This Saturday, March 20th, is Ostara, also known as the spring equinox, vernal equinox, or the first day of spring. Ostara is a pagan holiday, one of the eight Sabbats celebrating the changing of the seasons. World History Encyclopedia has an article explaining the Wheel of the Year and each of the Sabbats, in detail.
Ostara is named for the goddess Eostre, the Germanic goddess of the dawn, and is the origin for the Christian Easter. Spring is a time of rebirth, the time when the Earth reawakens after her winter hibernation, and plants and flowers begin to come back to life.
Ostara is about starting fresh and, especially after this last year, I think we could all use that. So, this Saturday, be sure to focus on all the changes you want to make in your life, all the plans and goals you want to achieve in the coming year. This is the day that, like the Earth herself, we can all be born anew.
Some things you can do to celebrate Ostara are; just spending time outside, especially in the early morning, planting flowers or vegetables, creating a spring-themed altar, presenting offerings of fruit or drinks to Eostre, or making a list of all the things you want to draw into your life over the course of the year.
If you want to perform an actual ritual, you can find lots of ideas online. You can look through them and choose the one that feels right to you. Don’t feel limited by what other people do though; I find it more meaningful to design my own rituals that are simple and personal.
One ritual that I like for Ostara is planting my goals for the coming year. You make a list of all the things you want to grow in your life; all your goals, plans, dreams. You can choose as few, or as many as you want. I usually don’t choose more than five, because you really need to be able to focus on each one, but it’s entirely your choice.
At the beginning of the ritual, you can light a candle, burn some incense, make offerings, reach out to Eostre (or any other deities or spirits) or anything else that feels appropriate to you. If you’re new to all of this, and feel like prayers and offerings are a little too much, you can also just skip straight to the end.
Take some seeds, it doesn’t really matter what kind, as long as they are things that do well if planted in the spring. Choose ones that you like, or that feel appropriate to you. You will need one seed for every goal on your list. Hold a seed in your hand, while focusing all of your energy and attention on a single goal, until you feel that the seed has been fully imbued with it. Then repeat the process with the rest of your list. When you have finished all of your seeds, you can end the ritual by giving thanks to any spirits or deities you invited, and extinguishing your candle. Then plant your seeds, either outdoors or in a pot, and let your dreams grow.
As I said, this is just something that I like to do. There are plenty of other recommendations out there, and the options are limitless if you design your own rituals. If you want more information about the Sabbats, and paganism in general, a couple of my favorite books are David Salisbury’s The Deep Heart of Witchcraft and Craft of the Wild Witch by Poppy Palin.
Salisbury’s book is short, straightforward, and to the point. It offers a general understanding of the craft, in a way that is friendly and informal. Palin’s is much longer and goes into much greater detail. The writing is less direct, and more poetic, like it’s leading you in the right direction, rather than telling you the answers.
So, whatever you do on Saturday, be sure to spend a little time appreciating the rebirth of the natural world and the beginning of this new cycle.
Whitney Metz is the author of the Black Magick Series. She lives outside the town of Mannington, West Virginia with Riley and Petunia, two pigs she adopted during an internship at Farm Sanctuary. She also writes a weekly blog at her website whitneymetz.com.
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