Swampscott ushers in spring with spiritual ceremony

People gathered at the Sacred Sun Circle take in the view as the sun rises over Preston Beach in Swampscott during the spring equinox celebration. Photo by Spenser Hasak

SWAMPSCOTT — A crowd of community members gathered at Preston Beach’s Sacred Sun Circle early Tuesday morning to celebrate the spring equinox.

The spring equinox signifies when the sun’s rays move from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere, indicating the beginning of the season..

After the sun rose over the beach at 6:47 a.m., shamanic healers Lisa Kawski and Kampa Vashi Deva led a spiritual ceremony.

“We stand here today in this sacred space on this glorious morning in this special town in Massachusetts to honor the god of our personal understanding,” Kawski read. “So many brave souls have lived and died that we may have this privilege to speak our truths and stand in our authentic selves.”

Kawski called on the four elements of water, earth, fire, and air, as well as “spirit guides,” to be present during the festivities. She listed the intentions of the event as “unity, consciousness, and honoring all spiritual traditions.”

Vashi Deva complemented Kawski’s readings with instrumental rituals — blowing a conch, banging a drum, and striking a gong. At the center of the Sacred Sun Circle’s sundial were burning sage, in order to “keep the energy moving and cleansing,” and healing stones.

Attendees were given the chance to share their feelings with their peers. Marblehead resident James Keating provided scientific context on what makes the equinox unique.

“Half the year, the sun is below the celestial equator, and half the year, it’s above it. But on this day, if you take the elevation of the sun at noon, it will be 47 (degrees) and change,” Keating explained.

He added that the azimuth, the degree at which the sun comes up on the horizon, is at 90 degrees during the equinox.

Kawski and Vashi Deva have served as masters of ceremonies for the quarterly equinox events for two years. They took up the mantle from Marblehead resident Donald Orne, who had been running the celebrations for nearly 20 years.

“As soon as he saw that I got a gong, he said, ‘I found my replacement,’” Kawski said.

Both Kawski and Vashi Deva expressed gratitude toward architect Bruce Greenwald, who built the ceremonial structure.