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Ostara - Spring Equinox

Ostara: Oestre, Easter, the Spring Equinox, Vernal (Spring) Equinox, Alban Eiler (Caledonii).

March 20 - 23 Northern Hemisphere / September 20 - 23 Southern Hemisphere

Traditionally March 21st

 

The Spring Equinox is the point of equilibrium - and it celebrates the arrival of Spring, when light and darkness are in balance but the light is growing stronger. The forces of male and female are also in balance.

The Easter Bunny also is of Pagan origin, as are baskets of flowers.

A traditional Vernal Equinox pastime: go to a field and randomly collect wildflowers (thank the flowers for their sacrifice before picking them). Or, buy some from a florist, taking one or two of those that appeal to you. Then bring them home and divine their Magickal meanings by the use of books, your own intuition, a pendulum or by other means. The flowers you've chosen reveal your inner thoughts and emotions.

Cultivating herb gardens is also a fine Ostara project . This is the time to free yourself from anything in the past that is holding you back.

The Following is from Kate West

It is no coincidence that the name for this sabbath sounds similar to the word 'Easter'. Eostre, or Ostara, is an Anglo-Saxon Dawn Goddess whose symbols are the egg and the hare. She, in turn, is the European version of the Goddess Ishtar or Astarte, whose worship dates back thousands of years and is certainly pre-Christian. Eostre also lives on in our medical language in the words 'oestrous' (the sexual impulse in female animals) and 'oestrogen' (a female hormone). Today, Oestara is celebrated as a spring festival. Although the Goddess put on the robes of Maiden at Imbolg, here she is seen as truly embodying the spirit of spring. By this time we can see all around us the awakened land, the leaves on the trees, the flowers and the first shoots of corn.

Oestara is also the Spring Equinox, a time of balance when day and night are equal. As with the other Equinox and the Solstices, the date of this festival may move slightly from year to year, but many will choose to celebrate it on 21 March. In keeping with the balance of the Equinox, Oestara is a time when we seek balance within ourselves. It is a time for throwing out the old and taking on the new. We rid ourselves of those things which are no longer necessary - old habits, thoughts and feelings - and take on new ideas and thoughts. This does not mean that you use this festival as a time for berating yourself about your 'bad' points, but rather that you should seek to find a balance through which you can accept yourself for what you are.

There is some debate as to whether Oestara or Imbolg was the traditional time of spring cleaning, but certainly the casting out of the old would seem to be in sympathy with the spirit of this festival and the increased daylight at this time encourages a good clean out around the home.

AN OESTARA RITUAL

 

The main points of this sabbath are those of balance and of spring.

This ritual is best performed outdoors. In advance you will need to collect a small handful of old leaves and write on each something that you would like to be rid of. Also take a small number of seeds or seedlings (if these seedlings come from the seeds you planted at Imbolg, so much the better), one for each new thing that you wish to attain.

Silently ask the elements, the Goddess and the God to be with you, then when you are ready, dig a hole large enough to give space to the seedlings you wish to grow and place the dead leaves into it. Say, 'Lord and Lady of this time of balance, these are the things I wish to be rid of. As these leaves wither and rot, may I let go of those things that might hold me back'.

Next place one or two seedlings on top of the leaves. Say, 'Lord and Lady, these are the things which I wish to attain in the coming season. Let them grow strong and true from the remains of the old'.

As before, thank the elements, the Goddess and the God.

Remember that for ritual to work, you should give more thought to your preparations than the time you actually spend performing the ritual. In this case, that preparation includes carefully choosing the things you wish to leave behind and the things you wish to take on. On a more practical level, it will also include selecting plants appropriate to your area and climate outside, as well as a suitable place to plant them. If you cannot perform your ritual outside, then you can either scale down everything and work with a single plant pot or you can dedicate your leaves and plant indoors and go out to plant them at a later date.


OTHER WAYS OF MARKING OESTARA

 

* Celebrate the arrival of spring with flowers. Bring them into your own home and, in keeping with the theme of balance, give them to others. You do not have to spend a lot of money - one or two blooms given for no other reason than 'spring is here' can often bring a smile to even the most gloomy face.

* Do a bit of 'personal housekeeping'. We live in an age where guilt is more often encouraged then pride, where we are encouraged to dwell upon our 'negative' points and habits. This is not the way of the Witch. As Witches we must learn to be as honest about our plus points as society would like us to be about our minuses.

Advertising, probably the most pervasive kind of propaganda, encourages us to think
of ourselves as 'less than perfect' unless we look and dress like the people in the
adverts and possess all the things that the advertisers would like us to spend money
on. It is worth bearing in mind that if we truly needed these products then there would
be no need to put them into commercials!

However, to return to the 'personal housekeeping', write a list of 20 of your plus points,
things you are good at, and 20 minus points, things you would like to improve. Try
not to be influenced by stereotypes - many female Witches include 'outspoken' on
their list of negatives, while males will describe the same quality as positive! If you
absolutely must include your physical attributes on the minus list, then make sure
that these are things which you can sensibly expect to change, but don't fall into the
advertisers' trap. From the perspective of the Witch it is far more important that you
should come to terms with the person that you are, rather than worry about the way
people see you.

One of the first tasks of the Witch is to understand and accept themselves, with all
their good and bad points, because it is only when you understand yourself that you
will be in a position to understand others, and therein lies a good portion of Witches'
Magic.

Start to learn about some of the plants and herbs which have been traditionally used
as remedies. A basic knowledge of herbs is part of the heritage of the Witch.


The Simple Facts

Ostara: Vernal (Spring) Equinox, Alban Eiler (Caledonii)
The Spring Equinox is the point of equilibrium - the balance is suspended just before spring bursts forth from winter.
Half fill a bowl with water and place a selection of flowers into it for display in a prominent position in your home.
The night and day are of equal length at the equinox, and Ostara is a festival of balance and fertility.
It is a celebration of birth and new life.
A day when death has no power over the living.
This was the time of the official return of the young Goddess after her Winter hibernation. It is believed that the Goddess and young God consummated their love. From this the Goddess became pregnant with the God to be reborn at Yule.
The God and Goddess are young children at play and holiday festivals use brightly colored eggs to represent the child within.
The Easter Bunny also is of Pagan origin, as are baskets of flowers.
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.

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