5 min read

On the Spring Equinox and starting seeds

Hello and happy Spring Equinox! Today is the astrological new year, as the sun moves from introspective, dreamy, existential Pisces to the extraverted, here-and-now, fiery sign of Aries—and a happy Aries season to my one true love, who turns 27 at the end of the month. ❤️‍🔥
A single white crocus blossom with a bright yellow and orange center, blooming beside a few brown oak leaves and twigs.

Hello and happy Spring Equinox! Today is the astrological new year, as the sun moves from introspective, dreamy, existential Pisces to the extraverted, here-and-now, fiery sign of Aries—and a happy Aries season to my one true love, who turns 27 at the end of the month. ❤️‍🔥

You'll be the moonI'll be the EarthAnd when we burstStart over, oh darlingBegin again— "begin again," Purity Ring (another eternity, 2015)

The Spring Equinox is celebrated in various ancient and modern pagan* and witchcraft traditions as the day when the sun returns to the Northern Hemisphere, our plant and animal kin are awake from their winter slumber, and the day and night are balanced in equal measure. Astronomically, it marks one of the two times of the year when the Earth's axis is tilted such that there’s a nearly equal amount of daylight and nighttime at all latitudes.

It’s also known by the name Ostara, a Wiccan celebration which bears some symbolic similarities to the Christian Easter (rabbits for reproduction and eggs for new life). If you celebrate this turn of the wheel in a different tradition or by a different name, write back and share — I’d love to know!

Personally, I use the name Spring Equinox rather than Ostara, as I’m not Wiccan nor am I invested in reconstructing Anglo-Saxon or Germanic pagan practices. At my spiritual heart, I’m an atheist who believes above all else in the connective power of the Earth-bound experience. I respect deities as symbols but worship none—I honor the sun we orbit, the dirt of the Earth, and all life that evolved from the same miraculously random cells that formed here on this planetary body, one of trillions in the universe (or more? Who knows. I also honor the mystery). I hold deep affinity for the pomp and drama of ritual, the power of art, and the practice of crafting with intention.

For me, the Spring Equinox is a sure sign that garden season will begin again soon! I started some of this year’s seeds indoors, admittedly a bit early, on February 28. Some are in biodegradable pots and seed trays, some in repurposed tofu containers, some in those standard plastic inserts that gardeners always have dozens of sprinkled around. They’re staying warm and humid in my Michigan basement atop a heat mat, under a grow light and an arched plastic dome I’ve come to call “the greenhouse.”

The greenhouse: a mismatched collection of 15 seed pots under purple light and a plastic dome.

The Greenhouse

The first seedlings to awaken, in order of sprouting, were:

A very close shot of seven Calendula seedlings, which have long seed leaves and tiny fuzzy true leaves beginning to grow.
  • Calendula officinalis, aka Pot Marigold. I snagged a few seed heads from DeLano Farm at the end of last year’s Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) season, unsure how they would fare in potted soil, and they rose to the occasion gladly. Sorry Kirsten and Mariah!! Forgive me!! (No apologies offered to Leo, the farm’s visiting feline-in-residence, who I once saw eating a blueberry muffin with gusto.)
Four sunflower seedlings, which have reddish-brown stalks and wide, oval-shaped green seed leaves. Each seedling has two fuzzy true leaves growing in from the center.
  • Helianthus annuus, specifically Hopi Black Dye Sunflower. LOOK at these seedlings! The seed leaves are downy like lambs’ ears. It melts my winter-hardened heart to see them bigger each day. I also planted some of my own saved sunflower seeds from last year’s garden, but alas, they haven’t sprouted. I am so new at this and I have no idea if they will sprout later or if they weren’t properly preserved and are a lost cause. Time will tell! The only way to learn is by doing.
  • Gaillardia pulchella, aka blanket flowers. These seeds were also snagged from a seed head at DeLano Farm. I know well enough not to count my blossoms before they’ve bloomed, but I adore these little flowers, and they do not hold up well in a vase, so I’m very hopeful that I will have some to live in the ground where they belong and I can gaze upon them all summer long. May it be so!
Eight small Marigold seedlings, each with small seed leaves, and a few with pointy true leaves forming. Also in the pot is a dried orange marigold head and the tarot card The Hierophant, a bearded pope figure in flowing robes.
  • Tagetes erecta ‘Crackerjack,’ aka Crackerjack Marigold, which I am growing this season in honor of my late grandfather Bill Blackwell, 1929–2022. He was a gardener, an educator, a Catholic, and possibly also a Buddhist. There’s not a day that goes by in my own spiritual practice that I don’t think of him and send him my love from the Earthly realm—he loved it here and I like to imagine he’s even more at home wherever he is now.** These were his favorite flower, and their pungent scent is said to deter grazing deer, which will be a boon to my garden in this high-deer pressure neighborhood. I’ve read that they pair well in the garden with tomatoes, which we’ll be growing later in the season (I say “we” because, as the family cook, my partner has a stake in our growing of vegetables!).

Today’s writing court

One of my go-to Tarot practices is pulling a triad of cards, which I like to call “a court,” before a writing session for grounding and inspiration. This newsletter’s court, pulled from Antonella Castelli’s Art Noveau Tarot (Lo Scarabeo/Llewellyn), is the King of Wands, The Fool, and the Nine of Pentacles.

The King of Wands is a white-haired, crowned, muscular king in gold robes; a brown-haired woman fawns over his lap. The Fool is a blonde jester stumbling forward alongside a snake. The Nine of Pentacles depicts a brown-haired woman leaning forward over a pillow; her silken blue dress is slipping off her shoulder to expose her breast.

I interpreted this message as: go forth boldly and messily; be a novice, remember your naivete; sow abundantly and you shall reap abundantly. I’m always happy to see the Nine of Pentacles when it comes to my garden—to me, it suggests that the groundwork has been well-laid and that fruitful growth is imminent. May it be so!

Kal’s Corner

Kal, a white transmasculine person in a black cap and t-shirt. They are smiling softly at the camera and leaning their face on one hand.

As the birthday of my Aries beloved draws nearer, I’ve offered them some space to share what they’d like in this newsletter. Here’s their contribution:

I recently read Nevada by Imogen Binnie, and it was as if someone had x-rayed my thoughts and put them on paper. If you are a trans person, or if you love a trans person, or if you just want a good book to help pass the last of the winter, I encourage you to give it a read. And if reading isn’t your style, check out her interview on Gender Reveal.

That’s all for now! Happy springtime to all humans, bunnies, and eggs—and all the rest. 🕯️

*I've used "pagan" as a catch-all for pre-Christian Earth-honoring traditions of European origin, of which there are many.

**Okay, I’m an atheist who loves mystery and drama, so I guess that makes me an agnostic. I have to believe that the particles and energy which were once my grandfather’s consciousness are off doing their thing somewhere in the universe—ideally sipping fine scotch, laughing loudly, reading Merton, and cursing at Republican pundits.