Again, I’m not disparaging those who attended the Bacchanalia at Roseland Ballroom. Perhaps I’ll go next spring. The tawdry tales I’ve heard of debauchery and lust among the grinding, black leather clad masses certainly cause this dandy to “spring” into action, but the whole affair strikes me as intimidating and crowded. That and the party doesn’t really start until 4:00 a.m. I transform into a pumpkin come 2:00 a.m. By 3:00 I’m a scowling Jack-O-Lantern. By 4:00 I’d be ready to assassinate someone.
Over Saturday brunch, our friend, Bacon-Boy confessed he knows the DJ who would be spinning the tunes in the Roseland’s converted bathroom/dungeon. The term bathroom/dungeon gives one an apt idea of why I didn't wish to attend.
Grunting and on my knees, my own bathroom felt like a converted dungeon come 9:30 on Sunday morning as I scrubbed the soap-crusted tiles free of mildew in our lovely home. I hate cleaning, but I love it when the task is complete.
Finally, after two months of living with cardboard boxes and partially unpacked house wares, the apartment feels “right”. There is a sense of potential for the new astrological year that is upon us. There is still much to do. Some pieces of furniture need to be bought. I want to paint a living room wall, for example.
Going into spring. Let’s discuss the two traditional rites of the Vernal Equinox: The Bacchanalia and the Spring Cleansing.
Bacchus, n.: A convenient deity invented by the ancients as an excuse for getting drunk. Ambrose BierceThe term Bacchanalia isn’t solely specific to the Vernal Equinox. In fact, the earliest Bacchanalia were only attended by women and occurred three times a month at sacred groves of worship. It wasn’t until much later that men were invited to attend and then the frequency nearly doubled to five times a month. The Bacchanalia of the Vernal Equinox was a celebration of Bacchus’ rebirth and the absolution of sins committed during the prior year.
Bacchus, like Osiris, is a“sin-bearing” god, having been killed for his sins and brought back to life (in different forms through out several Pagan pantheons) on the pagan “Easter”, March 15th. The god’s ( whether Bacchus, Osiris, or Jesus) own death and rebirth symbolized the death and rebirth of life during this time of the year. The death/rebirth theme can be attended to many aspects of life, typically “sins”. In some legends this god descends into the underworld to challenge the forces there.
If the Black Party were the underworld, how many of the brave descended were there to defy such excesses or revel in them?
Thus joyful Bacchus, the patron of merriment and wine represents transformation and abolishment of past misdeeds via merriment. Just fuck the pain away.
Present day witches and neo-pagans celebrate “Ostara,” a lesser Sabbat (one of the eight holy days of the witche’s calendar) on the vernal equinox. The term Ostara is derived Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon lunar Goddess. She was believed to be a Goddess of spring, birth and the rising sun. The name Eostre is said to be further derived from the goddesses Ishtan, Astarte and Isis, who were portrayed as consorts of the sin-bearing death/rebirth gods Osiris or Bacchus/Dionysus. .
(On a side note, the rising sun is an important symbol for this time of the year. It represents the start of the Astrological calendar when the Sun enters Aries. The rising sun is neatly balanced by Libra’s symbol six houses away, representing the setting sun as fall fades into the darkness of winter.)
Ostara and modern Wiccan rites.
Much of today’s Easter pageantry borrows directly from pagan rites. People often ask, “What does a chocolate rabbit have to do with Jesus?”
Actually there’s a few different intertwining traditions that our ancestors practiced which now have found themselves dressed in fluorescent hues and housed in cocoa shells on the Duane Reade shelves every March.
The Oestre Rabbit. The rabbit or hare are symbolic of good health and good fortune (helloo, rabbit’s foot). A traditional sweet cake cooked during this time was the hare cake (not to be confused with the hare pie), a sweet bread decorated with almonds and currants and baked in the shape of a rabbit. The bread was eaten for luck and fertility. The euphemism “to fuck like bunnies” is attributed to this notion of the rabbit’s penchant for procreation.
The Oestre Egg. The shells of the eggs used to make the Hare Cake were not broken; rather the yolk was blown from within. The eggs were then decorated and bedazzled and hidden for children to find. Also on several days during the Easter season
"Boys went around ... with a mitten begging eggs and would get one or two from each family.... On Sunday a lot of them lit a fire in the hills and boiled their eggs near some plain green, threw up their eggs to see which ones would be longest unbroken, and then ate them."Nasty. The distance of the throws and the "luck" inherent in the unbroken eggs were taken as omens of the growth of the crops and the luck of the year. And here we thought egging only occurred during Halloween.
More ancient “lucky egg” rituals involved the painting of raw eggs to insure good fortune during the course of the year. The idea being, you’re guaranteed luck so long as the decorative egg isn’t broken. However once it’s cracked your luck dissolves and your thatched hut is filled with rotten egg stink.
The “washing-rites” were another major spring tradition among European and Nordic pagans. Priestesses would drag everything, furniture, dishes, clothing, children all manner of belongings, and toss them in a fjord. The “washing-rites” are of course a precursor to the modern day baptismal.
I’m not against the fertility/Bacchanalia aspect of the Spring season, just ask Bryce. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge. But personally, the cleansing-renewal-healthy living aspects of the season are far more appealing than the Bacchanalia’s sin relinquishing sexcapades.
This is likely because of the more feminine/emotional elements (air and water) of cleansing, as opposed to the masculine/physical elements of fucking (fire and earth). Whichever your path, hopefully both if you abolished your sins in the dungeon/bathroom, may you have a blessed and prosperous spring.