GREETINGS, LORE, & CUSTOMS
for Springtide --
Beginning 19-20 March 2012
The Morrighan, Goddess of Battle
© Kinuko Y. Craft. All rights reserved, used with permission.
[No endorsement of this web site, its contents, or opinions expressed there-in is intended.]
In early 2008, while searching for one of Lauren Raine's performance art/mask webpages for a pastlife client of mine, I came across her amazing page, "The Curse of the Morrigan," at: http://www.rainewalker.com/morrigan.htm. I was astonished by the power of these words, for they are literally cursing one into enlightenment. I wrote to ask Lauren's permission to use this work on my spring equinox page and she generously granted it. She said she felt the Morrigan herself seemed to write the words, and I believe that the Celtic goddess' hand is indeed on this work. These "curses"come full circle and are immensely satisfying and profound. As Lauren wrote me:The Morrigan is the bringer of justice - but true justice is the evolution of conscience and compassion within each of us, so that we circle back, and understand, at last, that we are all a part of each other, with deep roots in the earth.My thanks to Lauren Raine for her fierce yet compassionate words and to Kinuko Craft for her perfect depiction of those same qualities in the Morrigan with her fierce hounds. Here, art and words mutually complement one another:
<><><><><><><><><><><><>You who bring suffering to children:
The CURSE OF THE MORRIGANMay you look into the sweetest, most open eyes, and howl the loss of your innocence.You who ridicule the poor, the grieving, the lost, the fallen, the inarticulate, the wounded children in grown-up bodies:May you look into each face, and see a mirror. May all your cleverness fall into the abyss of your speechless grief, your secret hunger, may you look into that black hole with no name, and find....the most tender touch in the darkest night, the hand that reaches out. May you take that hand. May you walk all your circles home at last, and coming home, know where you are.You tree-killers, you wasters:May you breathe the bitter dust, may you thirst, may you walk hungry in the wastelands, the barren places you have made. And when you cannot walk one step further, may you see at your foot a single blade of grass, green, defiantly green. And may you be remade by it's generosity.And those who are greedy in a time of famine:May you be emptied out, may your hearts break not in half, but wide open in a thousand places, and may the waters of the world pour from each crevice, washing you clean.Those who mistake power for love:May you know true loneliness. And when you think your loneliness will drive you mad, when you know you cannot bear it one more hour, may a line be cast to you, one shining, light woven strand of the Great Web glistening in the dark. And may you hold on for dear life.Those passive ones, those ones who force others to shape them, and then complain if it's not to your liking:May you find yourself in the hard place with your back against the wall. And may you rage, rage until you find your will. And may you learn to shape yourself.And you who delight in exploiting others, imagining that you are better than they are:May you wake up in a strange land as naked as the day you were born and thrice as raw. May you look into the eyes of any other soul, in your radiant need and terrible vulnerability. May you know yourSelf. And may you be blessed by that communion.And may you love well, thrice and thrice and thrice, and again and again and again:
May you find your face before you were born.
And may you drink from deep, deep waters.
May springtide bring you and your loved ones unexpected joy and abundantly kind blessings.
Equinox arrives when the sun enters the sign of Aries the Ram,
creating an equal balance of dark and light on earth.
This year the Sun enters Aries at the Spring Equinox on 3/20 at 1:15am (3/19 at 10:15pm Pacific time)
Jewish Passover begins at sundown on Good Friday, 6 April 2012.
Easter in the West is Sunday, 8 April 2012.
Links to Vernal Equinox
& Other Springtide sites:
Courtesy of Tradestone International
David Paladin on Openness to ever-changing realities
[Added 23 February 2001; annotation updated 11 March 2002]: This is a brief channeled passage from Navajo shamanic-artist, David Paladin. After I read it in 2001, I received permission from his widow to put it on a Myth*ing Links page. Paladin looks at what it is that stops us from greater openness to the realm of mystery and creativity -- he says that it's when we become frozen in our myths, when we stagnate, or when we dry up. Spring is a wonderful time to be reminded of the deeper wonders of life that shimmer beyond, around, and through the limiting constraints provided by our religious and political leaders.http://www.webofoz.org/heritage/Eostar.shtml
[Added 12 March 2002]: This is "Heritage of Eostar" by Lark, a member of Web of Oz, a pagan group in Kansas. This no-frills, wide-ranging essay explores cross-cultural spring ["Eostar"] celebrations across Europe and the Near East. I especially like her concluding words on the Green Men of Europe:http://schooloftheseasons.com/march.html...In the woods, the Green Man puts forth sprouts from every root and branch. Even in churches, he flowers in carvings of wood and stone, on arches above doorways or hidden beneath benches. "Here, a throat come aleaf, there a branch held aloft," his green fire races through the woodlands and pulses in our blood: "this green source, this welling-forth in ever-widening circles, this 'spring'."*Note: the essay isn't footnoted but Lark offers a separate page with a lengthy and useful bibliography at: http://www.webofoz.org/heritage/bibliography.shtml
(*from "The Book of the Green Man" by Ronald Johnson)
This wonderful page covers the month of March from Waverly Fitzgerald's School of the Seasons, one of my favorite sites. Waverly is thorough, wide-ranging, and has a superb eye for lore & rituals. Click on any calendar day and you'll go to a great page filled with further details, rituals, and ancient customs (Note: she's a careful researcher & her sources are listed at the bottom). For additional monthly updates, go to her "School of the Seasons" Home Page, where you'll also find great special feature articles on this spring holiday season -- for example....http://schooloftheseasons.com/spring.html
....this is Waverly's impressively rich page on "Celebrating Spring Equinox".......http://schooloftheseasons.com/lent.html
......and this is her exquisitely balanced page on "Pagan Lent," wherein she looks at fasting from foods but also from processes, habits (e.g., "artistic anorexia"), and behaviors (e.g., nagging). I love the way she discusses the paucity of foods available in early spring for peoples who lived close to the earth in earlier times. I also love her emphasis on the healing power of this season:http://www.religioustolerance.org/spring_equinox.htm...But it's not just the number of days  that are significant but their conjunction with the season. In Chinese medicine, spring is the time of the liver, whose energy is change. Haragano, who teaches Wheel of the Year classes in Seattle, says that treatment centers experience higher success rates in spring than at any other time of the year. She attributes this to the incredible energy for change which courses through the earth at this time, the force that through the green fuse drives the flower, as Dylan Thomas put it. The sap is rising in the trees, which are budding; the green stalks of crocuses and snowdrops are pushing through the frozen ground. There's an incredible shift happening which -- in those parts of the world which are frozen -- manifests in the spring thaw, the breaking up of the contraction of winter....
