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Ostara Ritual

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This is the spring equinox. Night and day are equal length, as the sun begins to win out over the dark of winter. It is a time of exuberance and fertility, a celebration of the abundance of nature. In fact, a time for the celebration of just about everything. Winter is over! We've made it! Huzzah!

Tools: Candles for the quarters, and one each for Goddess and God. Nothing else out of the ordinary. Set your altar according to custom.

Supplies: At least one pomegranate, and a knife for getting into it (a major pain, if you've never tried). One of these will go a long way, but if your group is particularly large, you may want to bring a spare, just in case.

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Cleansing: Whatever you're comfortable with.

Casting the circle: Begin facing East, then turn to each direction as you call its guardians. "Reader" can be assigned, or passed around. I like passing better, but no one should be forced to speak if they're not comfortable with what's happening.

Reader:

Spirits of the East, spirits of air,

Awaken us with the Spring breeze

Fill our lungs, and join us

In celebration of the endless renewal of light and life. (light candle)

Spirits of the South, spirits of fire,

Warm us with the rising sun

Quicken our hearts, and join us

In celebration of the unfolding of the Earth. (light candle)

Spirits of the West, spirits of water,

Wash us in gentle rain

Revive our longing, and join us

In celebration of boundless possibility. (light candle)

Spirits of the North, spirits of earth,

Clothe us in the finery of new growth

Support our steps, and join us

In celebration of a world made green again. (light candle)

Turn to the altar now, and address the candle for the Goddess:

Reader:

Goddess of Earth, mother of all

With love we greet you

As night and day once again

Greet each other in passing.

Be with us, complete our circle,

And help us always to see your face

In all that lives. (light candle)

Turning to the God candle:

Reader:

God of the growing light

With love we greet you

As night and day once again

Greet each other in passing.

Be with us, complete our circle

And help us always to see your face

In all that lives. (light candle)

If possible, all should hold hands around the altar for this:

Reader: (either solo, or pass it phrase by phrase around the circle. Thanks to Scott Cunningham for the Blessing Chant)

The circle is cast, the ritual begun.

May the powers of the Ancient One,

Source of all creation,

May the powers of the Goddess, bright lady of the moon,

And the God, horned hunter of the sun,

May the powers of the guardian spirits,

Rulers of the elemental realms,

May the powers of the stars above and the Earth below,

Bless this time, this place, and all who gather here.

All:

Blessed be!

Okay, now we have a little bit of casting to do. Select one person to be Hades, lord of the underworld; another to be Demeter; and another to represent Persephone, her daughter. These are all speaking parts. The Reader gets some lines here also. Again, if folks are comfortable, share the wealth. The more people who wish to participate, the more powerful the ritual. Staging can be as realistic or as stylized as you wish. As long as you identify your characters, it is enough to place them at the points of a triangle, perhaps with the Reader in the middle. The rest of the group can sit around the outside of your circle. The ending of this section gets pretty tricky, so make sure people are familiar with their parts. Rehearsal ahead of time is great, if you can make the necessary arrangements. While everyone is getting into their places, the Reader or another narrator can begin with the following.

We stand, as ever, at a point on the wheel

Remembering that we begin each journey

Only when we are brought to our first step

We wake each morning

Because we have slept through the night

We rejoice in the burgeoning springtime

Because we have waited, in the arms of the Mother

Through the season of darkness and cold

Reader:

Winter is for bedding down.

We watch the days grow shorter,

and feel the chill that heralds the first snow.

All:

Let there be joy in the cold and the dying.

The seeds of new life are borne on the winter wind.

Hades: (to Persephone)

I, the lord of all below

Have watched, enraptured, as you go

About the fields, you twirl and shine

Persephone, you will be mine

My chariot awaits, my love

To take us from the world above

Now put an end to childish play

I claim you for my bride today

Reader:

We feel January in every joint.

We insulate, and isolate

and strain to believe that the darkest days are behind us.

All:

Let there be joy in the cold and the dying.

The seeds of new life are borne on the winter wind.

