Hold an Ostara Ritual for Solitaries
Spring Equinox/Ostara Potpourri, Incense & Oil
Spring Equinox Ritual Potpourri
Recipe by Gerina Dunwich
A small cauldron filled with homemade potpourri can be used as a fragrant altar decoration, burned (outdoors) as an offering to the old gods during or after a Sabbat celebration, or wrapped in decorative paper and ribbons and given to a Wiccan sister or brother as a Sabbat gift.
45 drops rose oil
1 cup oak moss
2 cups dried dogwood blossoms
2 cups dried honeysuckle blossoms
1/2 cup dried violets
1/2 cup dried daffodils
1/2 cup dried rosebuds
1/2 cup dried crocus or iris
Mix the rose oil with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and then store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.
(The above recipe for “Spring Equinox Ritual Potpourri” is directly quoted from Gerina Dunwich’s book: “The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes”, pages 161-162, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995.)
Researched and Compiled by StormWind
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!
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.)
The Witches Correspondence for Ostara/Spring Equinox
On or around March 21st Northern Hemisphere, September 21st Southern Hemisphere
*Note this year it is March 20th*
The second of the 3 spring festivals, Ostara is known also as the Spring Equinox, and Eostar. It is a time of new beginnings as new life bursts forth upon the earth. It is also a time of balance when light and dark are equal. In times past, people celebrated the arrival of spring and the Goddess Eostar or Eostre whose symbols were the hare and the egg.
The beginning of spring, new life and rebirth, the God and Goddess in Their youth, balance, fertility, flowers, eggs, rabbit/hare.
Four leaf clovers, cauldron of spring water, any and all spring flowers/blossoms/bulbs/sprouts, potted plants, eggs, butterflies, baskets, bunnies, chicks, colored ribbons
Activities/ Rituals/ spell intents:
Sunrise observances, collecting wildflowers, spring cleaning and purification, nature walks, seed blessing, garden blessing, planting, welcoming spring, coloring eggs, fertility rites, rituals of balance, herb work – magical, medicinal, cosmetic, culinary and artistic, spells for balance, communication, prosperity/fertility, action, new beginnings, potential, goals for future, banishment of bad ties, positive growth
clover, lemongrass, mint, honeysuckle, iris, violets, peonies, lilies (Easter Lily), lilacs, acorn, celandine, cinquefoil, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, gorse, jasmine, jonquils, narcissus, olive, pine trees, rose, tansy, woodruff, primrose, forsythia
African violet, lotus, jasmine, rose, magnolia, sage, strawberry, lavender, narcissus, ginger.
Gold, light green, robin’s egg blue, lemon yellow, pale pink, all pastels.
amethyst, jasper, aquamarine, bloodstone, red jasper
Seeds, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, hard-boiled eggs and any egg dishes, milk punch, dairy foods, apples, nuts, flower dishes, sprouts, jelly beans, chocolates, lamb, spiced or flower cupcakes, hot cross buns, honey cakes, unleavened bread, poultry, ham, roast beef, yellow cake with poppy seeds, banana nut bread, fruit juice or fruit liqueur, poppy seed or sesame seed rolls, sweet or honeyed wine
Rabbits, hares /Easter bunny, chicks, robins, lambs, swallows, snakes, unicorns
all love, virgin, and fertility Goddesses, all love, song & dance, and fertility Gods.
Some information adapted from Simple Wicca by Michele Morgan, and Ann Moura’s Witchcraft, an Alternative Path.
Moon in Taurus
The Moon is traveling through comfy Taurus today. Eat something you love. Have a second serving.
We are motivated by the desire for serenity, security, peace, and comfort. The Moon is at her most sensual and constant in Taurus. Our basic impulses are to relax, resist change, and “stop to smell the roses”. Life slows down a little, and we get comfortable. We may also be inclined to stubbornness and materialism under this influence.