Robert Graves says swings, with their crescent moon arcs-in-motion, date back to rituals
celebrated by ancient Greek priestesses (see The Greek Myths, vol. I:262-3).
This is an exuberant modern version: "On the Swing" by T. Smirnova.
(Note: a larger version is on my 2005 Spring page.)
Courtesy of Tradestone International
[Added 12 March 2002]: From religioustolerance.org in Canada comes a lengthy, well organized overview on spring equinox celebrations in monotheistic, pagan, and indigenous traditions worldwide. It is both humane and informative, with footnoting that combines books with websites (of varying quality). Here are some passages:http://web.archive.org/web/20041216081130/http://www.geocities.com/annafranklin1/ostara.htmlThe Spring Equinox is also known as: Alban Eilir, Alban Elfed, Eostar, Eostre, Feast of Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Festival of Trees, Lady Day, NawRuz, No Ruz, Ostara, Ostra, Rites of Spring, and the Vernal Equinox....
....Christianity and other religious associate three themes with the vernal equinox:1) Conception and pregnancy leading to birth on the winter solstice....Monotheistic religions, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, tend to view time as linear. It started with creation; the world as we know it will end at some time in the future. Aboriginal and Neopagan religions see time as circular and repetitive, with lunar (monthly) and solar (yearly) cycles. Their "...rituals guarantee the continuity of nature's cycles, which traditional human societies depend on for their sustenance."
2) Victory of a god of light (or life, rebirth, resurrection) over the powers of darkness (death).
3) The descent of the goddess or god into the underworld for a period of three days. This is such a popular theme among religions that mythologists refer to it as "the harrowing of Hell." ....
[Added 12 March 2002 & expanded 26 February 2003]: This is "Ostara" by Anna Franklin, a rich excursion into springtide lore. I especially liked her passages on the ram (Aries, the astrological sign for March) and serpent eggs, although I wish she had provided footnotes for her data, or at least a bibliography. Regardless, for non-specialists, there is much of interest here. Here are excerpts on eggs and serpents:...The egg is another obvious fertility symbol, betokening burgeoning life. In several mythologies, a ‘World Egg’ is laid by the Goddess and split open by the sun God. In Hindu tradition, the divine bird laid the cosmic egg on the primordial waters and from it sprang Brahma and the two halves formed heaven and earth. The cosmic tree is sometimes depicted as growing out of an egg floating on the waters of chaos. In Egyptian legend the Nile Goose laid the cosmic egg from which Ra, the sun, sprang. In China the yolk was the sky and the white the earth. The egg is also an emblem of resurrection and the initiate or ‘twice born’, since its laying is one birth, its hatching another.
The egg is closely associated with the serpent, another important springtime emblem. One Egyptian legend says that Kneph, the serpent, produced the egg from his mouth. Orphism, holding the egg to be the mystery of life, creation and resurrection, often depicted the egg surrounded by Ouroboros, the circular serpent with its tail in its mouth. The Druids called the cosmic egg the ‘egg of the serpent’.
The symbolism of the snake is complex. It can be male and phallic or female, representing the power of water- sinuous streams, rivers and healing wells. On one hand it represents the underworld and the powers of night and winter that the sun god must overcome [Bel is sometimes shown with a serpent or dragon, as are Apollo, Pythios and Helios]. On the other hand it symbolises regeneration and the sloughing off of winter; the snake sheds its old skin and emerges renewed and ‘reborn’....
[2/26/03: Link is now dead...but I'm keeping the annotation; UPDATE: 3/20/05: my trusty links-elf, Michaela, found this again]
This is a 1998 essay on the Celtic view of the vernal equinox, "Song of the Otherworld is Heard In the Balance of Spring," by C. Austin from the always-excellent Celtic Connection. One image especially struck me: "...the Goddess, wrapped in her verdant cloak of Spring."[7 March 2002 Note: Austin's topic changes each year but it's always worth reading. UPDATE: 20 March 2005: the above link is to the essay I first read -- it offers a great collection of links and topics to many more of Austin's essays.]http://web.archive.org/web/19991118200718/http://www.zaranna.com/seasons/ostara.htm
From Rae Beth comes this lovely little page on Ostara, or spring equinox. She wisely points out how stressful this period is:...The two weeks before and after both equinoxes are often times of stress and great tension. This is because all the elements of life are being brought into new balance, psychically, as day and night attain equal length....She also explores the beauty of the season as it shows its face in the Spring Maiden Goddess, the young God, and so many fertile eggs. [FYI: here's her homepage (updated 3/10/10) : http://www.raebeth.com/]
Dandelion Spring courtesy of Russian Sunbirds
"Spring is always young, even though we aren't...."
