I’ll Have the Equinox with a Side of Eclipse Please

This year the vernal equinox coincides with a supermoon and a solar eclipse. We won’t be able to see the eclipse from our part of the globe, but it’s cool to think about nonetheless. Sister Moon is asserting herself at a time usually associated with Earth and Sun.

I’m sure you’ve already read my little column on spring in the subtropics, but have you seen my new column on fathers and daughters? It also touches on the question of when spring truly begins. I believe it is the most eagerly anticipated of all the seasonal turnings.

What else can I offer? I posted my new vernal equinox mandala here the other day. Oh, I know, how about this brand new mix?

Vernal Equinox from editor_b on 8tracks Radio.

Ten Years of b.rox

Sweetgum Buds 2

Ten years ago today I started writing here at b.rox. I didn’t give much thought to the content of that first post, in terms of setting the tone for the future. I just wrote about what was on my mind at the moment.

I’m fascinated by cycles, including the cycle of seasons.

In retrospect, however, I must say that seems uncannily prescient, foreshadowing a theme which has become so much more prominent in my thoughts, my writing, my practice, my life. Also, the emergence of spring buds as subject is a fine metaphor for beginning a new project.

I don’t really write much here anymore. A chart of the life-cycle of this blog would show a peak around 2006-2007, with some vigor continuing until the autumnal equinox of 2012, followed by a year of intentional silence. (Though I didn’t note it explicitly, that first post was very much about the vernal equinox.) These days mark a sort of senescence, I suppose, as I mostly post links to writings published elsewhere.

One of my primary impulses to write here was the same impulse that motivates my private journal writing: to mark the days as they pass and keep track of the interesting stuff that happens in my life. That. combined with the urge to share. But that act of sharing publicly has ultimately come to feel more like a limiting factor. These days I’m back to writing in my private journals more intensively than ever.

My friend David Bryan has suggested that the writings on this site might make an interesting book, which would include the flooding of the city in 2005 and the process of recovery, from a very personal angle, with the birth of my daughter as a natural ending point for the story. I appreciate this idea, thought I think a better arc might focus on our house, from our purchase in 2002, through the flooding and reconstruction, ending with the sale in 2009. I even have a title in mind: The Wizard of North Salcedo. I often felt like a wizard as I fixed kids bikes on the sidewalk in front of our house.

It’s funny to note that The Wild Hunt began one day later. What a different trajectory that site has taken.

And as a final note, I’m not sure I ever mentioned it, but the tree pictured in that first post did not survive the flood. We cut it down in November of 2005.

Sweetgum Stump

Even the stump is gone now, but we’re still here, and so is this site, even if it’s looking more like a stump itself these days. Thanks for reading, y’all.

Step into the Light

Equinox Truck

Now we enter that half of the year where the days are longer than the nights.

The equinox came this morning at fourteen minutes past midnight. I have to make an effort not to fixate on that single moment. I was asleep anyhow. Better to extend the celebration. The equilux was last Thursday here in New Orleans. Why not start there?

I got a second equilux this year, as I flew up to Philadelphia. The equilux, that day when sunrise and sunset are most nearly twelve hours apart, varies by latitude. It comes a day later there.

I went to Bryn Mawr College for the fifth Mindfulness in Education conference, which culminated in a full day of (mostly) silent meditation. I’ve never done anything quite like that before.

In retrospect, it was a great way to celebrate the equinox. Mindfulness surely cultivates balance. But I missed my family.

Then I came back home, and kept Persephone home from school Monday, so we could celebrate the equinox together. In addition to baking our weekly bread, we dyed eggs to decorate an “egg tree,” prepared a vernal-themed feast for dinner, and ran to the doctor for the girl’s four-year checkup and vaccinations. The meal was delicious: spring greens with sprouts, quiche, and charoset for desert. I also made black and white cookies, but didn’t get them done until later that night. By the time I finally hit the sack I was quite exhausted. I bit off a little more than I could chew. Not very balanced.

In the spirit of purification, I haven’t had anything to drink since Mardi Gras. (Well, actually since the weekend after Mardi Gras, but really, who’s counting? We had a visit from Ed the Meat Poet and I popped a cork.) I’ve been tapering off the coffee too, down to just a few swallows this morning. I hope to start on some dandelion-chicory root tea later this week. The idea of a seasonal detox session is appealing to me. In the same spirit I’ve even looked into fasting, but I’m not sure I’m ready for that quite yet. I am eating less, but that’s a topic for another post.

And if the spirit of the season can be maintained why not continue until Hellacious Saturday? Or Easter? Or Passover? Or forever?

Six months ago, at the autumnal equinox, I dedicated myself to a full year of discovering or uncovering my religion. This is the halfway mark, the inversion of that time across the mirror of the year. The dark half of the year is behind us for now, the light half ahead. The past six months have been fruitful, but my spirits have often flagged. I haven’t written about that much. The idea was to post less often and to write more thoughtfully, but to remain continually engaged in that process. Instead I’ve lapsed into periods of complete disengagement. Perhaps I need that reflective exercise to maintain a proper perspective.

It’s always a good time to begin again. Looking forward, I feel a buoyancy.

Arboreal Equinox

We decided to celebrate the vernal equinox by planting a tree. We just so happened to have a pomegranate tree which was a gift from M. Homan and family for Persephone’s second birthday.

