Today is Fat Tuesday, Mardis Gras, sometimes called Shrove Tuesday. On this day, Christians prepare for a season of purification and deprivation, in alignment with their God’s vision quest. I love what author and Wise One of Time Waverly Fitzgerald has written about how Pagans and Witches can also benefit from observing such a regimen. From this, we may well deepen our own understanding of Aglaia, who is the Grace of Beauty and Radiance:
“When I mention the word ‘Lent’ around my pagan friends, a curious thing happens. I watch as their faces go blank, they look away as if to say, ‘That’s not for me. That’s something Christians do to mortify the flesh.’ Certainly this was the flavor of Lent as it was practiced in the late 1950’s when I was attending St. Bridget of Sweden Elementary School in Van Nuys, California. We gave up a favorite food for six weeks and saved our pennies for the ‘heathen babies.’ But since I’ve been studying seasonal celebrations, I realize that the roots of Lent reach far back in time and are deeply aligned with the energy of spring. So I propose taking another look at Lent, its roots and its potential as a spiritual practice.
“The very name of Lent is synonymous with the season, for it comes from the Anglo-Saxon lenctene, meaning the time when the days lengthen…During the church services held on Ash Wednesday, we listened to a reading which reminded us that we would die (‘Ashes to ashes and dust to dust’) and then the priest marked our foreheads with a smudge of dark ash (on the third eye chakra, a place also marked with sacred ash in Hindu devotions).
“Lent is the time for making auspicious changes. It doesn’t have to be about deprivation, although that pattern is deeply ingrained in me from my Catholic childhood when I usually gave up cookies or candy for Lent. As an adult, I’ve used Lent as an opportunity to experiment with my patterns with other substances. Giving up alcohol for one Lent eventually led to giving up alcohol altogether…”
I will share a little more of Waverly’s beautiful meditation on preparing for the rites of Spring tomorrow.