OSTARA (pronounced O-STAR-ah) is usually celebrated on the Vernal or Spring Equinox right around March 21 (although it often celebrated on the fixed date of March 25). Other names by which this Sabbat may be known are Oestara, Eostre’s Day, Rite of Eostre, Alban Eilir, Festival of the Trees, and Lady Day. The Christian holiday of Easter is very near this same time, (notice the similarity in name?), & is determined as the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox.
The name for this Sabbat actually comes from that of the Teutonic lunar Goddess, Eostre. Her chief symbols were the bunny (for fertility & because the Ancient Ones who worshiped her often saw the image of a rabbit in the full moon), & the egg (representing the cosmic egg of creation). This is where the customs of “Easter Eggs” & the “Easter Bunny” originated.
Ostara is a time to celebrate the arrival of Spring, the renewal & rebirth of Nature herself, & the coming lushness of Summer. It is at this time when light & darkness are in balance, yet the light is growing stronger by the day. The forces of masculine & feminine energy, yin & yang, are also in balance at this time. At this time we think of renewing ourselves. We renew our thoughts, our dreams, & our aspirations. We think of renewing our relationships. This is an excellent time of year to begin anything new or to completely revitalize something. This is also an excellent month for prosperity rituals or rituals that have anything to do with growth.
Customs such as the lighting of new fires at dawn for cure, renewed life, & protection of the crops still survive in the Southern Americas as well as in Europe. Eggs were gathered & used for the creation of talismans & also ritually eaten. The gathering of different colored eggs from the nests of a variety of birds has given rise to two traditions still observed today – the Easter egg hunt, & coloring eggs in imitation of the various pastel colors of wild birds. It is also believed that humankind first got the idea of weaving baskets from watching birds weave nests. This is perhaps the origin of the association between colored Easter eggs & Easter baskets.
There is much symbolism in eggs themselves. The golden orb of its yolk represents the Sun God, its white shell is seen as the White Goddess, & the whole is a symbol of rebirth. The Goddess Eostre’s patron animal was the hare.
The Spring Equinox is a time of new beginnings, of action, of planting seeds for future grains, & of tending gardens. Spring is a time of the Earth’s renewal, a rousing of nature after the cold sleep of winter. As such, it is an ideal time to clean your home to welcome the new season. “Spring cleaning” is much more than simply physical work. It may be seen as a concentrated effort to rid your home of the problems & negativity of the past months, & to prepare for the coming spring and summer. To do this, we may approach the task of cleaning our homes with positive thoughts. This frees the home of any negative feelings brought about by a harsh winter. A common rule of thumb for Spring cleaning is that all motions involving scrubbing of stains or hand rubbing the floors should be done “clockwise”. This custom aids in filling the home with good energy for growth.
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, Hera, 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 & new beginnings. Work for improving communication & group interaction are recommended, as well as fertility & 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.
The most common colors associated with Ostara are lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink. Other appropriate colors include grass green, all pastels, Robin’s egg blue, violet, & white.
Stones to use during the Ostara celebration include aquamarine, rose quartz, & moonstone. Animals associated with Ostara are rabbits & snakes. Mythical beasts associated with Ostara include unicorns, merpeople, & pegasus. Plants & herbs associated with Ostara are crocus flowers, daffodils, jasmine, Irish moss, snowdrops, & ginger.
For Ostara incense, you could make a blend from any of the following scents or simply choose one… jasmine, frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, cinnamon, nutmeg, aloes wood, benzoin, musk, African violet, sage, strawberry, lotus, violet flowers, orange peel, or rose petals.
Foods in tune with this day (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 & ham. You may also include foods made of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin & sesame seeds, as well as pine nuts. Sprouts are equally appropriate, as are leafy, green vegetables. Flower dishes such as stuffed nasturtiums or carnation cupcakes also find their place here. (Find a book of flower cooking or simply make spice cupcakes. Ice with pink frosting and place a fresh carnation petal on each cupcake. Stuff nasturtium blossoms with a mixture made of cream cheese, chopped nuts, chives & watercress.)
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A Spring Imagination
With all the busyness of modern life what would it be like to take a moment to acknowledge the transition into the joys of Spring…? Find a comfortable, quiet place to just be…go ahead, relax & center yourself with a few deep breaths…Ahhh, yes…now, Journey inward…Imagine that you are walking in a hilly countryside. It is just before dawn. The earth is stirring, nearing the end of its Winter-time rest.
You face East & watch the Sun as it begins to rise, rays of light shimmer onto the land & into the sky. Experience the beautiful cresting colors of light that is the Dawn.
Now, as the glowing disc of the Sun becomes visible above the hills, you see a beautiful Being appear in the distance, as if from the Eastern light itself. She is beginning to come toward you. As she moves, the earth awakens with new life.
Could it be that your imaginative thinking has brought Ostara, the Goddess of Spring, to you in the form of a Beautiful Maiden? You see her radiant face and bright flowing gown.
She is carrying a golden basket filled with eggs. Beside her is a bouncy rabbit, her companion. As they come closer, you see that with each step, the land around them bursts into new life, growing green & lush. New grasses sprout from the ground. Herbs flourish.
Trees grow fresh buds and leaves.
You call out a welcome to them & to the Spring they bring. As you meet face to face, you see that the Goddess Ostara & her cottontail are both beaming a welcome to you.
Ostara then holds her basket up & invites you to choose one of the eggs. Could it be a gift of rejuvenation? You notice that each egg has a different color.
You see the beautiful array of choices. Which one calls to you?
Do you feel more drawn to one than the others? Go ahead pick it up. What does it feel like to hold the egg that you have selected in your hands?
First focus on its color &reflect on why you chose it…Then, Ostara invites you to deepen your focus, To look into the essence of this object of fertility, to see if you might receive
a message about your own personal growth. Perhaps you are quiet as you touch its cool smooth surface, or maybe you feel like singing or dancing as you pay attention to whatever words, symbols, sensations, impressions, or thoughts that may emerge…
Ostara now invites you to take this Sacred Egg with its power of regeneration into yourself.
Will you peel it & take a big bite? Perhaps you will plant it, like a seed, into the earth,
Maybe you will draw sacred symbols of inspirations on it, or perhaps you will gift it to someone special?
Become immersed in this experience…Feel the wholeness within, as you radiate vitality through your offering. What would it be like to really feel a new strength grow within you? To really Know that it will continue to grow, even after you end this little journey.
Reflect once more on the color & message of your Sacred Egg…
Then bid Ostara & her companion farewell…for now…
Remembering that they will always live within your consciousness bringing guidance to your Springtime growth…
When you feel ready, take several deep breaths.
Then slowly rise, stretch, & orient to the here & now,
as you carry back into life the celebration of Spring.
Perhaps you’ll go out to greet the dawn tomorrow morning,
taking a few moments to recall your experiences, including any questions or guidance you may have received…Letting the energy of Spring continue to shine within you
as you go about your day.
~Hazel Archer Ginsberg