THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, and of the Magic and Mundane channel). All opinions are those of the speaker, not necessarily those of The Atheopagan Society. Named #3 in the top 20 Pagan podcasts for 2023! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/
Monday Mar 13, 2023
Monday Mar 13, 2023
Monday Mar 13, 2023
Remember, we welcome comments, questions, and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com.
Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts Yucca,
Mark: and I'm the other one. Mark,
Yucca: and today it's time to talk about the Equinox.
Mark: Yes, we have arrived.
Yucca: Yep. So I think a good place to start is of course, well, what is this Equinox thing
Mark: right? Yeah, well, the, the, the, the Latin roots of the word of course mean equal night which implies what it is, which is that at the equator anyway.
Mm-hmm. , the days and the nights are equal, equal in length. They're both 12 hours long. Now, as you get further up in the latitudes, that changes a little bit, but by and large, the days are roughly the same length as the nights. Right at this point in the year. Yeah.
Yucca: And for both of us, we're in the Northern Hemisphere.
Mm-hmm. . So this is going into the spring for us. And on the calendars, the Equinox marks the first day of spring. . However, that's gonna really depend on your climate as to whether it's actually spring or not, right? So for you, it is, right? It's been
Mark: spring. It's been spring for a while. All the fruit trees are blooming.
The early wildflowers are up. The hills are all green. The creeks are all roaring with water because we've. Big banner, year for rain here in California, thankfully. Mm-hmm. . So yes, spring has been here for a while, and the February holiday, which has many names that I call River Rain really was a rain holiday this year.
So that was the beginning of our spring, right? This is the height of spring for us. But for you,
Yucca: It's, it's the time of year where it can't quite make up its mind, whether it's spring or winter, it feels like spring. Some of the time the, the bird songs have come, the spring bird songs are here, and that's what makes it really feel like spring, but, We won't have in terms of plant growth and things like that, that won't, we're still a ways out for that.
We won't be getting flowers. A few of. There aren't many deciduous trees here. A few of them you can start to see just the tiniest hints of maybe they're starting to wake up, make some little mm-hmm. thinking about moving in that direction. But it, it won't be past until past Beltane that we stop freezing every night.
Mm-hmm. it won't be till mid May. Really? Yeah. But it, it's feeling like spring is gonna be, . It's like we're almost there. There's more light. There's the birds starting to sing. The, the males are getting their colors back. Mm-hmm. , right? The ones that stay here in the winter of the, the songbirds that get very muted and dull in the winter.
which I think is a, just a way of protecting themselves. Sure. They don't, they're not needing to be mating, so it's better to blend in and be a little bit less visible to those coyotes and
Mark: fox. You don't wanna be dancing around wearing red feathers on top of snow. That's a bad strategy. Yeah. .
Yucca: So, but it, it definitely is starting to.
like spring is coming, but it's not quite there. Mm-hmm. . So
Mark: do you have the smell of spring yet?
Yucca: You know, spring doesn't have a really distinctive smell to me. Ah. Like it, there definitely are smells that are springy, but it's not like, you know, here we have like a very monsoon smell and there's a definitely a smell for winter, but, I don't think so. Not really.
Mark: Well here we have a lot of flowering trees and the chairing blossoms and the apple blossoms and things like that.
, they have a smell. Mm-hmm. and there's, so there's a particular distinctive and also a lot of people plant ornamentals like jasmine and things like that around here. So they're these really perfumey beautiful kind of spring. I
Yucca: love the smell of jasmine.
Mark: Yeah. It's So we have. You know, when you start to catch that perfume on the air, you realize, okay, you know, the, the year has started.
We are, we're definitely in the active cycle now of, of things going again. So why don't we talk a little bit about what the Equinox means to us, what we call it, what we associate with it? Mm-hmm. .
Yucca: Well, I usually use. Spring Equinox or first spring. And for us it's a time where there's, there's those themes of beginning and, and you know, new planting, although a lot of the planting won't come till later.
