|Near the time of the Vernal Equinox, the ancient Romans honored the goddess Cybele with a festival-they borrowed this tradition from the Greeks. Cybele is an Earth Mother, a goddess of nature- especially caverns and mountains. This spring festival celebrated the death and rebirth of Cybele's son, Attis. A felled pine tree representing his body was decorated with sashes of linen and violets-which are said to have grown from his spilled blood. This festival actually lasted for several days. Symbols of rebirth are found in most cultures around this time of year.
Create a rebirth altar by decorating with pine and violets, or burn candles in shades of purple and green. Place a few drops of pine essential oil in an aromatherapy burner and meditate on images of rebirth by taking a few moments of silence to reflect on the cycles of life.
Cybele was the Great Mother of the gods in Ida, and she was taken to Rome from Phrygia in 204 BCE. She was also considered the Great Mother of all Asia Minor. Her festivals were known as ludi, or "games," and were solemnized with various mysterious rites. Along with Hecate and Demeter of Eleusis, Cybele was one of the leading deities of Rome when mystery cults were at their prime. Hila'aria, or "Hilaria," originally seemed to have been a name given to any day or season of rejoicing that was either private or public. Such days were devoted to general rejoicing and people were not allowed to show signs of grief or sorrow. The Hilaria actually falls on March 25 and is the last day of a festival of Cybele that commences today. However, the Hilaria was not mentioned in the Roman calendar or in Ovid's Fasti.