Exactly one year ago, as (at least here in the US) COVID-19 was turning many of our lives world upside down, I was reading Sasha Sagan’s For Small Creatures Such as We. That book has profoundly impacted me as I’ve planned this cycle of seasonal rituals, and none more so than Spring Equinox.
In the book Sagan talks (among many other incredible things; seriously, y’all, read this book if you have interest in ritual creation of any kind, and I definitely don’t mean just Pagan rituals) about the importance of Yom Kippur for individual and community healing. She laments that secular culture has no equivalent day of atonement and accountability. In the absence of a separate deity or intermediary to hear and absolve our misdeeds, Sagan encourages us to offer our apologies and amends to the actual beings we’ve wronged.
Sagan likes March 4th for this practice, noting that, “when you say it out loud, in English, it sounds like a bold command. It’s a pun that seems to cry out a directive to improve.” I’m sure I had this passage in mind when I chose Spring Equinox, the closest Sabbat to March 4, as our accountability day.
Accountability also fits well with my personal view of Spring Equinox. I’ve always experienced the equinoxes as times of pause, moments where everything balances and we hang, almost suspended, in the fulcrum. At Fall Equinox, we make sure we have the resources to get through the cold, dark stillness of Autumn and Winter ahead. At Spring Equinox, we make sure we have the resources to get through the hot, bright frenzy of Spring and Summer ahead. I suspect that will be especially true in 2021 as, in many parts of the world, increased COVID vaccination means that people can start gathering again and will probably do so in droves. I’ve heard people refer to the COVID pandemic as “the Great Pause,” and, for a lot of us, that pause is starting to speed up again. That makes it feel to me like a time well-suited to apologies and amends. How wonderful to “march forth” into what is for many of us the most active part of the year without the weight of past harms, whether done by us or to us, weighing us down.
After we grounded and cast, Leora and I sat and talked. Simple and complex as that. We each shared one thing that had been weighing on us, one action we felt we needed to apologize for, and talked about how we could make amends for the past harm and do better in the future. Then we had a chance to ask for an apology we wished we’d gotten when the incident occurred and to talk about what we might do about that. We limited ourselves to one of each kind of apology each, and to events that happened in the past year.
It was a teary time. We didn’t necessarily expect the apologies we got or were asked for, and a whole boatload of feels were stirred up on all sides. But if Leora and I have gotten good at anything over the past few years, it’s conflict engagement and resolution. We talked everything through and came out, I believe, stronger as individuals and a unit.
After that, we went outside and picked up the trash in the front yard that the final (for now) snow melt had revealed. We believe strongly that we have a reciprocal relationship with this tiny sliver of the Earth that we call home. Part of our accountability to it is keeping it as free as possible from junk. We worked mostly in silence for this part, listening to wind and birdsong, being present in the work.
We took some time for cloud divination. We only had high, wispy cirrus clouds to work with, but they were enough to reveal a focus on both home and adventure, an adaptable ability to have, as the song says, our roots anchored deep so that we may fly. We sang that and other Equinox-appropriate songs as we came inside.
We ended, prosaically, with a list like we made at the Fall Equinox. Having cleared both emotional and literal debris from our lives, it felt good to list some possible options for refilling that space. Some were practical (house and yard projects we want to complete while it weather is good), some celebratory (a graduation celebration for Leora), and others more amorphous (keeping each other from overcommitting to projects and events).
Then we ate boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, because accountability can be emotionally raw work, and we definitely needed comfort food at the end of it.
And that was it. Later this week I’ll be making a donation to Makoce Ikikcupi, a land recovery restorative justice organization here in Minisota Makoce (aka Minnesota). Money, of course, is neither accountability nor sufficient amends for the harm that white settlers have done and continue to do to this land and its ancestral inhabitants, but giving to organizations like this can help remind me of the work that remains to be done.
Excellent Equinox to all. May we all be accountable to each other and prepared for the wonderful, busy Spring and Summer months ahead!