What is Ostara?
Ostara is the Spring Equinox, also known as Alban Eiber, Bacchanalia, Caisg, Eostre’s Day, Lady Day, Mean Earraigh, Pasch, Pess, Vernal Equinox. The Spring Equinox occurs between March 19th and 21st. This year it is on March 20th. Ostara marks the day when night and day are equal and balanced. The festival celebrates the end of the dark and cold days of winter.
Ostara is a time to celebrate the arrival of Spring, the renewal and rebirth of Nature herself, and the coming lushness of Summer. The equinoxes are the balancing points in the cycle of the seasons, when the day and night are of equal length, reminding us of the harmony of the whole; yet the light is growing stronger by the day. The forces of masculine and feminine energy, yin and yang, are also in balance at this time. Buds of flowers and leaf, all manner of eggs, and just-born life are celebrated in decorations and imagery as Pagans rejoice in the Earth’s reawakening. This is a time to plant the seeds of our flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardens.
Eostre [pronounced ESS-trah or Y’OSE-tree] is an Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the dawn, from whom “East” (where the sun rises) and “Easter” got its name – as the fertility goddess of the Northern European peoples, her legend was manipulated by the invading Romans – newly Christianised, they merged Eostre’s spring legend to coincide with the time of Christ’s resurrection. When the Saxons invaded Britain, they brought this vigorous Goddess with them and she was eventually adopted into the Celtic pantheon. She is also goddess Ostara, the maiden, in German mythology, celebrated when night and day are equal and balanced (the spring equinox for the northern hemisphere) and is the one for whom the Ostara Sabbat is named. She is seen as spring personified, a Goddess of rebirth, new beginnings, and fertility.
The modern belief that eggs are delivered by a rabbit comes from the legend of the Goddess Eostre. Eostre was walking one fine Spring day and came upon a beautiful little bird. The poor bird’s wing was badly injured and Eostre, feeling great compassion for the little creature, wanted to heal it. But the little bird’s wing was so badly damaged that Eostre knew it would never be able to fly again even after she healed it. So, Eostre decided to help the bird by healing it in a way that would give it mobility and a little something more… She turned it into a hare!
During the transformation, the hare retained the ability to lay eggs. The hare was so grateful to Eostre for saving its life that it laid a sacred egg in her honor, joyously decorated it and then humbly presented it to the Goddess. She was so pleased and so touched by the hare’s thoughtful gift that she wished all humankind to share in her joy. In honoring her wishes, the hare went all over the world distributing these beautifully decorated little gifts of life and continues to do so even today.
Over time, the story has changed a little, with the hare becoming a rabbit, giving rise to the “Easter Bunny” instead of the “Easter Hare”.
Symbolism of Ostara:
Spring symbolizes the coming of light after a long winter. Use symbols that speak to you, that remind you of the warmth and joy of Spring in your own practice.
Symbols and Decor of Ostara:
Baskets, budding twigs, butterflies, bees, cocoons, colored ribbons, eggs, flowers, four-leaf clovers, hare, lamb, New Moon, pussy willow, rabbits, sprouting bulbs, wildflowers.
Animals of Ostara:
Chicks, dragons, hares, lambs, merpeople, pegasus, rabbits, robins, snakes, swallows, unicorns.
Herbs and Flowers of Ostara:
Acorn, celandine, cinquefoil, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, Easter lily, forsythia, ginger, gorse, honeysuckle, hyssop, Irish moss, iris, linden, jasmine, jonquils, narcissus, olive, peony, pine, primrose, rose, strawberry, tansy, violets, woodruff, all spring flowers.
Foods of Ostara:
Apples, asparagus, chocolates, dairy foods, dandelions, eggs, egg nog, fish, flower dishes, fresh seasonal fruits, hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, hot cross buns, jelly beans, lamb, leafy green vegetables, lemonade, maple sugar candies, mead, milk, nuts, punch, seeds, sprouts, sweetbreads, veal.
Incenses and oils of Ostara:
African violet, ginger, jasmine, lavender, lotus, magnolia, narcissus, rose, sage, strawberry.
Colors of Ostara:
Gold, grass green, light green, lemon yellow, pale pink, pastels, robin’s egg blue.
Stones of Ostara:
Amethyst, aquamarine, bloodstone, jasper, moonstone, red jasper, rose quartz.
Activities of Ostara:
Seed blessings and indoor planting rituals, make dyed eggs, tell stories of Simon Wileby, wear green, toss crushed eggshells into your garden (eggshells feed the fairy folk, promotes fertility, and is great for your garden's soil providing extra minerals and nutrients), a good time for working on new ideas, seeking harmony, finding the balance within oneself.
Spellworkings of Ostara:
Magic for new beginnings, new life, rebirth, fertility, balance, communication, growth, agriculture, planting, love, sex.
Deities of Ostara:
Goddesses- Virgin Goddesses, Moon Goddesses, Goddesses of Love, Fertility Goddesses. Anna Perenna, Aphrodite, Astarte, Athena, Cybele, Blodeuwedd, Eostre, Flidais, Gaia, Hera, Ishtar, Isis, Libera, Minerva, The Muses, Persephone, Renpet, Venus, Lady of the Lake.
Gods-Gods of Love, Moon Gods, Gods of Song & Dance, some Fertility Gods. Adonis, Attis, Cernunnos, The Great Horned God, Liber, Mars, Mithras, Odin, Osiris, Thoth, Pan, the Green Man.