Welcome to The Spring Quarter

Spring is the time of new beginnings, when the days lengthen and there is a stirring of life in the earth. Even in the city, the snow has nearly melted and a haze of green begins to emerge from dark, wet branches. Rain is frequent, but not the chilly, sleety rain of winter...this rain is soft and refreshing, smelling of turned earth and green things. The clans of the ancient Celts did not plant, but herded...so rather than thinking of sowing seed, they were gathering the wild herbs and leafy greens which first emerged from wintery ground...bitter lettuce, dandelion, watercress, moss, wild carrot and sorrel. Herds of thin, gaunt winter beasts were herded to uplands where there was new green grass, and once again there were fish in the sea and eggs in the nests of wild birds.

Directional alignments are east and southeast, and the correspondences are air,  air of air ( fresh, soft breezes), water of air ( spring rains), air of earth (lacy emergent vegetation) and air of fire ( early, weak but warmer sunlight). Colours of the season are all pastels, especially pale greens and yellows, as well as "mixed" colours ( lilac, coral, turquoise) as examples of the uncertain weather, which vacillates between winterchill and spring warmth. Symbols of the season include all young, new things, such as baby animals and budding vegetation. 

Our bodies are changing with the seasons, and many of us find ourselves somewhat sickened by the heavy rich foods we needed in winter, and craving lighter fare abundant with salads, fresh fruits, and yes, even eggs! Our activities link to the Wheel as well, and the urban Witch finds Spring Cleaning an inner urge, as well as the need to plant a windowbox or two and perhaps acquire a new pet, a kitten or bird. Magickally we are "planting" as well, perhaps beginning a new course of study, actually sowing herb seeds for later harvest, or refreshing the contents of the magickal cabinet. East is the predominant direction, so air and the sense of smell take center stage here...it is a good time to blend oils and incenses, craft wands and talking sticks, and make scented bath salts for ritual use. If you have a sacred space, it is time to renew this, by cleaning and dressing altar and Temple and repairing or replacing outworn tools. As new leafy greens emerge from the earth, it is a time for making strewing herbs and potpourri, to cleanse away the musty smells of closed winter rooms.


The ash tree is mythically represented by Yggdrasil , the Norse world-tree whose height spanned the heavens and whose roots sunk into the centre of the earth. In Celtic cosmology, the ash connects the three circles of existence, Abred, Gwynedd, and Ceugant. Just as Odin hung upon the world tree to secure the runes for mankind, so is Odin's Celtic counterpart, Gwydion, linked to the ash tree. From the twigs of the tree he was said to have made his wands, and so do present day makers of magic often make a wand or magical staff of ashwood. Rune staves and ogham sticks are also often made of ash to commemorate this mythic connection. Ash is also one of the triad of magical trees, with oak and thorn, from the circle of which it was believed one could see the fey. Notice the symmetry of the Spring Quarter, the Quarter of Air, hosting the Lunar months which feature trees from which are crafted "Air tools"...wands, staves, besoms.

During the ash moon the weather over most of the United States is rainy or moist with fog and dew. As the tree is highly resistant to water, and the moon falls in the traditional solar sign of Pisces, this seems appropriate. In fact during the emigrations from Ireland in the nineteenth century, many carried a piece of one of the remaining "magical trees"  the sacred ash of Creevna at Killura, as a charm against drowning.

The colour of the month is "Necht" ( clear) referring to the clear water of rainfall, and the brisk March wind which dries the air. The bird of the season is "Naescu", the snipe, whose flight is whirling and erratic as if he were impelled by a wild gust of wind. The uncertain weather is echoed in the restlessness of spirit which often affects us during the early spring, where we are sometimes temperamental and moody, and often make impulsive decisions.
The energy of the month is " As above, so below" using the symbolism of the world tree to represent the universality of being, the microcosm and macrocosm indissolubly linked in the human being. The Witch in the Ash Moon is concerned with linking the inner and outer worlds, by means of doing divination or creating divinitory tools, organizing the home to encourage order in the mind (there's that Spring Cleaning bug again!) and working magic linked to air and water, such as dreamwork, writing, and taking or giving counsel.


