Spring is coming! It’s taking long enough for those of us in the Midwest; I feel as if I’ve been buried in snow for months now. So this spring, the equinox is something to really celebrate; and I’ll probably include some placating offerings to the spirits of winter and snow in hopes that they’ll save their showmanship until winter comes around again. I want to put on a big, elaborate spectacle this year and properly welcome the warm weather!
However, I also have a new baby and I’m in a hurry to get everything ready at home before I go back to work. Pageantry, spectacle, and offerings I spend days making are just not in the cards this year. I’ve taken some time to think of simple ways to celebrate the return of spring and honor the deities and spirits associated with this time of year.
Take a Spring-Spotting Walk
It’s so simple, but I have a hard time getting myself out on the land when it’s so cold outside. This time of year, there will be all sorts of signs of spring that are waiting to be found. You might have to look harder when it’s a late winter, but the signs are there. Watching, looking, observing the land and its flora and fauna is one of the best ways to connect to local spirits.
Look for footprints in the snow, for green shoots among the brown discards of last year’s growing season. Watch for buds on trees, for rabbits or squirrels startled out of their winter refuge, for a flock of geese headed north. Bring gifts for the spirits; a bit of birdseed or dried corn works wonders. An important part of relationships, human or otherwordly, is investing time and effort. It doesn’t have to be grand or take all your time, but it helps to be consistent.
Yes, it’s spring, and yes, Eostre is the Heathen deity of choice for the occasion. But if She doesn’t resonate with you, you don’t have to honor Her just because it’s spring. Lots of other deities have spring, growth, and land connections. In March, the Anglo-Saxons honored a deity called Hreda. Idunna is a wonderful Goddess to honor at this time, as Her apple trees begin to bud. Nerthus, Earth Mother to several ancient Germanic tribes, can be offered to. I personally associate the giantess Aurboda, Freyr’s mother-in-law, with healing herbs and gardens, making Her a fantastic spirit to offer a springtime rite to.
I find that honoring and working with deities and spirits with less documented lore makes for less time studying old or difficult texts and more time actually building a relationship. I’m certainly not knocking the study; I do a great deal of it and it’s important to building Heathenry. But the actual praxis, honoring the Gods, ancestors, and spirits, is what spirituality is really about.
Dedicate Something You’re Already Doing to a Spirit or Deity
Does spring mean spring cleaning to you? Say a prayer, light a candle, and dedicate that action to a family member that passed who always did the clean-up for their family. Spend your time remembering them and appreciating all they did for you and their family in life while you do the physical labor.
Are you already looking at seed catalogs and planning out your garden? Get outside, bring an offering to your home’s land spirit, and take some measurements while spending time in that spirit’s space. Think about the things that impact your garden and also how your garden will impact the land surrounding it. Share your thoughts with the local spirit; let her/him/them know what you’re planning and what you’ll do to mitigate disruption to the spirit’s home. If you have a relationship, ask the spirit’s help in getting the soil ready for planting.
When I was in college as a music major, spring-time meant preparing for a number of concerts and recitals. I used to love hiking the back trails behind campus to find a secluded spot to do my practicing. It’s my opinion the spirits of those hills enjoyed hearing the music I offered to them in return for the beauty of that land in the spring.
Go With A Modern Tradition
The difficulty in getting something done is often in the planning. It’s hard to come up with all new traditions or rituals for holidays. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with going with tried and true secular celebrations with a little Heathen twist. Community-building is a huge part of Heathenry, and the standards are almost always successful.
Dye eggs with natural colors and leave them as gifts for the land spirits. Have a spring equinox hunt with little trinkets or tokens for kids (or grownups!) to find. Have an equinox feast and dedicate the ham to Freyr; make a plate for ancestors you’d like to remember and honor. Sit and talk with friends and family about past spring celebrations, remembering those who made those times good and memorable.