Happy Spring, everyone! Who else has been ready for this seasonal change since their Imbolc celebrations wrapped up? I know I can’t be the only who is *so* over winter at this point!
Though it’s the shortest month of the year, February always feels like the longest up here in the Northern Hemisphere. By the time March 1st rolled around – and with it, a fresh batch of snow – I was done with making the best of winter. I went into a full-on pretend-it’s-Spring-already-mode, which genuinely worked some days…when I didn’t have to go outside. It’s near impossible to deny the existence of cold weather, as it makes your face feel as though it’s turned to stone and will never move properly again unless it shatters to bits in the process.
Dramatic, I know.
Eventually, I began channelling my excitement for Spring, and the transitional period of March in general, into researching the next Sabat on The Wheel of the Year. If I couldn’t literally be in Spring yet, I figured I might as well shift my thinking into something more productive and get ready to celebrate the Equinox in style!
For my fellow newbies to The Wheel – which you can learn more about here – Ostara may already seem more familiar to you than Imbolc did, because of its connection with the change in seasons. Ostara is one of four Solar Festivals, or holidays that align with seasonal shifts; the Autumnal Equinox, and the Summer and Winter Solstice’s being the other three. So while you may never have learned about Ostara specifically, nearly everyone learned about the Spring Equinox way back in grade school.
You might remember the basic stuff, like how it’s sometimes called the Vernal Equinox, that it takes place on the twentieth of March (around the same date in September in the Southern Hemisphere) and that it’s a day which brings with it equal amounts of light (day) and dark (night.)
Here’s a slightly deeper dive into what the day represents through the lens of The Wheel.
The second Solar Festival on The Wheel, Ostara marks the time when the Maiden Goddess awakens from her hibernation and dream state. It’s a time when the light balances the dark, just as life begins to balance with death yet again in the renewal of plant life and the Earth in general. The ground and air are teeming with possibility and potential.
Ostara is a time to observe this reawakening and the newness that surrounds us. To listen for the returning bird song and gaze upon freshly budded trees. Ostara is the greening of the Earth and is the time for planting seeds. Imbolc was the anticipation of Spring – the reminder of its promise. Ostara is Spring’s official welcome and a time of bigger celebration.
Major themes of this Sabat revolve around transition and balance. There are a number of transitions taking place in and around this time, which each brings about their own form of equilibrium. It can be seen in the change from Winter to Spring, which brings us equal sun and moonlight. In the shift from Pisces season to Aries season, which marks the end and beginning of the Zodiac cycle itself, and brings with it an ephemeral stability between water and fire, feminine and masculine energies. As well as in the end of nature’s death period and the beginning of its life cycle, which brings a balance to life itself. In this way, Ostara acts as a kind of portal from one state of being to the next.
This Sabat’s most recognized deities are the Saxon Lunar Goddess Eostre, the festival’s namesake Ostara (from German origin), as well as the Greek Persephone. Eostre is often associated with fertility and rabbits; the story goes she considered the animals sacred and would even take on their form at times. Ostara is linked with the dawn, rebirth, and Spring itself; ceremonies dedicated to her take place at sunrise, where worshipers ask for abundant crops and exchange eggs as Talismans in her honour.* The story of Persephone is linked directly to the cycle between Autumn and Spring; this Goddess was forced to spend half of her life in the Underworld – descending some time after harvest – and half of her life on Earth – returning as a beacon of Spring.
*There are also stories of people leaving eggs on graves as a sign of their belief in reincarnation; the eggs were an invitation for rebirth.
When pairing the cycles of The Wheel with the phases of the Moon, Ostara aligns with the First Quarter phase. Now is the time for taking significant and discerning action towards our yearly goals and intentions. One of my intentions for 2019 was to build a better relationship with my Tarot deck, explore it deeply and personally so I would feel confident and connected in my readings. At the time, I had no idea that would involve taking a course – at least not one that started so soon – but I set the intention, allowed the Universe to guide me, and on March 21st (the day after Ostara) I begin the Tarot for the Wild Soul course. The timing is perfect!
How to Celebrate
Even though this holiday is a little more exciting than Imbolc, your celebrations can still range from super laid back to enchantingly elaborate. Remember, it’s whatever vibes for you and where you’re at in your practice. That’s why I try to give a variety of options: so you can take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Happy celebrating!
Food & Drink
Hot Cross Buns – This is one of the more traditional offerings of Ostara, and its creation really brings a bit of magic to your kitchen. A yeast-based bread, these buns require the four elements to come together in the just right quantities; bubbles of activated yeast (air,) liquid to mix (water,) flour (earth,) and the temperature of the oven (fire.) To add even more magic, try assigning a meaning/representation to each of the buns’ four quarters, and then meditate on those symbolisms before consuming the tasty pastry. For example, they could each represent the suits of the Tarot, the major phases of the Moon, or simply the four elements. Click here for a great vegan recipe.
Greens – What better way to honour and integrate with the colour of new plant life than by consuming it? Herbs, leafy greens, and other green veggies are a great choice, but you can’t get much closer to the newest of new plant life than with sprouts. You can use sprouts as a topper for a variety of dishes – from salads to soups to bowls – or just grab a handful and get munching.
Teas – I mean, is there even a time when tea isn’t appropriate? I don’t think so. For Ostara, we want to focus on herbal mixes that revitalize, renew, and invigorate our blood, organs, and glands. As well as those that help bring balance. Here are some to try:
- Dandelion to revitalize digestion
- Red Clover to refresh the blood
- Milk Thistle for liver renewal
- Mint to invigorate the senses
- Chamomile to balance energy by bringing calming effects to a stressful period
There are plenty of options when creating an altar specifically for Ostara, so go ahead and get creative. If there’s one rule you play by while designing the space, though, it would be to give the altar an overall feeling of balance. As we’ve been discussing, this festival really honours the equality between day and night being seen at this time of the year, and we can easily reflect that in our sacred spaces. Use an even amount of objects; if you use 2 green candles, balance them with 2 pink ones; find a yin yang symbol – even if you just print one out – and things that represent both the sun and moon.