[Poignant words from Kathleen McCormick: see her site below]
This page begins with Strinennia on March 9th and looks at a whole series of traditional Slavic springtide celebrations (concluding with Rusal'naia Week in early May) -- there's wonderfully rich lore and tradition here (plus hypertext to rituals).A Strinennia Ritual for March 9 & Beyond
I "lurk"on a Slavic pagan discussion list where a beautiful ritual for Strinennia (March 9th) recently appeared. I knew at once that I would use it to celebrate privately on the eve prior to the 9th, but I also wanted to share it with others who visit my Springtide Greetings page. With the author's permission, it now has its own special page on my website. Garnet's ritual was written for a specific date, but its timeless quality makes it appropriate for any springtide ritual. (See immediately below on grounding & centering prior to any ritual.)http://www.robinwood.com/LivingtreeGrove/Magic/MagicPages/GroundCenter.html
Regardless of your path, whether in daily life or ritual-space, this little page on "Grounding & Centering" from Robin Wood (of tarot fame) is highly recommended. In addition to a simple but crucial exercise, there is a remarkable image of a human body shimmering with 7 glowing chakras (I use it as a screen saver to remind me to stay grounded among all the pixels <smile>).http://macaroo.com/spring.htm
This is a tranquil little site with a brief essay on spring by Kathleen ("Mac") McCormick, a woman with a poet's sensibilities:http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/arts/springwords.htmTHERE comes a time when even Winter Folk have had enough. We hunger for color and the smell of warming soil; the rich dark green taste of asparagus, the young breeze, the strident clamor of small birds....We cannot escape the messy rhythm of life, and it's a small, bright mercy that we don't want to. A hundred Springs may come and go, but each lifts the heart without effort. Spring is always young, even though we aren't....(She also includes several seasonal recipes and a handful of well chosen links.)
From Keith Heidorn, the "Weather Doctor," comes The Elders Speak: About Spring, a great collection of quotations on spring. For example:http://revealer.com/platonic.htmBut it [the weather] gets through more business in spring than in any other season. In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. [Mark Twain on New England weather]Heidorn, whose huge site is one of my favorites, has many essays combining weather science with the arts and humanities. Try his site map if you wish to explore: http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/general/site_map.htm
Like a sound spring spreads and spreads until it is swallowed up in space. Like the wind, it moves across the map invisible; we see it only in its effects. It appears like the track of the breeze on a field of wheat, like shadows of wind-blown clouds, like tossing branches that reveal the presence of the invisible, the passing of the unseen. [Edwin Way Teale]
This is the second chapter in a book entitled Secrets of the Sphinx by Andrew Raymond. It looks at the Platonic Year, Dragon Star, the Age of Aquarius, and an amazing sweep of timespans relating to the vernal equinox.
[More gorgeous eggs can be seen at http://www.svetki.lv/lieldien/index.htm --
if no longer there, try writing their webmaster.
9 March 2008: link is dead.]
This is a page on decorated "Easter eggs" with a beautiful title: Pisanki: Icons of the Universe. It comes from Okana's Web. Okana writes knowledgeably of Polish Pisanki -- their traditions and symbolism of color and design.http://web.archive.org/web/20080612144847/http://www.polstore.com/html/polisheaster.html[Linked to Web Archive as of 16 March 2011]One of the prime icons and symbols of Spring, of birth and rebirth and fertility, is the egg, and Poles have made decorating and sanctifying them an art form. The perfect icon of the universe, decorated eggs were taken out into the fields as the grains were sown, along with a candle blessed at Gromniczne (Imbolc), in order to bring life back into the warming soil. Eggs were also buried at the base of fruit trees to make them bear in abundance. Even the water in which boiled-style eggs were prepared is sacred; used to wash in, bless with, poured along the property lines to protect against lightening and thunder and the ravages of weather, and annointing bee hives to bring plenty of sweet tasting honey. A bowl of decorated eggs was kept in the homes at all times, to ensure good health and prosperity....
[Added 4/12/01]:This is another page on Polish Easter traditions, lore, and special regional foods.http://hungaria.org/projects.php?projectid=4&menuid=116#258
This is "Easter in Hungary," by Emese Kerkay, an intriguing folkloric site about ancient Hungarian fertility traditions involving decorated eggs as well as water-dowsing:http://www.b-info.com/places/Bulgaria/Easter/ind_old.html: [Link updated 9 March 2008]...When one handles somebody or something like a himestojás [Easter egg] it means that the person takes absolutely good care of that somebody or something....Linked pages will take you to the art of these eggs -- they have wonderful designs and symbolism:
...The decorated egg is knowingly connected with the custom of water plunging on Easter Monday. LOCSOLÁS - dousing with water - is a very old custom. In pagan times dousing girls with water was a magical fertility act.......The cult of the decorated egg is one of the most ancient religious customs of humanity, and goes back thousands of years. The egg plays a significant role in the story of creation for many people. It represents the secret of eternal life condensed in a small enclosed and perfect geometrical form. Inside of the protective white mass is the mysterious gold, the Secret of secrets....
