Cross-Quarter Themes ~ Meditation ~ Spicy Blessings ~ Roles ~ Plants ~ Novasutras Symbol ~ Music & Dance ~ Food & Drink ~ Other Rituals ~ Community
About the Cross-Quarters
A Cross-Quarter is the midpoint between Equinox and Solstice.
Cross-Quarter days happen around the beginning of February, May, August, and November. They mark the midpoints of the four seasons in temperate zones, and are key times for celebrations throughout many cultures.
In Celtic traditions, Wicca, and related practices, the mid-winter is referred to as Imbolc. Other mid-winter celebrations include Rrisshun Setsubun in Japan and Groundhog Day in the United States. Ancient Romans recognized it as Lupercalia, Egyptians as the Feast of Nut, and by early Christians in Ireland as St. Brigid’s Day.
Mid-spring is celebrated as May Day in the northern hemisphere, and as Beltane in Wicca and related traditions. It is also near Vesak Day, the day for celebration of the Buddha, which is usually coordinated with the full moon in May. It can also be the time of the Eastern Orthodox Easter celebration, and can correspond to the timing for Ramadan.
Determining the Cross-Quarter Moment
The Equinoxes are defined astronomically as the moment when the Sun will be directly overhead at the Equator (0° Latitude); the Solstices are when the sun reaches its northernmost (on the Tropic of Cancer, 23° 26′ North Latitude) or southernmost (on the Tropic of Capricorn, 23° 26′ South Latitude) overhead point. The Cross-Quarters are those four times mid-way between Equinoxes and Solstices.
In Novasutras, we define the Cross-Quarters astronomically as the moments when the sun is directly overhead at 16° 20′ North or South Latitude. (It crosses both of these points twice per year.) This may be a few days or a week after the start of the month.
For celebrations of the Cross-Quarters, important themes are:
Locality & Seasonality
What is special about where you are at this time of year? What foods are locally in-season? Are there certain plants or flowers that emerge at this time of year? How are the trees around you responding to the season?
If you are in the tropics, you might choose to celebrate your sub-solar days rather than the Cross-Quarters – noting the date where the sun is most directly overhead with a sun-and-shadow themed celebration, especially at local solar noon when shadows are only directly below objects.
Creativity and Change
Cross-Quarter celebrations lend themselves to considerations of transformation. It is a good time to ask “what if?” The Cross-Quarters invite us to consider things from new perspectives, to experiment with difference.
Meditate for a world abiding in agaya and ubuntu
Participate in the global Novasutras meditation during the exact moment of the Cross-Quarter (whether meditating on your own or with an in-person group). There will be a guided meditation via Zoom or on the Novasutras YouTube channel, usually starting 15-30 minutes before the moment of the Cross-Quarter, and ending 15-60 minutes afterward – check the Events page for details and registration. If you prefer, you could join by simply meditating on agaya and ubuntu on your own at that time. Either way, we seek to join in simultaneous meditation at these precise moments (part of the Octal Meditations), to encourage global coherence.
More Ways to Celebrate the Cross-Quarters
Here are a few ideas for things you may wish to do as part of Novasutras Cross-Quarter celebrations. Some of these can be done on your own, but many are better done in community. You may include a variety of personal observances and community celebrations in the days before and after the moment of the Cross-Quarter.
“Spicy Blessings”: Abiding in Agaya and Ubuntu
We in Novasutras will extend wishes that beings abide in agaya and ubuntu when Calling the Corners, or in similar contexts offering blessings and loving-kindness. But the Cross-Quarters are a good time to note that there are several meanings of the word abide. We usually say “may all beings abide in agaya and ubuntu,” with the idea of a blessing that all may live long and well with joy, reverence, wonder, love, reciprocity and connection, using the sense of abide as “continuing in a space.” But there are other ways to interpret abide. We abide by rules. We abide when we patiently endure that which may be challenging or difficult.
In Cross-Quarter celebrations, we may share the practice of “spicy blessings”: offering wishes that individuals or groups whose acts or attitudes are not currently abiding in agaya and ubuntu may transform. In keeping with traditions like the Golden Rule, we are empowered to send out wishes for change that we ourselves would gladly accept. So when we say, “May fossil fuel oligarchs abide in agaya and ubuntu,” we are offering a change in behavior and intention that we are also pledging to make: to live more fully within the guidelines of agaya and ubuntu.
Reversals, Costumes, and Role-play
These Cross-Quarter times are a great opportunity for festivals of role reversal or other forms of role-play. Dressing up in costume for Halloween can be one such festival – an invitation to “come as you aren’t” and express an extreme or inverse persona from your usual self. By taking on a persona different from your day-to-day personal expression, you have an opportunity to build empathy and see things from alternative perspectives.
In cultures where hierarchy and domination were very strong, many festivals included a reversal of “master” and “servant” roles for the day as a kind of release valve for social tensions, as in ancient Roman Saturnalia. Where gender roles typically limit women’s agency in courtship, traditions like “Sadie Hawkins Day” or “Bachelor’s Day / Ladies’ Privilege” allowed women to express and pursue their preferences.
Participants in Cross-Quarter celebrations could be encouraged to wear masks or costumes in the spirit of Reversals and Role-play. A longer event could include materials and opportunities to construct these.