Tree of the Spring Equinox

Here is another "station", a tree reference for a day rather than for a month. The furze, also known as gorse, is a spiny evergreen shrub which flowers all year but is especially prolific in early spring. It attracts the first bees of the year with its honey-scent, and its bright yellow flowers symbolize the "yonge sonne' of whom Chaucer spoke, the new Sun at Spring Equinox, whose light is bright and encouraging to growth. The blaze of gorse blooms on the hills typifies the fire of the Sun and anticipates the Alder month to folow, as that tree is the first fire-tree of the year. Indeed, the gorse bush was actually set aflame by the Celts at this time of the year, to soften the spines so they could be eaten by the sheep in the Highlands.

The energy of this day is  "awakening to sweetness." We have been gloomy and depressed, perhaps, with the long, dark winter. But the persistence of the gorse, which does bloom all year where it grows, encourages us to believe that the darkness always holds light. The  new sun warms us and the scent of honey tempts us, so that we begin again to believe in the persistence of life. For the urban Witch, perhaps this is a day to buy oneself flowers, or treat oneself to a goody from the bakery!  All that Easter candy is a recollection of the energy of the gorse, the sudden onset of sweetness in life. Surely there is joy to be found in the persistence of sweetness and the rebirth of life!



Named after the ancient Babylonian Goddess of fertility, Eostare is the festival which is commemorated all over the world as Easter. Witches identify the festival as the ancient peoples did, with the Vernal Equinox, and recognize it as the point of balance between light and darkness which ushers in the "light half" of the year. Our Celtic ancestors knew at sunrise on the Vernal Equinox that the days would begin to lengthen, and the ground and air to become warmer, so that the newly planted crops would grow. Interestingly enough, even non-Pagans use Pagan lore to calculate their holiday...while Eostare is actually celebrated on the Equinox, Easter, its derivative festival, is calculated with true non-calary precision...it is always the Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox! Go figure!

At this season the light and dark are exactly equal, and from this day forward the days begin to lengthen. At this time the Sun moves from the sign of Pisces to that of Aries, giving over the energy of water in favor of  that of fire. The direction of the Spring Equinox is straight East, and the correspondences are air of air ( for the fresh Spring breezes), fire of earth  (for the warm and fertile soil), air of fire ( for the increase in temperature) air of earth ( for the emergence of color and scent in the buds and spring flowers), fire of air (the dawn sun that ushers in the feast), and water of fire (for the warm rains which fall upon the land.)

As with Yule, nearly all the folk customs by which the Easter feast is commemorated have their roots in Pagan rituals. The "easter bunny" is actually the hare who because of his unquestioned virility was sacred to the Goddess Eostre and other fertility Goddesses, so if course he is responsible for the eggs. The candy given to children is, like the sweets at Yule, a sympathetic magic intended to encourage fruition and bountiful harvests. All the baby animals which are represented on cute cards and sometimes actually given as gifts to children ( DON'T do this!!) are actually representations of the fact that most mammals give birth to their young at about this time of year.

Celebration for the urban witch can actually focus on the same elements of the festival that the ancients used. Now is the time to get the garden in, unless your climate doesn't thaw the ground until Bealteine.  Real-world elements of celebration include family gatherings ( travel was becoming easier for the ancestors,) beginning of relationships, and ( no surprise here) possibly the beginning of a pregnancy! This is a common time for engagements to be announced, and many people paint-up, fix-up, and redecorate their homes.

Foods of the season are eggs, of course, and young, tender veggies ( especially wild ones like herbs) including edible flowers.  Sprouts, seeds and salads, young ( not aged) cheeses, like cream cheese and cottage cheese, fish and shellfish ( the ice has melted!), and meats from young animals ( spring lamb, veal, calf's liver) will help to round out the menu. Magically, some of us are "planting"  things to harvest later in the year...learning divination, doing spellwork for growth and prosperity, taking students or teachers, founding covens and groves.

Now the young God who became aware and rational at Imbolc becomes sexually aware. Like many young things experiencing puberty, his behavior is sometimes extreme, and it is not unusual for snow to fall on Eostare. But the God is in pursuit of the tender Maiden Goddess, and the blood, the Sun and the land will grow steadily warmer and more fertile from now through the growing season.