...Over the centuries the meaning of some of the cultic drawings were forgotten, but Hungarian women still write the same symbols onto the eggs as did their ancestors more than a thousand years ago....
...The color most frequently used in decorating eggs is red. This is the reason for the other popular Hungarian name for the decorated egg: red egg (piros tojás). The magical red is the color of blood, which is the "residence of life" according to the belief of ancient people. Asian horsemen-cultures - the ancestors of the Hungarians included - often put a decorated red egg in the hand of the deceased. The color red also symbolizes eternal life, renewal, love, spring, joy, freedom, new life, resurrection.....
This is an intriguing site on Bulgarian folk traditions concerning specially decorated Easter breads and red-dyed Easter eggs. There are many rich details. For example, families painted their eggs red on Holy Thursday and one of these eggs would be taken to services in the local church; immediately afterwards, this egg would be buried in the family's vineyard to protect against hailstorms and to ensure a good crop [Note: since Holy Thursday celebrates the Last Supper, when wine was changed into blood, perhaps it's not really far-fetched that the consecrated "wine"-red egg should protect vineyards]. Later, 10-15 of these red eggs would be sent to the family's Turkish friends along with a loaf of Easter bread -- these Moslem friends would be hurt if their Christian friends neglected to do this [Note: one can't help but be struck by the implications of friendship in earlier years between Christian and Moslem here].http://web.archive.org/web/20061210183739/http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/2810/velykos.html
Customs not involving eggs are also touched upon: e.g., in one region, pumpkins were planted on the Feast of the Annunciation because it was believed that these would be especially sweet [as was the "fruit" of the Virgin's womb]. The site also offers links to more "orthodox" Easter traditions. (Note: this site is also listed on the second of my two Bulgarian pages.)
Woman in Poppy Fields,
a flower sacred to the ancients, widely used in sacred rituals
From Sacred Serpent comes a great page on the Baltic spring feast of Velykos:http://web.archive.org/web/20030608143406/http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/2810/uzgaven.html...The week before Equinox, called the Velykos of Veles (souls), concludes the annual cycle of commemorations of the dead. As during Kucios (Winter Solstice Eve), families remember their dead and leave their dinners on the tables overnight for the veles to eat.Here, the cosmic eggs are those of harmless grass-serpents:
The verba, principally made of juniper, birch and willow twigs interwoven with colored papers and flowers, symbolizes the force of life, the birth of new life, and rebirth of nature. It also improves health. Before or on the Equinox, people whip each other with verbas, wishing each other well.......Breaking eggs re-enacts the breakage of the cosmic egg, from which the snake, called 'gyvate,' comes to grant life and fertility. The zaltys, the sacred zigzagged garden snake of the Lithuanians, also wakes from hibernation at this time.
Also from Sacred Serpent comes this page on the springtide merriment associated with the Lithuanian fertility celebration of Uzgavenes:http://web.archive.org/web/20080430210212/http://www.luth.se/luth/present/sweden/history/folklore/easter.html:Uzgavenes (uhzh-gah-VAY-nays), or the Escort of Winter, essentially waits for Spring and helps prepare for the new season. A.J. Greimas writes: "Under Christian influence Uzgavenes became a movable day, while earlier it was celebrated at the time of the Spring Equinox," usually during the weekend closest to the beginning of March.[Added 3/10/10: For interesting sites with more on Lithuanian paganism, see: http://romuva.lt/en.html and/or: http://pagantheologies.pbworks.com/Romuva]
The holiday consists of processions, costumes, tom foolery, games, and plays....
From Lulea University in Sweden comes an interesting page on rural Swedish Easter customs, including decorated eggs, fertility games, and several odd stories about Easter "hags" (i.e., witches) and their broomsticks.http://web.archive.org/web/20090116054712/http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=26050:
[Added 4/12/01]: This is "Finnish Easter Traditions," a charming page by Sirpa Karjalainen, Assistant of Ethnology, University of Helsinki. Subtopics include: The Catholic Medieval Inheritance; The Silent Week; The Dancing Sun; Oven-baked Malt Porridge, a Finnish Easter Treat; Witches Fly at Easter; Witches Wishing You Luck Blend the Eastern and Western Traditions; and Easter cards from a century ago. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/ostara.html...Well before Easter, children plant rye-grass seeds in little pots. Green grass is a sure sign of spring, even if it only grows on the windowsill. Pussy willows are ancient Easter decorations, and birch twigs are placed in vases, where they soon start budding. Nowadays tulips, lilies and daffodils are flown in from the Continent, but that doesn't mean Finns didn't always have Easter 'flowers'. These were made by hand, out of tissue paper and dyed feathers....
[Added 3/06/03]: This is Professor D. L. Ashliman's brief page on Ostara, the Germanic Goddess of Springtime:http://web.archive.org/web/20070101204850/http://www.utah.edu/planetarium/EquinoxVernal.html...The name of Ostara's (Eostra's) festival was transferred to the celebration of Christ's resurrection when Anglo-Saxon and German heathens converted to Christianity. Thus, unlike other European cultures, English and German Christians still attach the name of a heathen goddess to their most sacred holiday: Easter or Ostern. In other European languages the holiday's name is based on the Hebrew word "pasah," to pass over, thus reflecting the Christian holiday's Biblical connection with the Jewish Passover....