But some of the things will, will start planting, you know, if, if you want any tomatoes, they actually had to have been plant a couple weeks ago, frankly, to get them to really be ready. But this is a time that we. Often celebrate the birds because the birds are coming back. This is when the chickens, they lay some in the winter, but really it's not until the light starts to come back that they start laying again as much.
And it's a really a celebration of those of the birds and egg layers and, and things like that. Hmm.
Mark: Yeah. Nice. For me, it's it's about new beginnings and starting to move again. , you know, the, the earlier holidays in the year have been very much about sort of dreaming and planning and imagining, but now is when we start to actually take action.
Mm-hmm. , I mean, it's pouring down rain where I am right now, but you know, generally you, you, you can go outside now and have a pretty good chance of not getting rained on. And The, the soil is all wet, so it's easy to dig and, you know, for gardens and agriculture and things like that, it's just a time to get going.
But I also associate this time with the, the passage of the year from the dark half of the year into the light half of the year. Mm-hmm. . And so this transition point becomes the moment of balance. The point of balance, and one thing that I do on the equinoxes is think about the balances in my life.
not necessarily to make any changes in them, but just to kind of check in and see what I think about them. Mm-hmm. , how's my work life balance? How's my relationship, personal time, balance, you know, those sorts of things. And if I discover that there's something I'm unsatisfied with, then I take action to make something different.
Yucca: Yeah. That's beautiful. I think that's a really important thing that. for all times of the year, right. To be thinking about balance. Mm-hmm. . But I think it's helpful to have a specific time in which each that is dedicated to that, that's really about focusing on that. And I think that's the case with many of the things that we celebrate throughout the Wheel of the year.
Mark: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. I mean, that's one of the things that really attracted me to Paganism when I first got into it, is, okay, there's a moment for. Morning and grief. There's a moment, you know, for contemplating our mortality. There's a, a moment for celebrating sexuality. There's a moment for contemp as I celebrate it for celebrating children and celebrating older people and, you know, for celebrating decomposition and, you know, all the creatures that do that for us.
To me, , that's just such a reality based kind of a spiritual practice, right? Having that time in the year and Paganism isn't, isn't alone in that. I mean, one of the things that Paganism doesn't have the Judaism has, for example, is a Day of atonement. Mm-hmm. , where, you know, basically you're gonna try to square the accounts with everybody who you feel like you may have wronged.
And I can see a value in that. It hasn't really plugged into my wheel of the year, but I can see a value in it. Mm-hmm. . So, you know, I mean, I associate this time of year with a lot of the sort of traditional seasonal symbols like flowers and birds and eggs, colored eggs. Mm-hmm. , you know, those sorts of things.
But the deep meanings of it are, Moving into action, new beginnings, new hope, really, because, you know, there's that, that aspiration quality to starting a new cycle, right? You know, may maybe the crop will be really, really rich and we'll just have a great time next winter, right? And so I like doing those things like dying eggs and, you know, all.
kind of stuff. Mm-hmm. . I do associate this time of year as the children's holiday. Mm-hmm. , not little kids. Infants and toddlers are more like the February holiday sort of thing, but grade school kids. , you know, up to age 10, 11, something like that. Right.
Yucca: Like, like children before, not teenagers yet, right?
Not toddlers. There's really that, that time period that we think of as childhood.
Mark: Yes, yes. And so I think of this time as the time to celebrate those members of the community and also a time to let down our. Dignity and stiffness and play like a child, right? Play childlike games dance and sing , stuff like that.
It's good for you,
Yucca: I think it is. Yep. I like that. You have a moment in the year that is to connect with that and to focus on that. .
Mark: I won't claim that I'm super good at it because, you know, I tend to live in my head and my childhood was pretty unhappy, so I never really learned how to be a kid very well, but I'm trying to catch up.
Yucca: Hmm. . Yeah. We have, well, my life has little kids in it, so every day. Mm-hmm. every day is little kids day. Right. But we'll see as, as they grow. If that's something that we start to incorporate into this time of the year. Mm-hmm. . But for now, shoots and ladders is a weekly, is a weekly experience. Right. , and Candy Land more often.