Appropriately for the season when the Sun grows in power, the Alder tree is noted for its ability to withstand water, and is a tree of fire both for this ability and the fact that its wood produces fine charcoal, which makes fire. From alder bark one may make a solution which is a useful remedy for burns, and the leaves, bark and fruit each yield a dye of a different colour. As well, rather mystically, the white wood of the alder, when cut down, bleeds like human flesh.

The mythic figure Bran, whose name may mean either "crow" or "alder". is linked to this tree. He is an early archetype of Arthur, and represents the young God of the Sun who pushes back winter with sword and shield. The ancient Celts did indeed make shields of alderwood, and the myths of Bran also show him to be courageous but impulsive and untrained...courage rather than wisdom, fire rather than water.

For today's Witch, the power of the Alder Moon is expressed in the phrase "protection of the heart."  The old saying tells us, "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love," but there is power in the force of "puppy love" which must be received with the tempering wisdom of the alder. The power of fire over water may represent the courage and will not to be overly swayed by emotions. Just as zodiacally the power of the new Sun overtakes the power of the Moon and the darkness of winter, so must the Witch use the power of the will to moderate the rush of new and lively emotion which often comes with Spring, whether this emotion expresses itself in impetuous financial decisions, sudden infatuations, or irresponsibility at work and home. 

Magickally, the Alder Moon is a time for renewing personal shields, whether of home or self. It is a time for dealing with emotionally-charged decisionmaking which we may have put off through the winter. Acquiring an athame during this Moon can be beneficial, as can doing spellwork on old issues which may have been buried until we developed the courage to deal with them.


Above all other trees, the Willow is known as a healer. In addition to the substance in the bark ( salicylic acid) which is the source of aspirin, the sap is an expectorant, the leaves produce an effective wound poultice, and an infusion of the bark and leaves together can be made into a lotion which will relieve itching, dandruff, dry skin, and rashes, besides acting effectively to stop minor bleeding. As well, the lore of the willow speaks of its effectiveness in healing emotional pain. Wearing willow was supposed to mitigate the sorrow of love betrayed,  and a willow basket given to a lover was supposed to lure him/herback to the beloved.

Willow loves water, and is found growing in the mud at the edges of rivers and streams. The tree therefore bends and sways with every breeze, and is suitable for things made of soft, flexible wood...baskets, sieves, woven fences, and the wattled walls of houses. In an unusually symmetrical pattern, the tree which is exactly across the Wheel from the Willow is the reed...and the reed, a masculine tree, is used to roof the house, while the Willow, feminine in nature, is woven to create the house walls. Because of the flexible, mutable, watery nature of the Willow, she is closely linked in energy to the Moon, and therefore to the Goddess. The root word for 'willow' in Anglo-Saxon is "weick", which is the source of the words "Witch", "wicker", "wicked", and "wick", meaning "living". So moist are the withies of a living willow tree that it is very difficult for the tree to be seriously burned in a fire, making it the perfect contrast to the Alder which precedes it...the Willow symbolises the power of water over fire, emotion over will.

For the Witch, the month of Willow is one seriously devoted to healing work. Mystical and mutable, the energy of this month is "Mother of  Mysteries," referring not only to the tree itself, but to the hidden, female aspects of the human personality. Lunar work flourishes during this Moon, including lucid dreaming, creation of divination tools, scrying, healing rituals for self, friends and the Earth, and esbats of worship and celebration to honor the Divine Feminine, the Mother of Mysteries. As the tree's branches and leaves spiral in a helix, so too is the energy of the Willow Moon focussed on inner workings, to heal the Self and bring back the soul to its state of wholeness.


This is the festival of fertility, the day when all is blooming and bearing, the day for lovers and partners to celebrate their union. The directional alignment is Southeast, representing the light of new life, and the correspondences of the season are fire of air ( for the rich scents of blooming flowers), earth of fire (for the blooming flowers and ripening berries and fruits), water of fire ( for kisses and wine), and fire of fire ( for sexual passion). Our Celtic ancestors lay together in the fields on May Eve, to encourage growth by example of their own passionate joining. Belfires were kindled to encourage the sun to enkindle life in the earth, and the cattle and sheep were driven between the fires to make them fertile.