From Von Del Chamberlain at Utah's Hansen Planetarium (9 March 2008: it now calls itself the Clark Planetarium) comes this witty essay on the spring equinox and the "mystery" of balancing eggs at the exact moment of the equinox. You'll learn some fascinating information along the way.http://www.atozteacherstuff.com/themes/easter.shtml
[Added 4/12/01 & updated 3/6/03]: For more great approaches to the season, try this page of Easter celebration lesson plans for teachers and home schoolers. If you still want more, try this one: http://www.LessonPlansPage.com/Easter.htm
Russian Lacquer Box
Lady Day: from Mike Nichols comes this literate and enjoyable essay on "Lady Day," which may be celebrated either on the Vernal Equinox or on 25 March, the Feast of the Annunciation:http://www.wicca.com/celtic/akasha/ostara.htm...the old and accepted folk name for the Vernal Equinox is 'Lady Day'. Christians sometimes insist that the title is in honor of Mary and her Annunciation, but Pagans will smile knowingly....Nichols brings in lunar and solar deities, Welsh myth, King Arthur, the Goddess' Descent into the Underworld for three days, Easter, and much more.
[Expanded 3/6/03]: From the Celtic world comes Herne's brief page on Lady Day:March 21 -- Ostara -- Spring or The Vernal Equinox. Also known as: Lady Day or Alban Eiler (Druidic):
http://www.farsinet.com/norooz/As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals.Herne lists the day's traditional foods, herbs & flowers, incense & gemstone.
The next full moon (a time of increased births) is called the Ostara and is sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility (from whence we get the word estrogen, whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit.
The Christian religion adopted these emblems for Easter which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venus and Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time....
Pre-Islamic Iranian Deity with springtide garden and a swimming fish --
the fish was once an ancient symbol for the gravid womb but today, according to the site (see below),
the "goldfish in a bowl represents life and the end of astral year-picas [i.e., pisces]."
[Added 19 March 2001]: This is a refreshing site on Persian New Year, Noruz, which is celebrated at spring equinox and lasts for thirteen days beyond that date. If you scroll down this page, you'll find excellent data on lore and traditions -- also many fine illustrations.http://classes.colgate.edu/osafi/coreculture/noruz.htm...The origins of NoRuz are unknown, but they go back several thousand years predating the Achaemenian Dynasty. The ancient Iranians had a festival called "Farvardgan" which lasted ten days, and took place at the end of the solar year. It appears that this was a festival of sorrow and mourning, signifying the end of life while the festival of NoRuz, at the beginning of spring signified rebirth, and was a time of great joy and celebration....Click on the illustrations and you'll get additional data as well as further illustrations which expand on the theme.
[Added 14 March 2004]: This is a site focused on the foods of Noruz. The symbolic loveliness and delicious descriptions make me wish I had Iranian friends nearby willing to invite me to share in this celebration!http://Persia.ORG/Culture/nowruz.htmlA few days prior to the New Year, a special cover is spread on to the Persian carpet or on a table in every Persian household. This ceremonial table is called cloth of seven dishes, (each one beginning with the Persian letter cinn). The number seven has been sacred in Iran since the ancient times, and the seven dishes stand for the seven angelic heralds of life-rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty....Another interesting aspect involves the last -- or 13th -- day of the the 2 week celebration. This is Sizdah bedar: "getting rid of the 13."...This fun and exciting outing involves all family members and is intended to end the holiday season on a relaxing and positive note. The concept of avoiding the number thirteen is mainly to symbolize the will and power to deal with all evil in the new year....Part of the ritual is to cast away into running water the sabzee, or sprouting miniature garden of wheat or lentils from the ceremonial table:...The sabzee is supposed to have collected all the sickness, pain and ill fate hiding on the path of the family throughout the coming year! Touching someone else's sabzee on this thirteenth day or bringing it home is therefore not a good idea and may result in absorbing their pain and hardship....Another meaningful ritual performed with the dumping of the sabzee is that young single women tie the sabzee leave(s) prior to discarding it, symbolizing the wish to be tied in a marriage by the Seezdah Bedar of next year! The young ladies are often heard whispering the following rhyme while tying the leaves: "Sal-e deegar, khune-yeh showhar, bacheh baghal!" This translates to: "Next year, in the husband's house, with a baby in arms!" Newly weds also tie a grass knot making wishes for a baby, a house, or whatever is on their Have-To-Have list....This site also offers great illustrations (including the pre-Islamic deity who opens this section).
[Added 14 March 2004]:This is an unillustrated, excellent page written in 1999 by Massoume with a brief but good bibliography at the end and, at the beginning, a chart of global start-times for Nowruz. [Note: this link is illustrated, differently formatted, but has the same text: http://www.payvand.com/ny/massoume.html. Since it provides the author's name, it's probably the original version.]http://www.azer.com/aiweb/categories/magazine/61_folder/61_articles/61_noruz.html
What I like best about this site is its sweeping historical overview. Here are some excerpts:No Ruz, new day or New Year as the Iranians call it, is a celebration of spring Equinox. It has been celebrated by all the major cultures of ancient Mesopotamia. Sumerians, 3000BC, Babylonians 2000 BC, the ancient kingdom of Elam in Southern Persia 2000BC, Akaddians all have been celebrating it in one form or another. What we have today as No Ruz with its’ uniquely Iranian characteristics has been celebrated for at least 3000 years and is deeply rooted in the traditions of Zoroastrian belief system.These two forces created two totally separate, non-material worlds, each containing the essence of what would eventually unfold in reality. After three thousand years, the material world was created:
This was the religion of Ancient Persia before the advent of Islam 1400 years ago. It is known as the mother religion in the area. The familiar concepts of Hell, Heaven, Resurrection, coming of the Messiah, individual and last judgment were for the first time incorporated into this belief system. They still exist in Judo-Christian and Islamic traditions. In order to understand No Ruz we have to know about Zoroastrians’ cosmology.
