Nola had tried to figure out exactly how to give the Spring Equinox lesson. There were 2 basic approaches. One was to have it be a simple a seed blessing ritual, with hints and suggestions about male and female energies and fertility. Which could work because of all the actual gardening they and been doing and because she intended to bless seeds to be used in the landscaping during the ritual. The other was to go at it straight on and talk about it like the sexual ritual it really was. She figured that Owen wouldn’t let her get away with just talking about blessing seeds and the earth’s fertility no matter how much she talked gardening. She had decided not to decide because she could teach it either way. She was going to let the student lead where he needed to go.
Owen looked over the back yard. The new salt water pool was full and fully functional. Back yard paving around the pool was finished. The bamboo had been planted. The rest of the back yard was bare. The trees they needed would be delivered from the NorthShore in 2 weeks. He heard Nola open the gate and met her in the driveway.
And because she saw him come from the backyard said, “Hi, looking over the pool?”
“Yes, it’s finished but it seriously needs your touch.”
“What it needs is for the trees to be delivered from the NorthShore.”
“They’ll be here in 2 weeks. Then you can work your magic.”
“It’s not magic, it’s gardening. Fingers in the dirt. Sweating. Digging. Ask Joe and Louis and the rest of the crew if they think the work they are doing is magic. They’ll poke you in the eye.”
And he laughed and opened the door to the kitchen to let her in.
He already had a beer out. “What would you like?”
“Water is good.”
“San Pellegrino on the way.”
“You spoil me.”
“Yes, every chance I get.
She laughed and thought the only man I’ve ever know who has even tried. And then she remembered her other Taurus who had also done what he could to pamper her.”
“What are you thinking?”
“Oh just appreciating the Taurian pampering.”
He smiled and said, “To the library.” and waved his hand for her to go first.
She settled into the sofa so she could look out the French doors. Owen settled into the corner where he often did his reading and reached for the manual. And said and he handed it to her, “Go ahead, and tell me what you want me to read.”
She laughed lightly. “Next week we’ll have the Full Moon and the Spring Equinox on the same day. Traditionally when the Treguenda and the Vegilione fall on the same day the Full Moon takes precedence and the Treguenda is skipped.”
“Really? Now that seems backwards?”
“I agree. We get a Full Moon every month. We get each Treguenda only once a year. But I was taught that it’s done this way to acknowledge the importance of the Full Moon and the Goddess and the beginnings of this path.”
“So does that mean we have to do the Full Moon Ritual and I don’t get to do the Spring Equinox Ritual?”
“Well there’s usually a way around this if you’re willing to either do 2 rituals back to back on the same night or the Full Moon one night and the Treguenda the next.”
“I get it so we can do the Full Moon on Thursday and Spring Equinox on Friday.”
“If you’re willing.”
She smiled, “OK, I’ll be here to start the Full Moon at the normal 9PM start time and then I’ll be back on Friday at 9PM for the Spring Equinox ritual. We really should go over the ritual because we won’t be able to do it exactly with only 2 people. But most rituals can be modified to work for whatever the number of participants.” And she flipped to the ritual in the manual.
“Have you read the ritual”
“Yes but it’s been a few weeks.”
We’ll go over it again. Let me check the supply list. And she ran her finger down the pages. “I have precut white clothes to use in the ritual box. There are 2 small pillar candles in there that can be used for the light of the God & Goddess returning. I’ll have to bring the 2 pouches and cords. I also have the seeds that we need to bless.”
She looked up at and decided to dive in and see what kind of reaction she would get. “This is the ritual where the Goddess begins her ascent from the underworld. She’s been there since Shadowfest. It’s also the ritual where we mark the transition from the Wolf Year to the Stag Year from Lupercus to Kern. One of the things done in the ritual is to symbolize the death of Lupercus by staining the cloth with wine. The seeds to be blessed are placed on top of this cloth. The seeds are blessed by the sacrifice of the Wolf God and the return of the Goddess. In ancient times, the seed blessing is a very practical part of the ritual. Quite simply, please help these grow so we can eat.”
“Here why don’t you read the Myth of Ascent.” And she handed him the book.
