Posts Tagged With: Spring Equinox

Deities of the Spring Equinox

Deities of the Spring Equinox

 

Spring is a time of great celebration in many cultures. It’s the time of year when the planting begins, people begin to once more enjoy the fresh air, and we can reconnect with the earth again after the long, cold winter. A number of different gods and goddesses from different pantheons are connected with the themes of Spring and Ostara. Lets take a look at some of the many deities associated with spring, rebirth, and new life each year.

 

Asase Yaa (Ashanti)

This earth goddess prepares to bring forth new life in the spring, and the Ashanti people of Ghana honor her at the festival of Durbar, alongside her husband Nyame, the sky god who brings rain to the fields. As a fertility goddess, she is often associated with the planting of early crops during the rainy season. In some parts of Africa, she is honored during an annual (or often bi-annual) festival called the Awuru Odo. This is a large gathering of extended family and kinship groups, and a great deal of food and feasting seems to be involved.

In some Ghanaian folktales, Asase Yaa appears as the mother of Anansi, the trickster god, whose legends followed many West Africans to the New World during the centuries of the slave trade.

Interestingly, there do not appear to be any formalized temples to Asase Yaa – instead, she is honored in the fields where the crops grown, and in the homes where she is celebrated as a goddess of fertility and the womb. Farmers may opt to ask her permission before they begin working the soil. Even though she is associated with the hard labor of tilling the fields and planting seeds, her followers take a day off on Thursday, which is her sacred day.

 

Cybele (Roman)

This mother goddess of Rome was at the center of a rather bloody Phrygian cult, in which eunuch priests performed mysterious rites in her honor. Her lover was Attis (he was also her grandson, but that’s another story), and her jealousy caused him to castrate and kill himself. His blood was the source of the first violets, and divine intervention allowed Attis to be resurrected by Cybele, with some help from Zeus. In some areas, there is still an annual three-day celebration of Attis’ rebirth and Cybele’s power.

Like Attis, it is said that Cybele’s followers would work themselves into orgiastic frenzies and then ritually castrate themselves. After this, these priests donned women’s clothing, and assumed female identities. They became known as the Gallai. In some regions, female priestesses led Cybele’s dedicants in rituals involving ecstatic music, drumming and dancing. Under the leadership of Augustus Caesar, Cybele became extremely popular. Augustus erected a giant temple in her honor on the Palatine Hill, and the statue of Cybele that is in the temple bears the face of Augustus’ wife, Livia.

Today, many people still honor Cybele, although not in quite the same context as she once was. Groups like the Maetreum of Cybele honor her as a mother goddess and protector of women.

 

Eostre (Western Germanic)

Little is known about the worship of this Teutonic spring goddess, but she is mentioned by the Venerable Bede, who said that Eostre’s following had died out by the time he compiled his writings in the eighth century. Jacob Grimm referred to her by the High German equivalent, Ostara, in his 1835 manuscript, Deutsche Mythologie.

According to the stories, she is a goddess associated with flowers and springtime, and her name gives us the word “Easter,” as well as the name of Ostara itself. However, if you start to dig around for information on Eostre, you’ll find that much of it is the same. In fact, nearly all of it is Wiccan and Pagan authors who describe Eostre in a similar fashion. Very little is available on an academic level.

Interestingly, Eostre doesn’t appear anywhere in Germanic mythology, and despite assertions that she might be a Norse deity, she doesn’t show up in the poetic or prose Eddas either. However, she could certainly have belonged to some tribal group in the Germanic areas, and her stories may have just been passed along through oral tradition.

So, did Eostre exist or not? No one knows. Some scholars dispute it, others point to etymological evidence to say that she did in fact have a festival honoring her.

 

Freya (Norse)

This fertility goddess abandons the earth during the cold months, but returns in the spring to restore nature’s beauty. She wears a magnificent necklace called Brisingamen, which represents the fire of the sun. Freyja was similar to Frigg, the chief goddess of the Aesir, which was the Norse race of sky deities. Both were connected with childrearing, and could take on the aspect of a bird. Freyja owned a magical cloak of hawk’s feathers, which allowed her to transform at will. This cloak is given to Frigg in some of the Eddas.

As the wife of Odin, the All Father, Freyja was often called upon for assistance in marriage or childbirth, as well as to aid women struggling with infertility.

 

Osiris (Egyptian)

Osiris is known as the king of Egyptian gods. This lover of Isis dies and is reborn in a resurrection story. The resurrection theme is popular among spring deities, and is also found in the stories of Adonis, Mithras and Attis as well.

