Since I am attending a gathering meant to be in celebration of the Vernal Equinox, I decided to write a poem in dedication to the spirit of the time (not that I need much of an excuse to write Pagan hymns, since I have already written several) – the first day of spring, when night and day are equal. Winter’s cold corpse is resurrected, giving way to green earth and flowing water. The Christian holiday of Easter may have its root in festivities that saw the equinox as a time to celebrate rebirth, though little is known about the goddess Eostre/Ostara the name is supposed to have come from. But scholars and Pagan practitioners speculate that the Anglo-Saxon Eostre had its root in the Dawn Goddess, known as Eos (Greek), Aurora (Roman), Ushas (Vedic/Hindu), and Zorya Utrennyaya (Slavic). This poem draws on all those figures, though of course Eos/Aurora is most well-known.
Hymn for the Vernal Equinox
Night’s corpse, winter’s bare trees, slain kings
wake from the nightmare of darkness, blind
eyes touched by dawn’s rosy fingers – sparks
scattered across the firmament’s black cloth.
She calls to us – rise!
Her tears have drenched the ground,
made the dew that sparkles the grass.
How long will we imprison ourselves in death-dreams?
Eostre, Ostara, Aurora, Eos, Ushas, Zorya Utrennyaya,
we worship you by opening our eyes,
by our rising blood that joins the fire
let loose from heaven when you open its gate.
Between midnight and noon, you are the exact moment
when the world springs to life;
you are the center of time, the peace
between the brutal reign of the sun and the moon.
Rosy-fingered Dawn, greet our day, our year, our life
with your friendly countenance, your kind eyes
as you map out the sweetest path for us travelers.
No one is greater or lesser to you – everyone equal
to the illumination you bring.
You wept with Memnon on your knees,
your son killed in the Trojan War –
just as Isis wept over Osiris, slain
by his brother, Set, and Mary wept
over Jesus, betrayed by his disciple, Judas.
You gave birth to the planets and stars,
to the Four Winds, and to the Morning Star –
Phosphorous, or Lucifer, the Light-Bearer,
the brightest star we see at sunrise and sunset
but who falls from heaven in the darker hours.
Did you mourn for him, too?
Or was he the betrayer, the angel of light
who tricked day into darkness?
Did he lure the green landscape with bright leaves
only to murder it with browns and grays?
Gather your saffron robes, open your white wings
so that the earth is covered with the flames
ignited by your breath, born by your hands;
let snow and ice and cold winds be as kindling
to the radiance of your presence.
Just as the day’s doorway lets loose
the chariots pulled by the Sun’s fiery steeds,
so my heart opens like a hinge
to embrace the balance and beginning you offer
when your stare right at the horizon,
demanding the Earth to rise, rise, rise
for water to run, for buds to bloom,
for every Phoenix, every Jesus
to ascend from their tombs.