Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Equinox Celebration

The spring equinox is one of the four great solar festivals of the year. Day and night are equal, poised and balanced, but about to tip over on the side of light. The spring equinox is sacred to dawn, youth, the morning star and the east. The Saxon goddess, Eostre (from whose name we get the direction East and the holiday Easter) is a dawn goddess, like Aurora and Eos. Just as the dawn is the time of new light, so the vernal equinox is the time of new life.

In many traditions, this is the start of the new year. The Roman year began on the ides of March (15th). The astrological year begins on the equinox when the moon moves into the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries, the Ram. The Greek God Ares is equivalent to the Roman Mars for whom the month of March is named. Between the 12th century and 1752, March 25th was the day the year changed in England and Ireland. March 25, 1212 was the day after March 24, 1211.

Although we saw the first promise of spring at Candlemas in the swelling buds, there were still nights of frost and darkness ahead. Now spring is manifest. Demeter is reunited with her daughter, Kore (the essence of spring), who has been in the Underworld for six months and the earth once again teems with life. The month of March contains holidays dedicated to all the great mother goddesses: Astarte, Isis, Aprhrodite, Cybele and the Virgin Mary. The goddess shows herself in the blossoms, the leaves on the trees, the sprouting of the crops, the mating of birds, the birth of young animals. In the agricultural cycle, it is time for planting. We are assured that life will continue.

Eggs are one of the symbols of this festival since they represent new life and potential. Folklore tells us (combining two themes of the season) that eggs balance on their ends most easily at equinox. Z Budapest in Grandmother of Time says that eggs were dyed red (the color of life) on the Festival of Astarte (Mar 17). The beautifully decorated eggs from the Ukraine (pysanky) are covered with magical symbols for protection, fertility, wisdom, strength and other qualities. They are given as gifts and used as charms.

Seeds are like eggs. While eggs contain the promise of new animal life, seeds hold the potential of a new plant. In ancient Italy in the spring, women planted gardens of Adonis. They filled urns with grain seeds, kept the in the dark and watered them every two days. This custom persists in Sicily. Women plant seeds of grains — lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers — in baskets and pots. When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the gardens are placed on graves on Good Friday. They symbolize the triumph of life over death. Choose seeds which represent the things you want to grow during the new year- — wisdom, understanding, patience, etc. Visualize those qualities coming into full bloom in your life as you plant your seeds.

Blend ideas from the many traditions described above to create your own ceremony to honor the spring. Decorate with budding twigs, flowers, willow catkins, sprouting bulbs. Red and green are the colors of this festival. Red represents blood, the blood of sacrifice and life. Green symbolizes the growth of the plants. Honor various spring deities with their flowers: Narcisus and Hyacinth with those blooms, the red anemone for Adonis, violets for Attis, roses and lilies for the goddesses.

This is the traditional time for a great spring feast and the decoration of the table is as important as the food. There are many traditions from which to choose: Nawruz, Passover, Easter, St Joseph's Day, Maimuna — all are variations on the theme of the spring feast, in which every item is symbolic.

Love and Light,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hello all, hope you are entering into winter gently!

Please read and help spread the word -

Due to circumstances beyond our control, SpiritFire dates announced earlier (on our Yahoo List) have been changed. The days we reserved (well in advance) for SFF 2011 at our gathering retreat were overbooked, and the folks there are unable to revert to what was originally scheduled. While it was our wish to remain on our originally announced dates - we tried our best - we have by necessity moved the gathering to later in July.

The confirmed SpiritFire 2011 dates are: JULY 20 - 24 (Wednesday - Sunday) with the usual optional individual camping night on the night of the 24th for those wanting down time.

I apologize to those who have already begun to make plans based on our earlier announcement, and to those who may be inconvenienced by these dates. We would really have preferred to keep the dates where they had originally been reserved, but this just wasn't an option. Next year we are intending to return to earlier in July if possible.

Please help spread the word if you can, and I look forward to seeing you around many fires this spring and summer.

