02-25-2011, 06:59 PM
Joined on: May 2008
Location: In my own little piece of Heaven
Borrowing some great information from a friend on another site!!
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. Despite its word origins, the Pagan Germans and Celts didn't celebrate the spring equinox, so Ostara is one of the "new" Pagan and Wiccan holidays.
A New Day Begins:
A dynasty of Persian kings known as the Achaemenians celebrated the spring equinox with the festival of Noruz -- 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 Noruz begins, and people purify their homes and leap over fires to welcome the 13-day celebration of Noruz.
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. One delightful legend associated with Eostre was that she found an injured bird on the ground one 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 Wiccans and 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.
Ostara is the Goddess of Spring and the Dawn, whose worship goes back to
ancient Pagan Teutonic/Saxon cultures. Contemporary Pagans of many paths
honor Her at Spring Equinox time. Also known as Eostre, the Christian
festival of Easter was named for Her, and the Easter Bunny, baskets, and
colored eggs that are part of Springtime and Easter celebrations in
America, Europe, and other parts of the world are rooted in Her lore and
Over the years, I have created and guided Ostara meditations as part of
our Welcome Spring Festival at Circle Sanctuary at Spring Equinox time.
This form of my Ostara meditation which I present here can be done as
part of a group ritual or as a personal meditation. It can be a ritual
itself or included as part of a longer ritual. In guiding this
meditation for others as part of a group setting, pause between
paragraphs and include longer pauses indicated by ....... In guiding
this meditation for yourself, you may find recording it on a tape first
and then playing it can deepen your experience.
Find a comfortable, safe, and quiet place to be for this meditation.
Close your eyes. Relax and center yourself by taking deep slow breaths.
Now journey inward.
Imagine that you are in a hilly countryside. It is just before dawn at
the beginning of Springtime. The land is nearing the end of its
You face the East and watch the Sun as it begins to rise. Rays of light
shimmer onto the land and into the sky. Experience the beautiful colors
of light that is the Dawn.
Now, as the glowing disc of the Sun becomes visible above the hills, you
see the Goddess Ostara appear on the land in the distance in the East.
She is beginning to move toward you. As She moves, the land awakens with
You see Her coming toward you in the form of a Beautiful Maiden. You see
Her radiant face and flowing gown. She is carrying a golden basket
filled with colored eggs. Beside Her is Her companion, a frisky magical
Rabbit. As They come closer to you, you see that with each step that
They take, the land around them bursts into new life and grows green.
New grasses sprout from the ground. Herbs flourish. Trees grow new leaves.
You call out a welcome to Them and to the Spring they bring. As you meet
face to face, you see that the Goddess Ostara and the Rabbit are both
smiling a welcome to you. Ostara then holds Her golden basket toward you
and invites you to chose one of the eggs in it as a gift of Spring. You
notice that each egg has a different color. You see the beautiful array
of choices. You feel more drawn to one of the eggs than the others and
choose it. Now you hold the egg that you have selected in both of your
You first focus on its color and reflect on what that color means to
you. ..... Then Ostara invites you to ask this Sacred Egg to give you a
message about personal growth. You ask this and then are quiet as you
pay attention to whatever words, symbols, sensations, impressions,
and/or other forms of message emerge. ......
Ostara now invites you to take this Sacred Egg and its power of new
growth into yourself. You hold it to your heart and as you do this, you
absorb it into your being. You experience the renewal of Springtime. You
radiate vitality. Be immersed in this experience. ......
Continuing to experience vitality within you, you prepare to end this
meditative journey. You reflect once more on the color and message of
the Sacred Egg. ..... You bid Ostara and Her Rabbit companion farewell
for now, knowing that they continue to live within your consciousness to
guide you in your Springtime growth. ..... When you feel ready, take
several deep, slow breaths to aid you in returning to waking
consciousness. .... Then slowly rise, stretch, and orient to the here
and now, as you carry with you the memory of your experiences on the
journey you have just completed.
Take a few moments now and note down your experiences, including
guidance your received for personal growth. ..... Now, let the vitality
of Spring renewal continue to be with you as you go about your daily life.
For an Ostara altar,
•This is a great time for that proverbial spring cleaning. House are often aired out and refreshed after being closed up tightly for most of the winter months.
•Fresh flowers - early spring bloomers and pastel colors are symbolic of this time of the year.
•Branches from budding and blooming trees
•Symbols of spring fertility - eggs were always associated with this holiday as were rabbits, which breed plentifully.
•Crystals - stones that reflect the colors and shapes (eggs) of the season are appropriate, such as rose quartz, pale aquamarines and amethysts, light tourmalines and moonstones.
•Incense - gentle, floral scents