Friday, March 20, 2009
It's Lady Day, or the Vernal Equinox!
Well, it's the first day of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere and as I'm writing this, I'm sitting at my kitchen table which is set before a window that faces East. The sun is a lovely bright orange disc that is rising above the Crown forest that sits in a field which is pretty much my backyard. It's very beautiful. Very new age, as my husband likes to say. And that made me decide to do this post today on the Vernal Equinox. (That, and I'm deep in Druidic/Celtic mythology research, and I came across some cool facts in my research that I wanted to share!)
So, in ancient times the Celts (along with most primitive peoples) used the progress of the sun and moon and stars to dictate the seasons, when to plant crops, when to harvest, and most importantly, when the dark and cold of winter would give up its hold. I doubt our ancestors were any less eager than us for those first signs of spring!
The Vernal Equinox happened this morning at 0744EST. This means that day and night are in perfect balance, approximately 12hrs of each, daylight and darkness. The Celtic mythology was that the god of light wins over his twin brother, the god of darkness. As victor, he claims for his mate, the goddess who has turned into her virgin aspect somewhere between the Winter Solstice and now. (The Triple Goddess of Celtic lore has three 'faces', they are that of virgin, mother and crone.) So, the god of light wins, takes the virgin goddess as his mate, and conception begins, thus giving us a child nine months later, thus beginning the cycle of rebirth, which is another year of sowing and growing. (Interestingly, the Celts believed everything was renewing in Winter. So, how we look upon winter and how the Celts did are opposite.)
So, how did it become known as Lady's Day? (Alban Eiler~ in Druidic tongue) Well, the Celts were a race of people who worshipped nature. And procreation and childbearing was considered part of that nature. They revered women, held them in high esteem and found them mystical, 'otherworldly' creatures for their ability to menstruate monthly (you know that saying men have now, 'never trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die~well imagine what men thought of menstruation back then!) From menstruation we move on to even more fascinating skills, which is the ability to conceive and grow with child, then deliver them and feed them. I know it all seems like old hat for us now in the 21st century, but imagine the wonder of it back then, when little could be explained. When science was magic. Our ancestors must have been amazed at what us women could do with our bodies! Too bad the modern man has forgotten the powers of us women~but I digress! lol!
So, women held a very high place in Celtic mythology. Let's face it, without women, there would be no more warriors, no Druid priests, no other women to take as mates. The life cycle started and ended with women. Just as it does with the goddess in her virigin state. This is the first connotation of women with the Vernal Equinox.
The next female association with this date, is that, this is generally the accepted date of the Aunniciation of the Virgin Mary in Christianity. This is the time when Gabriel visited Mary and told her she was with child. At this date, the timing is right, for nine months after it is Christmas (Yule to the Celts and Druids) and the birth of Jesus in Christian religion, and the birth of a new growing year in Celtic.
Also, it the time when the Goddess of Celtic lore descends to the Underworld for three days. After that, she rises again, to be reborn (like Jesus' death on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday) Three is a sacred number in Celtic mythos, as well, the darkness represents the new moon which is unable to be seen in the sky for three nights. The Celts celebrated that darkness by telling stories of the goodess and her struggle to win out over the darkness of the Underworld.
If I were to be authentic in my Celtic/Druid celebration, I'd be posting this after the party so to speak. The Celts calculated their days from sundown to sundown. The moon, was held in higher regard than the sun in their culture, probably because of of it's changes phases, as well as the tides, and the calcuation of a woman's menstrual cycle. As such, every celebration was started at sundown, when the moon would rise. The celebrations all started the evenign before the date of the holiday. All the celebrations were outside, usually conducted by surrounding forests with oak trees. There would be huge bon fires, and the revelry would last all night long. So, really, I should have been outside last night dancing naked around the bon fire, but you know, my modern sensibilities had me in bed, sleeping, fully clothed! Now, if I were a great goddess, that might be a different story!
But that's it, that's how we get Lady's Day, or thereabouts, anyway. It's the celebration of women, fertility and rebirth. It is the time of Spring when light wins out over dark and the soul feels lighter and our outlook is hopefully sunnier.
It is the time when women truly shined with their powers. Which got me to thinking, that if it's truly Lady's Day and we women are to be revered, then our men should get to revering us, don't you think? LOL!
So, if you were a great Celtic goddess with unlimited powers what you would do for the day? What would you do for youself?
Happy Lady's Day to all our fabulous ladies who come to visit us!
BTW, this awesome picture is by digital artis Sharon George. I found this image while surfing the net for my goddess. I like her. Strong yet womanly and it feels very spring like!
Posted by Charlotte Featherstone at 8:09 AM