There was, as you probably noticed if you’re at all Pagan, a solar event recently – the equinox. Which one you experienced it as will depend on which hemisphere you are in. I didn’t celebrate it. There were some years, when I was actively involved in ritual groups, when I showed up for equinox rituals. When they form a part of a celebrated wheel of the year, when you’re bringing people together with shared intent, there’s no reason not to celebrate them, but for myself alone, it doesn’t work.
The main reason equinoxes don’t work for me is that they aren’t traditional festivals. There’s no history of celebrating them – not only does Ronald Hutton say so, but having spent most of my life engaging with British folk traditions, I know the only equinox celebrations are modern. For me, this means there’s not much to draw on or work with and that just doesn’t appeal to me very much.
Of the new traditions developing around the equinoxes, I do like Peace One Day. It’s not a religious event, but falls on the 21st of September each year as an opportunity to celebrate what peace there is, and dedicate to crafting peace in the world. For a Druid, this is an attractive notion to work with, and some years I’ve picked up on Peace One Day.
This last week has had rather too much conflict in it for my tastes. Seeking peace is of course no guarantee of avoiding conflict. I could resolve it by doing what is wanted of me rather than what I think is right – but I do not believe that peace bought at that price is worth having. I could seek peace by stepping away entirely from the conflict – that probably wouldn’t solve anything, merely improve my comfort. I reserve the right to do that if it gets too much, because my personal peace is a consideration, even if it’s not the whole story. Sometimes, the withdrawal of energy from a situation is the best way to bring about peace – it’s hard to have an argument when there’s no one else in the room, and other people’s rage can sometimes simmer down into something more workable if you give them the space to do that.
This weekend brings a local, seasonal activity that I’m much more drawn to than the equinox. The Stroud Five Valleys walk is about 21 miles around the town, up hills, down hills, through some stunning countryside. Some 7000 people will walk it, in whole or in part, raising money for meningitis charities. Last year we did the whole thing, and struggled to finish it. Over the last year the three of us in my household have worked hard to improve fitness, stamina and long distance walking capacity. We’ve improved our kit, and refined and reduced what we carry. Not having been well this week (in no small part due to the lack of peace) and having had a late night yesterday for a book launch event (unfortunate timing) it remains to be seen how far we will get tomorrow. In the meantime, rest and carbohydrate are the order of the day.
I may not be equal to the whole walk this year. That’s ok. That’s how it goes sometimes. We don’t always get what we want, and I can’t help but feel a little recognition of this would be a great help towards increasing the amount of peace in the world. If we’re not convinced we have to have everything we want at the moment we want it, there’s more room for negotiation, for compromise and co-operation.