Uhhuh, . So
Mark: yeah. Yeah. Those are actually the games that I own for playing at this time of year. Yep. And you. It's been a few years now because of Covid and other things, but when I've held gatherings around these themes and to play these games with adults, you would be amazed at how cutthroat adults can get at shoots and ladders.
I mean, Candyland is fully randomized, so. There's, there's no strategy involved, but shoots and ladders. Boy, . .
Yucca: Yeah. Hmm.
Mark: So, Yucca, what kinds of ritual things do you do at this time of year?
Yucca: Yeah, so for the holidays, . So I have a mixture of what do I do as my individual self and what do I do as the, my part is the family, right?
Mm-hmm. , because a lot of my role there is, you know, guiding these young people and their experience and taking care of them on that. So I, I make a point for the holidays to take some time for myself to. Reflection and, and that sort of thing. And kind of just a, a private ritual. But I don't have any, it, it's anything that's really settled in for me of this is what I do every year the way I do for mm-hmm.
like hollows or something like that. But this is a, just a very busy time of year for. When we're doing a lot of, of beginnings things like getting the seeds in the ground or swapping out the positions for, so we're on solar panels, so we have to go up and change the position of the panels and roll out the shade protection and you, you know, take down all of these different things.
We just make a point of being very mindful in doing those things, even though it's a busy time of year. Mm-hmm. , it's a, Hey, this is what we're doing and this is why we're doing it, and. taking moments to notice mm-hmm. , even in the busyness of it. And that's, that's a big part of what we're doing. And I think that that's something that we're always doing all year round, but it feels different now because it's a different time of the year and there's, there's an excitement element to it.
Mm-hmm. , which is something that I just notice about this time of year because there's so much that has been being planned. and now we can actually start doing a lot of those things. Or at least we're close to being able to do a lot of those things. Right.
Mark: The warm weather is coming. It's obvious that it's on its way.
Yeah. So you can start to anticipate things you can do in the summer. Right.
Yucca: Stuff like that. And there's things that I can go outside and do with just a sweater on. In some of the warm day because we really, we'll go back and forth in this time of year between, we'll have days that are in the thirties and then we'll have days in the fifties.
Mm-hmm. . Right. And so if we're in the fifties after a long winter, it's like, oh yeah, this is, this is summer. Mm-hmm. , you know, it's take all, everything off. But it just is so much easier to, to work outside, even if. Even if it's still a little bit chilly, it's. Feels very different than in the dead of winter.
So back in February, February and in January just absolutely bitter for us. Sure, sure. Just so, so bitter and now it's like, okay, no, I can, I can do stuff and you know, I can, the ground isn't totally solid. Yeah,
Mark: it's so hard. It's always hard and the sun isn't so weak. Yeah. I mean, to me that's the big thing about December, January is it's like the sun is so long and even when you're sitting in it in full sun, it's just this, this very mild sort of beat on your skin.
Whereas where you are in New Mexico in the summertime, it's like a hammer on your head. Step outside in August, it's like, boom, you've been hit by something.
Yucca: We get our, our temperatures are still quite mild because we're so high. I'm at 7,000 feet Uhhuh . But the UV is intense. Yeah, right. The sun is really, really intense because there's, you know, that's seven, that's 7,000 feet of atmosphere that's not there protecting you.
Right. So it's very, yeah. We can be out in the middle of the day where in the summer, You know, just don't be out in the middle of the day, even if it's only 85 or 90 degrees. Just don't be, be inside, wait until the morning or evening.
Mark: Yeah. You're, you're below what I call the siesta line . Yeah. Which extends all the way around the world actually, of, you know, when you get to a certain point of that intensity of the sun, it's like, no, from two o'clock to about six o'clock, we're just gonna take a break.
Yeah. We'll come back at it later on.
Yucca: Exactly. And so, you know, there's just that excitement of going into that time of year mm-hmm. , because in the winter it's really flipped. Right? We wanna do the most that we can in that time, um mm-hmm. , so it's almost like, it, it always feels like this little puzzle piece that fits together, the winter and the summer.
And this is, this is the beginning of the. of the light time of the year, of the bright time of the year. Mm-hmm. . So,
Mark: you know, it hadn't occurred to me before, but another thing that would, as you talk about that, a natural theme that comes up for this time of year for both of the Equinox is this integration.
