The Rites of Spring

Sheela na Gig

The wheel of the year turns to the gateway of Spring- the first day of Spring heralded by the Vernal equinox. Primordial forces of fertility, life and renewal are strong. It is a point between the opposites, inviting balance, integration and ultimately wholeness.

In the ancient Celtic calendar, the Sheela na Gig was celebrated on March 18th- the day after St. Patrick’s Day- the Saint who allegedly eradicated the serpent form Ireland and converted the people from pagan to Christian. The unflinching Sheela, shamelessly opening and exposing her vulva for all the world to see is in stark contrast to the pious Christian missionary bearing book and cross. It may be no coincidence that Saint Patrick is celebrated on March 17th (other than it is said to be his death day) as it is at this time of the year when the serpent energies, risen on Imbolc (1/2 February) and celebrated by honouring the Goddess Brigid are moving through the land and the people, gaining in strength towards the fertility rites of Spring.

This power, essentially feminine, is connected to the mysteries of the womb… life, death, renewal and transformation is feared by the Christian church who for millennia have attempted to suppress it. Killing the serpent can be read symbolically as crushing a wisdom that is deemed dangerous to a fearful mentality with an appetite for political and spiritual power. The kundalini fires of awakening that forge empowered and awakened people for whom an intermediary to source is redundant was anathema to the church fathers.

Fertility and the rites of the spring have a meaning much deeper and wider than the greening of the land or the fertilization of the egg- these events are the physical manifestation of a spiritual truth and primordial energy with the power to facilitate human divinity. It is the sacred marriage of heaven and earth, the union of opposites expressed so perfectly in the equal day and night of the vernal equinox, offering a portal into the mysteries and speaks of the ‘twice born’.

The gaping black-hole of the Sheela’s yoni invites us in, challenging us to enter even as we instinctively know that part of us will die. Her plump, fleshy and fertile vulva is in stark contrast to her deathly skinny crone body with protruding ribs and swollen staring eyes that refuse humility. This is the initiation… the resolve of opposites, life and death, heaven and earth, in one whole and eternal cycle with no beginning and no end- a knowledge which surely challenges our fragile ego, constructed through illusions of safety and control… and separation form the great mother.

I once had a dream that I was part of a circle of woman, each one of us took turn standing in the centre of the circle and speaking words out loud to the others. A woman, young, black beautiful took her place at the centre and uttered her words with the upmost authority and truth “Everyone must face Mama”. These words have permeated my soul for years ever since, filtering through the layers of old skins as they burn and dissolve in this truth… pulsing in my blood tight against the drum of my skin, and in the rhythm of my womb as she dies and is reborn every month. I am finally allowing the words to settle in my cells, coaxing the old, stale ones to fall away to make way for new, lighter frequencies to vibrate and sing my essence, anchoring the divine feminine, birthing the ancient wisdom, crossing the boundaries of time.

Blessing of Spring!

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