Born the son of Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky), Osiris was the twin brother of Isis and became the first pharoah. He taught mankind the secrets of farming and agriculture, and according to Egyptian myth and legend, brought civilization itself to the world. Ultimately, the reign of Osiris was brought about by his death at the hands of his brother Set (or Seth).

The death of Osiris is a major event in Egyptian legend.

 

Saraswati (Hindu)

This Hindu goddess of the arts, wisdom and learning has her own festival each spring in India, called Saraswati Puja. She is honored with prayers and music, and is usually depicted holding lotus blossoms and the sacred Vedas.

 

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History of Ostara – The Spring Equinox

History of Ostara

The Spring Equinox

 

Many Holidays, Many Names:

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. Typically, the Celtic peoples did not celebrate Ostara as a holiday, although they were in tune with the changing of the seasons.

A New Day Begins:

A dynasty of Persian kings known as the Achaemenians celebrated the spring equinox with the festival of No Ruz — which means “new day.” It is a celebration of hope and renewal still observed today in many Persian countries, and has its roots in Zoroastrianism. In Iran, a festival called Chahar-Shanbeh Suri takes place right before No Ruz begins, and people purify their homes and leap over fires to welcome the 13-day celebration of No Ruz.

Mad as a March Hare:

Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is super fecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.

The Legends of Mithras:

The story of the Roman god, Mithras, is similar to the tale of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Born at the winter solstice and resurrected in the spring, Mithras helped his followers ascend to the realm of light after death. In one legend, Mithras, who was popular amongst members of the Roman military, was ordered by the Sun to sacrifice a white bull. He reluctantly obeyed, but at the moment when his knife entered the creature’s body, a miracle took place. The bull turned into the moon, and Mithras’ cloak became the night sky. Where the bull’s blood fell flowers grew, and stalks of grain sprouted from its tail.

Spring Celebrations Around the World:

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 (between March 22 and March 25). Around the same time, the Germanic tribes honored a lunar goddess known as Ostara, who mated with a fertility god around this time of year, and then gave birth nine months later – at Yule.

The indigenous Mayan people in Central American 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, 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.

According to the Venerable Bede, Eostre was the Saxon version of the Germanic goddess Ostara. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox — almost the identical calculation as for the Christian Easter in the west. There is very little documented evidence to prove this, but one popular legend is that Eostre found a bird, wounded, on the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But “the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs…the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre.”

Modern Celebrations

This is a good time of year to start your seedlings. If you grow an herb garden, start getting the soil ready for late spring plantings. Celebrate the balance of light and dark as the sun begins to tip the scales, and the return of new growth is near.

Many modern Pagans celebrate Ostara as a time of renewal and rebirth. Take some time to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature — walk in park, lay in the grass, hike through a forest. As you do so, observe all the new things beginning around you — plants, flowers, insects, birds. Meditate upon the ever-moving Wheel of the Year, and celebrate the change of seasons.

 

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An Epic Spring Equinox

 

 

An Epic Spring Equinox

A new season, new year, and New Moon converge March 20, 2015

Tarotcom Staff

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8 Ideas for Celebrating Ostara


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8 Ideas for Celebrating Ostara

 

Ostara, the Spring Equinox, is always especially beautiful here in Sonoma County, California. This year seems especially nice. Winter’s rains have been lighter than we would like, but they have been gentle and well timed. My farmer friends with whom I’ve spoken are feeling good. Warming temperatures and longer days have brought forth the first abundant flowers, especially the wild mustard that makes it seem as if our craggy valley oaks and vineyards have their feet awash in bright yellow paint. The threats from frost are virtually over.

Our season and Ostara’s symbolism are in perfect harmony.

Wiccan Sabbats celebrate our Wheel of the Year, and the Wheel of the Year, like the phases of the moon, symbolize to us the stages of life, from birth to death to rebirth. Four Sabbats are “Greater Sabbats” originally linked with Celtic agricultural cycles: Brigit, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. The other four “cross quarter” Sabbats are correlated with the cycles of the solar year, the solstices and equinoxes. On the 21st of this month, Witches and many other Pagans will celebrate Ostara, the Spring Equinox.

Equinoxes are times of balance between day and night, light and darkness. But the balance is dynamic, lasting a day, before shifting into playing a role in that greater balance that is the Wheel of the Year. For me this sense of balance should be the dominant theme of either Ostara, or Mabon, the Fall Equinox. But they are very different Sabbats otherwise, for after Ostara the light will continue to grow, whereas after Mabon, it is darkness that increases.