Mm-hmm. , you know, the putting together of pieces in your life which is different from balance. You know, balance, you tend to have things that are relatively separate qualities. They have boundaries between them and you sort of adjust how much energy you're putting into one or another. Whereas integration, I mean, that can be all right.
I'm trying to bring my. internal field of study, more into conversations with my friends. Mm-hmm. , or I want to bring these two social circles together and see how they mesh. Or I want to
Yucca: practice a daily life. Yes.
Mark: Right? Yes. Yeah. So I, that just occurred to me, and I don't know, . I think there's something in that.
I'll have to think about it more.
Yucca: Yeah. So what about you for this time of year? Do you have particular rituals or practices that you like to do?
Mark: Well, other than, you know, the childlike games, I do like to dye eggs. Mm-hmm. , I just, that's a really, really old tradition that extends across continental Europe.
I don't think it ever got to. The British Isles or Ireland? I don't think you
Yucca: know, I don't know one way or the other, I just kind of always assumed it did. But I've never looked into that.
Mark: Maybe , but I know, I mean, the, the folks in Ukraine, you know, the, the, they have the funky eggs. Mm-hmm. that they do with that lost wax process are just magnificent.
I have a goose egg from Ukraine that's decorated that way and it's just beautiful. Mm-hmm. . But you know, this is the time when a lot of birds are laying eggs. And so, that was the first high concentration. protein source for people after a long winter for many centuries. So eggs were a pretty exciting prospect.
Yucca: Yeah. Oh, eggs are, eggs are wonderful. They're, they're one of my favorites. Mm-hmm. , I really like eggs. Yeah. Yeah.
Mark: The, so I, I like to dye eggs. Mm-hmm. , and. . I don't know. I've done different things in different years. What I would prefer to do, my idealized celebration is to get together with friends who have children mm-hmm.
you know, of, of those ages and just kind of build the day around them, play around them, make raspberry lemonade and other sort of non-alcoholic stuff for us to drink and. and just celebrate the season in that childlike, playful manner. Mm-hmm. , I've been able to pull that off a couple of times, but now in post covid, not recently.
Yucca: Well, as you were mentioning the eggs, it, I thought to bring up the Easter connection. Oh, mm-hmm. . So for us, I. I don't really think about the Equinox and Easter together. Like some of the other holidays are a little bit more closely tied, like, solstice and Christmas. Mm-hmm. right. Or Hollows and Halloween, but Easter.
So we don't usually dye eggs for the Equinox, but the kids will go to their grandmother's for Easter and then their other grandmother for Passover. So those, like, they happen at a similar time of the year, but because those are Looney Solar, , they move around. Mm-hmm. . Right? So it's not like it's right on the same day or right next, you know, the day next to it or something like that.
Right. And then we don't use the name O or what are some of the other, there's some other ones that are very similar sounding.
Mark: Well, there's one that's Ester, which was the Greek goddess of the dawn. Right. And all of. as far as I can tell, all of that stuff about o leading to Easter and all this.
As far as I can tell, it's modern and apocryphal. Mm-hmm. , I don't think any of it is really rooted in actual history. Mm-hmm. , but it doesn't really matter to me because not having kids I can get away with simply not paying attention to Easter at all. Yeah, it's just, I mean, usually I don't even remember that it's Easter weekend.
I'm just not aware of it in the
Yucca: least. Well, and honestly, I don't either. they just go with their dad to their grandmas and then they come back sugared up. And I do, actually, I mentioned this on the round table that will be published soon as. So on the YouTube channel, oh, we did a round table.
Yeah. Yeah. Just a tip for any parents out there, one of the things that we have started doing is to cut back on the just enormous amount of candy that is associated with that holiday. We're putting Legos inside of some of the Easter eggs so that they still get some candy so that they don't feel left out, but they're also not getting.
You know, a year's worth of candy in one day. And then they still get the cool thing as they get the Legos that they can put together and then that lasts them longer anyway. Still have the Legos for years. Whereas the candy, they'll just eat and feel sick. Right. Right. So that's just a little, the little tip for that.
