Thursday, March 20, 2014

Do Equinox Celebrations and Lent Mix?

At St. Brigit's Episcopal church in Frederick, Colorado they are trying to mix a "Celtic" equinox celebration with Lent. From their web page,
Consider joining us for our first annual "Vernal Equinox" service on March 20, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. Please join us for a special evening of as we celebrate the return of Spring! Our service will include prayer, live Celtic music and meditation in sacred spaces uniquely created for this event. Feel free to come early to walk our outdoor labyrinth before the service begins, weather permitting. Older children are welcome. Childcare for children under age five will be provided. Click for details!
Ce'ad Mile Fa'ilte Romhaibh! (100,000 Welcomes, traditional Celtic greeting for guests arriving at one's home)
 The local news provides a few more details,
"St. Brigit will host its first spring equinox celebration, Ait Caol, at 6 p.m. Thursday — one of four services planned this year around the changing seasons."
I had to search for "Ait Caol" and I found "Caol Áit" that means,
"thin places" in the world, where connections are made and amazing flows occur. These are known in all cultures, but seldom discussed because we know so little. In some places the feeling is closer to the people, and the experiences more real, so that stories are told today, and visions are still present. The Gaelic name for the thin places is CAOL ÁIT*, and this is a living and natural part of life. The Gaelic expression was given to me by my friend Sean O'laire, who walks through the curtains, and brings back to us tales that we want and need to hear.
Amusingly, the Coal Ait page near the end questions,
"Are we beginning to see thin places in consciousness?" 
 Back to the local news piece to get an answer to that one,
The service, which is open to the public, will incorporate Celtic traditions in honor of its eponym St. Brigit, said project manager C.J. Joplin-Jack.
"We have a unique connection with Celtic Christianity that sets us apart from other Episcopal churches," Joplin-Jack said. "The Celts lived close to the land and had a strong connection to nature that we'll be celebrating with these services."
Joplin-Jack said she hopes the quarterly services will attract members of the community who have not attended or don't know much about St. Brigit.
Oh yeah, these equinox observances just rake em in. I remember what happened to one former Upper South Carolina rector's church after a few years of this nonsense. There is a reason why he is a former rector. 

So what does the rector of St. Brigit's have to say about all this?
 "We honor and value questions as an exploration of faith," said Rev. Felicia SmithGraybeal. "We're hoping this service encourages our parishioners to ask questions and explore their faith."
Preparing for a celebration of spring in the midst of Lent, which is a more solemn time, was a challenging task, SmithGraybeal said.
Thursday's service will act as a break from the somberness of Lent in preparation for upcoming Easter services...


I guess if any of you go to this celebration and get bored, you can always walk their labyrinth,

"There is no set way to walk a labyrinth. Every one can walk it in the way that has meaning for them.
Labyrinths have been used for thousands of years to help people forget the hassles of their everyday lives and draw closer to God." (From St. Brigit's web page)
In my opinion, this is all a bunch of hocus pocus neo-paganism which somebody has passed off to gullible clergy as a means to connect the Church to the people.

St. Paul would tell us to have nothing to do with such shenanigans,
"Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." Galatians 4:10-11 (KJV).
Neither should we.

And the answer to the question, "Do Equinox celebrations and Lent mix?" is a resounding "No!"


  1. It's interesting (if not unexpected) that they've chosen a pagan, Celtic take on the equinox.

    Where I am pursuing my PhD, we have several Iranian students, and they just celebrated Nowrouz, which is the Iranian New Year, at the Spring Equinox.

    Iranians have a reputation of being the most sophisticated people in the Middle East, and the ones I know live up to that reputation.

    This is an interesting holiday because it is Zoroastrian in origin, and goes back to the Persian Empire. Same Persian Empire allowed the Jews to return to the land after the First Exile, the first time the Jewish state came back from the dead. The current anti-Semitic bent of the Episcopal left means that this celebration is not to their taste.

    Nowrouz also antedates Islam, and its a reminder of past Persian glory before what my Algerian lab assistant calls "the religion" showed up. Many Iranians these days are very eager to remember those times.

    So I beg to differ (a bit) with your conclusion. Celebrate Nowrouz and see what kinds of memories get brought up.

  2. Anonymous3:59 PM

    Hello friend. Lyle SmithGraybeal is my name. I am a member of St. Brigit Episcopal Church, Frederick, CO, and am married to the vicar (we are a mission parish). Jesus is Lord of the Spring Equinox, and the Summer Solstice, and the Fall Equinox, and the Winter Solstice. And, oh yes, of SEC Football, for which folks in places southeast USA seem to have a penchant, though I don't understand why my friends from Alabama are enamored with a game so much. Nevertheless, this, even football, may all be celebrated and God be given praise for them. St. Brigit's is a congregation that pays attention to the Jesus of Scripture, and the Jesus of pre-Scripture, among whom I would count the Celts and the attention they paid to an understanding of God that was found in the seasons of nature. Jesus is Lord over all of this; is it not OK to celebrate it?

    1. Anon, Why you brought the Pre-Jesus Celts into your comment escapes me. From I read, "By 2000 B.C., stone circles were built in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe. A population concerned with birth and fertility, the Irish included movements of the sun in their religious monuments. The circles were temples for a solar religion. In 1159 B.C., there are indications that the weather got much worse and the gods and goddesses of water, in streams and lakes, took on greater importance. Material possessions, animals, and even people were sacrificed, probably to appease these gods.
      During the final period before the coming of Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century A.D., religion in Ireland was still concerned with the forces of nature so important to farming populations. Druids were the priests or soothsayers of this Celtic world, intermediaries between human existence and the Otherworld.

      Stories written down centuries later by Christian monks provide clues to this Celtic religion, as do descriptions by Roman writers who witnessed European Celtic rituals. Human sacrifice existed, but only in times of great need. Worship was more celebrational than liturgical, with people gathering on the Quarter Days -- February 1 (Imbolg), May 1 (Beltine), August 1 (Lunasa), and November 1 (Samain, our Halloween) -- to celebrate the cycle of the seasons. Rome's conquest of most of Europe, and later adoption of Christianity, suppressed such Celtic rituals, but in Ireland, beyond Rome's influence, the old religion continued."
      Why any Christian church would want to resurrect ancient pagan practices is beyond my comprehension.