Doing It Alone on the Equinox

I find that the best way to get my house clean is to throw a party.

My desk may be covered with books and papers, my laundry bin filled, and my various interests — knitting and sewing being those that come with the most accessories — all sprawled out across the dining room table, but as soon as I decide to invite people over? POOF!! I’m a bearded Mary Poppins, snapping my fingers at the furniture. Before the song is over, my house looks marvelous.

All it took was a spoon full of sugar and an Evite.

This happens in extreme cases, too. When my husband and I sold our house last year and moved across town to a slightly smaller, more manageable rental, we scheduled a gathering with friends exactly one week after our move in date. It wasn’t a “help us unpack our boxes” party, or a “let’s hang art” soiree. Nnnnope. It was the end of October, and we threw a Halloween party. Boxes be damned!!

In seven days, we unpacked all of our bags, hung all of our art, filled every drawer and shelf, and made the crucial decisions about where to sit, where to eat, and where to place the plants so that they’d have the best chance of survival. It was a whirlwind of a week, but we got it done. And, were it not for us becoming impromptu party planners, the process may have dragged on for weeks — months, even.

I bring this up because The Spring Equinox (Alban Eilir/Eostre/Ostara) is exactly two weeks from today, and I have no idea what I’m going to do to celebrate. I’ll be away from home, cloistered in a hotel room in Los Angeles, far from my altar, my ritual garb, and the big, budding Maple Tree in my backyard. I imagined myself doing ritual under that tree once the snow melted, inviting a few friends to take part with me. But, that isn’t going to happen this month.

I could just prepare a personal ritual, making it a full-fledged, ADF style, bells and whistles affair, and perform it alone on the morning of the Equinox. There is an ADF grove in Southern California, Raven’s Cry Grove, and they celebrate (as many of our groups do) on the Saturday following the actual Equinox, but I’ll be traveling on that day as well.

See, part of my study requirement with ADF (Ár nDraíocht Féin) is to honor and celebrate each of the eight High Days throughout a single year, and to record my experiences. Ideally, I would celebrate the High Days with a group of ADF Druids, but this isn’t a strict requirement. Only four of the eight rituals need to be ADF style.

It’s just that I want to have an ADF ritual on the Equinox, and I want to share it with others. The quality of my religious experience changes greatly when I take part in ritual and fellowship with like-minded folk. I felt this most profoundly during PantheaCon when I was asked to participate in the ADF ritual alongside the Senior Clergy.

I wasn’t expecting to be involved in any way. It was a last-minute decision made by the clergy — literally, the night before the ritual. And, just like with our moving-in Halloween party, I made it work. I purchased a long, green robe in the PantheaCon vendor room, I processed into the room beside the priests like a pro, and when it was my time, I stepped into the center, lifted my voice, invoked the spirit of Inspiration, and felt a real sense of purpose and belonging.

For the rest of the ritual, I was fully present, fully engaged, and swept up in reverent worship.

And that’s the thing — I love being with people. It doesn’t matter if it’s a themed party or a sacred ritual, I love the energy of a group. When I clean house, I’m readying the space so that all those who enter will feel welcome, relaxed, and happy. My guests are my motivators, and my reward. But now, as I look toward the coming Equinox, I have no guests for which to prepare, or even a fixed space to make ready.

So, I’m reaching out to you, my friends and loyal readers. Maybe you could brainstorm with me.

If you’ve been a solitary — either by choice or by circumstance — how did you celebrate the High Days? If you have experience at leading groups, what do you do to prepare for your gatherings? If you have insights into how I might approach my situation, I would love hear them! Please post them in the comments.


18 responses to “Doing It Alone on the Equinox”

  1. DruidMedb Avatar

    Message the local ADF Druids in LA and see what they are up to. In my experience they have been very hospitable. Even if they do not have a ritual going on, they may like to get together with you over a cup of coffee and debate the finer points of Druidry.

