Called by the sunlight, we emerge from our homes, tentative at first, for old Cailleach is a stubborn one and she fights for her winter mantle.  We are emboldened by what we see, the green has returned in our yards and vibrant color to the countryside – a drape of purple wisteria, a pink spray across the redbud tree, and a tiny cluster of wild violet.   

What are the origins of Ostara?  It is likely that Aidan Kelly was influenced by Jacob Grimm’s assumption about Easter in his treatise, Deutsche Mythologie.   The modern take on the history and symbolism of Ostara is precarious at best.  There is a prevalent belief that the name of the Sabbat was taken from an Anglo-Saxon goddess named Eostre and that the Easter bunny and Easter eggs are symbols borrowed from Ostara.  We have very few sources to rely upon when researching the validity of these claims or to establish the true nature of the rites of spring. 

In 725 C.E. a Christian monk named Bede made reference to Eostre in his treatise, “The Reckoning of Time”.  Bede speaks of Eosturmononath, the fourth lunar month which took place from mid-March to mid-April, stating that the old name for this time was “Paschal month”, but that it had been replaced with the name of the goddess (Eostre) whose feast days were observed during that month.  It wasn’t until 1839 that Ostara or Eostre was mentioned again in literature.  In Deutsche Mythologie Jacob Grimm theorizes “that the Old High German name for Easter (Ostern) must be derived from Bede’s Goddess” (McBride).  He also suggests that “Easter games” and eggs were a pagan tradition absorbed into the Christian Easter holiday.  It is likely that an Angelo-Saxon goddess named Eostre existed, but there is no concrete evidence to back Grimm’s assumptions.  While the egg can be equated to the cosmic egg employed in numerous creation myths from various mythologies, it can also be attributed to the resurrection of Christ in the Christian world view (McBride).

As with so many of our recreated pagan holidays, the lack of historical evidence should not dissuade you from immersing yourself in the energy of the season.  Ostara marks the first day of spring - a day of balance with light and dark lasting in equal proportion.  This is the tipping point in our journey into the lighter, brighter, and warmer months.  Our days are longer than our nights from here forward.  The themes of renewal and rebirth are deeply engrained in the vernal equinox.  The world is awakening all around us, from the unfurling leaves to the budding flowers, even the wildlife seems to be revitalized with the coming spring.  The maiden goddess, awoken at Imbolc, is vibrant and energetic.  She wanders the warm countryside, bringing life to a barren landscape.  The god, reborn at Yule, grows into a randy young man, goat horned and footed or the fresh faced Green Man.  What is now a youthful, flirtatious courtship with the maiden goddess will soon be consummated at Beltane.

How do we honor the season and celebrate Ostara?  As we plant the gardens in our yards, so too do we plant our spiritual gardens.  This is the time of year to set forth our intentions, to break the earth with plow or our own hands and plant the seeds of what we wish to manifest in the coming year.  Plant your own magickal garden, plotting a pattern to mirror the zodiac, the Wheel of the Year, or another system that calls to you.  Plant an herb, seed, bulb, or tree with a magickal intention and be sure to nurture your work, aiding its growth and manifestation for your highest good.

Though we are unsure of the historical connection between the decorated egg and Ostara, we can be confident that the egg is a strong symbol of life, of creation and growth, the renewal of spring, and to some, resurrection or immortality.  Employ the egg in your own rites by hard-boiling and decorating it with symbols of the season as an offering to the gods and your guides.  Or paint or draw symbols congruent with your intention.  Bury the egg outside your home near your entryway or plant it under the herb, seed, bulb, or tree you’ve purposed toward the same intention.  If you’ve saved some snow, melt it down and water your plant with the wisdom you’ve garnered from the darker month’s introspection.  Take a walk and enjoy the scents and sights of spring.  Put out a bird feeder or leave feed out for the wildlife as the animals becomes more active after the winter.  Journey to connect with the hare, hen, or any local animal you take strong notice of.  Work with the first flowers of the season or make your own flower essences.  Bring the balance of Ostara into your own life and employ the equal-armed cross as symbolism.  Spring is also a good time to work love magick to blossom a new romance or revive a failing one.

 

McBride, D.C. “A Brief History of Ostara”. Patheos, 17, March. 2016. www.patheos.com/blogs/naturespath/2016/03/a-brief-history-of-ostara/. 15, March. 2017.