Today marks the vernal equinox. Vernal is a lovely word, meaning pertaining to spring. Spring derives from the Old Norse and means to jump or rise. It seems appropriate that we spring forward into the season, a time in which new life appears to literally spring into being.
Among my favorite places to visit as a child were vernal pools. These are reservoirs of water, left by rain or receding flood, and populated by all sorts of insects and amphibians. Often they contain frog or salamander eggs. Such pools may spring to life overnight, then usually disappear over a few days or weeks. They provide a breeding place for numerous species in a tightly co-evolved dance of renewal. When I visit them, I am reminded of our origins in, and debt to, water.
This is also the time Passover and Easter are celebrated, both festivals of rebirth and renewal oriented towards the heavens. Perhaps spring is one of the few times we acknowledge, although often grudgingly or unconsciously, that we are also a part of Nature, even as we relentless try to escape that fact. Sadly, our collective focus on the sky realms threatens our very survival as a species.
Today the sun arrives at the half-way point on its northward journey. Of course, it is the Earth that is tilting, changing our position relative to the sun, a fact long known to Indigenous people who tend to carefully watch the sky. Going forward into the year the days continue to lengthen, and the warmth builds. Still, we could have a snowstorm anytime though April, and storms have occurred as late as June. At this latitude, even in this time of climate warming, the transition between winter and spring is at best inexact and uncertain, as fits any border. Our arbitrary lines create illusions of safety as we forget that the map is never the territory.
Tomorrow evening we will gather with a few friends to conduct ceremony and share food. We had planned to hold ceremony this evening, but like many plans, our original intent proved unworkable, and we changed the date to tomorrow. I believe the spirits will not take offense; they know the world of humans is complex and given to disruption. I believe they simply want our attention; ceremony held a day early or a day late will not detract from our care and intent, nor in our acknowledgement of our relationship to, and dependence on, the spirits, (including the Ancestors and Pachamama) and the Creator.
Ceremony acknowledges our kinship with all of Creation, and the simple truth that we, like the vernal pool, are transient visitors to this beautiful, mysterious place we call Earth. Our sojourn here is brief; ceremony reminds us that Life preceded us, and will continue even after we are gone. Perhaps knowing life continues is what both holds us here, and allows us to pass on to the spirit world.
In eastern versions of the Medicine Wheel, one enters the wheel in the East and exits the Wheel in the East. As we move into spring, and the East, we are given the possibility of new vision, renewal, and transformation. In the East, the world is made new. It is a great gift.