How To Hold an Ostara Ritual for Solitaries


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How To Hold an Ostara Ritual for Solitaries

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

 

Ostara is a time of balance. It is a time of equal parts light and dark. At Mabon, we have this same balance, but the light is leaving us. Today, six months later, it is returning. Spring has arrived, and with it comes hope and warmth. Deep within the cold earth, seeds are beginning to sprout. In the damp fields, the livestock are preparing to give birth. In the forest, under a canopy of newly sprouted leaves, the animals of the wild ready their dens for the arrival of their young. Spring is here.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied
Here’s How:

For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of the season. Think about all the colors you see in nature at this time of year — bright daffodils, crocuses, plump tulips, green shoots — and incorporate them into your altar. This is also a time of fertility in the natural world — the egg is the perfect representation of this aspect of the season. Symbols of young animals such as lambs, chicks, and calves are also great altar adornments for Ostara.

In addition, you’ll need the following:
Three candles — one yellow, one green, and one purple
A bowl of milk
A small bowl of honey or sugar
Perform this ritual outside if at all possible, in the early morning as the sun rises. It’s spring, so it may be a bit chilly, but it’s a good time to reconnect with the earth. If your tradition normally requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

Begin by taking a moment to focus on the air around you. Inhale deeply, and see if you can smell the change in the seasons. Depending on where you live, the air may have an earthy aroma, or a rainy one, or even smell like green grass. Sense the shift in energy as the Wheel of the Year has turned. Light the green candle, to symbolize the blossoming earth. As you light it, say:

The Wheel of the Year turns once more,
and the vernal equinox arrives.
Light and dark are equal,
and the soil begins to change.
The earth awakes from its slumber,
and new life springs forth once more.

Next, light the yellow candle, representing the sun. As you do so, say:The sun draws ever closer to us,
greeting the earth with its welcoming rays.
Light and dark are equal,
and the sky fills with light and warmth.
The sun warms the land beneath our feet,
and gives life to all in its path.

Finally, light the purple candle. This one represents the Divine in our lives — whether you call it a god or a goddess, whether you identify it by name or simply as a universal life force, this is the candle which stands for all the things we do not know, all those things we cannot understand, but that are the sacred in our daily lives. As you light this candle, focus on the Divine around and within you. Say:

Spring has come! For this, we are thankful!
The Divine is present all around,
in the cool fall of a rain storm,
in the tiny buds of a flower,
in the down of a newborn chick,
in the fertile fields waiting to be planted,
in the sky above us,
and in the earth below us.
We thank the universe* for all it has to offer us,
and are so blessed to be alive on this day.
Welcome, life! Welcome, light! Welcome, spring!

Take a moment and meditate on the three flames before you and what they symbolize. Consider your own place within these three things — the earth, the sun, and the Divine. How do you fit into the grand scheme of things? How do you find balance between light and dark in your own life?Finally, blend the milk and honey together, mixing gently. Pour it onto the ground around your altar space as an offering to the earth**. As you do, you may wish to say something like:

I make this offering to the earth,
As thanks for the many blessings I have received,
And those I shall some day receive.

Once you have made your offering, stand for a minute facing your altar. Feel the cool earth beneath your feet, and the sun on your face. Take in every sensation of this moment, and know that you are in a perfect place of balance between light and dark, winter and summer, warmth and cold — a time of polarity and harmony.When you are ready, end the ritual.
Tips:
* Instead of “the Universe”, feel free to insert the name of your patron deity or the gods of your tradition here.
** If you’re doing this rite indoors, take your bowl of milk and honey and pour it in your garden, or around your yard.

What You Need

Three candles – yellow, green and purple
A bowl of milk
A small bowl of honey or sugar
Seasonal decorations for your altar

 

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Ostara Ritual (Eostre): A Ritual for Children


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Ostara Ritual (Eostre): A Ritual for Children

Performed at Pantheacon 2009

 

Cast circle as usual, emphasizing the growth of new life in the spring and what each element brings to this process:

East: (the wind that spreads the seeds)
South: (the heat of the sun that helps them grow)
West: (the water which feeds them)
North: (the earth from which they spring)

Call Persephone/Kore, Demeter, and Hekate as the Three Aspects of the Goddess

Call the Green Man, the Spirit of Growth [both these invocations can be noisy and fun, with lots of hand-clapping, shakers, and noisemakers of all kinds]

Introduction to the myth:
“Ostara is the celebration of Balance. The days and nights are of equal length but the Sun God is gaining more power over the darkness of Winter. This Sabbat is named after the Teutonic goddess Eostre, whose name is probably yet another variant of Ishtar, Astarte and Aset or Isis. This Sabbat overlaps many other observances at this time of year, such as Easter — a Christian celebration. In celebration of the return of Spring, many people have told stories of the return of the maiden Goddess to earth after the long cold winter. Here is the version which was told in ancient Greece.”

