Like most folks of a neo-paganish persuasion, I follow the Gardner/Nichols calendrical creation of the eight-fold seasonal festivals. I like the order it provides and the celebrations, for the most part, resonate pretty well. I may toss in some fancy Welsh names for the astronomically-based holy days, but it’s pretty much the same thing.
But, as many others have noted, the dates for the cross quarters (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnassah) do not necessarily coincide very well with North American geography. One of my goals this year, then, has been to try to notice the changes in the natural world which herald the seasonal shifts here in New England.
Winter arrived pretty much on time this year. I’ve been judging this one mainly by smell: there an unmistakable sharpness to the air that burns your nose and lungs. When Winter-time Wild Hunt rides in the howling winds and racing clouds. This happened promptly on November 2nd.
Spring’s a bit harder to peg down. It’s less like a switch flipping and more of a back and forth, sometimes even sideways, dance. The willows started to green on February 4th; the first thunderstorm was on April 7th; spring peepers started chirping April 9th; the first warm and gentle rains came on the 10th. So really, Spring is a range of extended transition unlike anything else.
Deity-wise, it’s Gwydion and Eostre that resonate most strongly for me, although there are any number of other gods that begin to stretch their legs at this time of year. Gods like Gwynn ap Nudd and Frau Holda are getting quite sleepy, preparing for one last ride at Beltaine. The telluric current has begun to turn cool, while the solar is running hotter and hotter. My human neighbors are spending the evenings out on their porches while my animal neighbors are shedding their winter insulation of fur and fat.
Spring may have started as a trickle, but soon it will be an all consuming, passionate flood.