Spring Equinox – Ostara – Easter
As we roll with the wheel of the year, a shift of energy is coming through our senses. Flowers start to bloom and new odors rise from the soil… the animals are preparing to have their young… the sun becomes stronger and the song of nature becomes louder… The Earth is fertile in estrus and invites all living beings to the party of creation. The moment of the shift, where the light of the active day becomes equal to the darkness of the receptive night is called Spring Equinox or Ostara…It is this moment of perfect balance between light and dark, inner world and outer manifestation, expansion and contraction, male and female, yin and yang. This year is on the 20th of March. After this moment of balance, the light will increase and days will be longer and warmer as Spring is now leading the dance of life.
Oestre – the Spring Maiden
The Spring Equinox is represented by the spring Maiden that holds a willow basket of eggs. She brings new life. The egg symbolizes the rebirth of nature, it is the potential of life, full of promise. Oestre, a lunar Goddess of fertility is the root of the word “oestrus”, the time in an animal’s sexual cycle when it is fertile and estrogen, the hormone stimulating ovulation. In Pagan tradition, the young Sun God now celebrates a sacred marriage with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. The church overlaid this festival with Easter and its theme of rebirth and resurrection from death. Its timing is based on the old lunar calendar: the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.
In ancient Rome, the followers of Cybele believed that their goddess had a consort who was born via a virgin birth. His name was Attis, and he died and was resurrected each year during the time of the vernal equinox on the Julian Calendar. The indigenous Mayan people in Central America have celebrated a spring equinox festival for ten centuries. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid, El Castillo in Mexico, its “western face…is bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. The lengthening shadows appear to run from the top of the pyramid’s northern staircase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a diamond-backed snake in descent.” This has been called “The Return of the Sun Serpent” since ancient times. Greek Goddess Persephone is ascending from the underworld to reunite with her mother Demeter.
To honor the energies of this time of year, you can decorate your altar with fresh flowers, bulbs, and seasonal herbs. Images of hares (rabbits), eggs and pastel colors are also traditional decorations. Other symbols are the Celtic cross, the entwined serpent, the spiral, the 6 pointed star and the Chinese symbol of yin/yang. Foods appropriate for Ostara celebrations include eggs, sprouts, young greens, and other seasonal crops such as asparagus and fiddle-head ferns. Equinox rituals often focus on balance and promote renewal.
Here are some ideas about what you can do to welcome the spring:
✿ Give your house a spring clean, bring in some flowers and get rid of unused stuff, ideas, habits!
✿ Plant new seeds of herbs and flowers, especially those which you can dry in later months for ceremony, medicine and cooking.
✿ Burn lavender to welcome spring and hang around yellow and green ribbons.
✿ Make flags to carry your prayers and your wishes with the wind. You can use wooden sticks and pieces of paper or fabric cloths that you don’t use. Glue, sow, make the flags with the intention to invoke energy and bring balance in your life.
✿ Decorate hen’s eggs hard boiled or blown and hung them around or put them in your shrine. Be creative with materials and colors. Eggs were part of the druid rituals and represent fertility and the circle of life.
✿ Make time to meditate with the trees. Put your back against its trunk, feel its life force energy and be receptive to impressions.
✿ Spell or write down some positive affirmations – repetitive statements said in the present tense. They act like a meditative mantra and will break negative thought patterns that don’t serve you anymore. Use the power of equinox to bring balance in your life.
On this day be outside and enjoy the elements, the wind, the rain, the sunshine! Celebrate the end of winter and rejoice the dance of spring renewal. Be a mad March hare, run wild and expand! Honor the Earth and the fertility of all life, the birds, the plants, the animals, the fish and the insects, the herbs for medicine, the food growing for us to eat. Honor the balance of the Sun and the Moon, the male and the female and the power of their union!