Ostara: Celebrating the Wiccan Spring Equinox

by JoHarrington

With the day and night of equal length, this is the time of the greening. The Goddess Eostre is free of the cold Earth and all is fertile.

There's so much hope in the air today! Chilly winter has been banished and greenery has returned to the world.

We step out into it, happy to be out and about. This general feeling of bonhomie ripples out into all that we see and do.

Fertile nature blooms, pushes through the ground, buds into new life all around. There is the whole of spring and summer before us; and so much to do!

But before we get to all of that, let's pause for a moment to congratulate ourselves. We made it through the winter. We made it.

What is the Wiccan Ostara?

An introduction to one of the Eight Sabbats in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.

Alternately called Ostara, Eostre or Spring Equinox, the clue to when this Sabbat is celebrated is in the latter.

At its core, this is a solar festival, which comes at the time when day and night are of equal length. This vernal equinox usually occurs between March 19th and 22nd.

In 2013, it will happen on March 20th, at 11.02am UTC.

The light and darkness (day and night) might be in balance, but it is the former which is winning out. From now until the Summer Solstice, the days will eat away at the night-time, getting longer and longer. This relates only to the Northern Hemisphere, as the opposite is occurring in the South.

Wicca always mirrors the natural world. Out in the fields and woodland, the frosts have gone and the soil has thawed. As the Earth heats up, fertility can be seen everywhere. The buds of Imbolc are now blooming into flowers. 

Looking out of my window right now, I can see a cherry tree bright with pink blossoms. The oak trees beyond it have a greenish haze, as the leaves start to form. The daffodils are all out, brightly yellow and white against the grass. The crocuses have pushed through in splashes of purple. Nature is coming alive.

This is Spring and it's a fertile time. The Green Man has met the Mother Goddess, freed from her frozen Earth. Break out the eggs; bring on the bunny rabbits; and plant your seeds. It's time to embrace Eostre!

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Who is Eostre?

Note that I said 'who' not 'what'. Hail and welcome to the Goddess of the Dawn.

Everyone in Western Society knows how to pronounce Eostre, unless you have been extremely sheltered for your entire life.

It's Easter.

Fundamental for sexual activity and reproduction in women is the hormone Estrogen.

Back in the 13th century, the word 'ease' meant to satisfy a lady in bed. The centuries diverted that into a more general sense, as society became more prudish (and/or didn't think orgasms were good for females). But shades of the original meaning can be glimpsed in calling someone 'easy'.

The Goddess can be viewed in the rising of the morning sun, which occurs in the East.

All of these words have their etymology in the Goddess Eostre, which should also be telling you all that you need to know about Her.

We can also take this slightly further, though we're on more shaky ground now. The English word 'essence' could relate back to Eostre, in the root sense of 'to be; being' or the basic element of all things. The word isn't Germanic per se. It's been translated from the Greek 'ousia' and passed through French along the way. But 'ousia' comes from the Goddess Aurora, who is Eostre's counterpart in Greece.

From the same language, we also get 'estrus', which is a word that has sadly now fallen out of use. As late as Victorian times, it meant 'mad, frenzied passion' or 'gadfly'.

Have you fixed Eostre in your head now? She is the Goddess of the Dawn, who emerges when the world is warm enough to receive her. Think of her as the herald of brighter days; but mostly see her as Mother Earth.

Eostre brings with Her a feminine sexuality, which is literally implanted into nature. She brings eggs in her ovaries, which the Green Man is ready and able to fertilize. He eases the divine estrogen that is going to erupt into Spring. In fact, they're going at it like rabbits, which provides some insight into the meaning of the Easter Bunny.

Enjoy your chocolate egg.

Buy Easter Eggs to celebrate Eostre

As part of nature, you are taking the Goddess's essence into yourself with every bite.
M&M's Chocolate Candy Filled Eggs, Mi...Cadbury Easter Creme Eggs, 4-Count Bo...Reese's Easter Plastic Egg Assortment...

Ostara Ritual in the USA

This Wiccan celebration was filmed by the Temple of Astral Light, at Trinity Temple in Albany, NY on March 18, 2006.

How Witches Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Bunnies, eggs and seeds! Oh My! (Or how well does your garden grow?)

The rituals for Ostara (pronounced O-star-ah) will all be focusing upon fertility. This is usually symbolic in nature, so don't expect to peep in on rampant orgies in every coven. 

If you've watched the Temple video (above) then a lot of the themes are already on display.

The High Priestess personified the Goddess Eostre; and the High Priest took on the aspect of the Green Man. He carried a rabbit to the altar to represent the vitality of male sexuality at this time. She carried flowers to show what needed fertilizing. 

Seeds were blessed and handed out to everyone present. Though extremely practical, this was also a way of carrying that circle energy into each garden. If you like, it's helping the Lord and Lady with a bit of fertility by inserting the seed (male) into the ground (female). That's about as close as you'll get to an orgy in modern covens! (It's probably as much as you'd get in ancient ones too.)

