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!


Charlotte Featherstone said...

I thought I'd answer my question. If I were a great Celtic goddess, I'd raise my hands up to the moon and demand that my novella with the due date of April 1 be written and it be utterly, breathtakingly fantastic~with no typos!!

Kristina Cook/Kristi Astor said...

I would demand warm weather in NYC year-round! It's the first day of spring, and I'm looking out my window watching SNOW FALL as I do my final packing and preparations to head down to sunny Miami Beach! Please let our flight get out of here today--on time!

Amanda McIntyre said...

I love Celtic lore, especially as it relates to the change in seasons.

That shared love of Celtic lore is one of the reasons we chose the seasonal Celtic festivals for the Celtic Spice anthologies. *see gorgeous Winters Desire, Book I in the trio to the right*

Potential and possibility, hope renewed. Even as I write I can hear the robins singing outside my window and though the ground is yet brown and the trees bare, there is a shift in nature--and if you stop long enough in the crazy pace of life, you can sense it.
I don't know about dancing naked around my oak tree in the back yard, but I do love to go out on my deck and sit with my face turned to the warmth of the sun and empty my mind for a few moments.

Im antsy to unroll my hammock so I can kick off my shoes, lay back in the late afternoon and shut my eyes and listen to the wind blowing through the trees.

I'm not a garden person, but I have planters and small garden shrines for the fae folk;) *yes , I do believe ;)

Ive been waiting for the kids to grow so I could build a meditation labyrinth in my back yard.

Those are some of my spring rituals and goals. I've discovered that when my spirit is at rest with the universe, I am a better writer, a better person.

Getting there,nurturing that, and maintaining it, is both the challenge and the reward.


Charlotte Featherstone said...

I used to be a gardner until deadlines took over. I do planters now. I love ths sun, but what I really love is the moon. I think its the Cancer sign in me. I really am a moon child.

A meditation labyrinth, eh, I like the sounds of that. Will there be any sacrifices of virgins and dark magic in that labyrinth per chance lol!
One day my dream is to have a place like Karin Tabke s garden. My gosh, what a stunning, tranquil place. It would awesome to write in an oasis like that.

Anonymous said...

This is great, I never knew any of this stuff. Man was I born in the wrong century!!

If I were a Celtic goddess, I'd wish for nothing more than a day of relaxation. No screaming kids, no ringing phones, no laundry piled up. No dishes, no cooking, no barking dog, no work, no inlaws ringing my bell and causing chaos.

Ahhhhh...All I'd do for the day is relax. Read, take a nice hot bath, maybe even watch Gone With The Wind as I got a foot massage. Sigh...

Yeah, that would be my wish.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Barbara, I give you the name, "Celtic Goddess of Inner Wellness" lol!

sounds like a day in paradise.

Anonymous said...

What would I do for a day if I was a Celtic Goddess, I guess I make sure anyone whom felt hunger or needed care,childern,adults and animals would be fed and taken care of, and at the end of the day I make time to read a nice book

Charlotte Featherstone said...

What a beautiful person you are, Ranearia! Makes me kind of sheepish that I chose something so selfish...but still, that fully written, perfectly polished manuscript would be nice!lol!

Amanda McIntyre said...

Charlotte, nope, no such things as sacrifices in a meditative labyrinth;) LOL Its a contemplative thing, very solitary. They had one at the Grnad HOtel at Mackinac, set in the midst of a grove of trees on a small hill beside the hotel. inside the circle of trees no one spoke. All you could hear was the wind through the trees.

Focused on the winding path, your mind empties of all concerns. Ive seen pictures of those that people have created in their backyards and have wanted one for a number of years. Just had to wait for kids to be old enough to take over the backyard LOL
maybe that will be a summer project for me this year;)


Amanda McIntyre said...

Raneria, well said and from the heart. Good incentive to look beyond ourselves to the greater picture. Thank you for sharing.


Genella deGrey said...

Yesterday at about 4:30 in the AM my moon cycle attacked me with a vengeance. LOL!

If I was a great Celtic goddess with unlimited powers I'd delegate to others the dozens of things I do every day and go on a spa cruise.

I'm still feeling quite haggard, can you tell?