There is another aspect of balance that comes to mind as a am mulling this post over, that between the universal and the concrete. Solar Sabbats are universal, the Greater Sabbats are specific to time and place. Together, they balance the universal with the variety that is local. So while I think it is important to make sure Greater Sabbats are strongly connected with where we live, it is not as important for the Cross Quarter ones.

With these thoughts in mind, I have a few ideas for celebrating Ostara I want to share. All are suitable for Solitaries.

  1. On my altar I will have 4 candles. I will light two, and with sundown, light another. I have tried to figure out a simple but visually beautiful way of symbolizing Sabbats and their meaning, and here is my scheme into which this simple observance fits.

Yule – 1 candle lit during ritual.

Imbolc – 1 candle lit, a second during the ritual.

Ostara – 2 candles lit, a third lit at end of ritual or at sunset.

Beltane – 3 candles, one lit during ritual, making

Midsummer – 4 candles, one extinguished at end of ritual.

Lammas – 3 candles, one extinguished during ritual.

Mabon – 2 candles, one extinguished at sunset or end of ritual.

Samhain – 1 candle lit, but extinguished during ritual.

  1. I will fill my place with local flowers. I just spoke with a friend in Maine. The garden I helped plant still looks like a snow drift. Maybe the willows are changing their color as the sap tentatively rises, making for a good altar decoration. If not, it’s good that this is a solar Sabbat!

3. I will watch the dawn, and do some invocations and prayers while I do it. Ostara is said to have been a Goddess of the Dawn as well as spring, so this is fitting, although very little is known of Her. If I was in Fairbanks, I might let this slide.

  1. In Pagan times eggs and hares were associated with the creation of life and fertility, for obvious reasons. While it seems all folklore of ancient provenance has disputed origins, regardless of how these customs arose and survived, they are perfectly fitted for symbolizing this time, when almost everywhere spring has arrived or is coming soon. Dyeing the eggs in Spring-time colors, and having a good old fashioned Ostara Egg hunt is a wonderful thing for kids.
  2. A good smudging, followed by a good airing if the weather permits. Burning sage is the easiest way to smudge a place, though any cleansing incense is worthwhile. Be sure to get corners and dark places. Energy collects and stagnates in those places, and most of us have had all winter for that to happen.
  3. Plant a seed associated with a magickal ritual for something you want to grow. Simple and personal is best. Focus your intent strongly on the seed, then on the pot of soil after you have planted it. Take care of it. I’d recommend a perennial, that you can plant and let continue to flourish with your care, but maybe an annual will do the trick. Depends on your project.
  4. If you have a yard, this is a good time to begin getting in touch with the spirits of your place. But as with any relationship, it will normally take some time to grow. The last time I lived for any length of time in a house with a yard, I would make weekly offerings in a out of the way part of my yard, that I otherwise left alone (all the rests was garden). I would leave a small glass of rum, some tobacco, and a votive candle (be very careful about fire if you do this). After some months the ‘feel’ of my back yard began to change in ways I and others liked a lot. But remember, attitude makes or breaks this kind of thing – as with all relationships.
  5. If there is a public Sabbat celebration, and you are not part of a coven, try and go. Some are well done, some can seem like ‘ritual abuse,’ but either way, this is a good way to begin meeting other local Pagans. In my view the real magic of what we do is most powerful when we work and celebrate together

Source

Information from Beliefnet

Author: Gus diZerega

Blog: A Pagan’s Blog

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Spring Equinox – Ostara


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Spring Equinox – Ostara

 

 

Ostara or the Vernal Equinox is also known as Lady Day or Alban Eiler (Druidic). As spring reaches its midpoint around March 21, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother.

 

The Spring Equinox or Ostara is sacred to Eostre, the Saxon Goddess of Spring, Green Earth and Fertility. Ostara is said to be the Greek translation of Eostre’s name. Her two symbols were the egg and the rabbit. The first Easter egg was said to have been decorated for her by a small hare determined to make the egg as beautiful and new as Eostre made the world each spring. Today her symbols are commonly known as the Easter egg and Easter bunny.

 

In nature, hens begin to lay eggs when there is 12 hours or more of daylight. At the onset of spring our ancestors could count on gathering fresh eggs from their chickens and the egg became a reliable symbol of rebirth in the cycle of nature.