He grinned at her, “I knew you couldn’t resist making me read.” Then he read:
“Now the time came in the Hidden Realm of Shadows that Uni would bear the Child of the Great Dark Lord. And the Lords of the Four Corners cam and beheld the new born god. They spoke to Uni of the misery of the people who lived upon the World, and how they suffered in the cold and darkness. So Uni bid the Lords to carry her son to the world, and to the people rejoiced for the Sun God had returned.”
“This is essentially the story of the Winter Solstice. You can keep reading.”
“And it came to pass that Uni longed for the light of the world, and for Her many children. So she journeyed and was welcomed with great celebration.”
“God first. Goddess second. Sound familiar?”
“Like the altar casting.” And she nodded and indicated that he should keep reading.
“Then Uni saw the splendor of the new god as he crossed the heavens and she desired him. But each night He returned to the Hidden Realm and could not see the beauty of the Goddess in the night sky”
“This is classic Sun Moon chasing each other and eventually catching each other mythos. It shows up in many, many cultures.” And she nodded and he kept reading.
“So one morning the Goddess arose as the God came up from the Hidden Realm, and She bathed nude in the sacred lake of Nemi. The Lords of the Four Corners appeared to Him and said, “Behold the sweet beauty of the Goddess of the Earth.” And he looked upon Her and was struck with Her beauty so that he descended upon the Earth in the form of a Great Stag.”
Nola said, “She desires him and he is unaware of her. She changes, as the moon changes until she rises with the sun and when He sees her he desires her and returns to the Earth as a Stag. We have the classic Sun Moon chasing and catching each other and the changing of the Wolf God and the Stag God in one paragraph.”
He smiled and kept reading.
“‘I have come to play beside your bath’ He said, but Uni gazed upon the stag and said, ‘You are not a stag but a god!’ Then He answered, ‘I am Kern, God of the Forest. Yet as I stand upon the world, I touch the sky, and I am Lupercus, the Sun, who banishes the Wolf Night. But beyond all of this I am Tanus, the first born of all the Gods!’ ” And she nodded for him to keep reading.
“Uni smiled and stepped forth from the water in all Her beauty, ‘I am Fana, goddess of the forest, yet even as I stand before you I am Diana goddess of the Moon. But beyond all this I am Tana, first born of all the Goddesses!’ ”
This acknowledges the 3 Clans: Earth, Moon, Stars; Fanara, Janara, Tanara. But it also has the players acknowledging divinity in each other.” And she nodded for him to read.
“And Faunus took Her by the hand, and together they walked the meadows and forests, telling their tales of ancient mysteries. They loved and were One and together they ruled over the world. Yet even in love Uni knew that the god would soon cross over to the Hidden Realm and Death would come to the World. Then must She descend and embrace the Dark Lord, and bear the fruit of their Union.”
“’Loved and were One.’ The Streghe believe that there is God and Goddess, male and female, masculine and feminine, but beyond all this there is that which is both together and neither because it is more. So much more that we humans have had a hard time fathoming the concept. This is why we use the symbols provided by Nature, male and female as representations. But we know that there is more beyond the symbology. The other thing that is in this passage is the fact that the Goddess, the moon goddess, who weaves constantly changing and yet unchanging through out the entire year, is aware of the annual solar cycle and the cycle of death and rebirth.”
He put the book down on his lap and took a sip of his beer before he said, “These myths are sure packed with a lot of stuff.”
And she smiled. “The myths of Ascent and Descent are what is left to us of what those who came before us knew and thought. We can weave explanations around the Myths. We have Aradia’s Words as interpretation on how we should live. But these myths are the core and the solar Treguenda rituals that we perform are what help make the myths come alive for us.”
And she let that soak in for a minute, waiting for questions that didn’t come. So she held her hand out for the manual and he gave it to her. “The rest of the ritual is symbolic. The Goddess pillar candle symbolizes the Goddess’ return. The priestess takes the Goddess pillar around the circle one full circuit North clockwise back to North and stopping in the East. A pouch with soil is tied around a female, representing the Goddess, and she disrobes and is blessed by a male. Wine is used to wet the soil in the pouch. And some of the damp soil is added to the cauldron. The Goddess arrives and provides the fertile soil.” And she paused for effect, “Then the God pillar candle is taken around by a priest, symbolizing the God’s return. The God Pillar candle is taken around the circle starting 3 full circuits starting at the North and stopping at the East before he is presented to the Goddess.”
