(March 21 -23)
Pronounced: Oh-stare-ah Oh-STAR-a From the name of the Goddess Eostre and her celebration Eostara that takes place the first full moon after the Equinox
Also called: Lady Day, Alban Eiler (Druidic), Eostara (Teutonic), Oestara, Eostra, Eos (Greek), Alban Eilir (Druidic), Spring Equinox, Vernal Equinox, Summer Finding (Asatru), Naw Ruz (Persian New Year), Alban Elfed, Festival of Trees, No Ruz, Ostra, Rites of Spring
Marks the first day of true spring. The Goddess blankets the Earth with fertility, bursting forth from Her sleep, as the God stretches and grows to maturity. On Ostara the hours of day and night are equal. Light is overtaking darkness. Traditionally this was the time to begin planting the crops.
Ostara is a fertility festival celebrating the birth of Spring and the reawakening of life from the Earth. At the moment of the Vernal Equinox night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase The energies of Nature subtly shift from the sluggishness of Winter to the exuberant expansion of Spring. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals. The Goddess blankets the Earth with fertility as she bursts forth from Her Winter’s sleep. The young God stretches and grows to maturity as he walks the greening fields and delights in the abundance of nature. In some traditions this is the time that the young Sun God now celebrates a sacred marriage with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. I other traditions the sacred marriage is celebrated at Beltane.
Traditionally, Ostara is a time for collecting wildflowers, walking in nature’s beauty and cultivating herb gardens. This is the time to free yourself from anything in the past that is holding you back. At this time we think of renewing ourselves. We renew our thoughts, our dreams, and 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.
Many of the myths hold that the egg is sacred to life on earth. It represents life just as a circle can represent eternal life. The golden orb of its yolk represents the Sun God, its white shell is seen as the White Goddess, and the whole is a symbol of rebirth.
The Spring Equinox is a time of new beginnings, of action, of planting seeds for future grains, and of tending gardens. Spring is a time of the Earth’s renewal, a rousing of nature after the cold sleep of winter.Seeds are like eggs. While eggs contain the promise of new animal life, seeds hold the potential of a new plant.
Fires were one of the ways pagans celebrated the coming of spring. They called these fires Spring fires. Until 752 A.D these fires were forbidden by the Christian laws. It was St. Patrick who gave rebirth to these fires as Easter Fires. The people would gather outside the church on Easter Eve and light a fire. Before they returned home each person would light a stick from the fire and take it home with them. All the flames in the house would come from that fire. The meaning behind these fires is “Life and light triumph over death and darkness
Cakes or Hot cross buns
Baskets and goodies
It is 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 and Easter baskets.
The Easter basket filled with its myriad of goodies originates from the ancient Catholic custom of taking the food for Easter dinner to mass to be blessed. This, too, mirrored the even more ancient ritual of bringing the first crops and seedlings to the temple to insure a good growing season.
It is customary to leave food and drink out for the fairies on the nights of festivals, and it is believed that if the fairies are not honored with gifts at these times, they will work mischief in our lives. At Ostara, it is customary to leave something sweet (honey, or mead, or candy)and this could be connected to the Easter basket tradition. Perhaps a gift of sweets corresponds to the sweet nectar gathering in new spring flowers.
The astrological sign of Aries (denoted by a lamb or sheep symbol) begins at this time. Sheep who have given birth around Imbolc have lambs that are large enough for slaughter. This was important to ancient herders since it was a time of year when the larders were basically empty.
Chicks and Ducklings
Left under natural light and allowed sunshine, the laying pattern of hens and ducks will follow the yearly day length. This means it will slack off in the fall, stopping entirely at Yule when the days are darkest. The laying will again starting in late February or early March. This means by the equinox the egg production is in full swing and many tiny new lives have hatched out.
One of the Goddess Eostre’s symbols was the bunny which symbolized for fertility and because the Ancient Ones who worshipped her often saw the image of a rabbit in the full moon.
The rabbit is an enduring symbol of fertility and desire, or “spring fever” and worldwide, rabbits or hares co-exist with the moon as sacred symbols of vitality, fertility and the life-force. A rabbit’s gestation period is approximately one month, and it tends to be the first animal to give birth in the springtime
Germanic lore states that the rabbit so loved and revered the Goddess that he laid eggs, decorated them beautifully, and presented the eggs to the Goddess as a gift. Eostre was so
delighted with the gift that she wished all people could experience her joy. In order to further please his beloved Lady, the rabbit roamed the world delivering the sacred eggs to humanity.
One of the Goddess Eostre’s chief symbols was the egg (representing the cosmic egg of creation).
Each year, on March 21, the ancient Persians celebrated the festival of the solar New Year by presenting each other with colored eggs. The ancient Egyptians also celebrated the solar New Year by dyeing eggs and offering them up to their gods.
In ancient days, eggs were gathered and used for the creation of talismans and also ritually eaten. The gathering of different colored eggs from the nests of a variety of birds is thought to have given rise to two traditions still observed today – the Easter egg hunt, and coloring eggs in imitation of the various pastel colors of wild birds
The beautifully decorated eggs from the Ukraine (pysanky) are covered with magical symbols for protection, fertility, wisdom, strength and other qualities. They are given as gifts and used as charms.
Colors: Spring Green, yellow, white, pastels in blue and purple.
Decorations: Colored eggs, rabbits, spring flowers, seeds, gardening tools
Food: Fruits, seeds, cupcakes, carrot cake, eggs, lamb, chickens and duck
Incense: Jasmine, rose, strawberry
Herbs: Honeysuckle, iris, peony, violet, all spring flowers