Total Solar Eclipse

THE WONDER: Science-Based Paganism

01-04-2024 • 48 mins

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*Eclipse timer app

*Eclipse parties

*Google map

*Location idea links

*Fully prepared Ritual

*How to make a Cosmala

**Eclipse Portals + other info at this link:

**Cloud cover forecast – check a day or two before the eclipse:



Mark: Welcome to The Wonder, Science Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark,

Yucca: And I'm Yucca,

Mark: and it's equinox time again. Time for that holiday that's at the midpoint between the dark of the, the dark side of the year and the light side of the year and for many, the coming of spring or the height of spring. And we're going to talk about all that stuff and how you practice rituals around it and what it means to us.

Yucca: that's right. So, happy spring! Or autumn, depending on where you're listening from.

Mark: Depending on where you're listening from, and as I understand it, Yucca, it is snowing where you are.

Yucca: It happens to be snowing today, yep.

Mark: happy hope of spring.

Yucca: Yes, it has sounded like spring, and it has felt like spring. It's just today it decided it was not. Not quite there. So, but it's a wet snow too, so it's not, it's not gonna stick around. It's

Mark: Huh.

Yucca: as soon as there's any sun, it'll be gone. But yeah, how about for you?

Mark: Oh, it's a beautiful day. It's going to be in the mid 70s today. And clear skies with some nice puffy clouds. We, here, the daffodils are already finished.

Yucca: Oh, mine are just poking up there a few inches, starting to grow out of the ground right now. Okay,

Mark: different, different climates we're in. Yeah, so it's been, you know, we have a number of fruit trees around the neighborhood that are blooming right now, and

Yucca: no more frosts for you at this

Mark: no, I don't think so. I'd be very surprised if we had any more frosts.

Yucca: Okay, so it's, it's spring for you. You're into spring. It's not hints of spring, it's spring itself.

Mark: Right, well, that's why on my Wheel of the Year, I call this holiday High Spring. Because spring, where I am, because we have a climate so moderated by the Pacific Ocean it, we get the earliest wildflowers around the end of January. And, you know, acacia trees bloom in the, in February, and that's when daffodils start coming up.

And tulips, which never bloom unless you take them out and put them in the freezer and then put them in. Again and hyacinths and all those kinds of nice things. We have a hyacinth bulb blooming in our living room right now, making the whole house smell delicious.

Yucca: Oh, lovely.

Mark: yeah. Yeah, that was a score from Trader Joe's, amazingly.

They had these little, little jars that had a receptacle in the top to hold a bulb. And the, the bottom part is filled with water, and so the roots grow down into there. So, You know, you take it home and a day later or something, because they've just removed it from refrigeration, it sprouts a big spike and leaves and blooms and it makes a beautiful smell.

Yucca: Do you get to see the roots?

Mark: Yes, yeah, it's a clear glass, yeah, it's a clear glass container, so you see the roots going down. Yeah, yeah.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, this year, the, the Equinox is early. Now, of course, it's not that it's actually early, it's just that our calendar doesn't quite line up with the actual orbit of our planet, but it's, in my time zone, it'll be on the 19th,

Mark: Ours too,

Yucca: in the, yeah, so for folks who are in Europe and further east, it'll be the early morning of the 20th, but for those of us in North America, it'll It's the evening of the 19th already, so,

Mark: right.

Yucca: yeah,

Mark: and I mean obviously the main reason for that is the leap year. The ex the extra day that got inserted into the calendar in order to make things work out. But I mean, sometimes the Equinox is as late as the 21st.

Yucca: 22nd

Mark: yeah, sometimes the early, early hours of the 22nd as well. So this is an early one that lands on Tuesday.

But as with all things, I just tend to celebrate about a week of the season.

Yucca: around, yeah, and it interestingly is not technically the day of equal daytime and nighttime.

Mark: right.

Yucca: There's actually another word, which is equilux, Which is great, all of these fun words, right? Equinox is equal night, right? Nox, noche, but lux is for light. And that's going to depend on your latitude, but that's usually a few days before.

