Ostara (also spelled Estra, Eostre and Eostra) (circa March 20), the spring Equinox also known as spring, Rites of Spring and Eostra's Day, marks the first day of true spring. The energies of nature subtly shift from the sluggishness of winter to the exuberant expansion of spring. The Goddess blankets the earth with fertility, bursting forth from her sleep, as the God stretches and grows to maturity. He walks the greening fields and delights in the abundance of nature.
On Ostara, the hours of day and night are equal. Light is overtaking darkness; the Goddess and God impel the wild creatures of the earth to reproduce.
This is a time of beginnings, of action, of planting spells for future gains, and of tending ritual gardens.
This Pagan festival is symbolized by eggs as the meaning of new life. The decorations for Ostara should be any of the spring flowers. This is a time to contemplate new beginnings or fresh ideas.
Spring Celebrations Around the World
In ancient Rome, the followers of Cybele believed that their goddess had a consort who was born via a virgin birth. His name was Attis, and he died and was resurrected each year during the time of the vernal equinox on the Julian Calendar (between March 22 and March 25). Around the same time, the Germanic tribes honored a lunar goddess known as Ostara, who mated with a fertility god around this time of year, and then gave birth nine months later at Yule.
The indigenous Mayan people in Central American have celebrated a spring equinox festival for ten centuries. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid,
El Castillo, Mexico, its ''western face...is bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. The lengthening shadows appear to run from the top of the pyramid's northern staircase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a diamond-backed snake in descent.'' This has been called ''The Return of the Sun Serpent'' since ancient times.
According to the Venerable Bede,
Eostre was the Saxon version of the Germanic goddess Ostara. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox almost the identical calculation as for the Christian Easter in the west. There is very little documented evidence to prove this, but one popular legend is that Eostre found a bird, wounded, on the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs...the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre.
This is a good time of year to start your seedlings. If you grow an
herb garden, start getting the soil ready for late spring plantings. Celebrate the balance of light and dark as the sun begins to tip the scales, and the return of new growth is near.
Many modern Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Ostara as a time of renewal and rebirth. Take some time to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature -- walk in park, lay in the grass, hike through a forest. As you do so, observe all the new things beginning around you -- plants, flowers, insects, birds. Meditate upon the ever-moving
Wheel of the Year, and celebrate the change of seasons.
Appropriate Deities for Ostara:
include all Youthful and Virile Gods and Goddesses, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, Love Goddesses, Moon Gods and Goddesses, and all Fertility Deities. Some Ostara Deities to mention by name here include Persephone, Blodeuwedd, Eostre, Aphrodite, Athena, Cybele, Gaia, Hear, Isis, Ishtar, Minerva, Venus, Robin of the Woods, the Green Man, Cernunnos, Lord of the Greenwood, The Dagda, Attis, The Great Horned God, Mithras, Odin, Thoth, Osiris, and Pan.
Key actions to keep in mind during this time in the Wheel of the Year:
include openings and new beginnings. Spellwork for improving communication and group interaction are recommended, as well as fertility and abundance. Ostara is a good time to start putting those plans and preparations you made at Imbolc into action. Start working towards physically manifesting your plans now.
aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone.
rabbits and snakes.
unicorns, merpeople, and Pegasus.
crocus flowers, daffodils, jasmine, Irish moss, snowdrops, and ginger.
(linking your meals with the seasons is a fine way of attuning with Nature) include eggs, egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, first fruits of the season, fish, cakes, biscuits, cheeses, honey and ham. You may also include foods made of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as pine nuts. Sprouts are equally appropriate, as are leafy, green vegetables.
lily of the valley, tansy, lavender, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, lovage, lilac, violets, lemon balm, dogwood, honeysuckle, oakmoss, orrisroot, sunflower seeds, rose hips, oak, elder, willow, crocus, daffodil, jonquil, tulip, broom (Scotch or Iris), meadowsweet, acorn, trefoil (purple clover), vervain.
Symbolic of fertility and prosperity, for in these days is nothing that cannot be achieved. The world is a fertile bed of infinite possibilities.
Friendships and harmony and creativity are represented with this color.
The driving force behind power and transformation.
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Benzoin
1 part Dragon?s Blood
1/2 part Nutmeg
1/2 part Violet flowers (or a few drops of violet oil)
1/2part Orange peel
1/2part Rose petals
Burn during Wiccan/Pagan rituals on Ostara or to welcome the spring and to refresh your life.
On Ostara, feast on things that remind you of air, spring, newness. Before eating, bless the food with the energy of change and new beginnings. Buy yourself an Ostara gift. Go for a walk, preferably in a strong breeze. I would venture to guess a strong breeze on Ostara would be a lucky sign.
A meditation you can do is to let your spirit float on the air, sailing to faraway lands, touching the tops of trees with your bare feet, opening your mind to possibility, newness, and change.