Mythically, the Goddess and the Young God join in union, which fertilizes and gives life to the land. The Goddess is Maiden here, in all Her lush ripeness, enticing, intoxicating. The God is Pan, Cernunnos, the randy stag, leaping through the tangled grasses starred with flowers, dancing with the tempting Maiden, wooing her with fruits and flowers. Winding the ribbons around the Maypole is the symbolic Great Rite, as the Maypole is a phallic symbol and the many-coloured ribbons represent the beauty of the flowers and fruits of the season which are produced by the love between the Lady and Lord. Traditional Maypoles have a ring of flowers at the top which slides down the pole as the web of ribbons is woven, making the symbolism of sexual union vivid and unmistakable.

Spring Strathspey

Gwydion PenDerwyn

Myrddyn was playing his pipes in the wood,
And it sounded so good to my feeling.
Hiree, hiroo stirred the dance in the blood,
        And my fresh maidenhood started reeling.

             Sweetly it drew me, the song that went through me,
                As if sure it knew me, a maiden-song, laughing long.
       I'm sure that I hear it, Oh, let me draw near it,
    I want to be merrily courted in spring.

      Round us the trees formed a wheel in my mind
As if all womankind were careering.
    Softly he touched me, our hands intertwined,
     And we gently reclined in the clearing.

             Sweetly it drew me, the song that went through me,
                As if sure it knew me, a maiden-song, laughing long.
       I'm sure that I hear it, Oh, let me draw near it,
    I want to be merrily courted in spring.

Dew-fall to star-fall he made love to me,
In a manner so free and revealing.
  Swift-footed, light-footed, goat-footed, he
         Played a sweet melody with such feeling.

              Sweetly it drew me, the song that went through me,
                 As if sure it knew me, a maiden-song, laughing long.
        I'm sure that I hear it, Oh, let me draw near it,
     I want to be merrily courted in spring.

     Daylight and I wake to spring's sweet bouquet,
And a glorious day of beginning.
Myrddyn has gone on his magical way,
      But the equinox day leaves me spinning.

             Sweetly it drew me, the song that went through me,
                 As if sure it knew me, a maiden-song, laughing long.
        I'm sure that I hear it, Oh, let me draw near it,
      I want to be merrily courted in spring.

Even if one is not in  a relationship, the Urban Witch participates in the energy of Bealteine. The magical energy is "growth through union", celebrating those ways in which we benefit from our connections with others. Ritual observances may, in addition to magic centered around love and passion,  include leaping the Balefire with dear friends and family to renew bonds, blessing covens and groves, creating partnerships and relationships, or making candles, sachets, potions and other magickal tools concerned with sensuality and love. As well, despite the cup-and-blade symbolism of traditional Wicca, the modern Witch realizes that ALL acts of love and pleasure are celebrated at Bealteine, including passion and desire between couples of the same sex, or groups of lovers larger than a couple! As long as all involved are present from free love and choice, all play and passion is sacred and is honored at this festival.

It is well to mention here that no ethical Witch does "love spells" to entrap the love of a particular person. This is manipulation, as it interferes with the free will of the person targeted, to love or not love as they choose. Love spells aimed at the SELF, however, can be highly succcessful at Bealteine. Magic can be done to attract a lover, to make oneself more attractive, or to make oneself more loving and sweet-natured ( which tends to attract people who will love you!)...or even to increase one's sex drive, one's responsiveness, or one's virility or fertility.

Making tools of fire and air is also appropriate magick for the season...including the acquiring of or creation of an athame, the Witch's blade, which can be a potent tool when given or received between friends and lovers. Make sure it is paid for, however, with a coin and a kiss...folk wisdom says that a blade given as a gift without the coin and kiss from recipient to giver will sever the relationship.

Foods of the season include all red, sweet fruits, especially strawberries; edible flowers; custards and cream pastries; dishes made with honey; oysters and other foods considered aphrodisiacs; phallic-shaped foods such as eclairs or sausages; and rich, luxurious-seeming foods such as steak and lobster, caviare, and rich chocolates. mead or strong, red wine are favored beverages, with sweet fruit juices as a nonalcoholic alternative.

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