Ostara, also known as the Spring equinox and the Pagan Easter, is time of balance and equilibrium – day and night are equal and the wheel is, for the moment, balanced. You can see signs of rebirth and life all around you in the natural world; flowers are blooming, the birds migrate home to lay their eggs, and if you’re lucky you may even see a mother fox and her pups. During Imbolc we welcomed back the Sun and celebrated the triumph of light, now during Ostara that we can begin to truly see those changes. Today we will discuss the history of Ostara, its lore, symbols and how you can celebrate at home.
HISTORY AND LORE.
Ostara is the Pagan version of “Easter” (Ēostre) – or rather, Ostara is the day that Christians borrowed to be their Easter. Ostara is named from the Germanic goddess, Eostre/Ostara, who was traditionally honored in the month of April and celebrated with rituals and festivals of fertility, renewal and re-birth. We can still see many symbols from these festivals in the decorations we use today such as the hare, eggs, daffodils and many more! This is the second of the three spring festivals and will always fall between March 20-23 depending upon which day the equinox arrives.
In the story of the Goddess and God, Ostara is a time to celebrate the Goddess is in her young Maiden aspect, the Horned God is also young and vibrant – together the two of them revel in their youth until they mature and marry at Beltane (May 1).
The Christian version of Easter incorporates many Pagan symbols unbeknownst to many Christians – such as eggs, rabbits, clovers and lambs and as with many Christian holidays these symbols and traditions were incorporated into their own to make the conversion of early Pagans easier. The egg is a symbol of fertility and rebirth and it’s symbolism is celebrated almost universally by ancient cultures. The Egyptians and Chinese all had their own customs of coloring eggs, today still you will find that painted eggs are a very popular and collectible Chinese art form. The legend of the Easter bunny and hiding of eggs are rooted in germanic folklore and traditions. So too the hare and lamb are the symbols of the the goddess Eostre, a Goddess of renewal and fertility. For Christians Easter is a day to remember the death of Jesus and but also to celebrate his resurrection, however early Christians historically did not celebrate Easter as we do today. It wasn’t until the year 325 C.E. the church actually even established the date of Easter, which they proclaimed will be the first Sunday after the full moon following the Spring Equinox (Ostara).
RITUAL AND OBSERVANCE.
It is common practice during Ostara to use this time to free yourself from things which hinder progress – hints the classic “spring cleaning” which we can apply to both our inner selves and our home. During this Sabbat we are celebrating the end of winter the triumphant rebirth of spring so many of the rituals that are practiced on this Sabbat revolve around these themes – ends and new beginnings.
You can celebrate at home in numerous different ways here are just a few:
- Do some planting, either blessing seeds into the soil or transplanting seedlings.
- Work in the garden or the yard clearing away the dead foliage from winter, look for signs of new life and fertilize your bushes and trees with compost.
- Meditate on the rising sun and the lengthening days.
- Paint and consume hard boiled eggs. Eggs represent fertility and rebirth.
- Decorate your altar with the symbols of Ostara – eggs, feathers, flowers, seeds, rabbits.
- Write down a wish or goal you want to accomplish this season, roll the paper as though its a scroll and “plant” it into the earth. Cover the hole and take time each day to meditate on your scroll.
- Clean your home, focus on renewal and the banishing of harmful energies. Many witches use their ceremonial besome to sweep out the home as well.
- Smudge your home with sage bundles to remove any residual energies from the past year.
- Have breakfast for dinner! Both dairy, biscuits and eggs are had in plenty for an Ostara dinner.
SYMBOLS: Eggs, hares, deer, lambs, foxes, four-leaf clovers, flowers, seeds, baskets
COLORS: Green, yellow, white, and all pastel colors
ANIMALS: Hares, deer, chicks, lambs, butterflies, baby animals
GODDESSES: Eostre, Persephone, Diana, Astarte, Hera, Venus
GODS: Pan, Dionysus, Eros, The Green Man, Ares, Thoth
INCENSE: Jasmine, sage, rose, violet, and honeysuckle.
CANDLES: White, silver, gold, yellow, pink
PLANTS: All new growth, all bulbous flowers, ash, birch, dogwood, olive, iris, honeysuckle, tulips, iris, peony
STONE: Clear quartz, rose quartz. jasper, moonstone, opal, turquoise
ALTAR DECOR: Flowers, eggs (painted or plain), birds nests, seeds, budding flowers, stag antlers, light colored feathers
FOODS: Dairy products, eggs, biscuits, hot cross buns, roasted seeds, sprouts, spinach, lettuce, bacon, maple syrup
sources: plentifulearth,com, whitegoddess.co.uk, wikipedia, thoughtco