Friday, 18 March 2011

Ostara - The Spring Equinox

Ostara - Festival of Balance and Potential

The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the spring equinox on March 21.

Ostara is the Spring Equinox, and is celebrated as the first day of Spring, when day and night are equal in both hemispheres. All of nature is now stirring and showing signs of activity after the Winter sleep.

The power of the Sun is increasing, the days are lengthening and the nights are shortening.

We can use the potential and fertility of this time to create opportunities for positive change in our lives and in the world. At this point we are poised between opposite forces, light and dark, receptive and active, unconscious and conscious, inner and outer. These can be united within us so that we are whole and balanced individuals. This gives birth to actions that come from the heart.

For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season.

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 the 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.

At this time of year we can inspire each other with prophecies of hope, the power of ‘we’ and our willingness and power to bring change into the world as we create opportunities for a bright new future. Bring the spark of fertility to your most positive actions, feel the winds of change and the potential we are part of vibrating in every cell in your body!

Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds and so nature's fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol -- this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn't enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.

Eostre was the Saxon version of the Germanic goddess Ostara. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox. 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."

Deity: Adonis, Attis, Cernunnos, Great Horned God, Green Man, Mars, Mithras, Odin, Osiris, Pan, Aphrodite, Astarte, Athena, Cybele, Demeter, Eostre, Gaia, Hera, Ishtar, Isis, Minerva, Ostara, Persephone, Persepine, The Muses, Venus

Colours: light blue, red, lemon, pastel colours, pink, light green

Symbols: Eggs, Green Man, Hares, Rabbits

Animals: Chicks, hares, rabbits, snakes, swallows

Herbs: Broom, celandine, cinquefoil, elder, ginger, jasmine, mugwort, sage, St Johns Wort, vervain

Food: Eggs, fish, honey, moon cakes (hot cross buns), leafy green vegetables, sweet food

Incense/Oils: Violet, honeysuckle, jasmine, lavender, lotus, magnolia, rose, strawberry

Plants: Broom, crocus, daffodils, easter lily, gorse, honeysuckle, hyacinth, jasmine, lily, pansy, peony, rose, tansy, violet, cherry, dogwood, forsythia, willow

Stones: Amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone, moonstone, red jasper, rose quartz

Blessings of Ostara!


Main image is by Glennie Kindred prints are available from her website.


Patti Wigington
Glennie Kindred

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