  2. P. Sufenas Virius Lupus Avatar
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    The worst Vernal Equinox ritual I ever had–and also, in some respects, the best–was in 2004, when I was in the hospital in Cork, Ireland.  I literally had nothing that I’d normally want to have.  The focus of the holiday for me is a bit different than it is for most modern pagans, as there is a particular significance to it for Ekklesia Antinoou tradition, but that didn’t make things easier.  I ended up able to have a meditation on the occasion, which actually solidified it in a way that has been pivotally important for me ever since (when I’ve been able to celebrate it with others, and with props!), and I innovated an observance in terms of writing particular symbols on my fingers that were on for the duration of the day (sort of like the Ash Wednesday thing, only not at all…!?!), so that every time I looked at my left hand, I knew the significance of the day, etc.  Yes, the nurses disturbed me and thought I was crazy sitting there in meditation; yes, the Catholic eucharistic minister still arrived and tried to shove a consecrated host down my throat whether I wanted it or not.  But, even in the most difficult and solitary (despite having people all around me) situation, I found a way to make it work.  I’m quite certain you’ll be able to do so as well!

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      That’s some resilience right there! In a Catholic hospital, no less… I’m impressed.

      That’s a really great idea about the writing on the hands. I find those sort of personal, outward statements of belief or practice to be useful.

      I’ll be sure to report on what my Equinox experience turns out to be!

      Blessings to you!

  3. Kate Avatar

    Dear Theo
    Is there a local Unitarian universalist congregation close to your destination? As a pagan with little local community, I find the seasonal celebrations relevant and enjoy spending time with the open & welcoming folks there. Also, see if there’s a local cuups chapter, which is the pagan arm of the u.u. Church. We don’t have that here, but a local Wiccan priestess will hold an ostara cochlea in the sanctuary, and I will be there!

  4. Sonneillon Avatar

    I keep inviting my friends to come up and celebrate with me.  They keep canceling.  It hurts every time.

    On a more amusing note, Raven’s Cry Grove seems to be on the radar lately.  The Wild Hunt just had an article about Kirk Cameron’s supposed ‘infiltration’ of them (apparently Kirk didn’t even do enough research to realize the rite he was attending was open to the public, infiltration not required).  They looked nice in the photo.

  5.  Avatar

    Teo – 

    I’ve been a solitary most of my adult life, and I find that singing really helps.

    For Spring, I’ve found “Here comes the Sun”, the Beatles, to be my go-to song.
    Summer is usually “On my Way”, Rusted Roots.
    Autumn is “the Dreaming Tree”, Dave Matthews.
    Winter is “Sound of Silence”, Simon & Garfunkel.

  6. Vermillion Avatar

    Hi Teo!

    I’ve been solitary for most of my Pagan life, it wasn’t until the last year when I joined a group that I’ve actually done stuff with other people.  Just going from my experiences in that one year alone it’s such a completely different beast from when I went it alone. Going back to being by yourself can suck.

    That being said here is what I did (and still do if for some reason my group can’t get together). I don’t know how much of this is possible given that you’ll be in a hotel room and they’re not too keen on setting things on fire, but maybe it’ll help anyway!  First thing I do is light a candle and set my intention for whatever holy day it is. It helps too if it’s scented I’ve found, but that may just be me 🙂

    My next actions are determined by whether or not I’m REALLY exhausted or feeling like I just cannot do a full shebang. If I’m feeling groovy and pretty okay I’ll cast sacred space (or if it’s warm just go outside into someplace nice and quiet), sing a couple of songs in honor of the holiday (and this can be anything from your general Pagan chant to hard rock songs, I’ve sung Type O Negative songs during the autumn equinox for instance), set my intention for the next couple of weeks, do a bit of spontaneous praise (usually in haiku form) of the Gods and that’s it.  If it’s a soul-sucking sort of day or I’m just exhausted from the grime of daily living I’ll light the candle, sing one song, take a few moments to deep breathe and that’s that.

    I ‘ve always felt that the most important thing is to acknowledge the day in SOME form whether it’s taking  5 minutes out of my day to sit in silence and reflect, or if it’s break out my incense, drums and divination tools and go whole-hog. IMO intention is everything.

    Good luck 😀

    1. Vermillion Avatar

       I should also note I’m not a druid so I don’t know how much of it is able to be incorporated into an ADF rite 🙂

    2. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I love your perspective, Vermillion, and I appreciate you being a part of the dialogue here. I’m getting a lot of feedback about following my instincts, giving it my best, and also being forgiving of myself. I hear that in your comment, and those ideas really resonate with me.

