Here's a holiday that clearly does not get enough Air Time. Spring Equinox is this weekend. It is the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth's equator, making
night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth and
occurring about March 21, in my neighborhood things are happening on the Saturday before and on Sunday. Spring equinox is the genesis of Easter, being a celebration of all things vernal, young and fecund.
Things You Will NeedDrums, shakers, seed, good music, good friends - party hearty in a beautiful outdoorsy environment. Don't forget to bring the clean up bags. Mother Nature doesn't like people to mess with her.
Step 1As the Earth greens and the snow melts away it is not hard to understand how cultures located in a four climate zone would celebrate Spring. Bunnies come out to play. Hens start laying with aplomb. Pagan holidays usually celebrated the advent of Spring with fertility rites. Ancient Greeks and Romans liked to use it as an excuse to get drunk. We're not so different, having St Patrick's day on the 17th. Frankly, it's safer to get drunk in the warmth of Spring than the dead of winter.
A pot luck/pot latch with alcohol is thus one appropriate way to acknowledge the bounty of Spring. Be sure you have enough real food so that no one drives home drunk.
Step 2In the mountains, the shaman New Age crowd likes to celebrate this holiday alcohol free, in the morning. They organize a drum circle. Anyone is welcome to join in the beat. You are encouraged if you do not have a drum, to bring a shaker or any small percussion instrument. From ten am until 12 they make music outside in the sun. It's very pretty. I think if you live in a city and the drums get too loud you may want to consider a flute player instead.
Step 3What's a holiday without ritual? The shamans I know have suggested I bring seeds for planting. Eggs, lambs, baby bunnies all speak to the renewal aspect of Spring. I used to wonder when I was a kid how Jesus got mixed up with all of this. Christianity has a story going around the internet about decorating eggs for Easter. Allegedly a bunch of young kids were filling the plastic variety with candy or favors and one child did nothing with his. At first the other children ridicule him (?) I guess even though they are "Christian" kids, they're not above bullying. Then the adult gets involved and gently asks the kid why he didn't do anything to his egg. He replies that his egg symbolizes that "The Tomb was empty." The other kids are then cowed by this child's greater understanding and regret being bullies.
For those of you not familiar with the Jesus Easter Story, three days after his death, he was resurrected. When his followers went to his tomb to dress the body in spices - the tomb was empty. Mary, then Peter, two of his followers, then actually speak to Jesus, who apparently has a three dimensional body. He urges "doubting" Thomas to touch the holes in his hands from the crucifixion. Earlier in the story of his life, Jesus is described as bringing a man named Lazarus back to life. Lazarus was described as being in his tomb three days already, "stinking." Yet he comes back to life healthy in front of many witnesses, so it should have come as no surprise to the followers that Jesus could save himself.
Step 4If you want to celebrate Spring Equinox the Christian way, find yourself a church and attend the Easter service. You don't have to tell anyone you know the story is ripped off from earlier pagan beliefs dovetailing nicely into rituals already in existence at the time of Christ. You can drink wine and eat bread in holy communion, as eating with others is healthy and bonding for the soul. We are social animals, groups are good.
Just beware of people trying to convert you to a rather addled belief system. In his lifetime the words of Jesus himself are more about ethical behavior than the trinity. In fact. read everything he said, he never mentions the word "trinity" even once. A lot of the doctrine Christianity hangs it's hat on was developed by the apostle Paul years after the death of Jesus. Paul, never even met Jesus in his lifetime. He had a revelation on the road to Damascus, which like all revelations can not be verified empirically. That's not to say it isn't true, it's just to point out there's no reason to give his revelation any more weight that "The Course in Miracles" or "Conversations with God." Both of those books are revelations from a Christian God revealed to people long after the death of Jesus.
Religion and ritual is nice when it's about togetherness and not division. Spring is such a beautiful and hopeful time of year. We see the Earth returning to it's glory of colors, scents and sounds. I hope this year the Shamans and the Christians in my neighborhood will understand that they are really enjoying the very same holy day. It would be so great to see the evangelicals and the vegan liberals hacktivist together over organic gardening and self-sufficiency.