The Voice of Coming Spring
“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"..."It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...” ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
The winter is often a cruel mistress. She'll tease you with sunshine then gift you with gale force winds. You'll see a bright warm day, followed by a snowstorm. You'll fight the urge to sink further and further into yourself, because you're cold and exhausted and tired of traipsing through the ice.
But winter is a natural thing. The earth, like all of us, needs to sleep for a while. Undoubtedly the hardest part of the night is the few hours before dawn, just like the most gruesome part of winter is in the last weeks before spring.
Like that coming dawn, which envelops the landscape in the glow of its all-consuming light, Spring will grace our world again. Today is the Equinox, so anon...it will be soon indeed.
For this shoot, I teamed up again with the lovely Arden Barlow, Makeup and illustration maven, and actress Robin Rapoport to recreate the mysterious figure of Spring, Eostre, from whom we get the name for Easter.
There are so many beings steeped in myth and ambiguity throughout history, it's often difficult to determine how the original story arose. According to popular understanding, Eostre was the goddess of the light of the coming spring, coinciding with the annual "Holy Tide." During this period, maidens in white dresses would go to small streams to gather pitchers of water, which the people would wash in, as it would restore youth.
They also would bake and ardently devour hot cross buns.
After extensive searching, I found that it was the Venerable Bede who was the first to mention the presence of the "goddess" in association with Eastertide (Ēosturmōnaþ) and April. In his De temporum ratione, he explains that feasts had been held in her honor until the present time (6th century AD), but had since been replaced with the commemoration of Passover and the Resurrection of Christ, said to have occurred roughly in April of AD 36.
The coming Spring was such a visceral longing for these early Germanic peoples, as the dark days of winter were more difficult than we could even fathom. Where Winter was long, bleak, and desolate, Spring would bring warmth, the opportunities for trade, the ability to plant crops, and the promise of food. The livestock would reproduce, the sheep would produce wool, and the bees would pollenate the plants, which meant honey.
Spring was hope, Eostre was hope, and in a time where your life depended on such of hope, of course you would commemorate it. As humans, we have been gifted with extraordinary imagination and life, and our ability to create stories, to manifest passion, and to inject promise into horrible situations is what keeps us alive.
This bittersweet morning, the first morning of Spring, have hope that abundance is in your future, and the worst of Winter's woes have ended. You've paid your dues in darkness and in solitude, hold firm, and await the coming light.
It's just over the horizon.
© 2014 Joey Phoenix Photography