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How to celebrate Ostara

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Ostara, or the vernal equinox is finally upon us and the days are now equal in length to the nights. Whew! What a relief that the dark days are over for another season. Of course, we need the dark times as well as the light  – but I am sure we are all ready for a bit more sunshine and light in our lives.

Ostara is a key date in The Witches’ Sabbats, also known as the Wheel of the Year. These are a series of eight festivals celebrated in various modern pagan and witchcraft traditions. These festivals mark key points in the solar calendar, representing the changing seasons and the cycles of nature.

Greater Sabbats (Cross-Quarter Days)

The four Greater Sabbat festivals fall roughly midway between the solstices and equinoxes, dividing the solar year into four equal parts. The Greater Sabbats are Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lammas/Lughnasadh. These festivals are often associated with the changing seasons and the agricultural cycle, such as the shift from winter to spring or summer to autumn.

Lesser Sabbats (Solstices and Equinoxes)

The four Lesser Sabbat festivals coincide with the solstices and equinoxes. The solstices and equinoxes are key astronomical events marking distinct points in Earth’s orbit around the sun. The Lesser Sabbats are Yule, Ostara, Litha and Mabon.

What is Ostara?

Ostara is a festival that marks the vernal equinox when day and night are of equal length. It usually falls around March 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. It is one of the eight pagan Sabbats within the Wheel of the Year and is named after Eostre or Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and dawn, from whom the word “Easter” also derives.

This festival is characterised by renewal, rebirth and fertility themes, reflecting the earth’s awakening after the winter months. Traditions associated with this time include the decoration of eggs, a symbol of new life and fertility, planting seeds, and honouring the rising sun with rituals that celebrate the increase in light and the balance between day and night. Ostara embraces the renewal of the land, the beginning of sowing and the cycle of growth and renewal.

Why is this festival called Ostara?

The festival is called Ostara after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre (or Ostara in some traditions), who is the Goddess of spring and the dawn and was a popular Goddess in Anglo-Saxon times.

The English monk Bede, wrote about Eostre in his work “The Reckoning of Time” (“De Temporum Ratione”), in the 7th – 8th Century. He mentioned that April was known to Anglo-Saxons as Eosturmonath. He attributed this name to a goddess of dawn and spring named Eostre, whose feast was celebrated during this month. Bede’s account is one of the earliest written references to Eostre and is crucial because it provides historical evidence of the veneration of this goddess in pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon England. 

The myth of Ostara and the hare is a story that blends elements of ancient mythology with modern Easter traditions, although it’s important to note that the historical evidence for this myth is somewhat speculative and largely popularized by modern interpretations. According to the tale, Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of dawn and spring, found a bird wounded and frozen in the snow. Moved by compassion, she transformed the bird into a hare so that it could survive the cold. However, even after its transformation, the hare retained the ability to lay eggs. Grateful for its new life, the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as offerings to the goddess.

Celebrating Ostara

Celebrating Ostara involves rituals and activities that honour the themes of renewal, growth and balance. Of course, many of us celebrate this time of year, welcoming in spring and giving away easter eggs to friends and family. Here are some more ways to celebrate this sabbat.

Decorate eggs

Decorating eggs is a traditional way to celebrate Ostara, symbolizing fertility, new beginnings and the renewal of life. You can paint, dye, or decorate eggs with symbols of spring, such as flowers, leaves, or images of the sun.

Plant seeds

Gardening or planting seeds is a meaningful way to connect with the energy of growth and renewal. Planting herbs, flowers, or vegetables can symbolize intentions for growth and prosperity in the coming months.

Spring cleaning

A thorough cleaning of your home can mirror the clearing away of winter’s stagnation, making room for new growth and positive energy. This can also include clearing out old, unused items, symbolizing the letting go of the past.

Spending time in nature

Taking a walk in nature to observe the signs of spring is a simple way to celebrate this sabbat. It’s a time to appreciate the awakening of the earth, the blooming of flowers, and the wildlife returning to activity. Collect natural items that you find along the way and offer them on your altar or use them in your crafts and rituals.

Balance meditation

Since Ostara is a time of balance when day and night are of equal length, practising meditation focused on balance and harmony within yourself and in your life can be particularly powerful at this time of year.

