Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Equinox

Spring has finally arrived! March has roared in like a lion, and if we're really lucky, it will roll out like a lamb.  Meanwhile, on or around the 21st of the month, we have Ostara to celebrate. It's the time of the Spring Equinox if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, and it's a true marker that Spring has come.
The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the spring equinox on March 21.  The Venerable Bede said the origin of the word is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring. Of course, it's also the same time as the Christian Easter celebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well.  For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season.

Beltane and Spring Equinox honor the God as Man, holding His rightful place in the sky as the waxing Sun.  He is King among the deer herds, and the Goddess has taken Him as Her rightful consort once more.  Seeds have been planted and the Goddess is becoming a Mother once again. 

Today many honor Frigg, Freya and Nerthus. Libations of mead are poured onto the Earth.  Ostara celebrates the coming of spring and return of life after the dead of winter.  Many Americans follow the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy.  The Easter Bunny is a popular legendary anthropomorphic Easter gift-giving character analogous to Santa Claus in American culture.

Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Ostara, but typically it is observed as a time to mark the coming of Spring and the fertility of the land.  By watching agricultural changes - such as the ground becoming warmer, and the emergence of plants from the ground - you'll know exactly how you should welcome the season.  To celebrate Spring Equinox some Pagans carry out particular rituals. For instance a woman and a man are chosen to act out the roles of Spring God and Goddess, playing out courtship and symbolically planting seeds.  Egg races, egg hunts, egg eating and egg painting are also traditional activities at this time of year.


Eggs represent new life and new potential, thus they are often used as symbols of Spring festivals.  According to folklore, eggs easily balance on their ends during equinox.  Eggs are often colored and covered with symbols that represent wisdom, strength, and fertility.  Eggs are often given as gifts or charms to children or other loved ones during the festivals.


Get Outside
Get outside for a walk and picnic.  This is the time to run wild like the March Hare!  Gather together a group of friends to celebrate the first signs of spring.  You could even nurture Mother Earth by organizing a litter-pick.  Then settle down on a grassy knoll somewhere to enjoy a delicious picnic of joyful spring food: green leaves, devilled eggs, seeds/grains like couscous or quinoa, and pumpkin and sunflower seeds.


Honor the Birds

On Ostara, you might want to clean the hair out of the family hairbrushes and put it out for the birds to use as nesting material.  When you do, send loving thoughts to the birds that will use your hair to make their homes.


Garden Blessing for Ostara

The earth is cool and dark,
and far below, new life begins.
May the soil be blessed with fertility and abundance,
with rains of life-giving water,
with the heat of the sun,
with the energy of the raw earth.
May the soil be blessed
as the womb of the land becomes full and fruitful
to bring forth the garden anew.


The inherent worth and Dignity of every being.

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