VERNAL EQUINOX 2107, my "BLIAHDNA" - Wheel of the Year shrine,
with stick broken at exactly 6:29 AM EDT, Monday March 20th
Over the years, you may have seen me posting pictures like this on my blog or Facebook and, although some of you already may know the significance of this custom, some of you may not. "Custom?"... Yes, "The Breaking of the Stick" - - "but why do that? - Is it an ancient practice?"
My old article "The Power of the Impending Moment" sums up most of the idea here and introduces you to the tradition of the breaking of the stick at the sacred moment of the unique Earth/Sun relationship we pass through on every solstice and equinox. My idea of its core principle, the Sanctity/Veneration Feedback Loop, shows up in that article as well and in detail more recently in a post on this blog in November 2016.
"Ancient?" Although I first started this tradition in my own personal practice in the 1980's and incorporated it into my Grove Work in the 90's, I am not aware of a historical precedent for this ritualized action. This I'll assume is most possibly due to the fact that it was only recently that we have pocket timepieces that could with certainty mark a moment within the seconds of the minute of one's special moment de jour. I used to use the shortwave radio time signals from WWV at the Bureau of Standards in Ft.Collins CO - but nowadays, the times shown on anyone's cell-phone are reliably accurate to deep-down within the fractions of one single second. Yes, being within The Seconds of The Minute of the sacred event itself... that's what makes it especially powerful for me and the others who have adopted it or practices similar to it.
Yes, there it is, the imprint of the Sacred Moment, preserved in the broken ends of the stick, and clothed with all the import of that moment.
Its utility in your Rites of the Wheel? As is often the case, if your public rite is not held on the true day of the solstice or equinox, bringing the Broken Stick (wrapped/enshrined) to the rite and announcing its principle and importance before revealing it at the right moment, and then in the reception of the blessings, dipping the broken ends together into the Grail of the rite and using the wet ends to individually bless the Folk, that type of operation can potently bring Sacred Time and its spiritual inferences right down to a very personal level in our rites.
So, as it is that I've been doing this four times a year since the 1980's, yes, I've accumulated A Lot of Broken Sticks. In all that time I never have gotten around to doing the one cool thing I'd always mused on doing: binding the sets of sticks together on a wooden wheel or grapevine wreath to represent at least one whole solar cycle of The Wheel. Inevitably the new ones shove the older ones out of centrality on my shrine/altars - and, even with my fitful attempts to tag them, I've been consistently inconsistent to the point where I've not yet tagged and stored even one set of four to make a wheel. Yet I do treat the old ones with reverence and I have long had a special repository for them though: my Kiste ("Sacred Basket") of the Mysteries. Below you see me offering them from it into the Brushwood Nemeton Fire during my ordination to the ADF Druid Priesthood in May of 2002...
Oh, and check this out...
In all the years of doing this,
it had only recently occurred to me
can be seen as being
"Now all the knowledge of the heavens
pertinent to agriculture, standeth principally
upon three sorts of observations, to wit,
the rising of the fixed stars;
the setting of the same:
and the four cardinal points, to wit, of
the two tropics or sunsteads*,
and the double aequinox,
which divide the whole year into
foure quarters and notable seasons..."
* Sunsteads: the December and June solstices