Persephone: (to Hades)

Hades does me great offense

To play upon my innocence

Though you may call me Bride-to-be

I'll not go with you willingly

By force you take me to your lair

Do not presume to keep me there

My mother, Goddess of the grain

Will see me safely home again

Reader:

Almost any effort seems too much, and grief comes easily.

How quickly we forget that rest is necessary;

that only in stillness is our motion defined.

All:

Let there be joy in the cold and the dying.

The seeds of new life are borne on the winter wind.

Demeter:

From lofty perch on highest peak

To deepest ocean, still I seek

By night, by day, some sign or clue

But nowhere is there news of you

Let this, my cry of woeful loss

Be carried forth and so across

The world of men, that all may hear

And share Demeter's pain and fear

Reader:

Inactivity turns to wrath,

as we remember the warmth of sunshine,

and hold the Earth responsible for our confinement.

All:

Let there be joy in the in cold and the dying.

The seeds of new life are borne on the winter wind.

Demeter:

The Earth has taken you from me

And so my wrath accordingly

Shall fly. Today, against the land

In anger I will set my hand

Corn and cattle, all will die

The rivers run with dust, and I

Shall not relent, until I see

Persephone returned to me

Reader:

What bargain may we make with Time?

Will the seasons turn more quickly,

or stay with us longer to suit our needs?

All:

Let there be joy in the cold and the dying.

The seeds of new life are borne on the winter wind.

Demeter:

The Gods have witnessed this foul deed

And mighty Zeus shall intercede

He will return you to my care

If you have eaten nothing there

Persephone:

But mother, in my dark ordeal

The pain of hunger did I feel

And I was given in my need

A taste of pomegranate seed

Hades: (to Demeter)

For this, my lady, half the year

Your daughter will attend me here

And then once more to you ascend

Now let this pact our quarrel end

Reader:

Winter is for bedding down,

gathering our strength that we may burst forth

with energy and joy to welcome the season of new beginnings.

All:

Let there be joy in the cold and the dying.

The seeds of new life are borne on the winter wind.

Demeter:

So will it be, within the land

Hades: (to Persephone)

That when each year you take my hand

Persephone:

The living, breathing world you see

Shall wither and retire with me

But when, in springtime, I once more

Am to the world above restored

Demeter:

A mother's joy at your rebirth

Will waken and renew the Earth

At this point, the drama is ended. Distribute one or two pomegranate seeds to each person in attendance. You may all eat together at the end, or one at a time as you receive your seeds, whatever feels right to you. As you eat, feel your kinship with Persephone. Feel the strength that comes from your community, and feel yourself as a part of the great and endless cycle of death and life. Distribute the following lines as you see fit, but find a way to distribute them somehow. It's important.

With Persephone, we have journeyed to the land of the dead,

and returned safely to the light and warmth of Spring.

May we grow with the brightness of the young God,

and open ourselves to the energy of creation.

Goddess of Winter, Goddess of Life,

Keep us close in your embrace.

Accept us as your children

and buoy us upon the tide of time.

With love, we thank and honor you

for the world that blooms within us once more.

All:

Blessed be!

The simple feast: Eat, drink, be merry! We have all survived another winter! When you feel you're through (or when all your candles burn out), open the circle according to your custom, bidding thanks first to the Goddess and God, and a hearty farewell to the Guardians. Here's a matching set if you need them.

God of the growing light

For the Spring

For your warmth

For your power

For the lengthening day

For the energy that surrounds us

For your presence within our circle

We thank you, and ask your blessing,

Until we gather here again.

Goddess of Earth, mother of all

For the Spring

For your love

For your power

For the pomegranate

For the fertility of the world we share

For your presence within our circle

We thank you, and ask your blessing,

Until we gather here again.

For the Guardians, I normally use Starhawk's, because they're simple and beautiful. Here's how they go:

Spirits of the East (South, West, North...)

We thank you for your presence here

And ask for your blessing as you depart

May there be peace between us now and forever (extinguish your candles as you go).

And one more thing:

All:

The circle is open, and yet unbroken

May the love of the Goddess be ever in your heart

Merry meet and merry part

And merry meet again.

Blessed be!

This article was contributed by Dark Moon's Light.
Read their Book of Rituals.
Read their Book of Spells.

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