Ostara, Easter, Beltane, Overwhelm

Originally posted on Pagan Bloggers.

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. -Rainer Maria RilkeOne of the hardest parts of starting from scratch is having to evaluate absolutely everything to decide if we want to include it or not.

Holidays are complex and mysterious things for me. Left to my own devices, almost everything creeps up on me without giving me a chance to get much planning done, even for holidays I enjoy like Halloween and holidays that I have off work like Thanksgiving. If I was on my own, I’d probably just enjoy the quiet day off a national holiday offers. However, holidays are important to my spouse, and I want my kid to grow up enjoying them if possible, so I continue to think about it.

There are going to be holidays no matter what- the ones we already celebrate, yes, but also the secular and dominant-faith-narrative holidays. Some things are outside of our control. Bug goes to a secular daycare, but that means there’s Christmas and Easter celebrations at school… and Christmas in particular is hard to avoid. The Universalist Unitarian church we attend has an Easter egg hunt every year as well.

Good holidays require planning. Lent and Advent were great for that when I was a kid (plus, let’s be honest, my mom did all the work) and I think it might be nice to bring some of that sense of anticipation in. Adapting an Advent calendar would go over well, I think, as well as stuff like “looking at lights” and “engaging in service opportunities” that put one in mind of it being an important time. I’ve actually got a full twelve days of Yule that I’ve been doing in a religious sense for several years now, as well as my other two New Years, but almost none of that translates well to celebrating with a toddler.

This year, Ostara came so far ahead of Easter that it wasn’t even on my radar until I started seeing posts from other pagans about it. Ostara is a great holiday, and one that really ought to be celebrated for Mara, thematically. But it didn’t happen. I let it go and resolved to do a bit more with Easter instead, to make up for it.

Lent is harder than Advent since the dates don’t like up well at all, but something like that would not be inappropriate for that time of year… Ostara is Mara’s emergence from the Woods. We thank and celebrate Brhenti’s aid through the winter at Imbolc, but while the ground has thawed, there’s not much in the way of fresh fruit between Imbolc and Ostara (unless your grocery store is importing it from Mexico). It’s a time of reflecting on what strength we’ve left to carry us out of the winter.

We did manage some Easter for Bug. It was very basic, mostly an egg hunt on Easter morning. It was hard because Easter was the same weekend as her birthday, so there was already plenty of excitement to go around. (I’m honestly not sure if she understood where ‘party for her’ ended and ‘party about bunnies’ began.) In fact, this would have been an ideal year to celebrate Ostara instead… but of course that didn’t happen. No use crying over spilt Cadbury eggs.

Beltane… well, we did sort of celebrate Beltane, though it was largely by accident. May is when the city we’ve moved into starts coming alive for the summer, so the first weekend included a First Friday celebration with local businesses, musicians and artists, a Mayfair at the local Waldorf school, and the First Market on Sunday. We went out after work on Friday to look at the sights, and on Saturday spent some time at Mayfair until Bug got tired. I brought home flowers from First Market for my spouse, who immediately placed them on the new altar.

Ah yes, the new altar. I’m working on a project for my spouse the next two months, and this kicked off with repeating the ritual for Juno I did last year. I had some pokes from Star Wars day and some pokes from Juno and I ended up with the sketched outline of a syncretization of Juno-Leia I’m calling the Juno of Alderaan.

And then I ended up with a felted doll of her, because that’s what happens when you’re me. One of the ways I understand things is through craft, so I spent the hours shaping the body form, choosing the colors, studying Leia’s hair styles to decide what I wanted to do…

I’m very pleased with the result, actually.

Mostly I’m trying to get my head on straight. I’ve been making my offerings to the local spirits and to Mara every day, and I’m hoping to try some more organized magical work for the household in June. Summer is full of festivals and holidays and at the same time they feel much less formal, less set in stone. There will be a pilgrimage to the ocean, there will be fairs and fiber festivals, there will be the tracking of which foods come and go at the farmers’ market. All of these things matter, but the precise dates matter less than knowing when they happen in relation to each other.

I’ve got my rough shape. Some of the work to be done is hammering in details; some needs to happen when it happens. All of it will come in time.

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