The whole coven were involved in many of the arts and crafts, which can be used to decorate the home. The food was important. It was communally eaten, resplendent in the symbols of Eostre, fertility and the season. This is all in eggs, bunnies and the flowers that are blooming outside.

Then, of course, there are the seeds. With the hard, winter soil now thawed, it's possible to plant your crops for the future. There's some cross-over here between Imbolc and Ostara (not entirely accidentally), but there's an important difference too.

Whether your seeds are literal or aspects of your life, then let's follow their progress through from the dead of winter.

If the reflections of Winter Solstice were theoretical, then the new beginnings of Imbolc were experimental. By Ostara, you should be able to see which will develop into a promising reality and focus more upon them.

To put that into practical terms: I want to grow my own crops (Yule); I've planted a selection of seeds (Imbolc); I now know which plants work best in my garden (Ostara). It's narrowing down your best opportunities, so that you can hit them with the full force of the Beltane energy that's next in line in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.

Ostara and Spring Equinox Books

Discover more about this Wiccan Sabbat by exploring what these authors have to say.

Ostara and Me

The Imbolc seeds represented a scatter-gun effect. Now that Eostre is here, it's time to focus with informed precision.

I think that we can safely say that I scattered some seeds at Imbolc. I'm starting to see what's going to work now.

For those reading here on Wizzley, the most outward evidence of my 'garden' is in the volume of articles that I've produced.

They bounce around the topics and categories, as I test out a few things. What attracts readers? What could contribute to my livelihood? What can I write a lot about and still retain my passion and enjoyment of the subject matter? This is important, as no-one wants to read a Wizzle penned by someone just going through the motions.

While farmers and gardeners may look out over their land, noticing what plants are thriving, I'm doing the same with data. I'm pouring over all of the charts and statistics, then writing more on certain topics, just to ensure that the earlier success wasn't merely a fluke.

I have information now. I know where to focus my attention. I'm making decisions, where things aren't perfect. I can narrow down to find the better fit.

As Ostara arrives, then I can take stock. Anyone watching my article feed carefully will be able to discern patterns. Those categories which recur are the ones which my Imbolc experiments taught me are good. Now is the time to put those conclusions into practice.

Elsewhere in my life, there have been other lessons too. Can I work 24/7 at a pace of knots? Can I take on several projects all at once? No on both counts, I'll burn out. The answer is to take more breaks, which I will be doing, as Spring Equinox comes along.

I've also been helping my cousin expand his business. Those seeds were planted very strongly and now the foundations are all in place. This really is the time to begin building upon that infrastructure. 

As a Wiccan, the first thing that I introduced into his new office was a plant. Eostre is here and we would very much like her fertile energy being poured into his business, thank you very much.

There were other elements which have come to fruition. For example, a couple of us embarked on a quest to track down a lost friend. We found her just this week. There are aspects which have to be moved around, in order to fit my new life into my existing one. I have a better idea of how to do that now.

All in all, things are looking much more hopeful, as indeed they should with Spring dawning upon the world.

Spring Mesquite Trees Growing in Wildflowers, Texas, USA

Spring Mesquite Trees Growing in Wildflowers, Texas, USA

Articles about the Wiccan Wheel of the Year

Eight Sabbats and 13 moons make up the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. They each carry a spiritual and practical significance.
Beltane is a time of fertility, renewal and fire. It's between the end of darkness and the beginning of light. The veil is very thin.
The height of summer - the longest day - is a time of great celebration, but it also means that the dark days are coming again.
Lughnasadh occurs exactly half a year after Imbolc. What happened to all of those seeds that you planted then?

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Updated: on 03/21/2013, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 03/23/2012

LOL I like that, Diane. Do I have permission to nick it? :D

Diane Wallacle on 03/23/2012

Very nice and thorough article. I call Ostara the "Sabbat with the Rabbit™"

JoHarrington on 03/21/2012

It's good to see that you've been probably welcomed into a circle.

It may be pure coincidence, but since Ostara, it's been beautiful sunshine out there. I've been going out in a t-shirt, without even grabbing a cardigan!

katiem2 on 03/21/2012

A dear friend of mine is Wiccan, I enjoy the equinox experience with her and the circle of others who embrace this moment of birth. I always feel so renewed and empowered after.

JoHarrington on 03/16/2012

Enjoy your garden, dear, you're turning into me being on-line! <3

JoHarrington on 03/16/2012

Patently the Goddess telling you to eat more chocolate. *nod nod* :D

Mladen on 03/16/2012

Chocolate is mandatory??? I am in! :)
Great article. I learned a lot! Somehow my blood sugar level drops by a lot when I look at chocolate eggs. Hmmm, I wonder... :)

JoHarrington on 03/15/2012

Best thing about my religion - the chocolate is mandatory! LOL Enjoy your noms. :)

TerriRexson on 03/15/2012

We're atheists but we celebrate Easter. I like the connection to the past. And the chocolate.

JoHarrington on 03/15/2012

Nice one!

That's a lot of different denominations to fit together there; but if there's one thing that I've learned, it's that most religions have a lot of cross-over.

Happy Spring Equinox to you and your family. :D




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