Local, Mid-Season Flowers, Fruits and Foliage
Adorn yourself and your event-space with vegetation that honors the season in your location. Are there colorful autumn leaves? Bare twigs? Evergreen foliage or pine cones? Ripening fruits? Fresh flowers?
Everywhere, plants must attune themselves to the seasons and make the best of the available sunlight – this holds important lessons for human communities also. By honoring their evolutionary genius and celebrating their sensual beauty, we become the partners of plants through ubuntu and agaya.
Create/Co-Create a Novasutras Symbol
Creation of the Novasutras symbol can be similar to casting a circle and calling the corners in neo-pagan and various indigenous rituals, as a way to open a sacred space for the gathered community. But while it should be done with reverence, in agaya and ubuntu, it need not be solemn. It’s easy to engage all Cross-Quarter event participants in the creation of a Novasutras symbol (see this video on creating the symbol as a personal ritual or meditation).
For community gatherings, you could create a symbol large enough for all participants to stand in. Perhaps you invite people to arrange themselves by color they’re wearing (or provide hats, masks, signs, etc. in green, blue, brown and white), then have everyone briefly meditate on agaya and ubuntu as represented by that portion of the symbol (green for beings above, white for beings below, brown for the tree beings that connect above and below, blue for beings nearby and far away or beings of the seas). On the beach, the symbol can be drawn by participants following each other and scuffing their feet in a kind of dance, or by one or more people drawing with sticks. On pavement, it could be drawn with sidewalk chalks or sand.
To produce something like a mandala (indoors or out), people could bring appropriate materials to co-create the symbol: leaves and flowers; feathers; seeds, grains, cornmeal (of different colors); chalk or sand; colored stones or beads; or just draw on newsprint or butcher paper with paints or markers. Weather permitting, you could even do a litter clean-up at a beach or park, sort the objects found by color, and array them in the symbol.
Please take pictures and share your creations – add them to our Facebook page, or use #Novasutras, #Cross-Quarter, #Agaya and #Ubuntu on other social media. Be sure to include ‘sweeping up’ in the closing of your celebration, making sure that any materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Song and Dance
One of the main ways that humans the world over celebrate in community is to make music and dance together. In the so-called “developed” world, we have grown accustomed to music as performed by professionals and merely enjoyed by spectators. While this is delightful and may be welcome as an addition to your celebration, it is insufficient to the natural process of community. This Cross-Quarter, look for opportunities to co-create music and dance.
Find simple songs, and invite everyone to participate in singing them. Encourage those that have acoustic instruments to bring them and play along as they can (small drums, tambourines, shakers or rattles, harmonicas and ukuleles work well outdoors). Some traditional, folk, movement or spiritual songs feel appropriate to agaya and ubuntu (such as We Are the Rising Sun or We Are the Power in Everyone, kindly provided to the world by Campfire Chants, or many songs from the Rise for Climate Change songbook) — these simple songs and chants can remain unmodified. If you have a favorite sing-along or hymn with a title or lyrics that do not provide a good reflection of agaya and ubuntu, change the words to better suit the intentions of a Novasutras gathering. (Please share your creations!)
Similarly, keep ‘dancing’ simple and fun. The Spiral Dance developed by Starhawk is a wonderful option, but you could just have a simple ‘conga line’ that becomes a circle (or two concentric circles traveling in opposite directions). Even the ‘Hokey Pokey,’ can be easy and fun for participants of all ages (maybe “…and you shake it all about. Feel agaya and ubuntu, and you turn the world about. That’s what it’s all about!”).
Share Food and Drink
Whether it’s a full-meal potluck or just a small sacramental bite or sip of something meaningful, sharing food in community is a uniquely human way to strengthen ubuntu. Don’t neglect the importance of this aspect of celebratory gatherings at the Cross-Quarter. Novasutras cookies might be nice. If you are inviting participants to bring food, ask them to be respectful of agaya and ubuntu in their choice of what to bring — vegetarian or vegan items are preferable, as these are kinder to the climate and other beings. It also helps to ask people to avoid ‘disposable’ materials (particularly plastics) in both food packaging and serving materials (plates, cups, cutlery, napkins). Be sure to include ‘washing/packing up’ in the closing of your celebration, seeing that materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Other Ritual Activities
All could participate in pouring water into a shared bowl or pitcher, then anointing themselves and/or splashing the water, along with some kind of blessing or intention. If done with safe drinking water, the bowl or pitcher could instead be passed along a second time while everyone ladles out a sip of the water that they had communally added, representing sharing in the benefits of collective effort.
Participants could bring small items to represent one or more of the themes of the Cross-Quarter celebration, decoratively adding them to a community altar toward the beginning of the celebration then deconstructing the altar at the end (perhaps with an invitation to take away something other than the thing you brought, so it becomes a kind of gift-exchange).
Invite Your Community to Celebrate the Cross-Quarter
Perhaps you just want to have a small gathering with like-minded friends. But if you are willing, Cross-Quarter celebrations are a great opportunity to talk with new people about Novasutras. Let us know about your plans, and we’ll add them to our Events page.
Post a few fliers (template for fliers) to publicize your local event, directing people to the Novasutras website for more information about events. Contact us if you want our to help promote your local Novasutras Cross-Quarter event .