The Moon in Taurus generally favors the following activities: Substantial and material actions that yield solid results. Financial activities, and those involving personal possessions, applying for a loan, beginning a potentially long-term relationship, music, home decor.
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. Here’s 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.
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. Read more here: Eostre – Spring Goddess or NeoPagan Fancy?
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 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.
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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Spring Equinox Celebrations Around the World
The dawning of spring has been observed for centuries in countries around the world. Traditions vary widely from one country to the next. Here are some ways that residents of different parts of the world observe the season.
The Festival of Isis was held in ancient Egypt as a celebration of spring and rebirth. Isis features prominently in the story of the resurrection of her lover, Osiris. Although Isis’ major festival was held in the fall, folklorist Sir James Frazer says in The Golden Bough that “We are told that the Egyptians held a festival of Isis at the time when the Nile began to rise… the goddess was then mourning for the lost Osiris, and the tears which dropped from her eyes swelled the impetuous tide of the river.”
In Iran, the festival of No Ruz begins shortly before the vernal equinox. The phrase “No Ruz” actually means “new day,” and this is a time of hope and rebirth. Typically, a lot of cleaning is done, old broken items are repaired, homes are repainted, and fresh flowers are gathered and displayed indoors. The Iranian new year begins on the day of the equinox, and typically people celebrate by getting outside for a picnic or other activity with their loved ones. No Ruz is deeply rooted in the beliefs of Zoroastrianism, which was the predominant religion in ancient Persia before Islam came along.
In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17. St. Patrick is known as a symbol of Ireland, particularly around every March. One of the reasons he’s so famous is because he drove the snakes out of Ireland, and was even credited with a miracle for this. What many people don’t realize is that the serpent was actually a metaphor for the early Pagan faiths of Ireland.
St. Patrick brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle and did such a good job of it that he practically eliminated Paganism from the country.
For the ancient Romans, the Feast of Cybele was a big deal every spring. Cybele was a mother goddess who was at the center of a Phrygian fertility cult, and eunuch priests performed mysterious rites in her honor.
Her lover was Attis (who also happened to be her grandson), 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 celebration of Attis’ rebirth and Cybele’s power, called the Hilaria, observed from March 15 to March 28.
One of Judaism’s biggest festivals is Passover, which takes place in the middle of the Hebrew month of Nisan. It was a pilgrimage festival and commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt after centuries of slavery. A special meal is held, called the Seder, and it is concluded with the story of the Jews leaving Egypt, and readings from a special book of prayers. Part of the eight-day Passover traditions includes a thorough spring cleaning, going through the house from top to bottom.
In Russia, the celebration of Maslenitsa is observed as a time of the return of light and warmth. This folk festival is celebrated about seven weeks before Easter. During the Lent season, meat and fish and dairy products are prohibited. Maslentisa is the last chance anyone will get to enjoy those items for a while, so it’s typically a big festival held before the somber, introspective time of Lent.
A straw effigy of the Lady of Maslenitsa is burned in a bonfire. Leftover pancakes and blintzes are tossed in as well, and when the fire has burned away, the ashes are spread in the fields to fertilize the year’s crops.
In the area of Lanark, Scotland, the spring season is welcomed with Whuppity Scoorie, held on March 1. Children assemble in front of a local church at sunrise, and when the sun comes up, they race around the church waving paper balls around their heads. At the end of the third and final lap, the children gather up coins thrown by local assemblymen. According to the Capital Scot, there’s a story that this event began ages ago when troublemakers were “scoored” in the Clyde River as punishment for bad behavior. It appears to be unique to Lanark and does not seem to be observed anywhere else in Scotland.
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A traditional Vernal Equinox pastime: go to a field and randomly collect wildflowers [Thank the flowers for their sacrifice before picking them, using a collection formula such as can be found in “An Herbal Grimoire”]. Or buy some from a florist, taking one or two of those that appeal to you. Then bring them home and divine their magickal meanings by the use of books, your own intuition, a pendulum or by other means. The flowers you’ve chosen reveal your inner thoughts and emotions.
