SOLSTICE IN THE UNDERTHING; EQUINOX IN SPRING - Making, Breaking. Tending, Mending.
Updated: Sep 20
Our tale is close to making the turn now. We’re about to finally head back up from the Underworld, and what better way to celebrate that than with Spring Equinox! It just so happens to be today. (Yes, Muse. Yes, Synchronicity, I see you.)
Okay, technically it happened to be yesterday. I wrote this piece and uploaded the photos on the Equinox. Alas, my blog platform didn’t save any of the edits I made even though I pushed Save multiple times. It does that on occasion, so I had to redo it all. Highly aggravating. So here we are today.
When one of my longest-enduring, favorite teachers announced that she was doing a Spring Equinox Vigil, my guts said that I had to jump on that like I’d had to jump on the Medusa Sadhana (21 day immersion) we did in the fall. (4)
If you’ve never noticed, I’m just a bit tied to the seasons--naturally. I mean, my entire creative and professional life is built upon five natural elements. I’ve also got this thing with Persephone, so Equinoxes are just a little important around here.
Since the arrival of spring is a super happy occasion for me, I don't want to celebrate it by telling you about that time I booted somebody out of my house when I'd finally friggin' had enough. That is all RAWR, whereas today I am all purrrrr.
So let's detour into my connection with my living environment when I am left to my own devices. The seeds of it began way back in college with that first apartment I had all to myself--the first time I had ever lived alone in my life. I told you how much I adored that apartment. Well, I adore my current house even more. My home is my sanctuary. It is my temple, and my mental state is intimately tied to it. It always has been, even if I didn't fully understand that back then.
Today's plant life adventure is one that I’ve been photographing for a couple years, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to share it with y’all: The Adventures of Prickly-Nickly and Sway. (That would be my blooming cactus and my bamboo.)
Both of these plants nearly died on unrelated occasions.
Back in 2017 when I returned to Colorado for that month-long visit, I asked the guy I was dating if he would hold onto and water my couple plants while I was gone. He agreed.
Yes, even though they were sitting right there around his kitchen sink. The little climbers tried really hard, but ultimately didn’t make it. They are buried in my ravine below my house. This incident was rather prophetic--like they are--because that relationship didn’t survive even as long as the climbers.
Upon returning home with my nearly dead plant-friends, I denuded the stalks of all the crinkly, yellow leaves and managed to resuscitate the bamboo. In fact, it flourished again. Bamboo is resilient like that.
Alas. The wide bases of the stalks now had these two wimpy twigs with no leaves, topped by a profusion of new greenery. One afternoon almost exactly a year ago, the weather was glorious. The house needed some fresh breeze to clear out the winter, so I opened all the windows and the back patio. Mother Nature obliged. With gusto.
The gusts proved too much for my little bamboo-that-could. The top-heavy stalk of the larger side cracked. As I was performing salvage and bracing maneuvers, the smaller one teetered and cracked as well, so that was that.
The Plant Gods had spoken.
But bamboo is bamboo, so I nipped off the weakened sections. That also eliminated every memory of near-death still clinging in the yellow husks that surrounded the stalks. It was kind of like whacking off long hair after a traumatic period. Sometimes that shit just needs to go.
After that, I placed the remainders in water. Water-roots grew. Woo-hoo!
So now I have two bamboos, and they are wispy. Their roots have gone crazy and have become one. The stalks used to curve outward and droop, so I turned them away from the sun. We don’t get much natural sunlight in this house because the main windows face north, but we do what we can.
Over the year, the stalks have swayed back almost upright with solar encouragement, and my bamboo is heartily growing. In honor of this Spring Equinox, I have just given them a bigger vase adorned with flowers. So there.
This brings us to Prickly. Did you see the other plant on the floor? A couple years ago, I inherited a Christmas cactus when one of my best writer-pals moved overseas. Alas. The patio of her old apartment was the opposite of mine. Whereas I only get one teensy strip of direct sunlight upon the railing at the height of summer, her patio couldn’t escape the sun, and this little cactus got fried out there as my friend was preparing to move.
One bigger pot, some happy fertilizer, a boatload of singing and crooning, and a gentler location later, and I'm starting to have a happy cactus. His name is Prickly-Nickly in honor of my friend’s cactus-like character, Nic. I adore Nic. I adore my cactus.
Apparently he adores me back, because look at him go. (Yes, big, manly-men can too wear pink and flowers if they like them. Don’t make Nic come prick your ass about it.)
That was the first year.
This holiday season?! Now we're starting to get somewhere.
Because we are so stinkin’ happy around here, we've had a second round of flowers to welcome spring, and it's been even bigger than the first. They are currently still blooming. Squeeee!
When I started the Equinox Vigil last week, one of the first things I was supposed to do was build an altar. Only one problem. All my altar spaces were already stuffed and they were still hard at work, not remotely ready to be taken down and exchanged for something new. So I had to put my equinox accoutrements among what was already up...or on the TV tray where I was eating...or on the kitchen counter where I was cooking or...
My equinox altar sort of migrated with me, expanding and contracting as I used the stuff and put it back. Kinda fitting for the state I've been in all winter.
The time period between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox is the roughest time of year for me. I love the Solstice. It means that the daylight is only going to get longer, which is important to Seasonal Affect Girl. Plus, it's just...well, it's Solstice! It's also my Re-Birthday--the day a drunk driver rammed me. In my efforts to mitigate trigger day, I tend to do a lot of fun stuff on December 21 so...
