Blessings of Ostara!

by Beth on March 20, 2013

A Seed for Spring Equinox
©Annie Finch

Thrusting through the season where I’d waited for spring,
tucking up my head, I felt the slanted weight of clouds
pressing through the sky above me down towards this grave,

till I feel the earth around the place my head has lain
under winter’s touch, and it crumbles. Now I’m going through,
reaching with my head and shoulders past the open crust

dried by spring wind. Sun invites me through the ground
that has grown its cold inside me, made its waiting into food.
Now I watch the watching dark my light’s long-growing dark
makes known.

Welcome Spring!

Today is the Vernal Equinox in the northern hemisphere, and Autumn Equinox in lands below the equator. We celebrate it as the lesser Sabbat named Ostara.  In the northern hemisphere, this day is also known as Lady Day or Alban Eilir (in the Welsh and Druid traditions).

(“Lesser” Sabbat only means that it is a holiday associated with the seasonal quarters – equinoxes and solstices – of the year. The cross-quarters are considered the “Greater Sabbats.”)

At 7:02 a.m. (Eastern time), the subsolar point (the place on the Earth’s surface where the center of the Sun is exactly overhead) crossed the Equator moving northward.  We are all experiencing the same phenomenon: light and the dark are equally in balance.

After today, in the northern hemisphere, there will be more daylight hours than darkness.  The forces of masculine and feminine energy, yin and yang, are also considered to be in balance for this brief moment.

As Winter departs, and Spring arrives for us in the north, the world begins anew. This time has been a universal celebration of the miraculous resurrection of life triumphing over death for many thousands of years, with the Christian God being a rather recent member of a very long lineage.

This is the first day of the astrological year, hence it is International Astrology Day. Today the Sun enters Aries, the first sign of the zodiac and the sign of new beginnings.

Ostara is a time of great fecundity, new growth, and newborn animals and thus is named for Eostre, the Saxon Goddess of fertility (and source of the word “easter” as well as “estrogen”), and Ostara, Her German counterpart. In Neo-Pagan rites, these are the Goddesses most frequently invoked at this Sabbat.

In climates where Winter was a time of constantly living on the edges of death, the return of the Sun, the lengthening of daylight, the warming of the land, and the birth of new livestock were celebrated with gratitude and joy we can scarcely imagine today.

Despite all the hardships and loss our ancestors (and we) may have endured in the Winter, this has always been a time of rejoicing. It is when we call for merriment and healing.

This is the celebration day, when Persephone returns from the Underworld, ending the grief of Her Mother, Demeter. And Amaterasu is coaxed from Her cave of mourning by the laughter of the kami, thanks to the Goddess of the Night and Stars, Amanouzume.

Today we honor the Green Goddess and the Lord of the Greenwood. She blankets the Earth with Her magnificent fertility, bursting forth from Her sleep. And the dazzling young God awakens and grows to maturity.

The Vernal Equinox was a time for blessing the fields and seeds. Pagan customs such as the lighting of new fires at dawn for healing, renewed life, and protection of the crops still survive in parts of America as well as in Europe.

Witches celebrate Ostara in many ways on this day, with dawn fires, ringing bells, and decorating hard-boiled eggs, an ancient practice associated with the Goddess of Fertility long before Easter bunnies replaced Ostara’s sacred hares.

(Here’s a tip to save money and steer clear of toxic materials: Use unsweetened packets of Kool-Aid to dye your eggs, instead of purchasing those specialty kits.)

The Spring Equinox is the time for fresh new beginnings, taking action, planting seeds for future harvests, and of tending gardens. Spring is a time of the Earth’s renewal, a rousing of nature after the cold sleep of winter.

This makes it an important time to clean your home to welcome the new season. Spring cleaning is much more than a yearly chore. It is a sacred rite that rids our homes of any negativity or stuffiness left over from Winter. An energetic and physical clearing for your sacred hearth are ideal at this time.

GaneshaOther things to focus on at this time include working with the energy of openings and new beginnings. Thus, you may wish to invoke Lord Ganesha, who Opens the Way.

Spring is associated with the element of Air, so now is a time to work with communication, ideas, stories and songs, and developing new skills.  In addition to Ostara/Eostre Herself, you might want to invite Aphrodite, Athena, Cybele, Gaia, Hera, Isis, Robin of the Woods, the Green Man, Cernunnos, Thoth, Osiris, or Pan to bless your rites. (Probably not all at once, of course!).

It is also an ideal time for spellwork around fertility and abundance. The most common colors associated with Ostara are pastels, like lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink. Other appropriate colors include grass green, Robin’s egg blue, lavender, and white.

Stones to use during your Spring celebrations may include aquamarine, clear or rose quartz, amethyst, and moonstone.  Rabbits and snakes are frequently associated with this Sabbat (see my March 17 post for more about the snakes).

Ostara PrimrosesAll Spring flowers are energetically ideal, although some experts warn that the Faery Folk are insulted by cut flowers, so a living plant on your altar might be more diplomatic. I love the little primroses that you can sometimes find in grocery stores this time of year.

Stand in the sunlight today, and feel the sap rising in you; the desire stirring within to form new, joyful beginnings.  Now is the time to start putting those promises you made at Imbolc into action, and begin physically manifesting your resolutions.

Today, The Wheel has turned and for the next six months, Light overpowers the Dark. What will you give birth to? What will you grow in your heart’s garden? How will you celebrate this miraculous gift of sparkling new life?

May the Lady and the Lord awaken and bless the seeds of your desires. May you receive the rebirth and renewal you long for most!

Blessed be!

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