Feasting on seasonal foods

Preparing a meal with seasonal foods that represent spring, such as spring vegetables and fruit, dairy products and eggs is a way to honour the fertility of the earth. Sharing this meal with loved ones can amplify the celebratory spirit.

Creating an altar

Setting up a small altar with symbols of spring—flowers, eggs, green candles and representations of the earth—can serve as a focal point for your celebration and intentions. This is a lovely activity for children to join in with, too.

Lighting candles

Lighting green, yellow, or pastel-coloured candles can represent the return of the light and the sun’s growing power as we move deeper into spring.

These activities not only celebrate the physical aspects of spring but also invite reflection on personal growth, renewal, and the balance in our lives.

Celebrating the goddess Ostara

If you would like your celebrations to be more Goddess-focused, here are a few more ideas.

Create a Goddess Altar

Set up an altar dedicated to Ostara with symbols of spring such as flowers, eggs, rabbits and images or statues of the goddess. Use pastel colours such as greens, yellows and pinks to decorate the altar.

Dawn ritual

Since Ostara is associated with the dawn, consider waking up early to greet the sunrise. This can be a simple ritual of lighting a candle, offering prayers or intentions for the new season, and meditating on the growing light.

Egg magic

Eggs are potent symbols of fertility and new beginnings and are often decorated with symbols and intentions at this time of year. If you’d like to try a little egg magic, check out this post at Moody Moons for more egg magic.

Planting rituals

Honour Ostara by planting new seeds or starting a garden. This act symbolizes planting the seeds of your intentions and desires, which you hope to grow and flourish in the coming months. You can also bless the seeds before planting them as a way to dedicate them to the goddess.

Feast of renewal

Prepare a feast using fresh, seasonal foods that represent spring, such as leafy greens, asparagus, dairy, eggs and/or rhubarb. Focus on the themes of renewal and abundance. You can set a place at the table for Ostara herself, offering her the first portion of each dish as a sign of respect and gratitude.

Meditation and visualization

Spend time meditating on what you wish to grow and manifest in your life. Visualize your goals coming to fruition with the same certainty as the return of spring. You might also meditate on the image of Ostara, asking for her blessings and guidance.

By incorporating these practices into your celebration of Ostara, you not only honour the goddess and the season but also align yourself with the cycles of nature and the energy of renewal and growth.

Ostara is a lovely time of year to do spellwork and set our intentions for the upcoming season. The following spell can be done inside or, even better outside in nature.

Ostara Intention Ribbon Spell

What you need

Ribbons in various colours that resonate with your intentions.
A small branch or wand to represent the Tree of Life and your connection to nature.
A white candle or LED candle for purity, new beginnings and manifestation.
A bowl of water with spring flowers to symbolize emotions and the element of water.

What to do

Begin by cleansing your area and yourself to create a clear and sacred space. This can be done through visualization, imagining a bright light cleansing the space, or using sound like bells or a singing bowl. Place the candle and water on your altar or in your sacred space.

Start your ritual by lighting the white candle or LED candle. Focus on its flame, imagining it as a beacon of energy and renewal, igniting your willpower and determination.

Next, hold your ribbons one by one and focus on a specific intention you wish to manifest. Gently tie the ribbon onto the branch or wand, affirming your intention.

With all ribbons attached, hold your intention tree in both hands. You may like to wave it gently so the element of air moves the ribbons. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, envision your intentions being nurtured by the breath of life, growing and expanding with the energy of spring.

You might like to recite an invocation to solidify your intentions. You can use the one that follows, or even better, craft one of your own.

“With breath and flame, I give life to my desires,
With water’s flow, my heart’s intent aspires.
As the earth renews, so shall my path unfold,
In colours bright, my dreams take shape and hold.”

Meditate on your intention tree for a while and try to focus on your intentions and the feelings they bring.

Once you have completed the ritual, place your intention tree in a place where you will see it regularly, reminding you of your goals. Let the candle burn safely down or extinguish it.

Continue to reflect on and work towards your intentions, remembering that the physical actions you take are as important as the spiritual ones. Visit your intention tree often to reconnect with your desires and the energy you’ve invested in them.

Eva May Baker
Eva May Baker
Hello, and welcome to The City Witch, your portal into the magical world that exists within the hustle and bustle of city life. My name is Eva Baker and I am an urban folk witch, author and your guide on this magical journey.

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