So Winter Solstice is kinda like an equinox for me: half dark, half light, always special. Its approach can be murky. Its aftermath can be worse, especially when I don't have a major anniversary trigger on the Solstice itself. Such was the case this year. That means it usually hits me later when I'm least expecting it, and is compounded by being sick of the cold and the dark.
No surprise, one morning this past January, I woke up in a bad mood. It was one of those days.
The light sucked. (There wasn’t any. Duh. It was still January.)
All my music sucked. (And every single stinkin’ suggestion Spotify made was worse. My ears went flat.)
All of my projects sucked. (Hisssssssss…)
Even my comfort teas sucked. (I was coming out of recovery from those uber-antibiotics that finally killed my systemic infection from that two-year tooth issue. But they also killed off my digestive system, which brought interstitial cystitis screaming back into my life. (5) Hence, no citrus, tomato, cranberry, coffee or black tea—nothing acidic. So I had to cut coffee cold turkey in November. I was NOT happy about that. But it stopped the IC in its tracks, which was all that mattered to me. That means that for two months, I had been drinking only herbal teas. And every one of them sucked that day!)
On mornings such as this, there is only one thing to do. We just go with it.
Candles. Coffee. Silence. Stillness.
I wasn’t even halfway through my coffee when it struck me what was wrong: my whole house, that’s what!
All my altars needed to be changed. Christmas decorations needed to be shifted into the Decor of Enduring Winter. (We have to work hard to endure lingering winter around here. This means lot of faerie lights and candles, and ornamentation that convinces us that winter is fun.) To my surprise, a bunch of stuff that has lived downstairs since I moved in here needed to be brought upstairs and vs. versa.
How do I know these things? I just...feel it.
It was a tending day. A cleaning-hauling-tidying-moving-things-about-decorating day. It was a things-are-not-in-their-proper-place day. The overhaul commenced and continued into the afternoon.
Once I understood what my deal was, I knew exactly what had happened. It was just...time. Not only had the old altars done their thing, but I am in a vastly different mindset than I was three years ago when I moved in here, so things needed to change. To top it off, I had just attended an online celebration for Hera with my Hellenistic buddy and her friends the night before. (6)
Did you know people still legit worship the Greek Gods? Well, they do. Hellenism is a lesser-known branch of Paganism, so when I received this invitation to come check out a genuine ceremony, I sprinted. It was awesome. They were awesome.
(You're aware that I’ve written several sprawling fiction manuscripts about the Greek Gods, and that I have quite the intimate connection with these energies/archetypes/Entities in my own weirdo, mixxy-matchy, personalized blend of spiritual expression, yes?)
Well, at the ceremony, one of the gals pulled focus cards and runes for us. Our focus was Renewal. Mine was as follows:
Physical renewal: Are you listening to the cues of your body all day, every day? Are you heeding them?
Mental renewal: Read books. Lots of books.
Spiritual renewal: Wealth.
Jaw-drop. Whooooa. (I see you, Muse. I see you, Synchronicity.)
As I was coming out of the woods from Dental Surgery 3 and getting a steroid shot in that hip that wouldn't heal, I had just determined that I needed to get back into my physical therapy/conditioning regimen. So that was fortuitous.
I also had just discovered that, after nearly a decade of gnashing my teeth, the reading comprehension issues that have plagued me since the year of chronic seizures have finally abated.
Yes, indeedy, I can finally flippin’ read again...for fun!!
I had only just realized this when that card showed up telling me that I needed to devour books for mental renewal. See, one of my geek-buddies had sent me Patrick Rothfuss reading the prologue to his long-awaited Book 3 in my favorite fantasy series of all time. (3) You remember that series, right? You remember the post-book depression that struck me right after Solstice and sent me out into the woods to lick my wounds in the last lingering remnants of Felurian’s faerie light grove?
Well, the act of tearing through this series again at Mach 10 finally kicked the last clinging clawhold of my reading issues to the curb. Neuroplasticity, I’m tellin’ ya. That card she pulled about reading only hammered in a second opinion.
The daily reminder to REEEEAD. AllTheBooks.
(Nope. No smartassery around here.)
As for the Wealth Rune for spiritual renewal…I sat with this suggestion for a long time that night. The next morning, something occurred to me as I was pulling down the old Medusa altar and the even older one reminding me to let my arts go in whatever direction they were inspired to go, no matter how oddball, seedy, dark, weird, or unmarketable they seem.
It occurred to me that I am an overflowing vat of wealth surrounded by overstuffed barrels of riches, and it’s all locked inside me. I have no idea how to get it out and share it within the parameters of the existing Systems. Doing so taxes my health on every level. Then I ultimately witness the collapse of everything I tried to build because my personality, my natural neurology, and the injuries I’ve sustained are not happy playmates with the way the world operates.
In other words, I am the cactus you’d think should be capable of tolerating direct sunlight, day after day, but it’s way too harsh OutThere and I’ve gotten fried.
But I am like bamboo. I am resilient. I am like Prickly-Nic. Put me in the correct environment, and I will bloom. And bloom. And flourish. And bloom again.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: The altars I built and the seeds I just planted for the Equinox Vigil. THE ALTARS OF LOVE & VOMITUS WEALTH
--OR: There's way more nature photography HERE.
--OR: Are you not familiar with my big car wreck on Winter Solstice 2000, or its ensuing Dance with Dain Bramage?
1) Schlumbergera - Whoooah…apparently these cacti really, REALLY bloom! And yes. They dislike direct sunlight, but flourish in partial shade.
3) My favorite fantasy series ever, The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
--Auri: tending, mending, making, breaking. Putting things in their proper place.