[Gather the children together to sit at the feet of Hekate as she tells the story]

The myth of Demeter & Kore

[personae: Demeter, Kore, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Zeus, Hermes (act out as Hekate sits and reads the story to the children)
props: flowers, a pomegranate (if possible) or other fruit. Cloak for Hades to hide Kore under]

The maiden Kore, daughter of Demeter, was gathering flowers when she suddenly noticed a flower of striking beauty. She ran to pick the flower, but as she bent down the earth opened and Hades appeared. He seized her and dragged her down into the depths of the earth. [Kore gathers flowers; Hades grabs her, covers her with cloak; she drops her flower; both run off to side and Kore remains hidden under cloak with Hades facing away from action]

Kore’s mother, Demeter, heard her daughter’s despairing cry for help, and for nine days looked all over the world. Finally, on Hekate’s advice, she went to see Helios, the sun, who saw the abduction from his chariot in the heavens. Helios told Demeter that the flower was planted by Zeus, so that she might become his brother Hades’ “flowering bride.”[Demeter looks everywhere, goes to Hekate, who points to Helios. Helios picks up flower and hands it to Demeter, who weeps]

In her grief Demeter left Olympus and took refuge among the cities of men. As she withdrew, so the earth dried up and withered, the sap of growth departed and the land lay dying. The gods, seeing that without crops the entire human race would perish and there would be no one to worship them, came to Demeter to entreat her to come out and restore the earth. But she would not permit the earth to bear fruit again until she saw her daughter. [Demeter sits with head in hands; other gods come to her, but she shakes head “no”]

Finally Zeus commanded Hermes to descend into the underworld and tell Hades that he must return Kore, who since her arrival in the underworld had taken the name Persephone, to her mother. Before returning, Persephone, yielding to Hades’ temptation, ate a few pomegranate seeds. Having tasted the fruit, Persephone must henceforth spend a third of each year with him, but when she comes back to earth at springtime, she and her mother are so happy that all the flowers bloom again.
[Zeus points Hermes to Hades, who turns around and unveils Persephone. Hades hands Persephone a fruit, and she takes a bite. Hermes takes Persephone by the hand and leads her to Demeter, who stands and embraces her. All gods gather together and show flowers, handing them to children]

All sing “The Lady’s Bransle”:

For she will bring the buds in the spring
And laugh among the flowers,
In summer’s heat her kisses are sweet,
She sings in leafy bowers;
She cuts the cane and gathers the grain
When fruits of fall surround her;
Her bones grow old in wintry cold,
She wraps her cloak around her.
But she will bring the buds in the spring…

[about three times through should be sufficient–perhaps do this as a circle dance. at very least get the kids to clapping]

The Egg-Hunt: Take a [real] hardboiled egg, show it to the kids and say: “During the winter, the world is all cold and icy.”
Crack the shell, saying “but in the spring, the ice cracks.”
Peel the shell and dispose of it in a bowl, then take off bits of the white for the kids to eat (if they want), saying: “and the snow melts.”
Then show them the yolk and say “And the sun returns! …and that’s why we hunt for eggs!”

[Egg hunt follows]

Cakes and wine (cake and milk) and general feasting to follow.

Devoke and farewells.

 

General Preparations


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General Preparations

Ostara, Vernal Equinox, Spring, Rebirth, Easter, March 21st

 

1. I begin to read and research the subject of Spring Celebrations starting in early February. I am fond of Goddess lore and rituals, Neopagan topics, and Daoism, so you might see something about those topics in my seasonal celebrations webpages.

2. Spring cleaning indoors is a common preparatory activity during this time of the year. Completing some of the chores listed on your garden chores list for February and March is also a good idea. Make reasonable adjustments for inclement weather.

3. Starting seeds indoors in February is a good task. All potted plants should be put into the ground and watered as planned. Removing any dead trees, branches or shrubs should be continued as weather permits.

4. Clean your indoor altar. Dust all ritual and art objects. Put out offerings. Use your “Prayer Books.”

Foods for an Ostara Feast


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Foods for an Ostara Feast

Easter cupcakesThese aren’t traditional so much as intuitive, but they work, and seem to please her.

-Deviled Eggs, especially if you can create a sun motif, or garnish with greens

-Vegetable Quiche

-Custard

-Angel Food Cake

-Carrot Cake

-Cooked Carrots

-Cooked greens, or fresh in a salad

-Fiddlehead ferns in lemon sauce

-Edible spring flowers, if you can find them – especially violets

-Lamb

-Rabbit Stew

-Cookies shaped like baby animals or flowers

-Small fried fish

 

Ostara Oil & Incense


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Ostara Oil & Incense

Ostara Oil

Put in soap or annoint candles
5 drops lavender
5 drops jasmine
5 drops patchouli
5 drops rose

Add a lavender bud and small lapis lazuli, rose, and clear quartz crystals. This has the gently smell of spring beginning to blossom. Very lovely!

Ostara Incense

Recipe by Scott Cunningham
2 parts Frankincense
1 part Benzoin
1 part Dragon’s Blood
1/2 part Nutmeg
1/2 part Violet flowers (or a few drops Violet oil)
1/2 part Orange peel
1/2 part Rose petals

Burn during Wiccan rituals on Ostara, or to welcome the spring and refresh your life.

(The above recipe for “Ostara Incense” is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham’s book: “The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews”, page 83, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)

Astronomy Picture of the Day – The Aurora Tree

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2017 March 20

The Aurora Tree
Image Credit & Copyright: Alyn Wallace Photography

 

Explanation: Yes, but can your tree do this? Pictured is a visual coincidence between the dark branches of a nearby tree and bright glow of a distant aurora. The beauty of the aurora — combined with how it seemed to mimic a tree right nearby — mesmerized the photographer to such a degree that he momentarily forgot to take pictures. When viewed at the right angle, it seemed that this tree had aurora for leaves! Fortunately, before the aurora morphed into a different overall shape, he came to his senses and capture the awe-inspiring momentary coincidence. Typically triggered by solar explosions, aurora are caused by high energy electrons impacting the Earth’s atmosphere around 150 kilometers up. The unusual Earth-sky collaboration was witnessed earlier this month in Iceland.

March equinox! Happy spring or fall

March equinox! Happy spring or fall

 

Published on EarthSky