I actually haven't looked up when it is for, for, okay.

Mark: where I am.

Yucca: Okay, so Paddy's day then.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: All right. Yeah.

Mark: record this

Yucca: so, and that's gonna depend on, and there's, you can look up some of the cool reasons for why that is, it's based on, you know, sunrise starts at the moment that the disk of the sun starts to appear above the horizon, where a sunset isn't until it's all the way, and then your latitude and the curving of the light as it goes through our atmosphere.

So. It's not perfect, but what the equinox itself is, when the ecliptic and the equatorial planes, this is the moment that they overlap. So that's why we can have an actual, say that it's night, I don't remember exactly, it was 9. 07 or 9. 08 or something like that, PM.

Mark: yeah, I think 9 0 7. Where you are in 8 0 7. Where I am.

Yucca: Yeah, where there's an actual moment that we say, ah, This is the moment.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: And my family will set, I haven't set it yet, but we'll set the alarm and when it goes off, we'll all put our hands in the air and go, woo! And then go back to what we're doing. So I'm pleased that it's not two in the morning because then it's wake everyone up at two in the morning and go, woo!

That happens sometimes with solstices or equinoxes, so, yeah.

Yeah, go ahead.

Mark: yeah, let's, for sure, let's, let's dive into it. What does it mean to us? What are the sort of metaphorical meanings that we apply to this time of year? What are the rituals that we, that we use? What do we call it? I think is a good place to start. What do you call this holiday, Yucca?

Yucca: So normally just the equinox for us or its first spring because that's kind of, I mean, that's what it is, right? So we don't have another name for it other than, yeah, it's the equinox, it's first spring. I know that in some, some traditions people use Ostara or things like that, but that name has never really clicked for me.

Mark: It's, it's a completely mythical name. It was mentioned by the, the Christian monk Bede in the 9th century, and that is the entire evidence for even the existence of a goddess named Ostara. Much certainly nothing associated with this holiday particularly, so the whole thing is really pretty sketchy.

Yucca: hmm. And

Mark: So,

Yucca: what is it for you?

Mark: I call it High Spring

Yucca: High spring. That's right.

Mark: because for us that's what it is here. You know, what'll happen now, the hills are a really deep emerald green right now. that will lighten up and then eventually all fade to a gold color by about June ish. We had a really wet winter this year, so it may take a little bit longer, but typically by by the, the solstice, it's all gone yellow and it's time for summer.

Yucca: And for your wheel or arc of the year, what is this holiday?

Mark: Oh, where I map a human life?

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: cycle on to the, the wheel of the year. This is grade school kids. It's not infants and toddlers, but children, you know, prepubescent children.

Yucca: childhood, kind

Mark: childhood.

Yucca: right? Because when you get into teens, they're, they're not grown ups yet, but it's not childhood anymore at that

Mark: No, they're closer to young adults, really. They're, they're, they're adults in apprenticeship doing, making lots of changes and, and learning how to be adults. and hopefully their brains develop. Vast enough that they don't kill themselves in the process.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: Yeah, so, so this holiday is typically associated with childhood.

And there are a lot of sort of kids activity things that we've done for celebrations of this holiday before. We've had gatherings where we invited people to come and play children's games and drink lemonade and, you know, stuff like that.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: and And, you know, the association with dyed eggs and, you know, candy and things like that is also a real kind of childlike thing, so we've, we've incorporated some of that stuff as well.

Yucca: hmm. Okay. Yeah, so there's, this is one of the holidays that for some people, they do associate with, with Easter, right, because they're, there's some similarities in terms of time of year, they're a little bit farther apart from each other than say, the solstice and Christmas, or Holidays and so on. Samhain, but is there a, or Halloween other than like the dyed eggs and candy, is there any connection for you there?

Or are they kind of like two separate things that just happen at the same time of year?

Mark: my understanding of it runs kind of like this. I think the candy came a lot later, and it was originally in the shape of eggs.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: But dyeing eggs is a very, very old practice in Europe the spring. And there are all kinds of folk traditions about it. Have one of the beautiful Ukrainian pysanky eggs that are just, they're so magnificent.