These people believed in two primal forces. In their ancient text, Bundahishn foundation of creation, we read that The Lord of Wisdom residing in the eternal light was not God. He created all that was good and became God. The Hostile Spirit, Angra Mainyu (Ahriman), residing in the eternal darkness created all that was bad and became the Hostile Spirit (The word anger in English comes from the same origin).......At the end of the third millennium the Hostile Spirit saw light, wanted it and attacked the good world. This was the beginning of all troubles we face now....To protect his realm, the Lord of Wisdom created the world in seven stages (notice how similar this is to Genesis with its seven days of creation)....There was one problem with this material world, it did not have a life cycle. The sun did not move. There were no days or nights and no seasons. The three prototypes of life were sacrificed. From the plant came the seeds of all plants. The bull produced all animals and from the human came the first male and female. The rest of the humanity was created from their union. The cycle of life started. Sun moved, there was day, night and the seasons. This was called the first No Ruz....(FYI: Zoroaster lived and died in Bactria, a region in northwestern Afghanistan.)
...Zoroaster (Zardosht) the architect of this cosmology introduced many feasts, festivals and rituals to pay homage to the seven creations and the holy immortals. Seven were amongst the most important. They are known as Gahambars, feasts of obligation. The last and the most elaborate was No Ruz, celebrating the Lord of Wisdom and the holy fire at the time of spring equinox.
Then more specific history comes into play:The oldest archaeological record for No Ruz celebration comes from the Achaemenian (Hakhamaneshi) period over 2500 years ago. They created the first major empire in the region and built Persepolis complex (Takhte Jamshid) in central Iran. This magnificent palace/temple complex was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 334 BC....Many fascinating details follow -- these explore customs of ancient pre-Islamic times and what remains today. This webpage, written in 1999, concludes with the following major insights:
...What we have today as No Ruz goes back to the Sassanid period. They were the last great Persian Empire before the advent of Islam 1400 years ago. Their celebrations would start five days prior to the New Year. They believed the guardian angels (Fourohars) would come down to earth within these five days to visit their human counter parts. A major spring-cleaning was carried out to welcome them with feasts and celebrations. Bon fires would be set on rooftops at night to indicate to the guardian angels that humans were ready to receive them. This was called Suri Festival.
Modern Iranians still carry out the spring-cleaning and celebrate Wednesday Suri.
...Bon fires are made and all people will jump over the fire on the last Tuesday of the year. This is a purification rite and Iranians believe by going over the fire they will get rid of all their illnesses and misfortunes. Wednesday Suri did not exist before Islam and very likely is a combination of more than one ritual to make it last.......Why this festival has survived? There have been major attempts by the Muslim rulers over the centuries to minimize it, ban it or get rid of it once and for all. The reasons for their failure should be sought in the spirit of this festival. Contrary to the Islamic traditions where death and martyrdom mark all the major rituals, No Ruz is a celebration of life....Do I wish other Americans as well as President Bush and his narrow-minded neo-conservative counselors were more fully aware of this rich tradition in a country so recklessly declared part of the "axis of evil"? Yes.
...Lord or not, life and wisdom are what that makes us humans. We are the only beings who know we have a life and what we do with our lives depend on the wisdom. At the end of the millennium with the mess this planet is in we need that wisdom more than ever. Creating a balance with nature and maintaining order are very relevant. These are the lessons we can learn from such a wonderful and ancient tradition. So happy New Year, enjoy the festival. Joy and happiness were regarded as major forces defeating the hostile spirits. This is why we are still celebrating this occasion after 3000 years.
Do I think it would make a difference? Yes, where non-fundamentalist Americans are concerned. No, where Bush and his admirers are concerned. Monotheistic fundamentalists, whether Christian, Islamic, or Jewish, are extremely difficult to tell apart. All feel that it's acceptable to take the lives of others as long as one's own side wins. In my view, this is a pernicious and "evil" policy, no matter who espouses it.
Anyone who rigidly splits the world into good and evil is what is technically termed a "radical dualist." I personally am opposed to such radical dualism -- "evil," as I see it, is a disruption of an essentially harmonious core -- rituals and sacred arts exist to restore that lost or compromised harmony. The problem, of course, is that too few cultures have retained their ancient knowledge of such rituals and scared arts. Nevertheless, in keeping with Zoroastrian cosmology, which underlies much of monotheism, one would have to say that those who accept the good versus evil scenario to the degree that the fundamentalists of all three monotheisms do, are truly followers of what Zoroaster called the "Hostile Spirit." The results of their beliefs lie all around us and they are not good.