Mark: it's a good idea. But that, you mean, you mean inside the plastic?
Yucca: Inside the plastic eggs, yeah. Yeah. So they'll, they'll die a few and, and paint them hard boiled eggs. Mm-hmm. , but. Then they'll also find some plastic eggs that, you know, we've saved the same little plastic eggs for every year.
They've had the same, the same little plastic eggs that have survived since their dad was a kid in the eighties. You know, so
Mark: Well. That's good. They're not in the landfill. That's, yeah, that's
Yucca: important. I mean, they, they will be eventually one day. That's what happens to, of course, plastic. But yeah. Yeah.
So there's, it's one of those holidays that is close enough to one of the the secular or Christian holidays. Christian holidays, yeah. Whereas other ones that we talk about sometimes, you know, there's not, like in August, there's not really a holiday that. ties in very well.
Mark: Not when the, the, the Catholics observe llamas.
Mm-hmm. . And that's a, that's a thing if you're an actively practicing Catholic. But
Yucca: well, depends on how, how, how actively practicing. Yeah. I suppose that's, it's different like levels of being a, of how involved you are with those holidays as a Catholic. Yeah. Yeah, because I come from, my community is very Catholic and that's, , that's not one of the ones.
Yeah. I mean, I'm sure that they say something about it at Mass, but you know, that's not really what happens in the community. So.
Mark: Yeah. I mean, I can't imagine there being a whole lot of hoop law at the beginning of August in New Mexico anyway, because it's.
Yucca: Well, we, we are in monsoons at that point.
Oh, that's true. Right. But that's not like the start of monsoons. It's a, again, it's a, my part is because New Mexico is huge, one has to remember That's true. There's, it's, if you're up in the high desert where I am versus the low desert, and then whether you, which, you know, side of the state you're on is very, very different.
Mm-hmm. . But it, it's, and I guess maybe it's just what you're used to, like, I don't think it's a very big deal. I guess if someone came to visit from one of the coasts, they might feel like it's particularly hot.
Mark: Well it depends. I mean, last summer we had a week where the daily temperature averaged something like 97 degrees.
Mm-hmm. and that included a couple of days that were over 110.
Yucca: Yeah. I can't remember a single time that my regions. Temperature down south. Neither can we, like that's a, a few times a year we, we go over a hundred, but that's it. Oh, I see. And it will be in, it will be in August. But again, it's just because we're so high up.
Right, right. I mean, we're higher, we're significantly higher than Denver, so. Mm-hmm. .
Mark: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So. In any case talking, we'll, we'll talk about the August before we know it. Yes, before we know it, we will be talking about the dimming holiday or summers waning or lusa or whatever you want to call it.
But for now it's the Spring Equinox coming right up. And we hope that you have gotten useful ideas out of our conversation here about this. . It is a very meaningful time and I've been to some very beautiful gatherings that have happened for this holiday in the past. It snowed one year.
Mm-hmm. , you know, it has often rained . This is in the mountains of Mendocino County, north of where I am. But we've always had a really joyous get together. . And I hope that our listeners do too, whether it's solitary or something that you do with your family and friends.
Yucca: Yep. And thanks for taking the time to join us here today.
And. , we really appreciate, appreciate all of you. We
Mark: do check out that round table on the u the YouTube channel. We're now posting stuff to the YouTube channel every week, and there's new stuff happening also last week. , I mentioned that it would've been great if we were able to have more presence on Instagram.
And two very wonderful, very qualified people immediately emailed me and said, Hey, I would like to do that. Yeah. So,
Yucca: It's Fanta it was amazing.
Mark: It, it was, we are so psyched about this ,
Yucca: And within hours of each other, It was like, right? Oh yeah.
Mark: It was boom. It was instantaneous. Yeah. So thank you to Tazi and Zoe for your your volunteering to do that and check out the atheopagan Instagram account.
We're we're posting stuff again. Yep.
Yucca: All right. So thanks everybody. Thank you,
Mark: mark. Thank you Yucca. We'll see you next week.