An equinox is one of two days during the solar year when the sun crosses Earth’s equator, resulting in both day and night (light and dark) being of approximately equal length. This astronomical event occurs once in the spring, the vernal equinox, and once in the fall, the autumnal equinox. The vernal or spring equinox occurs annually between March 20th – 23rd. During a leap year, it may occur on March 19th. This equinox officially marks the first day of spring in Canada.
Ostara, one of the four Lesser Sabbats, is the Pagan observance of the spring equinox. As the second of the three annual fertility festivals, contemporary Pagans continue to celebrate Earth’s evident return to life during this sabbat in addition to the balance between day and night.
Ostara is one of the newest sabbats. Ancient peoples celebrated the spring season, including Earth’s annual revival, rather than the vernal equinox itself. However, despite a lack of historical origins as a festival, the spring equinox is a part of an Earth cycle that predates humans, when the passive darker half of the year ends and the active lighter half begins. This astronomical balance, along with the fertility of the season, is what contemporary Pagans celebrate during Ostara.
The name Ostara originates from an ancient Germanic goddess, Eostre, of dawn and spring. She is associated with eggs, fertility, hares, rabbits, and the spring season in general. As an explanation for the egg and hare association, contemporary legend has it that Eostre turned a bird into a hare but the transformation wasn’t complete so the hare laid eggs. Otherwise, very little is known about this goddess.
Despite the being origin of the name Easter, the goddess Eostre is not associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ nor with the Christian observance associated with it. Nonetheless, several Pagan spring symbols and activities were historically integrated into Christian Easter celebrations, in all likelihood to encourage Pagans to convert to Christianity.
Actually, many of today’s Easter symbols have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus or his resurrection. For example, the colouring of eggs is an archaic spring activity and prolific rabbits have long been symbols of fertility, both dating back to ancient times, thousands of years before Christianity.
For modern Pagans, Ostara signals the end of the passive dark half of the year and the beginning of the active light half of the year. Signs of fertility and new life have signalled the return of spring.
As such, Ostara is a time of hope and continues to be a favourable time for beginnings and new beginnings as well cleansing, purification, and renewal spellwork.
Also, due to the equinox, Ostara is one of the two most auspicious days for major balancing, centering, and grounding magick.
In addition, spells to attract new love are very effective at this time of year as is conception and fertility magick.
OSTARA MAGICKAL CORRESPONDENCES
MAGICKAL & SPIRITUAL INTENTIONS: Balance; beginnings; centering; change; children spells; cleansing; clearing; fertility; grounding; growth; hope; new beginnings; new love; purification; rebirth; renewal.
ANIMALS: Birds, especially robin, & their eggs; cocoon; hare; rabbit.
COLOURS: Pastel/pale blue, green, lilac, pink, & yellow.
CRYSTALS & STONES: Agate; aquamarine; bloodstone; moonstone; peridot; rose quartz.
DECORATIONS & SYMBOLS: Bird, hare and/or rabbit statues & imagery; coloured or decorated eggs; bird nests; feathers; potted or fresh-cut daffodils, hyacinth or tulips; a young potted plant; pussy willow branches; seeds; soil.
FLOWERS: Daffodil; hyacinth; tulip.
FOOD & DRINK: Chocolate; eggs, especially hard-boiled; dairy; honey; lamb; leafy greens; maple syrup; nuts; seeds; sweet bread, especially Hot Cross Buns; sweet wine.
FRUIT & VEGETABLES: Apple; asparagus; lettuce; radish; spring onion/scallion.
HERBS & SPICES: Dill; ginger; lemon grass; sage (common/garden).
INCENSE: Jasmine; rose.
SMUDGES: Amber resin; cedar leaves.
TREES & SHRUBS: Alder; apple; hawthorn; pine; willow.
As one of the most recently introduced sabbats, Ostara observances are more casual and lighthearted than those of some of the older sabbats. There are many ways to incorporate it into your life as you can make your celebrations as relaxed or as ritualistic as you like. You can celebrate with family and friends or you may prefer to do so your own. There’s no one right way to commemorate any sabbat so it’s best to embrace traditions that you’ll enjoy repeating year after year.
Decorate your altar or other sacred space as well as your home for Ostara with a white candle & a black candle to signify balance; decorated or coloured eggs; bird and rabbit statues or images; potted or fresh-cut daffodils, hyacinths, and/or tulips; feathers; assorted seeds; pastel or pale coloured candles; a bowl of soil and/or a young potted plant – all of which symbolize this sabbat.
Take a grounding bath to balance and center yourself. Prepare what you’ll need ahead of time, for example herbs, essential oils and a clean white towel used only for magick baths.
Hollow some whole eggs, using the directions found here. Afterward, dye and/or decorate them for your altar or other sacred space.
Hard boil some eggs and then decorate them to enjoy eating on Ostara. It’s best not to use these to decorate, however, as they’ll spoil and become bad-smelling.
Meditate to balance and center yourself to prepare for any Ostara magick you wish to work.
To further balance and ground yourself, take a walk outside and witness the rebirth of the nature. Focus on what is happening around you: newly growing grass and flowers; buds and new leaves on trees; the return of migrating birds such as robins; children happily playing outside; the fresh spring air; cleansing spring rains.
Continue planning and preparing your garden. Start plants indoors by planting seeds, using seeds and supplies that you already gathered and blessed during Imbolc, so your seedlings will be ready to transplant in May. You could also use eggshells to plant seeds in, which could then go directly into the ground in late spring.
Bury a raw egg, plain or decorated, in your garden to encourage a fertile garden during the upcoming year.
If the ground is thawed enough, mix crushed eggshells into your soil to attract abundance in general.
Bake and share Hot Cross Buns as they symbolize balance and centering, as well as the relationship between Earth and the sun.
It’s time for spring cleaning, both of the physical and metaphysical variety. Dust and wash counters, furniture, and other surfaces. Cleans sinks, showers, and tubs. Mop or vacuum your floors and follow up with a magick floor wash.
Smudge with cedar leaves to clear and cleanse any remaining negative energies. This is also effective for grounding and protection.
Create your own personalized Ostara ritual and/or celebration, something that has significance to you that also embodies the meaning, which you’ll enjoy repeating every year.
If you are infertile for whatever reason, fertility and/or conception spells will not work. They can only increase the probability of conception, not correct infertility issues. Also, magick should never be used to take the place of advice from a physician, midwife, or any other healthcare professionals nor to delay the seeking or utilization of such health and medical advice.
IMPORTANT: COVID-19 has greatly changed our ability safely interact with others who do not live in our households. Ostara celebrations, however, can still be meaningful nonetheless. Many of the suggested activities can easily be carried out alone or with household members. Otherwise, you can include other family and friends via phone call, video call, and group chats.
Photos & Images: images-free.net · CC0 1.0 / Vian · Wikimedia Commons · CC BY-SA 4.0 · adapted / AnnBoulais · Pixabay · license / David Mark · Pixabay · license / Jasmin Sessler · Pixabay · license / congerdesign · Pixabay · license / Tim Bigger · Pixabay · license / Man Vyi · Wikimedia · CC0 1.0