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Morgan Ravenwood

Ode to Ostara
by Moragan Ravenwood

I really feel sorry for those who complain that their lives seem to pass in a blur.  One minute it's winter, the next it's summer, and so many people never seem to mark the changing of the seasons until the day they look in the mirror, see the lines on their own faces and the gray hair on their heads, and wonder when they acquired them.  I feel fortunate that because I am a Pagan I'm not only observing the seasonal changes but am also actually participating in them (or, as I like to put it, "living a conscious life"), unlike those who simply view them as a spectator or, worse yet, fail to notice them at all.  For surely if life is but a classroom and we are here to learn certain lessons, we can hardly do otherwise and expect to achieve spiritual growth.

While we Pagans are most famous for our celebration of Samhain, which symbolizes the death of the old year and the beginning of the new one, I believe that it is the Spring Equinox that carries a much more important connotation: that of birth and renewal.  There is no better place to watch this cycle play itself out than in a garden.

I live in the southwestern desert where we don't usually get much of a winter, albeit the nighttime temperatures do dip below freezing at times.  Despite the mild weather, my small but productive garden knows what the seasons are, and shows its pleasure in the warmer weather with a riotous green display.

I'm like an excited little kid after I first plant the seeds I've chosen to grow; every day I anxiously peer into the various pots, barrels and seedbeds, beside myself with curiosity to see if the first seedling has made its appearance yet.  Of all the stress-relieving exercises known to man, this has got to be one of the easiest and best.  It's also highly effective for a Pagan in that it offers an opportunity to temporarily abandon the cares of the world and perform a life-affirming activity, which is also one in which they can actually commune with the divine if they will but listen as well as speak.  That this can be achieved by performing such a simple activity as tending a garden is part of the deep appeal of Paganism.  This is why I feel that every Pagan should attempt to grow something, even if it's just a houseplant or a few herb seeds in a small pot on a windowsill.  It's also a particularly great way to introduce children to one of the fundamental beliefs of Paganism: that divinity is inherent in all of nature.

In a garden we not only can see the metaphorical drama of the Goddess and God, but of our own lives as well: the seed is planted, it grows to adulthood, produces seed of its own, dies, and is resurrected through its seed, which has been planted in its place.  The message is, of course, that nothing is ever truly wasted or dies.  Anybody who would argue with that has surely never been a gardener!

Of course, this birth-death-resurrection cycle plays in all aspects of organic and biological life.  I had an opportunity to meditate on this yesterday, when my pregnant daughter showed me an ultrasound picture of her baby, who will be my first grandchild.

A myriad of images and emotions swept through me as I gazed upon the image of this tiny little creature lying curled up like a new rosebud.  It seemed that I could hear my mother's voice and see my father's face and feel their love and pride, and yet above that I also heard and felt the presence of something even greater and more awesome.

Other images flashed before my eyes and mind; I saw myself as a baby and my husband as a child.  I thought of the day I learned that I was pregnant with my daughter and saw my husband's joyful countenance when he held her for the first time.  And then I thought how appropriate the term "family tree" is.   Whoever coined it must have had some Pagan leanings, to be sure!

But most of all, as I looked at that picture, I felt like I'd actually made a difference in this world.  And I think that anyone who takes the opportunity-and responsibility--in nurturing a life, whether it's planting a garden, raising a kitten or having a child, has been given the wonderful opportunity to share a little bit of the divinity---and immortality---that is unique to the gods.  For sure, allowing us to share this with them is their greatest gift to us.