History of Ostara – The Spring Equinox (no, I haven’t lost my mind, our friends down below are celebrating Ostara)

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 in the Northern Hemisphere and September 21/22 in the Southern Hemisphere. 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 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. 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.

 

Source:
Author: Paganism/Wicca Expert

Website: About.com

Ostara (for our friends down under)


Witchy Comments & Graphics

Ostara Invocation
Ouroborus tells us the beginning has no end
Alpha and Omega–all reside within.
Pisces swims beyond the veil
Aries on the rise.
Mars becomes the focal point
capturing the prize.
The moon slips through her mansions
dancing in the signs
stars are fixed yet activate
the treasures of the mind.
The air is filled with harmony
of plant and bloom and bud
each egg foretells the birthing
of peace, and joy and love.
Persephone emerges as winter falls away
Mother Earth rejoices–
her daughter’s come to stay.
As days grow long and nights are warm
the Goddess reigns supreme

Her power rises in my blood
I command all things unseen!
Magick symbols, knots and cords
wand and staff and blade
earth and water, fire and air
become the Witch’s trade.
I am the ground, the sea, the sky
the breezes springtime sweet
gods and spirits dance the round
within this circle meet,
I conjure thee, O leaves of spring
hyacinth and myrtle
roses, lilacs, lavender
black earth, warm and fertile.
Gifts of Gaia, Green Man rule
my wishes come to form
good fortune roots within my world
prosperity is born!

Mabon


Witchy Comments & Graphics

Mabon

The cool wind blows in the trees
The God has fallen to his knees

Love for the land
Of kin and clan

A sacrifice so strong and noble
He has just secured our survival

Fruit of the vine
His gift in kind

Is ripe and sweet
Ready to eat

The year doth wane
As summer fades

Orange, brown and yellow too
These colors of the autumn skew.

As the life from the earth begins to fade
We are reminded of goals set on Yule day

We have watched them grow
Truth to know

Now we harvest the fruit
Of the seeds we’ve sown

Are you happy with the things you’ve done?
Or do you wish you could hide your head, and run

The wheel teaches lessons vast
But in the end, you plant your path

Sown with joy, harmony, graces
Or pain and strife, unhappy faces

But now we celebrate
And give thanks for the Lord and the Lady

—Rev. Raven Spirit


Witchy Comments & Graphics

Autumn Returns

Autumn Comments & Graphics
“The Wheel rolls more, and Autumn returns.
Cooler the rain; the Sun lower burns.
The coloring leaves presage the Year:
All things move into harvest’s sphere.
I vow to savor fruits first picked;
nor into grief shall I be tricked.
I vow to offer what once I spurned,
and face the Turning reassured.

Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon

Asleen O’Gaea

Solo Ritual for Mabon

Autumn Comments & Graphics
Solo Ritual for Mabon

Spend some part of the day in meditation on the meaning of the seasons and the ritual. Before the ritual have a bath in salt water to purify the body and as the water drains out of the bath, imagine all your negativity leaving with it. Dress in clean clothes or your robes.

You should have a candle placed in your cauldron.
Cast your circle.
Call the God and Goddess.
Call the Quarters.
Light the candle in the cauldron and then meditate on the season.

Next say:

The season turns and light and darkness stand once more in balance, but now the dark is gaining.
The time of light and growth is over. The leaves whither on the trees and the birds prepare to fly away for the winter. The grass stands brown in the meadows and the flowers are faded. The bountiful Harvest Mother becomes the Crone who cuts down the Corn King in his prime. He is laid in his tomb, but will return to us when the wheel of the year spins around. His dark tomb shall become the womb from which he is reborn; an eternal riddle. So it is with us all. We are and grow with the light, but there comes a time when the Goddess calls us home.

Hold up your glass of wine and say;

Let the wine be blessed which is the blood of the Earth pressed smooth (drink).

Take up the cakes and say;

Let the cakes be blessed in the name of the God, our Lord. Without his sacrifice we would not eat (eat).

Thank and release the God and Goddess.
Thank and release the Quarters.
Release the circle.

RavenandCrone
An Online Shop for Pagan Supplies and Crystals

‘Tis Mabon-tide

Autumn Comments & Graphics

“The Wheel turns on – ’tis Mabon-tide.
Dawn and dusk abreast now ride
darkness, brightness, calm and storms.
The hand that holds the scythe transforms.
I vow this wisdom shall be my own:
poise will let my power be known.
From balance the Wheel now turns toward the deep.
Through Winter, by vow and faith, I’ll keep.”

