I suppose it was a combination of things. I'd been debating about changing the background image to something a little easier on the eyes, and had just about decided on a nice sort of a light tan parchment design when lo and behold the #1 Pagan site on the web, which shall remain nameless (Witchvox.com) just happened to rework their umpteen jillion pages in just the same pattern. Well, no way was I going to let on like I was trying to copy that move, so I grumped around and left things the way they were. Besides, I was distracted by a couple of new projects that sort of fell into my lap.
One was a new Internet Relay Chat (IRC) project for a friend who has a really bad Java-based chat feature on his site. I offered to set up an IRC channel so that real-time chat could replace his constant-screen-refresh version. This failed initially because not everybody wanted to download and learn how to use a chat client. Then he found an IRC network with its own web-based Java client, which is still a little lame but at least displays chat in real time without all the constant screen refreshing. That would have worked except for a few holdouts who refused to embrace anything new as long as the old one was still around. And since the original chatroom was never removed, the new one fell into disuse and was eventually abandoned altogether. And I pounded my head against my keyboard in frustration.
I did discover something fun during all the aforementioned head-banging. The IRC network had a Trivia game running 24/7. Simple to play: Just log on, go to the channel, and jump in with the answer when the bot asks a question. After getting 100 right, players get auto-ops. Chat is always fun, but the competition made it really fun. Darned thing was addictive, in fact. By the time I came up for air, a couple of months had gone by and "The Grove" was beginning to look downright neglected. I should have jumped right in and gone back to work on it but needless to say a few other things were going on.
One was work. Cutbacks and downsizing had already decimated my department, and it was near the end of the year. The workload was enormous and I was practically brain-dead every evening when I got home. Second, I had foolishly volunteered to help another friend set up her own website. Third, I was trying to learn how to work Netscape 7's new HTML editing program, a cantankerous, confusing piece of stripped-down crap that was somehow supposed to be an improvement on the incredibly versitile, completely intuitive, user-friendly Composer program included with Netscape Communicator 4.7. After several frustrating hours trying to simply get links to work correctly, I didn't really care if I ever edited another page. And "The Grove" still sat neglected.
Winter came, with its cold and snow, and the resulting depression that naturally nags at you whenever you spend too much time indoors. The days grew and shorter shorter until the Solstice, then slowly began to lighten the world again. Eventually the snow and ice gave way to a few sunny, warmer days until a few days ago I finally saw the first sign of spring - a lounge lizard driving around with the top down on his Corvette - and knew it was time to do something about this site.
Spring is the time of rebirth, and change, and new beginings. Ostara is almost upon us. And so I've decided that it's time for a change here, too. I'm not going to try to post every Pagan-related news story I find from now on, but I will still comment on some from time to time. Instead, this space will contain more personal insights and observations, and perhaps some information about our seasonal celebrations. And since the next holiday is Ostara, I'd like to share another Pagan family's tradition, sent in by a visitor to "The Grove" and reposted here by permission of the writer:
As Ostara is the festival of new growth I thought I would share with you one of our family traditions that I began as a young girl. The theory behind it is that this time of year is great for assessing your life, and taking note of the things you wish to change or improve.
You will need:
Access to a river or the sea.
First make a list of things about yourself you wish to either change or improve, i.e. self confidence, better employment, or even protection. I even did it one year to help Samael, my oldest son, to overcome his fear of the dark and to give him more confidence.
Write these things individually on tiny pieces of the natural paper. They have to be small enough to be rolled up and put inside the eggs through the holes made while blowing them. You can decorate the eggs with symbols for luck or protection, whatever you wish, or just dye them. We always dyed them green and painted symbols, patterns and funny faces. (The kids love funny faces. Sam painted a picture of what at the time he called, the 'bad dark spirit' looked like.) When the eggs are dry and you have inserted the rolled up pieces of paper, seal the holes with the wax from the candle. (The best way is to do it in thin layers and let the wax trickle over the holes.)
When finished, take to the river or the sea and throw them in. We always made up a little rhyme or chant depending on what it was we wished for. We always included 'with harm to none so mote it be' at the end, as I am a strong believer that this is vital in any spellwork and have brought my son up knowing this.
Remember, have fun with this. One of the other reasons why we put funny faces on them was just in case they were found by someone. (We always wondered what would go through someone's mind if they did find them, and what the look on their faces would be! *hehehehe*)
Brightest of blessings,
And very Bright Ostara Blessings to you and yours, Autumn! - Thank you for sharing! - Oak