities
- This week was busy.
- Monday- went to a hearing about minimum wage laws (an exception to it for tipped workers)
- Tuesday- long awaited therapist appointment (had to do some bureaucratic wrangling to get back on Medical assistance) Depressing & anxiety has been getting a lot better- the increasing sun is helping!
- Wednesday- Wellspring Weds. at Unity Unitarian, delicious dinner and discussion of a book about Unitarian Universalist involvement in the Civil Rights march to Selma (50th anniversary of this March is coming up)
- Thursday- BOP board meeting
- Saturday- Take Action Minnesota‘s annual meeting, then BECAUSE planning meeting.
- Today I chilled and cleaned the house.
- Tomorrow, I will *finally* be doing another Erik’s Ranch tour of the St Paul Cathedral, plus a reporter from the Pioneer Press will be there, so hopefully that will lead to more tours!