And she paused, “Why do you think the Goddess candle goes around once and the God 3 times?”
He had been listening intently and wasn’t quite prepared for a question. Then it came to him. “Because the goddess has just returned from the Underworld, but the God has been out and about for awhile.”
“Exactly.” And she smiled at her student and continued. “A male representing the God now has the pouch of seeds tied around his waist. He is still robed and blessed by the Priestess. Then seeds are removed from the pouch and added to the cauldron. I’m sure you can see the symbology there; soil-female, seeds-male and how important the fertility of the seeds and of the tribe would have been. Then Priestess, as symbolic Goddess, removes the robe of the Priest, as symbolic God, and they bless each other with the words “Blessed be the Plow the Seed and the Furrow. And I’m sure you can see that is about more than just farming.”
And he chuckled. And she smiled back.
He said, “It’s rich in symbology but it’s all pretty simple symbology. It’s all about the earth and renewal and seeds and rebirth and human sexuality and fertility.”
She said, “Yep.” and he put his hand out for the manual. So she passed it back to him. And he read, “Grove members will later bury the pouch in a planting field (for an increase in crops) or will suspend it from a tree within the woods (for an abundant hunt).” And she interjected, “Yes practical magic as a part of the ritual.” And he nodded and smiled as he finished reading, “In ancient times the entire Grove would copulate with one another upon the tilled soil or within the woods to charge the area with fertile energy.” And he smiled and let that hang in the air.
And she smiled back. And waited for a question. Until he finally said, “Well?”
“Well, in ancient times… what about today?”
“Well sex can be a part of the ritual. It typically isn’t for non-initiates. But it isn’t strictly forbidden.”
“Will it be a part of our ritual?”
“I don’t know. Do you understand the symbology? Are you ok with it?”
“Do you think I understand the symbology?” he said dryly.
“Yes I do.”
“Are you ok with it?”
“I’m a 3rd degree priestess.”
“So will sex be a part of our ritual?”
“Would you be ok with that?”
“Are you free from disease?”
“What the hell kind of question is that?”
“A very practical and necessary question.”
And he sighed and conceded she was right and answered, “Yes, I have given blood regularly since I was in college and saw how important it was to save a friend of mine’s life after a terrible car accident. If I had AIDS they would tell me.”
“I give blood regularly too. I’m 0 negative, the universal donor, and they call me every 8 weeks.”
“Anything else I should know about your sexual health?”
“Damn it woman, No. I’m clean.”
“So am I. And I’m on the pill. We’ll see.”
“We’ll see. Not a yes. Not a no. We’ll see.”
“Yes, we’ll see. There is no telling what will actually happen. The Grigori and the Gods watch and I’m counting on them to keep us out of trouble. So we will see what the energy is the actual night of the ritual.”
He wanted a definitive answer yes. But maybe would have to do.
She said, “When we do the ritual, you will have to be the Priest and bless me when I have the pouch of seeds on. You will have to take the God candle around the circle. You will have to have the pouch of seeds tied to you. I will do all the maiden, goddess, priestess part and read anything we need from the altar. I’d really appreciate it if you would cast the circle. You’ve gotten quite good at it.”
And at that he smiled.
“Do you have any questions about the ritual?”
“Other than looking for a definitive answer it doesn’t look like I’ll get, No.”
“Well Ok then, I’ll see you on Thursday for the Full Moon and on Friday for Spring Equinox.”
“Wait, you’re all business and you’re leaving?”
She laughed and stood up. “I’m doing my best to be a good teacher here. I don’t want you to take what we do lightly. So yes, tonight I’m all business and I’m leaving. I’ll see you 2 nights next week for ritual. You aren’t being neglected.” And he got up too and started with his disappointed 10 year old face. But she held her hands out to him and hooked his arm. In the driveway she kissed him on his cheek and said, “Reread the ritual and I’ll see you next week. Night, Owen.”