Feasting on A New Tradition: A Mini Look at the Pagan Solstice and Equinox Celebrations

The changing of seasons provides such a feast for our senses. The change over of colors, smells, sounds, and temperatures is a reawakening! The grey, white, and brown colors of winter give rise to a riot of pinks, purples, oranges, blues – and oh those greens! – in spring. The sound of birds reawakening in the spring slowly fades as the rumble of summer thunderstorms take over, which then becomes the crunch of autumn leaves under foot. The lighter fare of summer gives way to richer, root veggie laden meals during that change to autumn as well. Then we enjoy those final crisp days, before winter comes in with its stinging cold yet again.

The coming of autumn is my favorite transformation. In fact, I feel much as George Eliot did (“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”), but it was a belief in the rejoicing of all seasons and the unique beauty they bring that lead to what is now my favorite new family tradition. While Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, are beautiful in their widespread revelry, I found myself longing for a celebration that was all our own. A holiday not already burdened with traditions handed down from generations past, and not tied so tightly to the family members now left halfway across the country in a move. I found the answer in the solstices and equinoxes.

It seemed so natural to fall into these pagan celebrations of Ostara (Spring Equinox), Litha (Midsummer, or the Summer Solstice), Mabon (Autumn Equinox), and Yule (Winter Solstice); celebrations that shared roots with my husband and I in the Celtic Pagans. While initially wary of what would be required of him, my husband was won over by the fact that these celebrations – like many of our favorite holidays – would culminate in a feast! My daughter was happy to add any celebration to our calendar, but was especially excited for the fun little rituals we would observe.

One of my own personal favorite holidays had always been Thanksgiving. I loved this holiday centered around food, family, and coming together – and the lack of focus on presents. However, distance from family had made this particular celebration more difficult for me; full of reminders of the who and what we no longer had nearby. Our four new celebrations held the appeal of being present-free, and while open to any who wanted to join us, being completely our own, needing us three alone to feel complete. We were building these celebrations from scratch and could make them what we wanted.

With a year behind us, our second Mabon complete and our second Yule fast approaching, it has been wonderful to see how we’ve been able to make this idea of mine into a real tradition. Each new celebration a chance to enjoy a feast in the literal sense, as well as a figurative one, embracing the unique beauty of each season and the feast it provides for our sense. Colors, tastes, sounds, and textures unique to the time of year are brought to the forefront for this day; and we even take the time to dress in a way that expresses those things. But the star, of course, is the feast at the end of the day.

That might mean a picnic for Ostara and Litha; a candlelit tucking in for Mabon and Yule. We eat, we drink, we discuss what we are ready for in the new season, and what we are leaving behind. If you’re looking for a little information to start your own celebration of the solstice and equinox holidays, then let me give a brief overview, while giving you encouragement to find your own holiday to embrace with your family! 

For each celebration, I start earlier in the day by throwing open the windows, and smudging the house with sage. Each a little way to clean out the old stale air and bring in new fresh energy.

Ostara is celebrated around March 21. We embrace the colors of green and yellow, and the fresh spring flowers just starting to emerge. We talk about what areas we want to find growth in, and what new projects we might want to start. We do a house cleaning. We eat eggs and other light foods, often in a picnic.

Midsummer or Litha is celebrated around June 21. We embrace the colors gold, orange, and blue. It is a time for a bonfire, and staying up late to enjoy the longest day of sun. We talk about community and taking care of the earth around us. We look for relationships that could use nurturing. We eat things cooked over the fire, as well as summer fruits and berries, and drink mead.

Mabon is celebrated around September 21. We embrace the gorgeous gem colors of autumn: orange, red, brown, and purple. We display cornucopias or gardening implements. The foods are harvest foods like corn, wheat bread, apples, pomegranate, nuts, grapes, and wine. We give back by donating food. We talk about what we are grateful for and preparing for the colder months ahead. We do a house cleaning, like in the spring.

Yule is celebrated around December 21. We embrace the colors red, green, and white; and display mistletoe, evergreen wreaths, and candles. We talk about renewal, the year winding down, encouraging a peaceful planet, and of family. We sing and maybe bundle up together. The foods are potatoes, squash, nuts, apples, pork, and spiced wassail.


While the first Mabon was really all my doing, with each new celebration, my daughter and husband became more and more involved in the process. Realizing how much they enjoyed the celebrations, they wanted to be more involved in the planning as well. They helped me design menu’s, find decorations, and decide on activities.

I’m so grateful for the warmth these rituals have offered to us. As well as the unique connection to nature and its cyclical nature, that they deepen in me. My warmest wish is that you find the same for your family. 


Private Yoga Classes

I've mentioned before that my teaching has really taken off over the past few months. New studios, new classes, plenty of subbing, and as of recently, regular private lessons. Private yoga lessons are my favorite. I love the energy of a nice full class, and in particular some of my regular classes... but there's just something so fulfilling about working either individually or with just a few people in a very personal way. Its more laid back, and there's more of a give-and-take. Best of all you can really customize the practice to the person's exactly level or needs. I love being able to pause what we're doing to discuss the importance of breath work, to talk about body positioning, or address a particular feeling in a pose.

Not to mention amusing situations like these (big ole Hallelujah shout out to clients with the same sense of humor as me):

All joking aside, I'm so grateful for the way my teaching keeps being able to grow and change, and I'm so grateful for amazing friends who become clients, and clients who become friends. If you are in the Denver area and looking for private yoga instruction (hatha or restorative!), shoot me an email or use my contact form to send me a message!


Home Sweet Colorado

I was thinking back recently to the good (2), the bad (2), and the ugly of picking up and moving your family most of the way across the country. It was such a surreal time in our life. If you had asked me 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, if anywhere other then Pennsylvania would ever be home, truly home, I probably would have said no. I couldn't picture it, couldn't imagine ever loving a state as much as I did my home state.

I've always loved travel; visiting and learning about new places, exploring and experiencing areas that are different then my own is one of my favorite things in the world (just check out the travel tag to see that!). But having a home base is so important to me, and for 33 years that was PA.

It was only a few month ago, when we were on our Annual East Coast trip, when I realized that somewhere along the line, sometime during the past 1,000 days, Colorado had become more then just where we were living... it had become our home. A place that I loved just as fully, though differently, then my birth state of Pennsylvania. I love the mix of people from different places, the mix of cultures, love the outdoorsiness, the mountains, the altitude, and the weather. Most of all, I love the life that Colorado allowed us to build: the friends, the framily, the concerts and travel, the careers that we adore. This beautiful state is so much more then we could have known three years ago, when we packed up our house of 10 years and drove 1700 miles.

Two weeks ago we had a Framily dinner and I sat on the floor with my two besties, as we laughed about something (surely completely inappropriate 😈), and I was washed over with feels of such complete gratitude. I remember what it was like to feel stuck in my job, stuck in my life; and while life isn't perfect (no such thing!), this life that we've cultivated is so completely fulfilling and downright amazing.

Being a Native is a huge thing here, they have the bumper stickers to prove it. But I've seen another version recently that sums things up nicely: Not a Native, But I Got Here As Soon As I Could. Thanks for welcoming us home, Colorado.