Spring Beginnings – Light Becoming Balanced with Dark

Spring Beginnings – Light Becoming Balanced with Dark
Imbolc (1st-2nd February) to Ostara or Spring Equinox (20th – 21st March)
The power of the Sun is increasing; the days are lengthening and soon will be equal to the night at Spring Equinox. Spring is stirring and gathering momentum, rain is warming, buds bursting, catkins shining and bird song growing in strength. We too feel this energy rising, promising potential and growth: reach out, take risks and strive for what you want.

Painted eggs by crimsonphotostock
Why the Goddess reveres Hare … Or…. Why we have an Easter Bunny…!
(A traditional story from the West Country – apparently! Or… Celtic folklore … Retold by myself)

“Long ago, when the land was still young, all the animals of the kingdom gathered together for a very special meeting. It was the time when the Hazel trees dripped with gold and snowdrops hug their head shyly on the woodland floor. Many animals like Hedgehog and Bat had been sleeping whilst the snow covered the land, but they reluctantly shook their sleepy heads and joined the meeting with all the other animals. All the animals were there… there were big animals like Deer and Boar, and very small animals like Mouse and Snail. Animals that could fly high like Buzzard and Skylark and animals that rested deep in the earth like Mole and Worm. There was a flurry of excitement at the meeting for there was some important news – there was going to be a Very Special Party at the time when the day and night are in balance. At the party would be a very important guest – the Spring Goddess herself! All the animals loved the Goddess and so everyone wanted to give her a gift at the party.

Now some of the animals were very rich and could afford to prepare lavish gifts for the Goddess. Others were very poor, like Hare, but Hare had a generous heart. Hare was very excited about seeing the Goddess and he thumped his feet upon the ground, whilst he thought about what present he could find for her. He was determined to find the best gift he could for her. Hare rushed home to see what he could find. He looked everywhere for something – in the cupboards, under the bed, in the larder – but he couldn’t find anything he could give her! He was so sad that he decided to go for a walk in the meadows. Whilst walking among the grass he happened upon a single fresh egg, it looked tasty and Hare had eaten nothing but dried grasses all winter. He was just about to take a bite when it occurred to him that this might make a gift for the Goddess. He pondered this idea… she could have any egg she wanted at anytime – she was a Goddess after all! How could he make this egg special enough for her? Hare carefully picked it up and carried it home. On the way he collected plants and flowers of bright spring colours to make dyes. At home, he lovingly decorated it with all the spring colours of the land and took it to the party.

When Hare arrived at the party, many of the other animals had rare and expensive gifts for the Goddess. Mole had dug up some gold, Buzzard had collected silver threads from the lining of clouds, and Deer was sporting a chain of shining jewels between his antlers. And all Hare had was the egg. All the animals took great pride in giving the Goddess their shining gifts. Eventually at the end of the line of gift-givers was Hare and his egg. Hare shyly presented the Goddess with the decorated egg. She took it and smiled, for she saw the true spirit of Hare. And there and then she appointed him her very special animal – because he had given away everything he had!”

The Anglo-Saxons hailed ‘Eostre’ as their Goddess of Spring – her name means ‘moving with the waxing sun’ and her festival was celebrated at the time of Spring Equinox. To this day people decorate eggs in her honour and the special hare (or Easter Bunny!) gives eggs. The egg in many cultures is a potent symbol representing all universal life and potential.

Old ash tree SD5169 Copyright Ian Taylor
Tree of the Season – Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

“Ash logs, all smooth and grey, burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way, they’re worth their weight in gold.”

Ash is a strong tree that is common in most areas. It grows 15 – 30 metres in height and has beige-orange-grey bark which is lightly fissured. It has green compound leaves, typically 6 to 12 pairs of leaflets with serrated edges. In autumn it produces bunches of winged seeds – referred to as ‘keys’. In the winter it can be recognised by its charcoal coloured buds, the terminal bud on a twig being very large and shaped like a Bishop’s mitre!

Uses – Ash wood is extremely tough and can withstand shock and pressure without breaking. Therefore it has traditionally been used for spear shafts, pikes, bows and arrows, tool handles, sports equipment (bats, racquets, hockey sticks etc), policeman’s truncheons and even in the vehicle frames of the Morris Traveller and Mosquito Bomber. It is superior firewood due to the wood having very low water content.

Folklore – In many ancient belief systems the Ash tree was sacred as a tree of life and thought to have been the origin of human kind. In Norse legend an enchanted Ash tree called Yggdrasil was the world tree that connected the Underworld, Earth and the Sky. In Yggdrasil’s roots dwelled a serpent (female energies) and in its branches an eagle (male energies) and the Three Norns or ‘Wyrd sisters’ (mythical maidens) wove the fates of all the worlds from beneath him. The Vikings believed that the first man was born from Ash (and Woman from Rowan or Mountain Ash). Their god Odin hung from an Ash tree and discovered the Runes and all the wisdom they hold. The Vikings revered and relied upon the tree so much that they were known as ‘Aescling’ meaning ‘Men of Ash’. A healing practice of passing sick children through a split in an Ash’s trunk was used to appeal to its power over life and fate.

Wisdom – Ash which seems to connect the Earth and the Sky, reminds us of the interconnectedness of all things, both seen and unseen and past, present and future. Our thoughts and actions will form an endless chain reaction of events in all realms of life and spirit. Ash can help us consider the many layers of existence and promotes balance and the marrying of opposites.

Seasonal Stories Through the Year:
Winter Beginnings – Journeying into Darkness
Winter’s Ending – The Returning Sun
Spring Beginnings – Light Becoming Balanced with Dark
Spring’s Ending – Awakened Energies
Summer Beginnings – The sun reaches its zenith
Summer’s Ending – The beginning of harvest