[Added 14 March 2004]:This is a 1994 photo essay on Noruz in Azerbaijan -- it has good photos and it also includes internal links to an intriguing mystery surrounding a "Maiden's Tower" in Baku, a moving essay on refugee camps, and an essay on Noruz itself. From this latter, here are some excerpts:http://web.archive.org/web/20080311184235/http://www.vohuman.org/SiteMap/CulturalEventsFestivals.htm:...Oil on canvas by Beyuk Mirzazade. The title of the painting is called "Harvest Festival" though clearly the coloration and the Wheat Sprouts indicate Spring and Noruz. (Soviets tried to stifle celebration of Noruz as it was considered "nationalistic".)[Note: the final two graphics come from: http://www.payvand.com/ny/massoume.html.]
It's official once again after having been prohibited for 70 years under Soviet leadership. Noruz (pronounced "No-rooz" meaning "New Day" and sometimes written Novruz) is back again on the calendar as the most important National Holiday in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The day, itself, marks the Spring Solstice (around March 21st), the "Coming of Spring," and is celebrated not only in Azerbaijan but in Iran, Afghanistan, and several of the newly independent Central Asian Republics including Kazakhstan. Next year, Turkey, too, will officially celebrate Noruz according to a recent announcement by Prime Minister, Tansu Çiller....
...This illustration painted here by artist, Beyuk Mirzazade, in 1966 clearly reflects this period. Curiously, it was published under the title, "Harvest Festival" but the coloration and composition both contradict the title. Red poppies blanket Azerbaijan hillsides only in spring and newly sprouted wheat in the foreground is only associated with the celebration of Noruz....
...Many people buy a little goldfish and a fishbowl as it is rumored that the fish will remain motionless facing the direction of the North Pole the exact moment that the New Year arrives....
...In Iran, on the 13th day after Noruz holiday "Sizdeh bedar" (outing / ousting) everybody heads to the parks and nature for a picnic. Still today, you'll find young girls tying two blades of grass together symbolizing their wish to get married and have a child by this time the following year. Together all these customs signify an exuberance for life-full of hope, joy, happiness, health, prosperity, luck, and long life-qualities all so deep and inherent to man's nature that they could never disappear-no matter who tried to dictate otherwise.
[Added 14 March 2004]: From Vohuman.org, a Zorastrian Educational Institute, come 13 essays, 5 of which relate to Noruz. One of these is Shapero's -- see directly above. The other four are of mixed quality. Dr. Ali Akbar Jafarey's two essays are good but the dates he gives for the origins of this celebration are on the wild side. Personal insights and other details are good in all these essays.http://web.archive.org/web/20080311191426/http://www.vohuman.org/Article/Noruz,+The+Fire+of+Spring.htm:
[Added 14 March 2004]: From a Zorastrian-focused site comes "Novruz, The Fire of Spring," well-written by Hannah M.G. Shapero. Here are a few excerpts from her lengthy text:
...There are many layers of meaning to Noruz: astronomical, mythical, historical, ritual, and spiritual....She offers an interesting cross-cultural comparison:
...The beginning of spring, the renewal of the earth after barren winter, also symbolizes the "frasho-kereti," or the renewal of the whole world, which Zoroastrians believe will happen at the end of time, when all evil and darkness will be vanquished and all creation will be renewed and purified. Every spring, therefore, for Zoroastrians, is a preview of the cosmic renewal of the universe....
...One modern Zoroastrian, following this mythological logic, has even speculated that the "Big Bang," the modern scientific concept of the beginning of the Universe, happened at Noruz - though, at that original point, there were yet no years or days to measure Noruz by, so every moment was Noruz.......The festival of Noruz, though truly Iranian, has its counterparts in Jewish and Christian celebrations. The Jewish feast of Passover, the commemoration of the liberation of the Jewish people from their slavery in Egypt, takes place around the beginning of spring, though the Jewish calendar does not place Passover directly at the Equinox. In Judaism, sacred history connects with the cycles of the earth, so that the renewal of the earth and liberation from winter is compared symbolically with the liberation of the Jewish people from bondage.The author continues her cross-cultural comparison with a discussion of the elaborately symbolic table of foods:
The same symbolism exists in the Christian faith. Long before Christ, pagan peoples celebrated the renewal of the earth by worshipping gods that died and were resurrected. In Christianity, the actual event of the martyrdom of Christ, and the honoring of sacred nature, converge. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, which in Christian belief took place around the Passover feast, also parallels the rebirth of the earth in spring. Sacred history, building on the Jewish celebration of Passover and the Christ event, re-creates the old myths in a new light.......Though this Noruz table is an Iranian custom, a Jewish guest would find it familiar; a similar table, the Seder table, is set up for the Jewish observance of Passover. Some of the foods on the Seder table are the same as the ones on the Noruz table, such as bread, eggs, herbs, apples, and nuts (apple and nut mix, or haroseth). But the Jewish foods have different symbolism; they belong to the historical commemoration of the Jewish Exodus. For instance, the matzoh or unleavened bread on the Seder table, symbolizes the journey-bread of the fleeing Jews, who could not wait for it to rise and baked it without leaven, and the Passover herbs are called "bitter herbs," to symbolize the bitterness of bondage and exile.Finally, the author also discuses leaping over bonfires, mentioned in other links as well -- but she adds an interesting nuance:
Here is a major difference between the festival of Noruz and the Jewish Passover or Christian Easter: the Zoroastrian festival does not celebrate a single historic event in the past, but a yearly renewal with its spiritual significance. The Exodus, or the death and (in Christian belief) the resurrection of Christ, are historical events whose commemoration has converged with the celebration of the renewal of nature.......On the Wednesday before Noruz, Iranians celebrate a holiday called Chahar Shambeh Soori. This means "Red Wednesday" in Persian. The red refers to fire. On the evening of that day outdoor bonfires are lit and the more agile members of the community leap over the flames. With this leap they recite: "My yellowness is yours, your redness is mine," thus hoping to send ill-health (yellowness) into the fire and absorbing "redness" or good health from the fire. These bonfires are also said to burn away the bad luck of the old year. In the past Iranian Zoroastrians used to light fires on their roof-tops to guide the visiting souls of the dead to their homes. These ancient customs involving fire show how the Zoroastrian influence persists in Iran....This is an interesting website, deserving to be read in full.
