Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times for March 2021
It’s below freezing outside, and we may get up to eight inches of snow in the next three days. I have been shoveling my backside off this month, because we’ve already gotten PLENTY of snow already, as The Cailleach reminds us it’s still her domain.
Not for long!
In just over a month, it will be Spring Equinox, and, according to weather reports, it will have warmed up significantly by then. Already, the days are longer, and seeds are out in stores…YES we got some seeds.
Those who have read my articles know we were prepping to sell our home, but once COVID-19 hit, house prices spiked, and home values are at an all time high, some having doubled in price in less than five years. We just don’t know if it’s wise to buy property at all. The fact we will go mortgage free in a few years, combined with the fact my husband will retire in the next decade has us considering staying. To stay in this zip code affordably, we have to stay at this condo, so Spring planting for 2021 is in the works!
It’s both a blessing and a curse right now because our dreams of owning the house we really want may be out of reach- but we are not without hope! Not having a mortgage means we could rent to own an RV, and travel in that would be a lot of fun.
What seemed like it could be an end to a dream could actually be the beginning of a new one. Like the earth and all her creatures look forward to the growing season beginning at Spring Equinox, people, just another kind of earth’s creatures look to our own new beginnings as well.
Just what is Spring Equinox, and what makes it so special?
Occurring around the 20 or 21 of March, It’s the first day of spring, seasonally, and in the Northern Hemisphere, we tilt more towards the Sun. In the Southern Hemisphere, their Autumnal Equinox begins, and they tilt away. Equinoxes mean that daylight and darkness are about equal. After Spring Equinox, days continue to increase. Autumnal Equinox is one of the harvest times, when the days grow shorter, and nights longer, moving towards Winter, which first begins after Samhain.
Centuries and generations of celebrations all over the globe have marked the Equinoxes. Much of what is written about Pagan observances focus on Ostara and the roots of what became the Xtians Easter. It has been, for a very long time, a season of rebirth, renewal, and new hope.
In deciding what to write, I found an Eastern European observance that brought tears to my eyes, such was its simple beauty. Of course people are mostly Xtians there, but they have retained an ancient practice, and turned it from a religious observance to a fun one!
Marzanna and Her Drowning or Burning
A Slavic Goddess of Winter, death, and rebirth has many names, including Morana, Marzanna, Merena, Mara, Morena, and Mora. She was worshipped in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Her death at the end of Winter signifies the rebirth of the goddess Kostroma, whose name means bonfire. Marzanna must die to make way for Kostroma, and in Winter, Kostroma similarly dies so Marzanna may be reborn. Unlike Celtic stories of the Cailleach and Brigid, Marzanna and Kostroma are not regarded as different aspects of the same goddess.
The observances were simple and small details varied by country and town. In some places, groups of children carrying branches decorated festively with ribbons and eggshells went from door to door, singing and wishing people well. The people gifted them money. This reminds me of beggars nights around Samhain and Mumming around Winter Solstice. Imagine all those adorable little faces gathering around your front door to wish you well, and the hope in their faces you will gift them donations!
Another observance is making dolls out of straw or paper of the goddess and parading her in a procession. She is sometimes called the queen, and is carried among the branches some places, and others she is carried alone.
In some places, the goddess is then taken down to water, and “drowned”, by throwing her into the water. She is sometimes set alight and may be set alight before throwing her into the water.
There are videos online of people drowning and or burning Marzanna today. It is so beautiful to see the old ways kept alive. In a video I share, school kids get to make their own effigies at school, and school takes them down to the water to burn and drown their effigies. They do readings aloud together, and just have a lot of fun. I sat and cried watching this. So maybe colonization has kept people from passing Paganism along from one generation religiously, but practices like this are still very important culturally to many people. The goddess is still alive. She is not forgotten. She never will be.
While her passing is celebrated, her absence and the renewal of Kostrama bring hope for better days ahead, and good times. For those who rely on the growing season for food…or even gardening, ahem…observing the passing of Winter signifies not only subsistence, but also hope for positive change in our personal lives.
Watch this adorable video here, and make sure to grab the tissues if you are a softie like me!
While probably a whole town won’t come out to join you, and you may not venerate Marzanna and Kostroma, but you can “burn” or “drown” cold yucky winter anyhow, and reach fr things you hope for.
Saoirse’s Burning down Winter Working
There is no one right way to do this. It will depend on what you have available. But the very simplest way to do this is to take a single tea light candle, step outside on Spring Equinox, and say farewell to Winter.
Light the candle and say that farewell in your own words. Also say farewell to things you would like to leave behind in Winter, and a welcome in things you want to manifest.
By the time the candle burns down, Winter is burned away, and it’s Spring! Then get busy working towards what you want! Do you want classes? Look into them. Do you want to travel someplace? Start planning! Spring brings greater sunlight, and more energized bodies from the Sun’s strength. Harness the Sun’s power to propel you forward.
A more involved way is to make your very own effigy of what you think Winter looks like. You can make a representation of a goddess, or draw a portrait of what the Earth looks like frozen in Winter. You can even write down on a piece of paper all the things that represent Winter to you. Either put energy into what you have made, or write down your things you want left behind in Winter, and what you would like to manifest. Then take your effigy, picture, or words, and burn it completely in a firepit, fireplace, cauldron, or even an ash tray if that’s all you need.
When it is burned, release the ashes to the wind, bury them, or if it would not harm the ecosystem, toss the burning representation of Winter into a body of water! Then get out there and go after what you are hoping for, strengthened by the power of the Equinox!
Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe it is almost Spring, everybody. Yay!
Blessed Spring Equinox!
About the Author:
Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.
A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.
Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!
Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.
All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, and is still studying for Third Degree, making it to Second Degree thus far.
She is a gifted tarot reader, spellworker, teacher, and was even a resident Witch at a Westerville place dubbed The Parlor for a time.
Aside from her magical practice, she is a crocheter, beader, painter, and a good cook. She has been a clown and children’s entertainer, a Nursing Home Activities Professional, a Cavern Tour Guide, a Retail Cashier, and a reader in local shops. Her college degree is a BA in English Writing. She tried her hand at both singing and playing bagpipes, and…well…let’s just say her gifts lie elsewhere! She loves gardening, reading, antiques, time with friends and soul kin, and lots and lots of glorious color bedecking her small home!
On the encouragement of a loved one several years back, she searched for a publication to write for, and is right at home at PaganPagesOrg.
She is currently residing in Central Ohio with her husband, and furbabies.
Saoirse can be contacted at [email protected].