Ostara (Spring Equinox)
approximately March 21st
Theme: First day of Spring; Emergence; Fertility; Balance
Type: Equinox/Solar Holiday; balance of night & day
Ostara marks the first day of Spring. It is a celebration of the awakening of the Earth. All around us, the Earth reveals her vitality ... in the soft haze of first greening, in the swelling of buds, in the song of the robin. The seeds within the soil have sprouted and are pushing out into the sunlight. Likewise, within us it is time for the seeds we have nurtured since Yule to come into the light and begin to flourish. It is a time of new beginnings, the freshness of dawn. The Earth is young again and so are we. In the Greek myth, Persephone returns from the Underworld to be welcomed in joy by her mother Demeter, who decks the world in Springtime as a celebration. Now is an time for planting or for decking your home or altar with flowers. Many people bless the seeds for their gardens on this day.
Ostara is a fertility feast, both summoning and celebrating fertility. It is traditional to dye or paint eggs on this day. The egg is an ancient symbol of fertility and possibility. Eggs are often painted with symbols, images or colors to magickally evoke qualities or events which we desire in our lives. This, of course, has become a custom associated with Easter, but its origins reach far back into the indigenous traditions of Europe.
At the Spring Equinox, the day and night are in equilibrium -- light and darkness are in perfect balance. Yet light is in ascendance; in the days that follow the darkness gives way to the growing light. It is a time to embrace both the light and the darkness, to acknowledge the dualities within ourselves, to bring polarities into balance, and honor the balance in all things.
Traditionally, bonfires were lit on this night and cattle were driven between the fires to purify them and promote fertility. People leaped over the flames for fertility and good luck.
Ostara takes its name from the Teutonic Goddess Eostre or Ostre, whose name is also the origin of the Christian holiday Easter. Ostre was traditionally honored on this day, but it is appropriate to honor the Divine Feminine in all her maiden forms.