Myth*ing Links page on Judaism
A Seder Meal
Barcelona Haggadah (see link below)
[Added 21 March 2006]: On my recently completed page on Judaism, I annotate some fine links on Passover as well as Haggadah texts used in this celebration.
Detail of Palm Sunday Celebration in Mexico
Photography by Geri Anderson at Mexico Connect [see below]
From Mexico Connect comes a lavishly illustrated website on Holy Week and Easter in Mexico. The connecting pages are rich with firsthand descriptions and photos (including the one of the little girls above).http://web.archive.org/web/20010417184957/http://gomexico.about.com/travel/gomexico/library/weekly/aa040499.htm
From Jody Miller, the about.com guide to Mexico and Central America, comes this interesting 2-part essay on Holy Week, Semana Santa, in Mexico. She looks at Christian customs as well as prehispanic indigenous traditions among the Tarahumara (she has several additional -- and very moving -- links on Tarahumara).
Fragrant Japanese Plum Blossoms
[See directly below...]
Finally, I couldn't do a springtide page and leave out Japanese blossoms, soybean celebrations, and ancient doll festivals. This site, which covers February to early May, has many fine photos (clickable) and good lore on spring festivals and traditions in Japan. (For a brilliant, powerful depiction of the Doll Festival, try to rent a video of Kurosawa's "The Peach Orchard," one of several stories in his film, DREAMS.)http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/cms/index.php?id=404:
[Added 20 March 2005]: Spring also means cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. This page lets you know when they begin to bloom each year. And the following link offers many lovely & clickable photos of them in full glorious bloom: http://www.kestan.com/travel/dc/cherryblossoms/
Links to May Day / Beltane:
I have created a special page for this May Day celebration:
To the Wheel of the Year
To European Earth-Based Ways
To Earth Day
To archived Springtide 2010
To archived Springtide 2009
To archived Springtide 2008
To archived Springtide 2007
To archived Springtide 2006
To archived Springtide 2005
To archived Springtide 2004
To archived Springtide 2003
To archived Springtide 2002
To archived Springtide 2001
To archived Springtide 2000
To archived Springtide 1999
*** RELATED MYTH*ING LINKS PAGES ***
Water: Sacrality & Lore
Wars, Weapons, and Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
The Crone Papers: Notes on the Mideast
Lorenz & Watkins: Silenced Knowings, Forgotten Springs: Paths to Healing in the Wake of Colonialism
Lorenz & Watkins: Individuation, Seeing-through, and Liberation: Depth Psychology and Colonialism
My complete Site Map will be found on the Home Page --
also my e-mail address (near the bottom of the page).
Unless noted, all links are from 1999 & 2000.
[Note: see previous years for their own date-logs.]
*** New page for 2007:
28 February 2007, midnight to 3:30am: added opening art, background, and rough draft of essay.
1-2am, 4 March 2007: minor revisions to essay + updated seasonal times and dates.
11pm-ish 16 March 2007 to 1:40am 17 March 2007: did final essay revision;
updated most of the few broken links, thanks to Michaela, my links-elf,
but still need to grok the new "cosmic egg" links she found to replace the dead one.
Meanwhile, I'm officially launching this page tonight.
*** New page for 2008:
24 February 2008, midnight to 4am-ish: googled lots of art, including Picasso's "Woman with Crow";
wrote Kinuko Craft for permission to use her art; wrote intro & re-formatted opening sequence.
3 March 2008: I have Kinuko Craft's permission, so not using Picasso; updated seasonal dates and times;
launching page even though I still have a few Links-Elf's updates to do.
1-2pm, 9 March 2008: finished updating links and "officially" launched the page on my Home Page.
*** New page for 2009:
7 March 2009, 2:30am: updated times and dates only.
Note: my Links-Elf, Michaela, and I are both really swamped this year so we are not updating any links.
There are many links on this page, however. If a few links are broken, there are still enough for you to explore.
Hopefully, next year, we'll be able to update everything again.
*** New page for 2010:
10 March 2010: archived last year's page & updated this year's times, dates, and 10 broken links (thanks, as always, to my Links-Elf, Michaela).
Archived 2010 page on 16 March 2011
*** New page for 2011:
16 March 2011: updated times, dates & 4 broken links (rescued by Michaela).
*** New page for 2012:
18 March 2012: endless computer problems & no time. Michaela found only 1 possibly broken link for this year. I'll get to it when I can ::sigh::
19 March 2012: updated times and dates for this year when I realized that tonight is when spring begins on the West Coast.
Also updated the single broken link.
..Dr. Jenks is available as a Dream Coach/Consultant
Also, as a pastlife-regression guide:
..Explore Your Karmic Roots....