      I anticipate that I’ll post about my experience in ritual on the Equinox — do check back to read about it!

      Bright blessings to you!

  7. Kirk Thomas Avatar
    Kirk Thomas

    Yes, you have a conundrum here, Teo. I do a lot of group ritual, but there are times when I have to do it alone. I, too, like worship in groups, but as you say, it’s not always possible. But you can make a solitary rite meaningful by taking your time and actually visualizing all the Kindreds arriving at your rite, and keep Them in your mind’s eye as much as possible. The room will be quite full! To make this work, I’d also suggest speaking everything out loud, and address Them fully. I promise you, you won’t feel alone.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I like this idea, Kirk. I may use this opportunity to work up a completely sung ritual — something deliberate and thorough, and as inspired as can be. I’ll use my voice to connect to the Kindred, and to reach out to them. I know what it feels like to sing to an audience, so perhaps I can sing to them.

      Thank you so much for this… this opened up a lot for me.

      1. Kirk Thomas Avatar
        Kirk Thomas

        Yes, a sung rite. I’ve been talking with Missy Burchfield, Maria Stoy, and Emerald about the five of us writing and creating a sung ADF rite for YouTube. Does this interest you?

        1. Jason Hatter Avatar

          I don’t know if it interests him, but it sure as heck interests me! At least watching/listening to it.

  8. Vyviane Armstrong Avatar
    Vyviane Armstrong

    When alone I generally do a guided meditation. Jhenah Telyndru offers some  nice ones  here These are the ones I normally chose because I am in the Sisterhood Of Avalon but also because they are on my mp3player and with me almost all the time when I travel, which is when I am most likely to be alone on a Holy Day.

     Some of my other favorite guided meditations are from  Shining Paths- are for exploring the Tree of Like in Kabalah but through archetypes and myths. Several would be suitable for  the Spring Equinox. I googled Spring Equinox Guided Meditation and lots of choices came up including a a couple youtube tracks. The Sisterhood has an  international membership and we are always exploring and and working with using technology to bring us together. Skype and Google Plus Chat Hangouts have been helpful. We have not done a full ritual via the internet but we have played with chanting, doing guided meditations together and processing afterwards and then just having a space for  face to face contact on the Holy Days or any days when companionship is desired. My five year old is in a neat place with paganism. We celebrate the equinoxes and solstices in a big way throughout the week leading up to the ritual night itself.  We go to secular or public  events as part of an ongoing celebration process. We are planning on doing some egg decorating classes and going to a talk on helping out local birds. Then we are planning on making lavender cookies and lemonade  for his class for one day after school.  Maybe you can  see about local  concerts, poetry readings, even a nice club night out  for a night of celebration dancing that the Spring and Light are back? See if you can find a local pagan or two to come along and celebrate with you.  You can still find and share hospitality which seems to be in important part of the process by finding some place with really great desserts and coffee to treat them to. Eating delicious food is also a big part of our celebrations around here 😉 Then you can still celebrate when you get home under your tree with your loved ones. Personally if I could only celebrate at the right and ideal time for all our holy days and moons I would probably hardly get to celebrate at all. 

    1. Vermillion Avatar

       Hi Vyviane!

      I too am a member of the SOA but wow I didn’t think of doing the meditations for the Holy Days! Learn something new every day 😀

    2. Teo Bishop Avatar

      Thank you so much for offering this perspective, Vyviane. I really appreciate it.

      I’ll be sure to give those links a look. Perhaps the meditations would be useful. I think using them in conjunction with a more formal liturgy would suit my own temperament very well.

      I also like the idea of reaching out to local Pagans in anticipation of my travels. My schedule is rather tight during that week, but it would be nice to find a moment to connect with a kindred spirit.

      What I take from your comment is: Be creative. Be innovative. Be willing to stretch beyond what is familiar, and take a risk.

      Would that be a fair characterization?

      Blessings to you!

      1. Vyviane Armstrong Avatar
        Vyviane Armstrong

        Wow, you summed up what I was saying nicely. Yes. Are you going to update us on what you decided to do?

        1. Teo Bishop Avatar

          I certainly intend to! 🙂