By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Light rides in on her white horse and defeats the darkness! The world rejoices by the little bluebells daring to peek through the earth and bird’s morning song is chirpier and merrier. There is a freshness in the air which gives promise to happy times ahead. Ostara has arrived!
I hope everyone is in a celebratory mood. We have had much to angst over, whether it’s Brexit or the silly buggars being played out by some national leaders…but we can smile and be cheerful because we know by the breaking of the Ostara sun, things do change. Things do get better. Things which were bleak become rosier. We’ve got this!
How will you celebrate Ostara? I know many will decorate their altars beautifully – I have some gorgeous orchids for mine and a lovely new Morrigan statue, not that the Morrigan is really associated with Ostara but I love, love, love this statue! I shall drape a few flowers over her to zshoosh her up a bit. Apart from gorgeous, Springy altars, what else will you do? Keep in mind Easter will be mentioned a bit in these ideas although Ostara / Spring Equinox is not the same as Easter because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This means that the festival can occur on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Still, much of the symbolism below is something which was implemented from Ostara in pre-Christian times. I hope all this makes sense!
I think the Hare is a good place to start as the Hare is sacred to the Goddess in Celtic tradition. The Hare is also the totem animal of lunar goddesses such as Hecate, Freyja and Holda. Our Hare is representative of rebirth, the moon, fertility, immortality, and abundance. Of course, the Christian religion, with Easter at roughly the same time, has turned the Hare into a cuddly Easter bunny bringing sweets and eggs to all the children. If you have children, you will probably have Easter egg hunts. You may not know that the Easter egg hunt was born from the adult Hare hunting at Easter in England. Hare hunting [hare coursing] used to be a common pastime at Easter. Normally Hare hunting was not allowed apart from this time of year when the date of Easter is determined by the Moon together with the Hare’s strong lunar associations apparently made it alright. Perhaps leaving food for the Hares would be a nice thing to do. Of course, having a Hare representation on your altar is good. A friend of mine makes the loveliest Hare memory boxes where you can store your favourite “memories”, cinema ticket stubs from a special night, pictures of meaningful people, dried flowers from a special person. I think it would make a smashing altar box!
Then, of course, there are eggs! The ultimate symbol of fertility and rebirth. Eggs were not hidden and hunted for until after Christianisation because they took on a whole new meaning from the Pagan meaning. They became the metaphor for Jesus’ resurrection and the shell as the tomb. In Medieval times, eggs were forbidden to be eaten during Lent. It has been said by some that when the adults participated in the Hare hunt, the children were made busy collecting eggs for an after-hunt feast. Of course, through the years and because the Royals, bless them, loved egg hunts, we have managed to turn this one Pagan and Christian shared event into something all children [and adults!] love.
So, of course, the odd egg won’t go amiss on your altar!
Feasting…always popular at any occasion! Pagans seemed to be renowned for the feasting they would do during all Sabbats. It would be rude not to! When you have things to celebrate – the Yule season, Imbolc, Ostara…whatever the occasion, they are all centred around something to celebrate and when one celebrates, one feasts! This is something which can be joined in by with the entire family and even if you live alone and have no family, a nice feast will do you a world of good. Some suggestions for what to cook and bake:
Hot Cross Buns – in the Christian tradition, Hot Cross Buns are reserved for Good Friday but nowadays they are eaten all through Easter. They can just as easily be a part of your Ostara celebrations.
Ostara Bread – Only found out about this recently and can only recall the person who came up with it as being named Deb. I like to give credit where credit is due, but I’m flummoxed on how to find her!
You will need:
3 mugs strong white flour
500 mls buttermilk
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons ground almonds (optional)
3 tablespoons golden syrup
juice of 2 lemons
1 small beaten egg for glazing
soft brown sugar for sprinkling
Blend the ground almonds and flour together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk/lemon juice and golden syrup. Now for the messy bit – mix together with a wooden spoon or with your hands – whichever you prefer. As you do so think of the emerging life we celebrate at this time and add the hopes, ideas and wishes you have for the year to come. Repeat three times:
‘Out of Earth toward the Light, New Beginnings taking Flight…’
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a circle. With a sharp knife lightly score the bread into two halves to represent the Equinox. Glaze with beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the top. Bake in a moderate oven for about 20-25 minutes. When sharing this bread with friends or family you can invite them to add their own wishes to the loaf before it is divided up for all to share.
Thank you, Deb, whomever and wherever you are!
Ostara Incense – For your Ostara ritual, what could be nicer than a Spring-y incense concoction to burn on your altar? Here is one from taken from Scott Cunningham’s book The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews:
Burn during rituals on Ostara [the Spring Equinox, which falls on Tuesday, March 21st this year], or to welcome Spring and to refresh your life.
The materials needed are the following:
*2 parts Frankincense
*1 part Benzoin
*1 part Dragon’s Blood
*half part Nutmeg
*half part Violet Flowers (or a few drops – like 3 – of Violet Oil)
*half part Orange Peel
*half part Rose Petals
*fire-safe incense burner, censer or pot.
For best results, grind the materials in a mortar and pestle. Take a small amount and place on a burning charcoal block in a fire-safe censer or burner.
I would personally add a ground up wood to this incense as we always do but I won’t fiddle Mr Cunningham’s recipe.
Ostara Prayers – You may want to start your day with a prayer to your Deity. Here is a simple one to get you started. I’m sure most of you prefer to be author or authoress of your own prayers and spells.
“Hail Bright Maiden of quicksilver delight,
shine upon me.
Thy morning blessing, which,
like the new dawn, refreshes my Spirit and
lifts my heart with song.
Ostara Meditation – Every day I make a point to meditate for fifteen minutes after lunch. Normally I only focus on my breathing so that I won’t think. I need that time to reset myself for the rest of the day. This Ostara, however, I think my afternoon meditation will be different as I will use this time to reflect on the sabbat and imagine myself taking part in the experience of Ostara and all it represents.
Plant an Ostara tree [or herb or flower]
My hope for you and everyone in your circle of friends and family is that the day is filled with joy and looking forward to new beginnings. I wish the blessings of abundance, kindness, and good health upon all. Many thanks for reading my blog and warmest blessings upon all whom wander this way. Happy Ostara! X
The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, by Scott Cunningham