I don't know how anybody's hand is that steady to do that incredible. Yeah,

Yucca: Nowhere near.

Mark: neither. It's, it's really astounding. We have a goose egg, actually, that's a Posanky egg. It's a really, it's a nice big one. The those traditions go back many, many years. And a lot of those designs are spring designs.

They're, you know, flowers coming up and chickens laying eggs and birds and things like that that are associated with the springtime. So I think the association of eggs with this time of year is because they were the first real protein source

Yucca: Will

Mark: come along after the winter, and then you have lambs it's, it's sort of like the February holidays where you're really kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel of what you've got stored for the winter.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, and who's being, what animal's being born? It's going to depend so much on the species and your climate. Whereas the eggs have a lot more to do with the light than they do with the temperature. So here, The chickens are starting to lay their eggs again. They did a little bit throughout the winter.

But they're probably doing the same thing where you live, even though where you are, it's been warmer for months than it is here. But it's actually about the light signals, not about the temperature signals.

Mark: Yeah. And I just learned today, actually, that there are plants for which the temperature is. The, the signal is the temperature and then there are others for which the signal is the light. Both of those exist. I, I, I knew that, you know, with certain bulbs, you refrigerate them in order to get them to bloom and things like that.

But I never really put it together that it was about temperature signaling rather than light signaling until today.

Yucca: it depends on the species,

Mark: Right, right.

Yucca: And then, you know, how deep the seed is going to be versus not and all of that. Yeah.

Mark: So birds birds do migrate back up north. Many of them quite early in the year. I mean, there's still snow on the ground and stuff for, for a number of them.

And And they start building nests and laying eggs. And people, you know, being protein seeking animals went and would find them and would dye them and so forth. And then, of course, we had domesticated chickens and so

Yucca: birds for a long time at this point, but I mean, the kind of wheel of the year that we talk about is based on agricultural society's wheel of the year, right? And so we've had, you know, we've had these animals living and partnering with us for thousands of years. And sometimes it, depending on where you were, maybe it wasn't chickens, maybe it was pigeons, maybe it was, you know, Whatever the particular animal was, but that's pretty common across much of the temperate world.

Mark: Mm hmm. Yeah,

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: yeah, so, I mean, my feeling is not that the association with eggs and candy comes from Easter, it's more that Easter glommed on to

Yucca: What was happening anyways?

Mark: were already happening and they got folded up with one another and so that's what we have now. So that's why I feel, you know, perfectly comfortable with dyed eggs being a part of my, my spring celebration thing.

It's also just fun to do and it's really fun to do with natural dyes.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: You know, onion skins and cabbage leaves and beets and all that kind of stuff. It's really, really a fun thing to do. Takes longer. You got to soak stuff overnight in order for it really to take the dye. And don't forget that little splash of vinegar that It interacts with the calcium carbonate of the shell and helps to set the dye in the shell. So, so yeah, it's just, it's a fun thing to do, but it traditionally, at least in my life, it's been associated with a childhood activity, something that parents do with children. And so that fits in perfectly with the theme of childhood for, for this holiday as well.

Yucca: Nice. Yeah, for us, Easter is a totally separate thing. Like, it just happens to happen sometimes nearby, right? Because it's, it's it's lunar based, right?

Mark: After the, after the first full moon of the equinox, I believe.

Yucca: Yeah, so, so it moves around. This year, it, we just looked it up, it's the 31st of March this year. So, anyways, but they will go and they have a grandmother, my kids do, that they will go and do an Easter egg hunt with, right? And I pretty much don't participate in anything Easter other than, Mom, look at the chocolate that we got!

Oh, okay. Great chocolate. But, but this time is really about the birds and the egg layers for

Mark: hmm.

Yucca: So we actually have a lot of feathers that over the years we've collected, you know, dozens and dozens of feathers and we like to string them on thread and then you can hang them up around the house. So we have the feathers that are in the windows and.

Mark: Nice.

