The Festival of Ostara
Ostara also known as Eostre and the Spring Equinox falls on 21 September in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Northern Hemisphere 21 March. It marks the return of spring. It is a time of joy and balance when light and dark are at their equal lengths.
Eostre is a Germanic Spring Goddess and the namesake of the Christian holiday of Easter. There is a bit of controversy as to the origins of Eostre. She first makes her appearance in Venerable Bebe's Temporum Ratione about 13 hundred years ago. Then she doesn't appear again until the Grimm brother's in the 1800's. Jacob Grimm had said he had found evidence of her in oral traditions in parts of Germany.
Interestingly she doesn't appear in any Germanic mythology, not appearing in any of the poetry or prose of the time, but this does not mean she didn't belong to a tribal group of the Germanic area, with her stories being passed down in oral tradition.
The festival itself has been claimed by the German Neo-Pagans, Norse, Saxon and Celts. The Celts admit that this festival is not one of their original festivals, and therefore is a part of the reconstruction of the old Celtic ways.
One blogger Jason Mankey theorizes that Eostre was a localized Anglo-Saxon Goddess from somewhere around modern day Kent, as this is where the oldest references can be found.
Whatever the truth there are many festivals from ancient times that honour the return of the spring and the Goddesses associated with the season.
In Ancient Rome the Goddess celebrated was Cybele whose consort Attis died and resurrected every year on the Spring Equinox. In Persia the festival was known as No Ruz meaning New Day, and was a celebration of hope and renewal. In Mayan culture the sun sets on the day of the Equinox on the great pyramid of El Castillo, Mexico, the lengthening shadow runs from the top of the pyramid's northern staircase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a descending snake. This has been called the Return of the Sun Serpent.
In modern days the various Pagan community celebrate Ostara as the transition from dark to light. During the Spring Equinox the day and night are at equal lengths, creating balance and harmony, the festival centers around the themes of re-birth, fertility and harmony.
Here are some ways to celebrate Ostara.
Paint boiled eggs.
Eggs symbolise fertility, using the colours and their magickal meanings to draw sigils on them to manifest your desires. The traditional colours of Ostara are green, gold, yellow, peach and pastels.
To represent the cycle of rebirth, plant some seeds of the herbs of Ostara, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, lavender, lily, peony, rose, sage, strawberry, daffodil, tansy and violet.
Flowers of daffodils, jasmine and honeysuckle represent love and protection, as do the herbs of mint, sage, rosemary and basil, and are great to plant in honour of Ostara.
Create a Vision Board.
As Ostara is about re-birth, this means its is also a time of new beginnings, so a great time to plan your future goals as its the most fertile time of the year. A great way to do this is to create a vision board of everything you want to achieve in the coming year.