Colours: Light green, lemon yellow, pale pink – so, pastels – and white. Colours are most easily represented through candles, but you could also add some crystals like rose quartz, clear quartz, yellow citrine, and/or green aventurine. Or, you could add…
Flowers: Anything that blooms in Spring – especially if it’s native to where you live – is the perfect altar addition at this time. Think tulips, violets, pansies, daffodils, and peonies.
Decorated Eggs: Something you might be familiar with if you’ve ever celebrated Easter or any of these other pre-Christian traditions that have an egg element to them. I discuss this more below in the activities section and offer different design ideas that should fit into most Ostara altar themes. If you want to be real simple about it, just dye the egg one solid colour – perhaps a colour missing from your candles, crystals, or flowers.
Tarot Cards: The embodiment of fertility, life, and creation, The Empress is the perfect addition to your altar on Ostara. Temperance and The Star are also great choices for their connection with balance, renewal, and rebirth. The Moon and The Emperor could also come to the party for their links with Pisces and Aries, respectively.
Tarot – Divination doesn’t come up in the texts around Ostara with as much emphasis as it did surrounding Imbolc, but that doesn’t mean I’ll let the occasion pass by without a little Tarot reading to check in! I created the following spread using Ostara’s themes of balance, and its power as one of the essential portals from one main phase of the cycle to the next. Enjoy, and share your results if you’re open to it!
1 – Death. What have I purged and released since Imbolc?
2 – Rebirth. What am I currently growing and preparing to birth?
3 – Day & Night. Where can I bring better balance to my life?
4 – Feminine. What spiritual lessons did I gain from Pisces season?
5 – Masculine. How can I use those lessons to fuel my fire in Aries season?
6 – The Portal. Guidance from the Spring Goddesses.
Meditation – I’m still very much a novice when it comes to meditation. I typically only use it as a tool for getting quiet and connecting deeper with my intuition. I have started branching out, though, looking for guided visualizations that are all about getting grounded and finding balance. I find it all too easy to live life in my emotions or brain, and need a strategy for getting rooted and actually turning my dreams and intentions into a reality. Ostara is the perfect time to really dive into this, because as the Earth reawakens we are given the space to reawaken our connection with it. If you’re advanced enough in your practice to guide yourself in a grounding meditation, then do you, boo. For those of you who need some guidance, here are a few options I’ve been trying lately:
Spring Cleaning – Many of you may have already started – and/or finished – this process, as I did recommend it for Imbolc as well. While I accomplished a small amount around that time, I went back to do the bulk of it over the past couple of weekends. However, I saved a particularly junk-y, junk cupboard, especially for Ostara. Since this year’s Festival aligns with the Full Moon, it’s a great time to release and let go of what’s no longer serving you; making the purge of this cupboard the perfect embodiment.
Reinvigorating Bath – It’s a long story for another time but I’m still getting used to the whole taking baths thing. I totally recognize how healing they can be and have felt their benefits first hand, but they often make me sleepy so I don’t utilize them unless it’s later in the day. However, as always, I’m open to having my mind changed, so this Ostara I’m going to take a bath during the day – maybe even in the morning – and see how it affects my energy. The difference between this bath and the (kind of boring) ones I’m used to taking, is that I’ll be infusing the water with a blend of herbs meant to stimulate my senses and reinvigorate my body, mind, and spirit. I’ll be using a blend of rosemary, orange peels, and mint – Epsom salts would also be a good addition, but I’m not there yet. If you need further guidance click here for a great (albeit a tad involved) recipe.
Planting Seeds – Like, quite literally planting seeds. One of the stories behind Ostara says that this was a time when Goddesses and Gods would marry, and then get down to the business of creating their legacy. You know, between the sheets. Spring is a period of fertility, after all, and now is the time to sow those seeds. Depending on the temperatures where you live, outdoor gardening may not be quite viable yet, so why not start small with a few indoor herbs? You could get really adventurous and plant some greens (or bigger plants) to eventually transplant outside if you have the space. Size really doesn’t matter, it’s all about how you use your space to bring new life into the world. If your altar is in a place that gets sufficient sun for your chosen plant, this symbol of new birth would be another great addition.
Decorating Eggs – Eggs are a symbol of the cyclical nature of life and of creation itself, and can, therefore, be heavily linked to Spring and Ostara. Before you give your dollars to the chicken egg industry, though, please consider an alternative like wooden or ceramic eggs. I’m not a fan of eating eggs in general, but it would be an even bigger waste of resources to buy them and not even consume them. If nothing else, you won’t run the risk of having them go bad and stinking up your sacred space.
Here are some design ideas using easy to draw symbols, which represent some Spring-like concepts. (Taken from the book, “The Modern Witchcraft Guide to The Wheel of The Year.”)
Triangles – Triple Goddess / Tree – Life / Parallel Broken Lines – Death
Star – Sun God / 8 Pointed Star – Rose / Butterfly – Transformation
Bird – Fertility / Spider – Fate
Get Outside – If the weather didn’t play nice with you back on Imbolc, hopefully, it’s singing a different tune on Ostara and you can get outside for that nature walk. Touch a tree while you’re out there. Put your hands in the dirt if you can. Just try something that gets you back in touch with Earth.
I’d love to hear what your plans are for Ostara! Did you try any of these activities or the Tarot spread? What’s your altar looking like? Let’s connect in the comments!
Happy Ostara ☺️