Main image courtesy of Medium.
After the long winter, it’s always nice to look forward to spring. We need the quiet and the cold of winter to turn inwards, reflect, and cherish time spent with friends during the shorter days and longer nights. While this time of introspection and slowing down is much appreciated each year, it’s always nice to notice the change of the year, and the turning of the wheel.
Welcoming spring is a joyous occasion, since it means that longer days are ahead, where we can look forward to being outside and seeing the return of the flowers and the trees. In the religions of the past, this was celebrated with the holiday known as Ostara, marked at the vernal equinox. If you’re interested in celebrating Ostara this year, we’ve got some rituals you might want to try!
Ostara is the time for welcoming the turning of the wheel into spring. Image courtesy of Gala Darling.
As we mentioned, Ostara is the sabbat celebrated by pagans, neo-pagans, witches, and others to welcome the turning of the wheel and spring time. The name Ostara comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, who was celebrated when the warmth and life of spring returned to the land. This is one of the 8 major sabbats that are celebrated throughout the year, falling right after Imbolc in February (where we get our modern Groundhog Day.) The other sabbats include:
These are used to mark time throughout the year, and were especially useful for agriculturally- based societies. Ostara is the time right after Imbolc in February, and typically falls around the vernal equinox around March 21 or 22. This is a time for renewal, and where the earth seems to wake up from its winter slumber.
Many people choose to welcome the spring with Ostara rituals, whether large, small, alone, or in groups.
It’s easier than you might think to welcome a little Ostara magic. Image courtesy of Flower Aura.
It’s easy to see how Christianity drew out Easter from the Ostara celebrations of the past, as the themes of both are renewal, growth, and rebirth. This time of year is also celebrated for its fertility, when baby animals are born and the flowers and trees return. While you can take the sense of fertility in the literal sense, you can also focus your ritual and energies on creating new projects, achieving your goals, and learning new things.
If you’d like to mark the spring equinox and welcome in the spring, we have a couple of Ostara rituals for you to try. Remember, no one said your rituals need to be elaborate, and you can easily do them all on your own. But if you’d like to make a group ritual out of it, have at it. The most important part about recognizing the change in seasons and giving thanks for your place in the world through ritual is your intention. When you have a clear intention to celebrate rebirth, fertility, and challenging yourself to keep growing, you’re really harnessing the Ostara spirit.
While you may have dyed eggs as a kid, there’s no reason you can’t now! Easter egg dying is a fun tradition that a lot of people grow up doing, but don’t necessarily understand why. Now that you know eggs are a sign of rebirth and renewal for Ostara, it probably makes a little more sense. Get your favorite egg dying kit and consider dying eggs for Ostara this year. It’s a great ritual to do alone or with a group. Personalize your eggs by writing sigils or short meditations for the spring on them with a wax crayon before dying.
Spring cleaning is another tradition that is based around the Ostara time of year. Each year it’s a good idea to give our homes and hearths a good sweep or a scrub, and get rid of the old stagnant energy of the past. You can make way for new things in your home this year by clearing out the clutter, and your closet, of items you no longer use. Donate them or recycle them whenever possible.
After you give the nooks and crannies of your home a good clean, make sure to light some incense or bundle of sage to burn and clear the home for the new season.
Spring is the time of year where the earth seems to awaken from its wintry slumber. If you’re able to go outside to meditate, that’s great, but if it’s still too cold or damp in March, doing it inside is fine! Remember, it's the intention. Sit in a comfortable seat and start to notice your breathing. You can look outside and see the new life beginning to bud in your area, and really think about how this makes you feel, and what it means in your life. Sitting quietly with the earth is a wonderful way to welcome spring.
Because the vernal equinox is all about renewal and rebirth, consider doing a ritual that involves a planting. This doesn’t have to be big, it could be as simple as one flower or one herb. As you plant the seed or plant, concentrate on what you’d like to plant and see bloom later in the year in your own life. This could be a goal you have, a wish, or something you’d like to manifest.
It’s always a good idea to celebrate Ostara with food and drink! Image courtesy of She Knows.
If you’ve ever celebrated a sabbat, you know that food and drink are an important part of the ritual. Sometimes, depending on if you’re a kitchen witch or a green witch, the cooking and presentation of food is the ritual itself. Here are a few of our favorite Ostara recipes that will be right at home after or before your ritual.
Drawing on the egg theme again, deviled eggs are always a good option. The best part? You can make them entirely your own. While you’ll need a few basic ingredients, consider some extra toppings like chives, dill, or scallions to really make it spring-like.
You can’t go wrong with roasted lamb for Ostara. You can make any cut you have--chops, loin, leg, or even ground lamb and make it with the intention of welcoming the spring and the season of renewal and rebirth.
Spring is when the new shoots of plants start to venture forth from the earth. Some of the earliest greens to arrive include bean sprouts, dandelion, spinach, and scallions. Gather your favorite greens and make sure to include fruits or nuts as well. Then top off your salad with a delightful lemon vinaigrette to truly get yourself ready for spring.
These are just a sampling of the Ostara rituals you can do at home. Whether you do one, or all of them, you’ll be welcoming the season of growth with open arms.