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Vernal Equinox (cont)Soft Flame

The Vernal Equinox is about the dawn, about the returning of the light, about greenery and growth. If you assign the festivals to a compass, fairly obviously, Winter belongs to the north and Summer to the south. Attributing the festivals clockwise around the compass puts Vernal Equinox in the east, which works out perfectly since it's associated with dawn Goddesses.

Thinking about prehistoric life, at this time of year animals start having young, the woods are full of flowers and edible leaves, and the days are longer and warmer. After the long cold of Winter, hope has returned to the land.

Food for this festival is all therefore about fresh spring greens and salads. For Easter, lamb is traditional, but in reality, this is New Zealand lamb as English lambs would only just be born if they're being raised naturally. (Lamb is usually around six months old and at least six weeks old, so not available in early farming at this time.) We usually have a chicken salad where we cook the chicken with some light flavouring like herbs and lemon and then toss the meat with the salad. Much more traditional and more likely to have survived from pre-Christian times is the idea of Simnal Cake. This is a cake decorated with twelve or thirteen marzipan balls and sandwiched with marzipan.

Traditional colours for Vernal are yellows and greens, but pale, spring-like tones such as grass green and primrose yellow. In terms of symbolic plants, all spring flowers, especially wild ones or meadow flowers, correspond with the Vernal, as well as gorse and sycamore.

The community aspect to this festival today is likely to be an Easter Egg hunt. This does feel as if it is a traditional activity, bringing everyone together. However, it's up to you how you feel about attending what's likely to be a Christian event for pagan reasons. Secondly, as an Easter event, it's likely to happen around two weeks to a month later than the actual equinox. But it can be a fun thing to arrange privately or with other pagan families. As with all the festivals, it's associated with getting together, lighting fires (or candles) and feasting.

So, that's Vernal Equinox – a bright, happy festival of spring, returning fertility and growth.   [More...]

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