Written by Elkin Vanaeon
Ostara, known as the Spring or Vernal Equinox, is celebrated after the awakening of the Goddess at Imbolc,but before the fertile time at Beltain. Equinox give equal halves of light and darkness, where Solstices give halves of great increase and decline of light and warmth. It is a Solar festival, and a late addition to the Old Religion in Celtic and Teutonic Europe. In Northern Europe and North America, spring comes late and the nature of human-fertility belongs to Beltane. Ostara represents agriculturally the aspect of vegetation-fertility, signalling the time to work the land and the plant seeds to start the process of growth. This festival is usually considered to be a time of courtship and love between the Lord and the Lady, a period of equality, a balance between the forces of nature, of man and woman. This festival should be celebrated outdoors, close to nature with the feel of fresh grass and the smell of sweet clean air.
"Ostara" as a Solar festival, shares with the Greater Sabbats the eternal theme of fire and light. In many parts of Europe, bonfires are lit on hilltop sites with the belief that the their homeland will stay secure and the land will be fruitful as far as the light can shinet. Cattle were driven between bonfires and people jumped the fire of dying embers for fruitfull gain of crops and love.
"This is the time of the Spring's
the joyful time,
the seed time,
when life bursts forth from the Earth,
and the chains of winter are broken.
Light and dark are equal;
it is a time of balance,
when all the elements within us
must be brought into a new harmony.
The Prince of the Sun stretches out his hand,
the Dark Maiden,
returns from the Land of the Dead,
cloaked in fresh rain,
with the sweet scent of desire on her breath.
Where They step,
the wild flowers appear;
as They dance,
despair turns to hope,
sorrow to joy,
want to abundance.
May our hearts open with the spring!
Eggs are potent symbols of renewal and fertility, so the symbols for Ostars are flowers and colored eggs. Eggs may be buried in the ground by trees, left hidden for children to find, and placed on the altar. In the Celtic Traditions this Esabat is referred to as the Festival of Trees, in particular the Oak. Trees are endowed with personalities which reflect the cycles. It is the time of renewal, plan a walk (or a ride) through gardens, a park, woodlands, forest and other green places. Make your ritual walk and enjoy the celebration of nature and life. Plant seeds, work on your gardens, eat foods made of seeds and prepare meals that include sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
The death and resurrection theme linked to the Spring Equinox such as the festival of Cybele (Phrygian Goddess) in mediterranean lands was celebrated at this time. The vegetation God, Attis was associated with her. The Spring festival, from March 22-25, mourned the death of Attis and rejoiced over his resurrection. The crescent Moon (symbol of Cybele) emphasized the balance of night and day. The priests of Cybele would castrate themselves as an offering to Cybele (which is no longer done as far as I know) at that time. The rites of Cybele took place on the spot where St.Peter now stands in the Vatican. Christians celebrated the death and resurrection of Christ, in the very places where the worship of Attis took place.in order to replace pagan rituals and holidays - even building upon pagan sites of worship in order to dissuade worshipping pagan gods. The Christian Easter falls anywhere between Ostara and Beltane. In fact, the name Easter comes from the Teutonic Goddess Eostre, also called Ostara.
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