There comes a day in March, around the third week, that you'll wake up and notice the air getting a little warmer. You'll see that the sun is a little brighter, and hear the birds singing a little louder. Spring has finally come!
Ostara (spring equinox) marks the equal length of night and day at the equinox. The ground is ready for seeds to be planted. It is a time of growth and abundance. For us Wiccans, this is when the Goddess is in full bloom as the Maiden, while the God has matured into a vigorous young man.
The coming of spring has been celebrated for thousands of years by many cultures around the world.
In ancient Rome, those who followed the Mother Goddess Cybele celebrated the cycle of birth, death, and resurrection of Attis. He is believed to have been Cybele's consort, and his resurrection fell on the spring equinox.
For centuries, the indigenous Mayans in Central America honored the "Return of the Sun Serpent" during the sunset of the day of the equinox. Even today, large crowds gather to witness an optical illusion on one side of the pyramid called El Castillo. The lengthening shadows cast by the setting sun on the western face of the pyramid create an image of a large snake crawling down the pyramid's staircase.
In Europe, monk and historian St. Bede documented the feast day of the Germanic Goddess of Spring, Ostara. It is believed that Eostre was her Saxon counterpart. Ostara's feast day was held on the first full moon after the spring equinox, almost the same time as Easter. According to a popular legend, Eostre was walking outside in late winter when she found a wounded bird. She transformed the bird into a hare, but did not do it completely. While the animal looked like a hare, it was still able to lay eggs. So, as a gift to Eostre, the hare decorated these eggs and gave them to Eostre.
For our ancestors, Ostara declared the arrival of a new crop season. The spring equinox meant a fresh period of planting seeds and newborn animal offspring, in hopes of having an abundant harvest much later in the year. The young Sun God will take the hand of the Maiden goddess in marriage, and in nine months she will become the Goddess in her Mother aspect. Ostara is a great season of fecundity and fruitfulness.
As with other Sabbats, where Christian holidays take on pagan traditions, a lot of similarities exist between Ostara and Easter. Aside from the shared lore of the Germanic goddess Ostara and Oestre, the Maiden Goddess' conception narrative was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation. The Greek goddess Aphrodite and her Roman counterpart Venus also had festivals during this time.
How you celebrate Ostara depends on your particular tradition, and whether you belong in a coven or if you're a solitary witch. The common themes are rebirth and restoration, fertility, and bounty.
You can celebrate your altar using "new beginnings" symbols, such as seedlings, fresh flowers, eggs, rabbit figurines. Use bright, vibrant colors that resemble the Sun that is growing stronger each day.
The type of magick that you can do at this time involves bringing in the new and getting rid of the old. There's serpent magick, egg magick, magickal gardening, and many more!
Deities: Ostara, Cybele, Asase Yaa, Freya, Osiris, Saraswati
Symbolism: Rebirth, the marriage of the Maiden Goddess and the young Sun God, fertility, abundance, planting of seed and grain
Decorations: Eggs, hares/bunnies, leafy branches, flowers
Colors: Green, yellow, brown, pastel colors
Food: eggs, shoots and sprouts, leafy greens, marshmallow Peeps, sunflower or pumpkin seeds
Herbs: Olive, peony, narcissus, daffodils, and other flowers that bloom in the spring
Incense: rose, strawberry, jasmine, and other floral incenses
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