Yucca: And at the moment we don't have any chickens. Plan to again, we had, we had some bear issues in our neighborhood last year, which delayed the return of chickens for us, but our one of our neighbors does so the kids can go over and actually feed them. find the chicken eggs and that's really fun for them.

But it's also the, the migrating birds are starting to come back and through. And it just, it sounds, it sounds like spring out there. There's certain birds that are coming back. We still won't get hummingbirds for a few weeks, but we won't get our, our last frost won't come till mid May. Right, we'll still be freezing every night until, All the way into May.

So, but there's still birds that are coming back and, and you can start to see hints of colors on some of the males coming in, and there's just so much more activity. So, one of our, I mentioned it on here before, but one of our very favorite things to do is to make comments. Bye. feeders for them

Mark: hmm.

Yucca: to put seed out and water in particular in our yard.

And that's one of, that's my oldest job. She goes out and cleans the water dishes every day and fills up the new water. But what we like to do is take pine cones, and we have lots of different kinds of pines. We've got like the big ponderosa pines, we've got the little pinyon pines, and string them And dip them in, we usually use lard and then put different kinds of seeds on them and maybe some mealworms and things like that and hang it out in the trees.

Because this is a, the next few months is the time that they really need that extra support for breeding and egg laying and raising little chicks and all of that. So, and then When they have eaten everything away, we just have pinecones hanging in our trees, and that's lovely. And it's, you know, it's not like having some piece of plastic or something that's

Mark: Right.

Yucca: but it's a really fun activity to do.

And you can use, there's, you know, you can use different options with peanut butter and things like that, but you just have to really watch the ingredients on. What you're actually putting in

Mark: Huh.

Yucca: for your, for your different area and what, because sometimes there's some pretty sketchy ingredients that they put into that stuff.

Mark: Wouldn't surprise me. Yeah. You know, I don't like any of that adulterated peanut butter. I just like peanuts and salt.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: Um, that's, that's what I always go with, and I think some of that is that the quality of the peanuts is higher.

Yucca: Mm

Mark: I, I think the, the sort of, you know, organic, natural, whatever you want to call it, peanut butter, is made with better roasted peanuts, and they, they just taste better.

Yucca: hmm. That wouldn't surprise me. Yeah, it's not something that we buy particularly often, but I remember you know, reading warnings about, hey, watch out, there's, there's What was it, erythritol, that a lot of them are using now, that that's really toxic for dogs,

Mark: Ah.

Yucca: that people have often given their dogs, like, their pills or medicines and a scoop of peanut butter and they're saying, watch out because, you know, Like, you're giving them these little doses of this chemical that is, seems okay for humans, as far as we can tell, but not so good for the dog's digestive system.

And then, you know, you want to watch out with stuff like that for, for other creatures as well. So, just, you know, do your research on what ingredients you're putting in.

Mark: Speaking of which one thing that's very popular for this time of year is lilies. Calla lilies, regular lilies, all that kind of stuff. Very toxic for cats. Very, very toxic for them. Yeah.

Yucca: as well, but cats in particular will go up and go, I'm gonna chew on your houseplant.

Mark: Right. And no, you don't want that at all.

Yucca: Yeah.

That's a, yeah, that's a good thing to remember. Because they come in those beautiful bouquets that you get this, and faces and all of that this time of year.

Mark: Yeah. I just got a bunch of pink lilies. And none of them had bloomed yet, they were all just sort of in that pod kind of shape

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: but they've all bloomed now, it happened very suddenly, and so there's this big bouquet of beautiful pink flowers, large flowers, and

Yucca: cats, right?

Mark: yes, so they're up on a shelf and they're away from where the cat can go and all that kind of stuff,

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: yeah.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So, ritually, what do you like to do this time of year?

Yucca: Yeah, this is still in that time of year where there's, things are getting going, starting there's a, You know, they're finally warm enough to kind of get out and do a little bit that we weren't before and I am also right now, personally, this is not every year, but I am in full nesting instinct because I am due with a baby later this year, and the nesting is hitting so strong that, that the normal spring cleaning that people do, like, take that and ramp it up, like, 10 times is what I'm doing right now but normally this time of year is just a very It's got that spring cleany kind of feel to me, and so a lot of the personal work and sort of rituals that I'll be doing have to do with that.

