Let’s hear it for the Vernal Equinox!

This article was going to be about the Budget. But I really didn’t feel like rehashing the figures every other British blogger with a slight political bent would be delving into. It affects us all, beer’s gonna be cheaper and petrol’s not rising. There – that’s my coverage. Instead I want to talk to you a bit about spring and about beliefs and about why I like spring the best out of all the seasons. I’ll give you a clue; it contains my birthday!
I’ve never really understood why people make New Year’s Resolutions. I personally have very little time for New Year – it’s just a night which becomes a day. Ok so it’s a new calendar year… So what? I like numbers, I like patterns, I like it when the digital clock says 12:34 as much as the next person (please say that’s not just me being weird!) but I’m just not fussed about New Years…
The Vernal Equinox, however, is a completely different kettle of fish. This time of year totally deserves a celebration!
Never in my life have I ever really been religious. My parents aren’t religious, so I was raised in the way of the non-believers. I went to a Christian Infant School and a Primary School because they were in the village I grew up in; and so I was educated in the way of the Lord’s Prayer, and we sang hymns in assembly, but none of it really permeated my belief system. Later in my teens I dabbled in witchcraft. There’s not much else I can call it, regardless of how ridiculous that sounds. It wasn’t really witchcraft; I bought some spell books, collected gemstones and different-coloured candles and incense and attempted to believe that I could change things using willpower, pretty ribbons and the position of the moon. I grew out of this phase fairly quickly, but I’ve always harboured a scholarly interest in the real religion behind the witchcraft I was ‘practising’.

It all boils down to one general thing; I can’t get behind the idea of a deity, multiple deities or some ethereal presence. It just doesn’t work with my particular set of beliefs. I believe in what I see, in what has been proven by science, or what the evidence strongly points towards. This does not include gods, ghosts or the afterlife. So yeah; I’m a bit of a sceptic. But I’m also a strong believer in right and wrong, in avoiding causing hurt or damage to other people, and in treating others as they ought to be treated. These last two especially are very much a staple teaching in Christianity (do unto others as you would have them do to you) and Wicca (an ye harm none, do what ye will). This shouldn’t really be a surprise, the culture I’ve grown up in is steeped in influence by both religions, and I was brought up to be a conscientious young lady, sharing and caring and doing the right thing.

Where does this all lead back to the Vernal Equinox? Well it’s sort of to do with the Wiccan thing, I guess. Even after deciding I sat firmly in the atheist camp I’ve had this interest in the Wiccan beliefs. I’m a fantasy author and I like to write about worlds where hedgewitches are commonplace, and are basically practising Wiccans with a healthy dose of artistic license. In doing my research for this I have come across the Wiccan calendar and have become more aware of the solstices, equinoxes and other festivals. For those not in the know; there are two solstice; the summer solstice in June to mar the longest day, and the winter solstice in December to mark the longest night. The equinoxes are when dawn and dusk are 12 hours apart; making the day and night of equal length. In between these four festivals are another four festivals. They give structure to the year, whilst also bearing religious meaning. I like them because they just make sense to me. Setting time by the rising and setting of the sun is more scientific to me than marking the passage of the year by historical events of significance. Thinking about these alternative holidays has made me question the holidays I currently celebrate, and the approach of Easter has brought this to the forefront of my thoughts.

The thing is, I live in a Christian country. Heck, we even have our own brand of Christianity in the form of the Church of England. Because of this, our national holidays fit in with the Christian calendar. We have Christmas off, we have time off for Easter, whenever that occurs. There are a few days off thrown into May and August as well, but the big deals are Easter and Christmas. This has always seemed a little odd to me, but then I’ve never complained – I got presents at Christmas and chocolate eggs at Easter, and complaining would have taken those away! But now, as an adult, it all seems rather hypocritical; to celebrate the birth and the death of a man who became the centre of this entire religion when I don’t really think he was anything more than just a man, if he even existed.

Don’t get me wrong; I still want my Christmas presents and I still want my Easter eggs, I just want to look at the festivities in a different way. Take Christmas, for example – let’s call it Yule. Let all of us non-Christians stop participating in someone else’s belief system. The Winter Solstice is the 21st December; the night is the longest; why not celebrate that with gifts and food and the gathering of family. The deep midwinter needs celebrating in order to take our minds off how very cold and dark it is outside. Isn’t that something a little more genuine to celebrate than the birth of the son of a god we don’t believe in? Come December I want to see Yule cards rather than Christmas cards. Christ has no place in my faithless world!

As for Easter, well my proposal is barely any different to what we already have. I put forward the notion of celebrating the Vernal Equinox (which was technically yesterday, so I’m a tiny bit off, timing-wise) for really, what’s not to celebrate? Ostara, as the Pagans call it, comes at a time of burgeoning life. The grey and brown misery of the winter months has started to lose its battle against the onslaught of green, yellow, pink and white. Daffodills have taken over from the snowdrops, blossom has started covering the trees. Life has returned to the world, and it’s such a beautiful thing. There are lambs in the fields, the bunnies have started coming out of their warrens, and the world seems a better place. I would therefore suggest that we do away with New Years Resolutions – who wants to be dieting or exercising or stopping bad habits in January? January is a time when we need all those comforts! In my world, the right time for spring cleaning your life is spring, whether it’s a clear out in the house, or an addressing of your weight or just a vow to read more. With the world around you blossoming and blooming you’ll get that extra boost of motivation and the task just might be made a bit easier.

While I’m at it, in my ideal world we’d probably celebrate the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox as well. Everyone loves the summer time; it’s warm (in theory) and we can use our gardens, we have more sunlight hours than we know what to do with, and as for the autumn, well we may not be quite as reliant on the harvest as we used to be, but that’s a failing of our modern age, in my mind. I would have us, as a country, become a little more self sufficient, and then we’d have cause to celebrate a good harvest and to have a good ol’ knees up at the end of the summer.

Apologies if this has been a bit of a hippy, waffling post, bashing organised religion and just generally without direction. I don’t really have a Gavel statement, though I’ll cobble something together, because that’s how we do things! I don’t think my ideas would ever become a new national holiday scheme, and as they’re sort of based on an existing religion, but without the religious aspects, I can’t see Joe Public taking them up of their own volition, so for now it might just be me, celebrating a little out of sync with the people around me.

I’m not even asking you to join me in my new quarterly celebrations. To be honest I’ll be impressed if I remember, come the summer solstice, that I was going to make a big deal of it! But what I am asking you to do is to think outside of the box. Easter is a societal norm, but it’s not really right for everyone.

We are our own people. We are not what our country dictates us to be.

But spring is the most awesome season. Gavel!

Discuss…

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