Of course, the vernal equinox is traditionally regarded as the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. It’s a time of year positively fraught with significance. In Greek mythology, spring begins when the goddess Persephone returns to the upper realms and is reunited with her mother Demeter. So this seemed perfect.

The equinox fell at a most convenient time, about half past noon Saturday, and that’s when we planted the tree. I had Persephone throw a few rosemary leaves into the hole before we put the tree in, symbolizing our wishes for luck, rejuvenation, cleansing and energy.

Persephone's Tree

We are still concerned about the toxic levels of lead (and who knows what else) in the soil around here, so we took pains to make sure the girl didn’t touch any dirt and we cleaned up carefully afterward. I was skeptical about planting a fruit tree in soil that may be contaminated, but my reading on the subject indicates that while toxins accumulate in the roots, they don’t tend to make it up to the fruit.

The Homan family was unable to join us for this little celebration, but they loaned us a shovel. When we passed by their house this morning, the entire family was planting trees. I also have it on good authority that a bunch of students from the University planted 200 trees yesterday. All in all, a good weekend for trees in New Orleans.

Vernal Mohawk

In celebration of the Vernal Equinox, I’m bringing the mohawk back.

Before 'n' After

Not the fauxhawk, mind you. I’m talking about the real thing, baby. Bring it back!

And while you’re shaving your head, here’s a diverse selection of tunes inspired by the equinox.

“Vernal Equinox” from the 1977 album of the same name by Jon Hassell is straight-up genius.

Spring Purification Ritual

I don’t know who came up with the idea of giving up something at this time of year. I first encountered this practice as a part of Christian Lent, of course. I’ve been surprised to learn that many Christian practices actually have their roots in much older traditions, something which I find fascinating and deserving of more widespread awareness. I haven’t researched Lent, so I’m not sure what the origin of this seasonal abstinence might be — but in any case, I like it, especially when held up against the compulsively acquisitive aspects of our consumer-oriented society. Giving something up, abstaining from something rather than indulging. It’s refreshing.

So anyway. I have given up alcohol and haven’t had a drop since Mardi Gras. That feels like a good natural rhythm for me at this time of the year. It gives my liver a break and lets my mind explore sobriety.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve given up alcohol for Lent, though. I’ve just given it up. I don’t feel tied to any particular calendar, nor am I holding out ’til Easter. It popped in my mind that 36 1/2 days equals one-tenth of a year, so I decided to set that as my goal, which puts me up to April 2nd at noon.

I’m about a third of the way there.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath. I’ve done this before, and I know from past experience that sobriety can be alarmingly habit-forming.

Spirits of Spring

It’s three weeks until Mardi Gras.

I’d been meaning to post something here about masking on Mardi Gras, how it’s pretty much essential to the spirit of the day, how it differs from Halloween, and so forth, for the benefit of my parents who will be coming down for their first Carnival ever. But I’ve ended up talking with Mom on the phone a few times instead, so that essay will have to wait for another year.

Though I’m a big proponent of masking, normally I don’t have very good ideas for costumes. But this year it occurred to me: Since it’s Persephone’s first Mardi Gras, she could go as Persephone and Xy could go as her mother, Demeter. Perfect!

(That leaves the question of me. I’ve always identified with Hades but I’d feel a little creepy in that role now. Some myths say Zeus is Persephone’s father, but I’ve never liked Zeus much, and moreover that strikes me as a latter-day patriarchal insertion. In earlier versions of the myth, I believe Persephone was a product of parthenogenesis. No father. So I hit on the idea of going as a celebrant in the Eleusinian mysteries. Say what? Yes, I fully realize no one would “get” that; I’d have to distribute an explanatory pamphlet. But it makes perfect sense, since I do worship my Demeter and Persephone, and the conceit does have the virtue of being extensible, so my parents could also mask as celebrants if they so desired.)

But look out — here comes a mind-blowing revelation. The inimitable Dr. A sent me a message via Facebook yesterday:

I was reading the Andy Hardy Mardi Gras guide last night and saw that Rex’s theme is “Spirits of Spring” and that they have a Persephone float!

I could hardly believe it. I had to verify, it seemed so incredible.

And it’s true.

I should mention that I’m usually not checking out the big parades on Mardi Gras. After all, you can see parades all through Carnival if you so desire. The real fun on Fat Tuesday is not to watch a parade but to be a parade. So although Rex is a classy affair, with some of the most sophisticated and highbrow themes and some of the most aesthetically pleasing floats, I wasn’t planning to make a point of checking Rex out. We’d been planning to hook up with Saint Anne.

But this seems too cool and too cosmic to ignore. Now I’m inclined to change our Mardi Gras plans entirely and head uptown, which I haven’t done for years. In fact, Mom & Dad, if you’re still looking for costume ideas, you might want to check out some of Rex’s other Spirits of Spring as outline in this RTF document. Or — this only just occurred to me — you might consider Persephone’s grandparents, Cronus and Rhea. For some reason Zeus is sounding better to me now.

Persephone’s first Mardi Gras, and there’s a float in her honor. My mind is still reeling.

Oh, one last thing: If anyone reading this has an “in” with Rex, my daughter would love to get a sneak peek at that float.