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Beautiful Ostara

The Spring, a beautiful time of regeneration and new beginnings, it is a time of balance and equilibrium. The Spring Equinox is one of the four major season changes of the year and like the other three it has many lessons and much wisdom to bring us all. To those that follow the Gregorian Calendar, Springtime is a time for planting new seeds and beginning the first stages of gardening. To those that follow the Old Ways the Spring Equinox is a celebration and a time of sacrifice to the Gods for bringing the Earth back to life. It runs around March 22 and is named after the Germanic Goddess of Spring, Ostara. 

It was from Ostara that the Christian Easter evolved. The Sun gets warmer and the days get longer: we are on our way to the Summer Solstice. This is a very feminine time on the calendar, so Goddesses like Freyja as the Spring Maiden and Iduna as the Apple Blossom Goddess are hailed during this time, as is Gefjon as the plowing Goddess and Gna, riding on the Spring winds, and Sunna, the sun Goddess whose energy and warmth we can begin to feel more closely. Thor is also hailed at this time for his ability to bring the Spring rains, which bring the Earth back to life; for The Giants, Thor’s equivalent in this would be the Giant Farbauti, who is the Giant of storms and lightning. Njord is also hailed as the fishermen begin to take their boat out to sea. During this time eggs are also hollowed and painted to honor the Duegar; the Dwarves, who are craftsmen and blacksmiths. We celebrate their crafts because at this time they begin to come out of the deep caves for the first time since Autumn.

The hare is a very sacred animal during this time of the year. It represents fertility and abundance, new life, and is sacred to Ostara. It was thought that both the moon and the hare die daily, which represents the rebirth of the Earth. In the modern Christain Holiday we have the Easter Bunny who brings colored eggs. Eggs also have large symbolism during Ostara; the egg represents the cosmos at large, the universe as a whole, it contains all potential, all promise and all of creation being rebirthed through nature. In many mythologies across many different cultures the universe is seen as an egg. In Aztec (Mexica, Nahua, Anahuak, Mexicayotl) traditions this time of renewal is sacred to the God Xipe Totec, the Lord of the West and the Red Tezcatlipoca. He is the Lord of the springtime and flays his own skin so men may have food, which is why the sky turns reddish each night as the sun sets. During this time of the year in the Aztec Calendar, they celebrated a festival called Tlacaxipehualiztli in his honor; priests would flay war captives as sacrifices to him and wear their skins and perform dances in the God’s honor. The flaying of skin was sacred to Xipe because it represented doing away with the old and bringing in the energy and power of renewal, which is spring. Tlaloc is another Aztec God honored at this time, the Lord of rains and water. He was honored during this time in order to bring forth the spring rains, that the crops may grow and fields may be fertile. 

During this time it is good to honor the powers and spirits of renewal, that they may gift you with that energy so you may continue to grow and live. Below is a basic ritual and altar set up from our friends at The Church of Asphodel, a Neo-Pagan Church in Massachusetts.

Calendar of the Sun

22 Hrethemonath (March)

 

Quinquatria Day IV

Ostara

 

Colors: Pale blue, yellow, spring green

Element: Earth

Altar: Upon a cloth of Ostara colors, place a rainstick, a bowl of eggs, a great bowl of water filled with stones, a yellow candle, incense of violets, and a fan made in the shape of a bird’s wing. Add also flats of earth and a bowl of seeds. Set up a vase of branches cut from a tree and allowed to sprout green in warm water. Hang hollowed eggs marked with appropriate symbols from the tree. Some should be half golden and half black.

Offerings: Plant something. Introduce the joy of planting and working with gardens to the underprivileged.

Daily Meal: Eggs. Poultry. Rabbit.

 

Ritual Note: Like all the eight high holidays, this day should ideally be spent not enclosed and isolated, but in common with the larger pagan community. This can be done a number of ways, including spending the day elsewhere, at the Brigid’s Day ritual of another group or tradition, or by inviting in those pagans who would otherwise not be able to attend a ritual. Either way, the eight holidays should be a time of remembering the place of the house in the greater community. If the choice is made to go elsewhere, then no liturgy is needed for the day. If the choice is made to bring the greater community into the lesser one, the following ritual can be used:

 

(First four who have been chosen to do the work of the ritual cast circle with fan, candle, rainstick, and green branch.)

Ostara Ritual

Casting A Ritual Space

East:

O Mercury, rider of the wind,

Lithe of body and supple of tongue,

Blow a breath of freedom

Into our weary minds!

Spirits of the Air,

Caress us clean!

South:

O Bast, cat dancer in the fire,

Curious one with the flashing eyes,

Quick to pounce and quick to laugh,

Renew us with your fire!

Spirits of the Flame,

Awaken us!

West:

O Lorelei of the Sea

Mermaid singing with your siren song

Send us playful salt spray

And the rain of your laughter!

Spirits of the West,

Wash away the winter sorrows!

 

North:

Kore, earth Maiden,

Springtime’s goddess,

Returning yet again

From darkness into light,

May green arise in your footsteps

And flowers blossom from your touch!

Spirits of the North,

Welcome to Spring!

Ostara Invocation (Call And Response):

 

Call: Hail the coming of Spring!

Response: Hail the day of the eastern wind!

C: Tonight Day is equal to Night.

R: Today Night is equal to Day.

C: Today all things are in balance.

R: Balanced on the blade of a knife!

C: Balanced on the blade of Thought.

R: Balanced on the blade of Wind.

C: As the winds rise in the east,

R: As the sun rises in the east,

C: As dawn gives new beginnings,

R: At the dawning of the year,

C: We lift our arms to the eastern sky,

R: We lift our spirits to the coming of Spring,

C: And may the rain wash us clean!

R: May all things be cleansed!

C: May all things begin anew!

R: May we rise in hope and be transformed!

C: May we rise like the grass springing forth from the soil!

R: May we unfurl like every new leaf!

C: Arise, and sing for joy!

 

Ostara Chant

 

Bass descant:

 

Breath warms thee

Hands prepare thee

Hope sows thee

Sun awaken thee

 

May the seeds we plant spring forth and grow

May we reap our dreams from what we sow,

And our transformation has begun,

We are rising upwards toward the sun

We are rising upwards toward the sun

We are rising upwards toward the sun

We are rising upwards toward the sun

We are rising upwards toward the sun.

 

Soprano melody:

 

(We will) Break the surface of the Earth,

Like the Mother’s flesh gives maiden’s birth,

Like the heaving mountains rise and fall,

Like the buried hope within us all,

Like the greening tendril skyward springs,

Like the birds return on joyous wings,

Like our every breath of eastern wind,

We will see the dawning year begin,

And the seed of sorrow planted deep

Shall awaken from its bitter sleep,

And our transformation has begun,

We are rising upwards toward the sun….

 

Breath warms thee

Hands prepare thee

Hope sows thee

Sun awaken thee

 

All together:

 

We are rising upwards toward the sun

We are rising upwards toward the sun

Alive

Alive

Alive…..

References

  1. https://www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk/ostara/
  2. https://www.northernpaganism.org/resources/prayers-rituals/seasonal-holidays-and-bl%C3%B3ts.html
  3. https://www.paganbookofhours.org/rituals/ostara.html
  4. The Florentine Codex: General History of The things of New Spain Book 2 by Bernardino de Sahagún. 
  5. My own book of shadows

By Jake Kline, Feature Writer for the Hrafnarfjall Times

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