Pinnacle of Spring
Whereas modern paganism and Wicca tend to follow a calendar of fixed dates, I am neither, so I have a different approach. My own Year Cycle is entirely based on what the spirits I work with would like to celebrate. That being said, yes, there is a structure, which I plan on explaining to ye all in more detail in a future blog post. I celebrate two different kinds of festival:
A) Animistic festivals with basis on the cycle of life around and within me
B) Memorial festivals in honour of a specific ancestor
Type A festivals last for a while – it could be a week, a month, a few days… I see no need to make them fixed, as they rely so much on the lifecycle of nature, and I’ve never seen summer become winter or vice-versa overnight on the same day each year.
Planet transits, and even moon phases, don’t start or end so quickly either. This is one of the reasons I dislike the neopagan “wheel of the year” and would rather follow something else.
Type B festivals are considered minor celebrations in Pictish Animism and they do not have a basis on a natural cycle, but rather, on a specific person who should be honoured. Individuals are still “smaller” than nature itself, regardless of how important they may be, which is why these festivals can last for a day and then be over. I’ll get into more detail in my post about Pictish Christianity.
Why "Pinnacle of Spring"?
I’m developing names for the four main festivals that take inspiration from the Celtic world. This may spark some controversy, but my reasoning is the following: I do not follow, or claim to follow, an unbroken tradition. More importantly, I don’t want anyone to think – even for a second – that I’m deceiving them with the name of something that was definitely wiped out a long time ago. I may refer to a specific tradition as a “Bealtain thing” because of inspiration, but I don’t think so highly of myself that I could somehow bring Bealtain back just like it was before falling out of fashion in Europe. That would be too much self-flattery, which I dislike. Feel free to disagree, but this is the way I roll.
Another reason why I translate the meaning of the four festivals into modern English is I want Pictish Animism to be inclusive and to resonate with people wherever they may be. English is not mandatory, not at all! I personally use “Buacphointe an Earraigh”, which means the same thing. If your language of devotion is Spanish, by all means use “Ápice de la Primavera”. Whatever your language, minority or not, use it. My spirit guides are Picts, but they aren’t here to tell everyone to aspire to their culture – especially not if you live in a very different ecosystem and cannot relate. What I share here is knowledge that can be adapted to different environments and cultures. Seriously, feel free! Enough of the pseudo-Celtic pretentiousness, aye?
So, what is this holiday about?
Pinnacle of Spring is one of the six seasonal holidays (type A, explained above) that Pictish spirits celebrate regularly. It is pretty intuitive when it comes to the meaning – it happens when bluebells and/or other typical spring flowers (wherever you are) are in full bloom, the daylight hours approach an equinox (night and day of equal length) and we officially start the countdown to summer (yes, we’ll eventually look forward to winter too, none is better or worse). The days are stretching, the weather getting warmer and life gaining more traction… But we’re still in a liminal place! Very important to remember that the instrospection and the “coldness” hasn’t completely gone away yet. Although we’ll focus on welcoming the summer and prepare the soil for all the concrete things that we want to manifest, this is also a time for harvest – we are harvesting fruits in the realm of ideas, introspection and self-assessment… Which we (hopefully) have cultivated during winter.
You may see that our fire is outside the hut this time. Come on out, I’ll show you something.
I’d say all holidays that take inspiration from Celtic culture have a link with fire – even if faint and disguised, it tends to be there. Somehow, the Pinnacle of Spring tends to be associated with a bonfire far more than other events though. It might have been a Hollywood cliché that made this popular, or the idea that Bealtain is speculated to have something to do with “tine” (the Irish for fire – yes I know it has been disproven, but stereotypes often stick).
I think – and I say this from a totally intuitive perspective, by observing spirits all year round – that if you want to distinguish the festivals, what you do with the fire is far more important than the presence of fire itself. Now we are not cooking (not ceremonially! But fear not, I have some Pictish delicacies for the after party). We are not necessarily offering fire to a deity. We will definitely not need it for staying warm, warding off wicked spirits or transmuting energy. (All these uses of fire will be explored here at the Pictish Hut during the year). What we are going to do is dance around it, play with it and take some risks (within reason). This week, fire symbolises traction, energy and communion – yes, I just used the c-word. Many people associate it with the Church only. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dancing doesn’t only wake up the physical body for the kind of work that will manifest in the material reality, but it can also represent the warming of the weather. I can see some of ye are wearing scarves (sorry, I’m a Pict, I can’t help the jokes with visitors braving the “cold”). I’m just pulling your leg. But in all honesty, we’ll all be sweating very soon and no longer need these layers. That’s the idea. Transitioning from that cozy protected state to a more open, social and interactive one.
By the way: there is no intention whatsoever to endorse ableism. If you physically cannot dance, do feel free to interpret it as a metaphor. It’s just as valid!
Before we start – I know, I got ye all excited and now I cannae stop speaking but bear with me – we’re only kickstarting the festivities today. Neopaganism isn’t my cuppa tae, I tend just to stick to a kind of animism that accommodates all faiths, but do feel free to include the deities you feel are close at this time of year in your personal practice. So, personal practice is still important, even during the warmer months. Activities that I suggest be done during this week (one per day, there’s no need to lump it all together, but do if you feel like it) are the following:
- Baking or cooking to the local spirits and/or local deities, then leaving it in nature so wild animals can also enjoy them. It goes without saying: no harmful chemicals, no plastics, no metals, no invasive seeds. I offered homemade scones with local ingredients! But do get creative in your own culture and region.
- Sending CVs (even if you aren’t “desperate” for a job) to the relevant places where you’d like to work – better yet if they are combined with glamour magic for landing the job; kickstarting that project you’ve been brainstorming since Brighid’s day; marketing your services or products (and not only from a business perspective! Go tell the relevant people about your hobbies and charity work too).
- Motion devotion! Pretty much any outdoor sport can benefit from a devotional element, and again I’m not implying deities. Atheist witches, fear not – plenty local spirits who would be more than happy to be included in your exercise practice.
You get the idea. Brainstorm phase is over. Time to get moving! I am not a very ambitious person, myself – not in the traditional Capitalist sense of the word anyway… But we all have a list of things we’d love to get done during the year (I don’t care how small or “usual”). Not obligations, but achievable aims. Now is the time to start going towards them. Best of luck in your quest!