The vernal equinox has come and gone and so the magic we work now takes on a new intensity. The equinox is a time when day and night stand equal for a time before the day wins strength over the night and the days become longer. It is no good doing magic on the equinox itself, just as it really isn’t very productive on the full moon itself; at these times everything is standing still; the moon has reached her full potential and stands still for a while before decreasing and beginning the cycle again. Day and night stand equal for a time on the spring equinox before giving way to more light. What is the point of magical workings at a time when everything is standing still; neither coming nor going, growing or diminishing, waxing or waning? No, the best time is in the times of movement; at the times of ebb and flow. Use the ebb to remove, diminish and cleanse; use the flow to birth, to increase and strengthen. That is not to say we are idle at the full moons or at the equinoxes; we use this time of stasis to give thanks, to take stock of what has come and what, if anything, needs to be tossed into the ebbing tides; then we work as the tide turns.
The spring equinox signifies growing light, the sap rising and the land truly reawakening; this is the best time to make our charms as most of them are made from traditional woods and the fresh, rising sap in them now is new, vibrant and full of promise, making the charms made from them more potent in strength.
It has long been believed that the powers of the cunning folk are at their prime from the equinox until mid-summer and that any charms they make now will last the whole year through and be as efficacious at the end of the year as they were when first made. It is a time when those who have existing charms, come to have them re-charged for another year and also to gain answers to questions about the year ahead.
It was recorded in 1870 by William Bottrell that: “According to ancient usage, the folks from many parts of the West Country make their annual pilgrimage to some witch of repute, for the sake of having what they call ‘their protection renewed’. There used to be rare fun amongst the folks in going to the conjuror in the spring, where they were sure to meet at the wise-man’s abode, persons of all ages and conditions, many from a great distance”. And so it still is the way.
It is also the time when the Hidden People begin to come out from the hills and to find abodes amongst the woods, glens and dells, as well as amongst us mere mortals who they may like to engage with but more often than not, they try to avoid. By Beltain their relocation is usually complete. This could be why some cunning folk are at their prime during this period; those that work with the world of Elphame are now reconnecting with the denizens who choose to work with them and choose to teach them – there is a renewed and strengthened bond and the lessons move on to more knowledge and practices.
Now is the time the cunning folk also set forth into their gardens and plant the herbs and plants that will be most required for their arte in the months to come. Every one of them will be raised from seed, tuber or rhizome with intent known from the beginning. They will be nourished and nurtured until their powers are at their utmost for the tasks they were intended for. Out in the wilds, the cunning will wait and watch for the woods, hedgerows, fields and hills to come alive again with their precious bounties and reacquaint themselves with the spirits of such along with the dryads, nyads, nymphs and sylphs.
The hares are now to be seen, with the females boxing to fend off unwanted attention from male suitors until they are ready. The cunning watch the hares and divine from them. Witches were said to change into hares to travel to their moots and as they were about to shape-shift they would say:
“Hare, hare, God send thee care,
I am in hare’s likeness now;
But I shall be a woman even now.
Hare, hare, God send thee care”.
If the hare was injured in any way, the witch would bear the injury herself when she changed back into her own form.
There is also a song with the lines:
“I will get me into an hare,
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care,
And I shall go in the Devil’s name
Aye, til I come home again”.
So, the work here has started in earnest and it will continue through to Samhain, when it won’t stop but will change in nature and pace.