Spring has officially arrived with the dawning of beautiful Ostara…it’s time to herald in the warmer temps and the pretty bluebells…life is new-born and fresh once again as we slough off the oppressiveness of winter and hopefully, for most of us, no more snow!
Ostara or Eostra, is an Anglo-Saxon Goddess representing dawn. Many Wiccans and NeoPagans reckon that the Christian religion took the name and fashioned it into Easter to represent Spring and rebirth, namely in the person of Jesus Christ, although there is, to my knowledge, no solid proof of this being the case, the original Celtic Calendar [do NOT confuse it with the Celtic Birth Tree Calendar, as the Celtic Calendar is far older and more like the Gregorian Calendar we go by today] is a compilation of pre-Christian Celtic systems of timekeeping, including the Gaulish Coligny calendar, used by Celtic countries to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals. In the old Celtic Calendar, the beginning of Spring was called earrach, robarta, arragh, gwanwyn, gwainten, or reverzi, depending on where you lived… these were names coming from Old Irish, Modern Irish, Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton languages, respectively. None of them sound or even resemble Ostara – however! – in the Proto-Celtic language, there was a word for “end of winter” which is “ers-āko” which may possibly have given rise to the Ostara/Eostra/Easter word of today.
Many thinks that the ritual of welcoming in the seasons and the quarter years as a lot of NeoPagan/Wiccan hoo-hah but not so. If you study the Celtic Calendar you will see that, although the names of the seasons and quarter years are not matching what we call them today, they very much celebrated these events. Even the half year was an event as half the year is light and half the year is dark. But, let us get back to Ostara, shall we?
Ostara or whatever they called it back in the day, was celebrated much as people celebrate Easter today, with eggs, rabbits/bunnies, flowers and such. It was, and still is, a time of fertility and birth. Cleaning out their hutches of the leavings of winter and airing out… probably making a great show of washing the winter clothing and all! It would not be a stretch of the imagination that our forebears did not wash themselves or their clothing all winter. It was, after all, very cold, and they did not have central heating or floor heating…no proper bathroom either as it were. The layer of filth on their skin most likely helped to keep them warm. Indeed, it was an enjoyable time to celebrate being able to clean up and bring forth the light and colours of Spring! And we have continued through the ages to do a “Spring clean” each year.
So, how does the Modern Pagan celebrate this time of year? If you keep an altar or altars, dress them up with fresh cut flowers. Hand-paint boiled eggs with your children or friends, hide and hunt them. Drink Dandelion and Burdock. Clean your home. And, for pities’ sakes…take a bath 😊
We here at Speaking of Witch Wands hope you have a wonderful Ostara. There is no set way to celebrate it, do whatever is in your heart. Just enjoy the warmer weather and flowers with your friends and family and warmest blessings upon all. )O(
Ostara ~ Fertility, from the Goddess Guidance Oracle Card deck, by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D ~ https://archangeloracle.com/2015/01/07/ostara-fertility/