Blessings, Josselyne and the SFF staff

Friday, May 28, 2010

Festival Season

What is it about May through October that makes me so happy? Festival season! I can hear the familiar drum beats and chants surfacing, and find myself tapping them out on the desk, a wall, a car steering wheel or a keyboard. I start singing the chants throughout my daily activities, quietly at first, and louder as I am packing my garb and tenting supplies.

The air changes from cool winds to warm breezes, and the sun stays out longer and longer each day. The amount of clothing becomes increasingly less, and I start wearing face paint as I am doing my regular dane activities. Who doesn't want to wear swirls of flowy fabric and swig some cider out of a tankard during this time of year?

The fire pit in my yard is lit on a more regular basis and my djembe is brought outside playing to the beat within my heart and soul. I give thanks for each of the things of nature I see - blooming flowers, trees at the greenest, birds greeting the day with their sweet, sweet songs, the sun sets of pinks and oranges and purples...

The count down until July when SpiritFire will be here is bitter sweet - I don't wish to rush through the Spring and Summer days, but oh do I long to see my Tribe. The warm hugs, the beautiful smiles, the bliss that resides in the mountains, and the sacred container shared by the Sufi, and loved and fed by us all.

Looking forward to seeing familiar and new faces, and returning HOME.
Namaste Beloveds, Namaste.

Love and Light,

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last day to register at early rates!

Hey folks - just a quick note, it's the last day (March 31) to register at early rates for our 2010 gathering! You can do so at:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scholarship Applications are due April 1st!

Just a reminder - if you know of folks that would like to come but might need a
bit of help financially, or you might be in that position yourself, please be
aware that the absolute deadline for scholarship applications is April 1st. You
can download the form from the website:

100% of the scholarship funding comes from community-contributed donations and
the fundraisers we do each year (the raffle, etc.) at the gathering. We can
only give out as many scholarships as we have funds for, which of course depends
on how many people apply and how much is donated.

If you can spare a bit of extra when you register, or can send in a little
separately, you can also find out how to do that on the scholarship page - the
folks who are able to come because of your generosity will be ver grateful!

Thank you in advance... and looking forward to being around the fire again with
all of you.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Registration for 2010 is OPEN!

Hello folks,

A few days ago, we quietly opened up registration for this coming gathering, which features a brand new system - hopefully, registration will be easier, smoother, faster, and more streamlined. So far so good!

We had the staff and a couple of folks volunteer to test it and it worked great, so the next phase is YOU. If you're ready to register, the door is open at - we would love to have some more of you try it out, test out the reg system, and let us know what you think.

While you are there, check out the revamped site! Some of the presenters are up, as well as a beginning outline of this year's festival (to be built up over the coming months as usual).

When you register please note: YOUR OLD ACCOUNT/LOGIN INFORMATION IS NO LONGER VALID. You will need to create a new account and password (this is a result of us changing to a different platform, which works much better, so it's worth it!).

Lastly, after registering, please do send your feedback if you have any. You can email me (OFF list please) or the webmaster, Janet, with your questions or comments about the site or registration process.

Looking forward to seeing you in the glow of firelight!


Monday, February 22, 2010

2010 Gathering update

Hello all, hope this finds you well!

Just a quick update on how things are shaping up for this year... we are in the flow of ramping up the flow of organization here and it's looking to be a spectacular year. And hopefully a dryer one, too!

First, the dates - July 7-11.

Second, registration - Janet has been working hard to revamp the entire website and we are just switching software (for you geeks out there, we're going to Drupal) so that the page displays, registration and other processes work smoother and with fewer glitches. We should be opening in a matter of a day or two, if all goes well - send us good vibes!

Please do take a stroll through the new website when it goes live and let us know what you think. There are new photos, new areas to explore, a slightly different look, and a registration system that is much more friendly to folks wanting to register as a group/family.

We also encourage you to keep tuned to the Yahoo Group, where a lot of smaller announcements that don't make it here are posted and discussed. Drop on over and introduce yourself, it'd be great to meet you!

Some 2010 highlights include:

-New and returning presenters to help us go deeper along each of the four pathways
-A revised meal option to make meat meals easier and more fulfilling for those who want it
-New approaches to the nesting areas, rituals, and possibly a new workshop schedule/structure

Stay tuned for an announcement both here and on the blog when the new site goes live. See you soon!