But I don't have anything that is set the same way I do for other times of year. Like, I don't have like a A specific holos, like I have a holos, for instance ritual that I do for myself. I don't really have something like that for this holiday. And that might change over time, but it's just, there's so much going on.

Mark: Huh.

Yucca: Just, it does, it does, it's happening, it doesn't feel like I even need to mark it because it's just so there.

Mark: Got it. Got it. Yeah. I like to do the colored eggs and the and things like that. To, you know, put the, Symbolic colored eggs like wooden painted eggs and things like that on my focus. But I don't have a regular ritual that I do for the equinox either. What we discussed in the Saturday Atheopagan Zoom Mixer this morning for our ritual that we're going to do next week, we're going to do the surface tension experiment.

Yucca: Ooh, okay. Mm hmm.

Mark: because this is a time when there's transition between The dark of the year and the lighter half of the year. So there's this, this moment where the membrane gets broken. And so we're going to have colored water, just sort of like colored eggs, but colored

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: Yeah. And lay something very light, like a needle or something like that on top of the water for the, for the.

Surface tension

Yucca: So you're gonna have water in a bowl?

Mark: in a bowl or, or in a glass, something like that. Yeah. And then at the appropriate magical time, during the ritual, we will put a little drop of soapy water in and boom, the surface surface tension dissolves, and the needles will hit the bottom of the glass.

Yucca: That's wonderful. We did that with paperclips

Mark: Huh,

Yucca: Those are a good one because they have the, they're narrow, but then they're wide, so you get that nice,

Mark: right. That's actually a good idea. Maybe I'll use a paperclip instead. Yeah, because they've got that wide area so they sort of support themselves better on the surface membrane. Yeah, so we're going to do that and then have celebratory food and all that good kind of stuff like you do on days that are special.

Yucca: like that. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And it's the kind of thing that you do with kids, right? Is, you know, to do, to teach them about surface tension, you do this little experiment thing. So.

Yucca: Another great one is if you have a coin and a dropper, so you can add drops of water onto the coin one at a time, and it makes a little bulb of water on it, and then you get to the point where it can't hold it anymore. How many drops can you get onto the coin before it bursts?

You can get a lot. You can get it stacked up real high.

Mark: bet. Yeah. Especially because there's that little ridge

Yucca: along the

Mark: around the edge of the coin. Yeah.

Yucca: can experiment with different kinds of, you know, is your dime versus your penny or your quarter, or do you have a euro or some coin from another place that you can try? Those are, I

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: could imagine doing something like that with the colored water too.

Mark: Huh. Yeah. Yeah you could do like blue water and dripping red, red water so that it turns it purple.

Yucca: and mix it? Yeah.

Mark: Very, very transformational, yeah.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: I, before, before we close I wanted to announce something for our listeners who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or near enough to get there if they want to. I have organized a book launching party.

Yucca: Oh, great.

Mark: It's happening at a community space called Kinfolks, all lowercase k i n f o l x which is a African American owned business and community space in downtown Oakland, California, and this will be on Saturday the 13th of April from 3 to 6 p. m., and I will be promoting it on Facebook and Discord and Thank you.

Bye. All that good kind of stuff, but mark your calendar, because you know, I'll, I'll do some readings, and I'll sign books, and all the usual book launch party things, so come and have a glass of wine, or a coffee, or a juice, or something like that, and And come and help me launch this book.

I'm excited about it.

Yucca: That sounds fun.

Mark: Yeah,

Yucca: you got a place for it too.

Mark: me too. First place I approached. They just, you know, they got back to me right away. They just seemed really nice and really easy to work with. And the space was available that day.

Yucca: Fantastic.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: Well, wonderful. Well, thank you, Mark. Happy spring. Happy Thai spring, equinox, all of those good things.

Mark: And happy first spring to you.

Yucca: Thank you. And thank you everyone for joining us. We will see you next week.

Mark: Yeah. Have a good one, everybody.