Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Friends of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel Spring Equinox Picnic 2016

In the February of 2016 at our private Lambtide observance, members of the Hearth of the Turning Wheel discussed planning for our next gathering. We eventually decided on an outdoor meeting, incorporating our Vernal Equinox Observance into picnic. The intention was to hold a relatively small and select gathering and by making the ritual part of a picnic, we were free to invite non-Pagan friends and family, including children. Although the children would not be taking part in any organised ritual, their presence would make the event a social one and mitigate the need for childcare.

The proposed date was Saturday the 19th of March 2016, the day before the Equinox and we set up a Facebook event page to enable invitations. Our chosen location, indeed one of our favourites, was Elvaston Castle Country Park. An estate now owned by Derbyshire County Council but once the country seat of the Stanhope family, holders of the Earldom of Harrington and formally a major local landowner. I have arranged events at this park in previous years, at one time I was well known locally, as the organiser of the Elvaston Castle Pagan Picnic in the Park (see link below).

So from an official start time of 1 o’clock we gathered on the terraces near to the manor house and enjoyed horseshoe tossing and boules, in the latter game I was roundly thrashed. Not that it mattered, we were all having a good time.

At 3 o’clock or thereabouts some of us took a break from the afternoon’s activities, while the children and those not participating in ritual, continued with the picnic and games. The remainder gathered near our picnic spot under the trees and it was noted that we had a very acceptable involvement of some ten or eleven. Which I judged to be a more than adequate number for an invitation only event.

Here we held our Vernal Equinox Ritual, a somewhat simplified and scripted one, the text of which I had used previously at a gathering on Stanton Moor in 2015 (see link below). Present at both the picnic and the ritual, were persons who had travelled a not inconsiderable distance. This included not only friends from Nottingham but also members of the Hearth of Albion, who had travelled from Lancashire to be with us. Links to the Hearth of Albion websites can be found below.

After the ritual we joined the rest of our group for more games, we were introduced to the art of Egg Tapping and then judged the best painted hardboiled egg. After these two competitions we gathered on the bank to Egg Roll. Almost twenty people, adults and children, rolled hollow chocolate eggs down the terrace. The winner being the individual whose egg rolled the furthest without breaking.

Unsurprisingly the majority of the eggs broke up on the descent, the sight of chocolate eggs shattering into what one person described as shrapnel, was quite spectacular. We had to pick up the debris and it was spread broadly. The second round of egg rolling was for the children only but I am not sure who enjoyed egg rolling the most, the grown-ups or the children.

After all of these activities, there was little time left before the park closed and time was indeed getting on. The day however, was judged a major success. The day had been very enjoyable and a pleasure to see many old friends that sadly, we do not see as often as we would wish.


The Elvaston Castle Pagan Picnic in the Park:

Stanton Moor, the Vernal Equinox and the Partial Solar Eclipse: Friday the 20th March 2015:

The Hearth of Albion on Facebook:

The Hearth of Albion primary website:

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