The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit
Sure, Ostara is a time to celebrate spirituality and the turning of the earth, but there’s no reason we can’t have a good time with it as well. If you’ve got kids — or even if you don’t — this simple rite is a great way to welcome the season using some things that are readily available in the discount stores at this time of year!
Bear in mind, this is meant to be fun and a little bit silly. If you think the Universe has no sense of humor, click the Back button on your browser immediately to exit this page.
Arrange your ritual supplies on your altar so they look pretty. Kids can do this — typically the chocolate rabbits end up in the center, surrounded by an army of Peeps and several rings of jellybeans. A quick note — you might want to perform this ritual well in advance of mealtime, or all the kids will be too full of candy to eat a real dinner.
- A bag of jellybeans
- Marshmallow Peeps — chicks, bunnies, etc.
- A chocolate rabbit for each participant
- A glass of milk for each participant
First, give everyone present a handful of jellybeans. Point out the different colors in the jellybeans, and what they can represent. As you call out each one, eat the jellybeans in that color. Feel free to be a bit goofy. Say something like:
Behold, little jelly eggs, small symbols of the season,
How we adore you!
Green is for the grass that springs from the land! (eat all the green jellybeans)
Yellow is for the sun shining above our heads! (eat all your yellow jellybeans)
Red is for the tulips that grow in our garden! (eat your red jellybeans)
Pink is for Aunt Martha’s new Easter hat! (eat your pink jellybeans)
Purple is for the crocuses that sprout along our driveway! (eat the purple ones)
Continue this until all the colors are gone — if you really want to have some fun, make the kids take turns naming off the colors and what they mean to them. When they’re all gone, call out:
Hail! Hail! to the mighty jelly bean of Spring!
Next, hand out the marshmallow Peeps. As you do, say:
Behold the Peep! The Peep is life, brought back in the spring!
Little Peep chickens, we honor you! (bite the Peep chicks)
Little Peep bunnies, we honor you! (bite the Peep bunnies)…
Continue this until the Peeps are all gone — it’s probably a good idea to limit each kid to just two or three Peeps at the most. When the Peeps have all vanished, call out:
Hail! Hail! to the mighty Peeps of Spring!
Finally, distribute the chocolate rabbits. Say:
Behold the great chocolate rabbit!
As he hops through the land, he spreads joy and happiness!
O, how we adore the chocolate rabbit and his great big chocolate ears! (eat the rabbit’s ears)
Praise the chocolate rabbit, and his delicious chocolate tail! (eat the rabbit’s tail)
Honor this chocolate rabbit, and his chocolate hoppity legs! (eat the rabbit’s legs)
He is a wonderful rabbit, and he is special indeed! (eat the rest of the rabbit)
When the rabbits are all gone, say:
Hail! Hail! to the mighty chocolate rabbit of Spring!
Give everyone a glass of milk, and raise your drinks in a toast to these three symbols of the season.
To the jelly beans!
To the Peeps!
To the chocolate rabbit!
We drink in your honor!
Drink your milk, and sit back to enjoy the sensation of being stuffed with ritual candy.
How To Make Magical Crystal Ostara Eggs
This is a neat craft project you can make before Ostara. Hide these eggs for your kids to find, and then when they crack them open, they can find the treasure hidden inside!
- 1 C. all-purpose flour
- ½ C. salt
- ¼ C. clean sand
- 1 C. used coffee grounds
- ¾ C. warm water
- Crystals or gemstones
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Acrylic paints in your favorite colors
Blend flour, salt, sand and coffee grounds together. Gradually add the water, and knead until you’ve got a thick, gritty dough. Spray a crystal lightly with non-stick cooking spray, and place it in the center of a small scoop of dough. Shape the dough around the crystal to form an egg shape. Bake the eggs at 350 for about 15 minutes, and allow to cool. Once they’ve cooled, they should be nice and hard, like a rock. Paint the eggs, and allow paint to dry.
Hide the eggs on Ostara, and let your kids crack them open to reveal the hidden crystals!
For some extra silly fun, have your kids join you for the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit.
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 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). 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.”
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.
Winter’s barrenness has subsided,
From the death of Winter
Springs new life!
Spring is coming to the land.
The days grow longer,
Warm breezes begin to stir,
All around us we see signs ~~~
The growing things are beginning anew.
It is a resurrection of the dance of life.
The dance of the stems and stalks
As they push forth from the Earth.
It is the season of creation.
Growth has turned outward,
The land has become fertile again.
The Earth is caressed by
The loving touch of the Mother.
Where her hand passes:
Atoms twine together to create growth.
Buds burst open,
Leaves and vines unfurl.
She creates a vision of green beauty.
Beauty so breath-taking after
The dark solitude of Winter.
It is this vision that we celebrate
On her day of Ostara
The world recreating itself ~~~
Returning from the death of Winter,
Into the new life of Spring
Through the love of the Goddess.
God and Goddess unite as one,
Sow your seeds in Springtime sun,
As you grow through Warmer days,
Your beauty shows in many ways.
Youth, vitality, young to old,
Your journey is forever told,
The earth will sleep when Winter comes,
But awake with you in the warm March sun.
So banish darkness with your light,
Let all things grow as well they might,
And we shall look in adoration,
At the God and Goddesses creations.
—Alan Faraway, Pagan Ways