It is important at this time of renewed life to plan a walk (or a ride) through gardens, a park, woodlands, forest and other green places. This is not simply exercise, and you should be on no other mission. It isn’t even just an appreciation of nature. Make your walk celebratory, a ritual for nature itself.
Other traditional activities include planting seeds, working on magickal gardens and practicing all forms of herb work – magickal, medicinal, cosmetic, culinary and artistic.
Foods in tune with this day (linking your meals with the seasons is a fine way of attuning with nature) include those made of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as pine nuts.
Sprouts are equally appropriate, as are leafy, green vegetables. Flower dishes such as stuffed nasturtiums or carnation cupcakes also find their place here. [Find a book of flower cooking or simply make spice cupcakes. Ice with pink frosting and place a fresh carnation petal on each cupcake. Stuff nasturtium blossoms with a mixture made with cream cheese, chopped nuts, chives and watercress.]
History of Ostara, The Spring Equinox
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.
According to History.com,
“At the ruins of Chichen Itza, the ancient Maya city in Mexico, crowds now gather on the spring (and fall) equinox to watch as the afternoon sun creates shadows that resemble a snake moving along the stairs of the 79-foot-tall Pyramid of Kukulkan, also called El Castillo. On the spring equinox, the snake descends the pyramid until it merges with a large, serpent head sculpture at the base of the structure. While the Maya were skilled astronomers, it’s unknown whether they specifically designed the pyramid to align with the equinox and create this visual effect.”
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 superfecund 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).
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 a Germanic goddess called 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.”
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 mark Ostara as a time of renewal and rebirth. Take some time to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature–walk in a 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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Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal as the earth comes back to life. Why not celebrate the themes of the season with a little bit of spring magic?
1. Spring Garden Magic
In the early spring, many of us who follow earth-based spiritual paths begin planning our gardens for the coming season. The very act of planting, of beginning new life from seed, is a ritual and a magical act in itself. To cultivate something in the black soil, see it sprout and then bloom, is to watch a magical working unfold before our very eyes. The plant cycle is intrinsically tied to so many earth-based belief systems that it should come as no surprise that the magic of the garden is one well worth looking into.
2. Serpent Magic and Folklore
Snakes have a long and colorful history in folklore and mythology, as well as in magical practice. Let’s look at some of the amazing customs surrounding snakes in magic and legend!
3. Egg Magic & Mythology
In many cultures and society, the egg is considered the perfect magical symbol. It is, after all, representative of new life – in fact, it is the life cycle personified. While many of us take note of eggs around springtime – the Ostara season is chock full of them – it’s important to consider that eggs feature prominently in folklore and legend all year long.
4. Rabbit Magic & Mad March Hares
Spring equinox, or Ostara, is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. The rabbit — for good reason — is often associated with fertility magic and sexual energy.
5. Magical Spring Flowers
As spring arrives, our gardens begin to bud and eventually bloom. For hundreds of years, the plants that we grow have been used in magic. Flowers in particular are often connected with a variety of magical uses. Now that spring is here, keep an eye out for some of these flowers around you, and consider the different magical applications they might have.
6. Children’s Ostara Chant
If you have children, you may want to include them in your Ostara celebrations this spring. Teach them this simple rhyming chant, and clap along as you welcome the season of rebirth!
7. Garden Blessing for Ostara Planting Rituals
Getting ready to till the soil and prepare it for spring planting? Say this garden blessing before you begin.
8. Ostara Prayer for the Resurrection of the Earth
While many other religions celebrate the rebirth of Jesus, for those of us in earth-based faiths, the focus is often on the land and the soil. Celebrate Ostara with a simple prayer for the new life that begins as the earth itself is resurrected.
9. Prayer to Honor the Goddesses of Spring
Many Pagan traditions have goddesses that are associated with the new beginnings of the Ostara season. Whether you celebrate Flora or Eostre, use this simple prayer to honor the goddesses of spring.
Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
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