Spring Equinox Day 2002

Norma, Jen Martin and I took our Equinox Day trip to the Jersey shore to collect 9 waves of water for Manannan and pay our respects to our gatekeeper. Jen (sometimes known as Jenniforensic) took the day off from her job as collections manager of the Morris Museum. Game girl: it was a cold day, and it was pouring rain when she showed up in New Brunswick, ready to go. Manannan is the son of the sea, so a little (or a lot) of cold rain wasn’t going to stop us. (Or, Jen and I, anyway). Norma grumbled a bit and off we went.

The drive down wasn’t bad, but when we left the car to walk up the boardwalk, the wind was fierce, the sky a blanket of gray, and the rain driving at us sideways. We mounted the boardwalk and stood there, alone, gazing awed at the sea— great waves thundering, foam bursting high in the air, the sea steely and strong: not angry, but like a powerful deity flexing its muscles. The sky and sea met immediately, they might as well have been one, and we tiny humans ran barefoot on the sand in the tiny gap between them.
Jen and I sprinted to the water’s edge—the sand was wet and cold—and into the water. Norma walked behind, shaking her head. I collected 6 waves of surprisingly warm sea water, Jen collected waves 7 and 8, and gave the jar back to me for the 9th wave: a large one, like a stampede of foaming horses. I had invoked Manannan—sun-dappled shining one, wind-kissed enchanter, gray-eyed instructor, salt-beared mariner— and we drew triskeles in the sand, and the ogham of “Manannan” and “Other Gods.” We were soaked, but it was hard to leave the sea.

We walked back to the boardwalk, dried our feet somewhat, rolled our wet pants down and put on dry socks and shoes. We watched the sea some more, said our goodbyes, and marvelled as we watched other folks head to the sea in the pouring cold rain—we weren’t the only lunatics out there!

We spent some time in Jenkinson’s Aquarium, watched 3 seals eat and then get their teeth brushed, watched a caretaker break up a penguin fight, and headed on home. Got caught in a bit of traffic from flooding on Rt. 18.

Spring Equinox Ritual 2002

...But in front of excellence the immortal Gods have put sweat,
and long and steep is the way to it, and rough at first. But when
you come to the top, then it is easy, even though it is hard.

The next Sun’s Day we held our Equinox Ritual at Portal of the Porcupine in Piscataway, a ritual in honor of Manannan Mac Lir and his step-son Pryderi —including our annual Sacred Well blessing and a special ceremony to ask Manannan to bestow His blessing of Excellence of Craft on the tools of our work.

We had 24 people. Everybody seemed sluggish after all the cold and rain of the last few days, but we really needed the rain.

Vonorn and Rich and Ariel drummed for us. Lauren chimed 3 times to start us off, with a bit of help from Norma’s sickle. (We really need to get a new chime!) Norma dropped “we are here to honor the Gods...” into the well of silence and watched it ripple out. Sandrock invoked the Earth Mother—under our feet, in our stomachs, in our bones—Norma talked about the season and led us in a meditation simultaneously. She asked where we were, and Slane O’Cyrus (aka Wandering Al, our world traveller) described the horizontal directions, the frost giants and frost misers and heat giants and heat misers, holding the body of the Earth.

Jen Martin, (aka Jenniforensic) who jumped into the ocean to help get Manannan’s 9 waves water, invoked the Well, holding up the jar of water and letting the sun sparkle through it. Jen picked up on Norma’s and Al’s invocations and described the rivers of the world as veins, and how we all have water in common.

Betty invoked the sacred Fire—her first invocation with the grove. She did a fine job, describing the work that fire does for us, and the beauty of fire as Pat, our firetender, lit the fire. It went up with a big whoosh! Pat tended the fire for the ritual, and rescued the occasional ladybug from immolation. (What was that children’s rhyme?)

Brenda invoked the sacred Tree, ending with “accept our hug” and hugging it.
Norma invoked Manannan Mac Lir as our trusty Gatekeeper, and with his help we opened the gates slowly, but smoothly, in keeping with the sluggishness of the day.
Nej took our offering to the Outsiders—asking us who the Outsiders really were, and taking our worries and tensions and other distractions (like, “where’s Justin?”) outside the ritual space. She scattered a cookie for them.