Ashleen O’Gaea,Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon

A Behind The Scenes Look At Mabon

Autumn Comments & Graphics
A Behind The Scenes Look At Mabon

 

This is the Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon, Foghar, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, 2nd Harvest, Fruit Harvest, Wine Harvest), when day and night, light and day are equal. It is the feast at the height of the harvest, when nearly all has been gathered in. This would have been a time of markets, festivals, processions and general gaiety. It is also known as a feast of the healer and the feast of the release of prisoners, for this is the time of year for setting aside old disputes, grudges and quarrels. Like the Spring Equinox it is a time of balance, a time to discard unwanted habits and traits and to take on new.

The Fall Equinox is our harvest celebration. Twin to the Spring Equinox, it’s a time, again, of balance between dark and light. But now we are moving from light into darkness, from warmth into cold. We gather in the harvest of summer and prepare for the winter ahead.

Everything in nature is constant giving to and receiving from everything else. The oxygen we breathe in is exhaled by the trees, and they take in the carbon dioxide we breathe out. Bees sip nectar from the flowers and in return carry their pollen to other blossoms so that the plants can make seeds. Nothing exists separately from the whole.

When we receive a gift, we give thanks. Sooner or later, we tr to give something back to the person who gave it to us – or perhaps pass the gift onto someone else. That’s part of keeping the balance. At this time of year when we are gathering in the gifts of the Goddess, the fruit, nuts, grain, and vegetables that are ripe, we also try to give something back, to make offerings and express our thanks. The Fall Equinox is our Thanksgiving. In fact, the Thanksgiving that we celebrate in the United States came from the old European Harvest Home, the special customs and rituals done when the last sheaf of grain was gathered in.

In ancient Greece, the Fall Equinox was the time when the mysteries of Demeter and Persephone were celebrated.

Mabon was not an actual ancient Pagan festival in date or name. In fact, there is actually very little evidence it was ever celebrated. In fact, Mabon came into practice in the 1970′ s. Adian Kelly is said to have created this holiday as part of a religious study project. The term Litha is also attributed to Kelly. The use of the term Mabon is more prevalent in American than in Britain.

The Magical Circle Newsletter: Mabon
Collen Criswell

Mea’n Fo’mhair

Autumn Comments & Graphics
Mea’n Fo’mhair

 

“Mea’n Fo’mhair honors The Green Man, God of the Forest, by offerings of wines, ciders and herbs. The Goddess is commemorated as she passes from Mother to Crone. Mabon is an occasion of the Mysteries and to honor deities and the spirit world. Finery is worn in shades of red, maroon, violet, orange, gold, brown, yellow, russet and indigo. Jewelry is made with yellow topaz and agate, carnelian, sapphire, amethyst and sapphire, crystals. The feast includes breads, nuts, acorns, grains, corn, beans, squash, root vegetables, some seasoned with sage, dried fruits, pomegranates, grapes and apples spiced with cinnamon and cloves, ale, wine and cider. It’s a gathering of family as people ready for Samhain and a time to finish old business for a phase of reflection, rest and relaxation. Activities include scattering offerings in harvested fields, making wine, gathering dried herbs, plants, seeds and pods, walking in the woods and adorning graves with leaves, acorns, and pine cones to honor those who have gone on. Spellwork is for protection, harmony, prosperity, balance, security, and self-confidence. The animals of Mabon are dogs, wolves, stags, salmon, goats and raptors, especially eagles and owls, and black birds.”
Mabon, Pagan Fire Festival by Jill Stefko

The Celts & The Feast of Mabon

Autumn Comments & Graphics

The Celts & The Feast of Mabon

“To the Celts, Avalon is the mysterious place for the land of the dead and literally means the “land of apples”. Thus this is a holiday for celebrating the bounty of the harvest and the desire for the living to be reunited with their deceased loved ones. The holiday is also named for the Welsh God Mabon. Mabon means the “great son”. He was the son of Mordred, kidnapped at the age of 3 and later rescued by King Arthur. His life represents the innocence of youth, the strength of survival and the growing wisdom of the elderly. Perhaps it is this view of the cycle of life that brings Mabon to his most popular role, the King of the Other world and the God of Darkness. His myths overlap with other Gods such as the Welsh God Gwyn Ap Nuad, which means “white son of darkness”. He is seen as the God of war and death, the patron God of fallen warriors. Once again this is a representation or connection to the Land of Avalon. The Purpose of Mabon as a holiday- Mabon represents the time of honoring the dead, visiting burial sites, giving thankfulness for the end of the harvest season and the bounty it provides. These are the themes of closing, letting go and remembering. For the year, the harvest and for those who were lost to land of Avalon during the year. Although many view the Harvest season as a celebration of life, it is also a celebration of death. The bounty you gather from your garden provides nourishment for you, family and friends. But it is also the death of those plants and vegetables which have been harvested from that garden. Thus Mabon is a celebration of the cycle of life.”

Mabon Feast by Junebug