I spent the Spring Equinox in my new home, the upside down and slightly backwards land of Australia. Funnily enough, the transition was easier than I expected. I was worried I wouldn’t bond with this strange place; that the spirits and I would speak a different language, that the reversal of seasons would leave me feeling off kilter, that the totemic Cedar and Raven, Pine and Bear, wouldn’t exist in this land, and I would be left drifting in a spiritual purgatory. And for a while I was. And still am. But it’s not a constant, and for that I am so deeply grateful that I often find myself casting toward the sun like a greedy flower, in prayer and appreciation.
I’ve already celebrated Beltane in the northern hemisphere this year. At that time, I re-familiarized myself with the lore and wrote my essay. I preformed the rite, ADF style. I learned a lot. It’s six months later and I feel I should be quieting down in preparation for winter. Samhain just passed, or would have passed, were I physically where I am spiritually lingering. Yet, despite what my soul is saying, it’s clearly spring. And it feels a little strange… the notion of re-celebrating Beltane. Back in September, when the Spring Equinox arrived down under, I sat amongst the plants and ponds in this home’s cottage garden with sticks of lemongrass and sandalwood incense burning (a combination that I alone seem to love), and I welcomed back the sun. The moment was perfect, like I was introducing myself to a new perspective.
And isn’t that really what it’s all about? A new perspective? The earth turns and the seasons change and the Wheel of the Year moves ever on, and all the familiar elements of ones home become incorporated into ones practices and overtime get labelled as tradition. From the first time a family brought in evergreen boughs and called it a Yule tree, or apples were left out on Samhain to feed the travelling souls, these acts gathered speed and eventually were adopted by others. The paganism that I know is of the northern hemisphere. The trees, plants, animals, smells, sounds, stones, clouds, winds, rains, etc… have all become elemental and irreplaceable in terms of worship. Does my soul stir when I gaze at a hill covered in gumtrees and eucapyltus? Yes, a little… but nothing like the snow capped, mist veiled mountains of my home. But my home was my paganism, and not the home of the Celts, who are the authors of my tradition. How much of what I believe is based on genetic memory, personal preference, inability to adapt, or a rose-tinted image in my mind that really has more of a feeling of religion than actual practice?
I don’t think the Celts would have known what to do on the west coast of British Columbia any more than I know what to do in the highlands of Victoria. But they would have learned, and added new traditions, and adapted ones that were no longer applicable.
I am of a nomadic heritage; a people walked to new lands and who brought with them what was sacred. This is what I’m clinging to. I say it to myself as a mantra as I walk the new trails of these alien forests and find myself missing the mist-drenched moss, fern, and cedar. I tell myself I’m forging a new path, one that includes the knowledge of many lands. There is room for gumtree and eucalyptus on my altar as well as oak and willow. This continent is covered in what the Aboriginals call Songlines, and while I don’t pretend to understand their version of paganism, I do understand feeling Spirit and sacred life in every single rock, tree, animal, and blade of grass. I am honoured to be here, walking this new path, in a land so sacred.
So, while I’ve been working through these heavy ideas, I haven’t been performing rituals. I’ve gazed at the full moon and, on a darkmoon night, caught my first glimpse of the Milky Way. I carved pumpkins with my sister-in-law for Hallowe’en, and on the same day, threw a handful of sage leaves and apple blossoms into a fire as a Beltane offering. That was all I did, but it felt like it was enough. Cerridwen and Cernunnos can still hear me, Boudicca tells me to walk tall and strong, and Nehalennia sees me safely on my travels. I am blessed and connected to the Source and feel the Spirits of this land slowly emerging from their secret homes to introduce themselves to me.
I am still here, on this path. Ready for more.