During my research for one of my books where the heroine's private religion is similar to that of a Druid's (she is also the daughter of a high priestess and healer in their village) I realized that my birthday is on the eve of Beltane, and my mother's birthday is on the day of Winter Solstice.

I thought that was cool.

Amanda McIntyre said...

That is awesome, Genella!


Amy C said...

If I were a Celtic Goddess with unlimited powers for a day I'd make sure that my family's future was secured in these uncertain times we've been unlucky to have faced this past year. My husband would no longer need to worry.

Then I would bring all of nature back to life...the trees, the grass, the plants and shrubs, all of it, so I could sit outside and hear the birds chirp and the bees buzz and feel the suns warmth.

Damn, I hate being a powerless mortal! :P

Amanda McIntyre said...

I understand that wish, Amy! And tis a fine one!
I am sooo ready to see green again!
Yes, Im one of those strange beings that loves the smell of cut grass! LOL

and the lilacs that bloom in my backyard!Maybe half the joy of spring is the anticipation;)


Cecile said...

I love the answers and the post!!! The picture rocks!
If I were a Celtic goddess (which I am in my dreams~ ha!!) and I had unlimted powers for a day... hmm... If my powers were unlimited then I would pull all the answers from our Ladies above and make them all happen for each one of you!! And I would take Barbara's answer to heart for myself!!! Remember my powers are unlimited ~ anything you want is yours, just ask and you shall receive from me!

VampFanGirl said...

Wow, I learned something new today. Thanks Charlotte!

So, let's see. If I were a Celtic goddess I'd demand That my work days from now on start at 10 am and ended at 3 pm. Oh, with my hour lunch too. :)

Ugg, is it time for the weekend to start yet?!?

Amy C said...

Lilacs and cut grass! Is there anything better in the spring to smell?

One of my lilacs in the front yard we had to cut down last summer. It wasn't doing so well anymore. But man, when it was in bloom, a nice breeze would push the scent in the front window. I have two small ones that I planted a few years ago but they are sooo slow growing :(.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Genella, that's sooo cool about yours and your moms's birthdays!

Amy c, how right you are, facing these uncertain times, it's nice to go back in time and think about living simply and cleanly. My husband is a mechanic for one of the big three, every day he goes to work is just a gift.

Cecile...what a sweetie you are! We'll call you the 'Supreme Goddess'! lol! And thanks for sharing the wealth of gift giving with the LIT manor sisters! All of us appreciate it!

VampFanGirl...if you can get your boss to go with those hours, you truly are a goddess! I'd like those hours myself.

Spring alert everyone....I had such a headache this morning. I laid down and woke up with still lingering. I went outside and did the walk around the house, and get what??Crocus is up and I can see signs of life stirring in the vinca and my Iris' look like that they might be starting as well!!! YEAH!!!!!

Fresh cut grass, sweet lilacs and I lurve the smell of spring blowing through an open window and ruffling through a lace curtain! Mmmmmm, c'mon spring!

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Oops, forgot...Amanda, no sacrifices? For Real? Waht about the hunky labyrinth guy who brings you some healing water or something....

Ok, I've officially been reading too much about dark sex magic. clearly! lol!

Cecile said...

Well thank you Ms Charlotte for the title! *Bowing to your majesty*
Sharing is what friends do! And I am all about my friends!
Spring is offically here!!! YEA!!!

Amanda McIntyre said...

Amy, spring rain is another welcome smell, is it not?

And the sound of birds of a morning! I think the scents and sounds evoke something from my childhood! LOL

I will say the sunsets these days off the deck are spectacular! I can see clearly how the Celts worshipped nature and many still practice it in the old ways,yet today.


Amy C said...

Charlotte, funny you should say that your husband works for one of the big three. My husband worked for a manufacturer that supplied to the big three. With layoffs and plant closings, we had to do some rearranging since he worked at a plant that closed. He's in school now. Luckily we planned for this eventuality a year ago, and he started school then. Otherwise he would still have another year of school. But it's all good. I'm optimistic :)!

Amy C said...

Oh yes, spring rain! There is a particular scent during some rains whether in the spring or summer that remind me of a memory from my childhood. The smell isn't always there after a rain, but when it is, I love it.

Oh, we have Turtle Doves that coo in the morning. Every year they make a nest somewhere within the perimeter of our house.