Visit an aviary, or even better, go out in nature to where you now you?ll see some birds. Watch their flight patterns, how they dip and glide and turn. If you know where they nest, look for feathers on the ground; if you find any, thanks the birds by leaving an offering of birdseed. Visit a butterfly pavilion. Many larger cities have them. If ever there was a creature of spring, it is the butterfly. Born in spring, and living only until the first cold snap or sooner, their lives are a dedication and a tribute to the seasons of air and fire. Bright wings fill the air; and in the wind, we can see them swept away by the sheer force of what is nothing more than a breath to us, reminding us yet again of the tremendous power of air.
Create a mental wand. Imagine its length, its power. Imagine the crystal tip glowing with the blue-white light of the magic circle. Hold it in your hand, heft its weight. Imagine something in your life that needs to have boundaries, and see the glow of blue-white energy coming from the tip of the wand, down to the earth as you draw the line.
Make a besom or a fan. You can decorate these any way you like, and use them in circle or as decorations. (Be sure to hang the besom with the male end up, for the energy of action and fertility).
Undertake some new project or field of study you've been wanting to pursue. Know that your mental powers, mingled with Nature?s, are now at their peak. Start the project in the morning on Ostara's Day, and your work will be twice blessed.
Think about your path: where you've been and where you're going. Communicate with your teacher, ask questions, give feedback. If you are happy with what you're learning, tell your teacher. If you are on the solitary path, write yourself a letter of appreciation for all that you?ve done to improve your life since beginning this path.
Perfect for the ritual altar, these candles are easy to make and pretty to look at.
You Will Need:
Egg dye (optional)
Tap the egg gently but firmly on the top, pointed end. Peel back a small section of shell and allow the egg to fall out. Try to keep the bottom 3/4 of the egg intact. Reserve the eggs for recipes.
Rinse the inside of the eggshells very carefully with very hot water. Set them on a rack to dry.
If you like, take a craft scissor and trim around the broken edge, or break off pieces by hand for a more jagged look.
At this point, if you want to dye the egg shells, you can do so. Again, be careful with the delicate shells. Set them again on a rack or paper towel to dry.
Fill the candle 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with craft wax beads. Insert a birthday candle into the center for an easy wick. If necessary, trim off the bottom of the birthday candle so that it is even with the wax beads, or you can just let it burn down.
Set it in an egg holder or a candle holder where it fits snugly.
Use Natural Dyes to color your Ostara Eggs:
Ostara is a time of fertility and rebirth, and few things symbolize this as well as the egg. By coloring them with bright pinks, blues and yellows, we're welcoming the colors of spring back into our lives, and saying farewell to winter. However, a lot of commercially available egg-dying products are made from chemicals. They may not be toxic, but on the other hand, you might not have a clue what the ingredients are. Why not try using natural sources to get a variety of shades, and REALLY celebrate the colors of the season?
Time Required: Varied
First of all, plan on only doing about 3 - 4 eggs at a time. You'll want them to have room to bob around in the pan, and not be piled on top of one another. Before starting, poke a small hole with a pin or needle in the end of each egg. This will help keep them from cracking while they boil. You'll really want to have at least a dozen eggs, just because it's a lot of fun to experiment with different colors.
Start your water boiling. Use enough to cover about an inch over the tops of the eggs, but don't put them in the pan yet. Add 2 tsp of white vinegar, and bring the water to a boil. Once it's boiling, add 3 - 4 eggs using a slotted spoon (helpful hint: do NOT let your kids drop them in the water. Trust me on this one). Next, you'll add your coloring material. Here's where it gets really fun!
To color your eggs, add one of the following items. You'll have to experiment a little to see how much to add, but try different amounts to get different shades of each color. Once you've added your coloring, allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Purple: concentrated grape juice (Welch's works nicely, about half a can)
Yellow: Skins (only) of a half dozen yellow onions
Gold: Curry powder or turmeric
Beige: coffee grounds
Light green: frozen chopped spinach (1/3 to 1/2 package)
Blue: 1 Cup frozen blueberries (with juice)
After they've boiled, carefully remove the eggs from the pot with your slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to dry. If you'd like them darker, you can allow them to sit over night in the pot of dye, but the vinegar can weaken the eggs' shells. When the eggs have dried completely, dab a little bit of vegetable oil on a paper towel and ''polish'' the eggs to give them some shine.
Keep your eggs refrigerated until it's time to hide them, eat them, or show them off to your friends. Remember to never eat eggs that have been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.
If your kids are more into the coloring than the eating of Ostara eggs, consider brushing your colored eggs with a thin layer of glue, and then sprinkling some glitter on top.
Eggs can take on the flavor of whatever you use to dye them, so unless you enjoy coffee-flavored eggs, put some thought into using dyed eggs in recipes.
Use a wax crayon to make designs and sigils on the eggs before dying the waxed area will appear as white once you've finished.
What You Need:
A pot of water
Natural ingredients for colors