Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Seems To Be A Procreation Thing

So here we are, in the middle of the effects of the spring equinox. Whoop de do. The wind chill here has not improved significantly, the forecast still calls for snow, I'm still wearing several layers of clothing (the original prophylactic) and the damned dog refuses to stay outside and is currently barking at the back door. My cabin fever and lack of vitamin D has reached the critical level and I have yet to feel the urge to plant things in receptacles in the hopes of seeing new things grow. That said, it appears to be something that people still get their hopes up about.

Evidently, spring is all centered on this thing called fertility, epitomized in history by Eostre, the Norse Anglo Saxon goddess of new beginnings, who is symbolized by eggs and rabbits (which is also the root of the term given to the female hormone oestrogen). The whole egg thing is said to have started long ago with the story of the mythological Phoenix rising. The Phoenix earned its legendary immortality by refusing to eat from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Every 500 years, the bird is said to create a nest of herbs and spices, rest on it, and set itself on fire (which is something I've attempted symbolically a number of times). After the fire dies down, an egg laid by the Phoenix is found among the ashes. The egg hatches, and the Phoenix emerges, resurrected.

People all over the world celebrate the arrival of spring. Druids and pagans congregate at Stonehenge in the UK to perform fertility rites. Evidently the practice is quite messy and involves trances, chanting, mixing the blood of sacrificed bulls with mistletoe, passing it over twelve types of grain, sprinkling it over "goddesses" in several intimate places, followed by lovemaking that extends into the early morning hours. (I smell a new reality tv show here.)

In Romanian tradition it is the time for Mărţişor (an event traced back to more than 8000 years ago) in which a red and white string (talisman) with a small decoration attached is offered from men to women to indicate appreciation. Which I guess is the modern day equivalent of roses and a bottle of wine.

Interestingly, it is also the time of the year in New England that ancient sailors burned the socks they were forced to wear all winter: an act probably attributed to wives anxious to be close to their husbands again without retching. "The dreaded socks must be reduced to ash in a community bonfire." A tradition which the descendants of these people thank for their existence and are forever thankful.

So welcome to spring. May your eggs all hatch, your bull blood not stain, your string tie you to someone you love and your stinky socks be successfully reduced to ashes.


  1. I suppose men will go to any lengths to avoid doing laundry? I didn't know all those details about phoenixes. Thanks for the education. I've got the same weather as you've got, and I have to say I'm sick of it! Can't wait until we can all get some sunshine and flowers!

    1. Ha! No comment on the laundry avoiding thing. Waiting with you for the warm weather!