 

Herbs and Flowers: Daffodil, Jonquils , Woodruff, Violet, Gorse, Olive , Peony, Iris, Narcissus and all spring flowers

 

Incense: Jasmine, Rose, Strawberry, Floral of any type

 

Sacred Gemstone: Jasper

 

 

Wiccan & Pagan Holidays: An Easy Beginner’s Guide to Celebrating Sabbats and Esbats

Kardia Zoe

 

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Today Is …


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Today Is …

 

March 20-21 Spring Equinox. Do a ritual bath today for personal “spring cleaning.”

On this day, an annual Spring Harvest Festival was celebrated in ancient Egypt, along the banks of the River Nile, in honor of the Mother-Goddess and the enchantress, Isis.
This day is sacred to the goddess Fortuna, the Morrigan, the Norns, the Three Fates, and the Three Mothers (Lakshmi, Parvati, and Sarasvati).

The Spring or Vernal Equinox – 8:00 P.M. EST. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” The equinox refers to the point at which the Sun crosses the plane of the Earth’s Equator from south to north, making night and day equal length all over the planet, signaling the beginning of nature’s renewal in the northern part of the world. Pagan: The Spring Equinox — called the Festival of Trees, Ostara, and the Rites of Eostre, among many names in many traditions — is a fertility festival celebrating the birth of Spring and the reawakening.
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Southern Hemisphere ~ Mabon  Thanksgiving (Second Harvest) Autumn Equinox ~ Giving thanks, Reflection.

Egyptian: Feast of Sexual Fertility of Min.

March 21  Day Dedicated to Sun Goddesses. Honor the Sun’s role in Spring’s rebirth with incense and flame.

On this date (approximately), the Sun enters the astrological sign of Aries. Persons born under the sign of the Ram are said to be courageous, intelligent, impulsive, and aggressive. Aries is a fire sign and is ruled by the planet Mars.
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Slavic Pagan: Maslenitsa – Suhii (March) 21 – Maslenitsa is a very ancient festival, the holiday of the Spring Equinox and the end of the winter frosts.People enjoy themselves, engaging in much feasting, dancing,wearing of masks, playing on traditional musical instruments, and contests of strength, all to enact spring unbridled, in action and fighting. Traditional pastries are also baked, called blini (a type of potato pancake), to symbolize the sun. More: http://www.irminsul.org/arc/010sz.html

Attis – Attis was the lover and grandson of Cybele, the Attic Goddess who was known as mother of mountains and depicted flanked by lions. When Attis betrayed her, she hunted him down and drove him insane. He tore off his genitals because they had caused him to betray her.

Originally a Phyrgian Goddess, Cybele’s worship was imported to Rome, where she was called Magna Mater (Great Mother). Emperor Claudius popularized the Phyrgian tradition of bringing a young pine tree representing Attis into the city like a corpse, swathed in linen and woolen sashes and decked with violets. Members of the Tree Bearer’s Guild (dendrophori) carried it through the city gate and into Cybele’s sanctuary which stood on Vatican Hill, near where St Peter’s stands now.
Rufus, Anneli, The World Holiday Book, Harper San Francisco 1994

Remember the ancient ways and keep them sacred!

•           •           •           •

Courtesy of GrannyMoonsMorningFeast

 

 

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The Witches Almanac for Friday, March 20th


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The Witches Almanac for Friday, March 20

Friday(Venus): Love, friendship, reconciliation and beauty.

Ostara • Spring Equinox

 

Waning Moon

New Moon 5: 36 am

Moon Sign: Pisces

Pisces: The focus is on dreaming, nostalgia, intuition, and psychic impressions. A good time for spiritual or philanthropic activities.

Moon enters Aries 6: 28 am

Aries: Good for starting things, but lacks staying power. Things occur rapidly, but quickly pass. People tend to be argumentative and assertive.

Sun enters Aries 6: 45 pm

Aries: Good for starting things, but lacks staying power. Things occur rapidly, but quickly pass. People tend to be argumentative and assertive.

Color: White

Incense: Vanilla

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What A Glorious Day Before Us, Thank The Goddess For Ostara & All The Blessings It Brings!

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Spring Equinox

“We kindle fire this day! In the presence of the Holy Ones.

Without malice, without jealousy, without envy

Without fear of aught beneath the Sun

But the High Gods.

 

Thee we invoke: O light of light:

Be thou a bright flame before us

Be thou a guiding star above us

Be thou a smooth path beneath us

 

Kindle thou in our hearts within

A flame of love for our neighbor

To our foes, to our friends, to our kindred all

To all men on this broad Earth

 

O merciful son of Cerridwen,

From the lowest thing that liveth

To the name that is highest of all.

 

 

—The Book of Shadows (1957)

Gerald Gardner

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