This past weekend, I made my way down to Maryland, to celebrate the Spring Equinox with members of the Fellowship Beyond the Star. The Fellowship is a wonderful initiative, powered by two of my good friends, Kaye and Chase, that provides a safe space for non-Wiccan pagans in the Maryland/Virginia/D.C. area to socialize, discuss, and celebrate their various traditions with one another. I urge any non-Wiccan Pagans looking for community in those areas to check it out! Because we do not have something like that here in Philadelphia (not yet, anyway!), I was more than happy to travel the two hours to Maryland to meet the group in person and take part in their Saturday free talk gathering, as well as attend a ritual and party later that night in honor of the Equinox.
We began our Spring Equinox Saturday at the Board and Brew, a delightful little coffee shop with a plethora of board games and delicious coffee. I had already met Shannon, Secretary of the Fellowship, and her sister Penny (visiting from Illinois), a few days earlier while they were actually in Philadelphia for vacation; but I hadn’t met any other members of the Fellowship and I was looking forward to doing so. Only two other members I hadn’t met before ended up coming, but it was great to meet them and discuss religion with them. Unfortunately, a student journalist who was going to report on the group didn’t end up making it, either. In the end, though, I was able to enlighten everyone with knowledge about Judaism and engage in warm, friendly conversation about everything from megalodons to crazy dreams. It was a lovely time!
After that, Chase and I did some grocery shopping, and prepped her apartment for the ritual that night. We planned to welcome Persephone back from the Underworld with offerings of food, drink, flowers, and song. A decent gathering of 6 other people showed up for the ritual and party, despite the very cold and rainy weather. We all enjoyed a charcuterie board of appetizers while we waited for everyone to arrive and get situated, it was very classy! We wrote down our wishes for the Spring, wishes we hoped would flower into fruition throughout the year, onto literal seed paper to be given to Persephone during the offering (after which we could then take home and plant).
The ritual began with a dimming of the lights, the lighting of candles, incense cleansing, and circle casting. Chase and Kaye began giving the offerings of barley and bread as I hailed Persephone to join us. Then, as I recited a version of Persephone’s myth that I had written myself, Chase and Kaye led the group in dropping their seed paper wishes into a basket on the altar, and giving additional offerings of flowers to Persephone, spreading them out around her statue. We had asked everyone to bring their own favorite flowers to give to Persephone, now returned as Kore again, which they could then take home after the ritual. I offered orange and gold roses. When the myth was done, we poured libations of wine, water, and pomegranate juice. We said prayers to Persephone, deep, personal prayers – some spoken out loud for the group to hear, others spoken quietly, just to ourselves. Then, Chase sang to us a hymn she had prepared…it was unbelievably moving. I ended up crying!
After the ritual, we all ate a wonderful dinner of homemade foods that everyone had brought, including Greek lemon chicken, tea eggs, roasted veggies, orange chocolate pomegranate bread, cookies, and much more. We talked, did divination for each other, drank lots and lots of wine, and tried some wormwood extract for oracular insights. If anything, we all agreed it quieted our brains a bit so we could “see through” some of the usual mind chatter. It helped some of us do divination a bit more freely and without hindrance. Throughout the night, we took the time to sit with Persephone alone, speaking privately with her at the still-decorated altar. It was an absolutely amazing night, with great friends and delicious food, and I really felt at home. Maybe someday there will be a Fellowship chapter in Philadelphia!
For me, the Spring Equinox marks the return of Apollo from Hyperborea to Delphi. When I returned home to Philadelphia today, the day after our ritual, I made sure to switch my statues: it was time for Dionysos to come down, and Apollo to return to the high spot in my own personal Delphic space. Chase had also gifted me with a beautiful labyrinth disc she got from the Sacred Space convention, which I added to the shrine along with the flowers I had offered to Persephone during the ritual.
Spring Equinox brings with it the promise of potential, the whispered excitement of growth. Kore and Apollo return to us, like sunbeams in their glory, inspiring creativity, insight, and motivation. It is up to us now; to close the gap between Anthesteria’s bittersweet beginnings and Spring Equinox’s symphony of prosperity. What will we cultivate this year? What will we nurture? What will we become, and how will we flourish? I can’t wait to find out.