Sue invoked Brigid, our Muse, thanking Her for the creativity She gives us, the songs and the words and the beauty She helps us create.

By now, birds were singing, moths were flitting from person to person, ladybugs were crawling around—OK! OK! It’s Spring, already! Sitting on the ground, we were close to the plants just popping through the cold soil.

Wendy invoked the Ancestors—said she was nervous, this was the first time she’d invoked the Ancestors—but she was eloquent and talked about the ancestors in our bones and blood, how genetically we all go back to one ancestor.

Peg gave us the Nature Spirits and Jack Frost dancing with the Flower Fairies, Lawn Gnomes and other signs of Spring.

We sang the Ancestor’s Song and Fur and Feather. Sue and Wendy (and Jen Micale) have such beautiful voices, but we really do need a Bard to keep track of the songs and organize them.

Dave invoked—briefly invoked—the Goddesses and Gods: every God that ever existed who was ever worshiped by anyone. He mentioned that none of them helped him when he was mugged in North Carolina last week, and then, since he had the floor, he set his pants on fire. They were not the pants he was wearing. Oddly, both people that Norma asked to invoke the Goddesses and Gods were pissed off at them, for different reasons. The pants went up really quickly, so much for “fire-retardant polyester”. Norma asked us all to think of deities that would like to see pants burning. There were quite a few, actually, that we thought would, for various reasons.

We sang Hail All the Gods (Sacred Crows version). I invoked Manannan Mac Lir, who made the Sidhe invisible and divided up the Sidhe mounds. He’s the one who gets things done, on his horse Enbarr “fast as the cool keen wind of Spring” (as they say in one or another of the books, and it has been windy!)

We sang Walk with Us Manannan. Vonorn and Rich and Arial did a great job drumming; it sounded beautiful. Norma invoked Pryderi and told how Pryderi became Manannan’s foster son after Manannan married Rhiannon. She talked about friendship and peace and leaving oneself open to both sides of an argument. We put a lot of offerings into the fire—everything from new flowers to hard anthracite coal to rope bracelets to hard-boiled eggs.

Wendy Sheridan of Music for the Goddess sang a Spring Song (Buy their tremendous CD! Go to www.musicforthegoddess.com. Do it now!), Sue sang Spring Strathspey and entranced us all, Norma cut the main sacrifice, and we were ready to put our waters into the well. Nearly everyone had water from their favorite places: towns and lakes and rivers and wells....

We charged the well. The well was charged. Norma felt strongly inspired to do the tool blessing, the traditional “blessing of the plough,” before the omen reading. This was OK by us.

She began the story of Pryderi and Manannan from the Mabinogi, talking briefly about their friendship—the four of them: Rhiannon and Pryderi’s wife Kigva and Manannan and Pryderi—how they lost their cattle and servants and then how Pryderi and Manannan went to England to earn a living—first as saddlemakers, then as shield makers, then as shoemakers. She pointed out the lessons we could learn from them each time, lessons about excellence.

She dipped a shell in well water and, with a feather, blessed each of the tools people had brought with them: Chris’s anvil, Lauren’s panpipes and flute, Rich’s drum, my editing pencil, Maggie’s tarot cards, Nej’s book of shadows, Jen’s forensic dissection tools, Peggy’s bellydancing jewelry... Wendy had photos of her sewing machine and computer, Jack his art supplies, Christina her sketchbook. Norma spoke to each one, gave advice to some (do you really want the work involved in this?) and worked her way around the circle. Later, she said, “It’s amazing how much Manannan gets in my head!”

Doing the blessing before the omen was pretty ballsy, but our omens were good:
To start off: Peg drew the 10 of coins from the Herbal Tarot (good stuff coming). Maggie drew the Chariot (things moving), the Hanged Man (but not without effort), and the King of Wands (a lot of force focused on effort of work) from the Halloween Tarot. Christina drew the Devil (don’t get bound to your work!), the Emperor and the Empress (She fell out of the deck with him—balance of serious thinking and feeling) from the Sacred Rose tarot. Wendy drew The Merciful One from Nybor’s Tarot (you’re lucky I think you’re cute: a pardon or an indulgence)

We consecrated the waters, drank. Things wound down and we thanked everyone, closed the gates, and roasted sacred marshmallow easter chicks in the fire.