The Wheel of the Year includes 8 Pagan Sabbats:
- Samhain: October 31
- Yule: December 21
- Imbolc: February 2
- Ostara: March 21
- Beltane: May 1
- Litha: June 21
- Lammas: August 1
- Mabon: September 21
Ostara, also known as the Spring Equinox, is between 19-22 March, depending on earth’s orbit of the sun. On the spring and fall equinoxes, day and night are of equal length.
Ostara is observed as a time to mark the coming of spring and the fertility of the land. The earth is beginning to show signs of rebirth and renewal. This holiday celebrates the seasons’ changes from dark, cold winter to brightening spring.
This holiday celebrates the Spring Maiden and Horned God, who represent the new spring season and the festive enjoyment of nature. Ostara, or Eostra, is an Anglo-Saxon goddess who represents dawn. This is where Christians got the name Easter. As a spring goddess, she oversees the budding plants and burgeoning fertility of the earth. Other portrayals or personifications of this holiday is the Green Man and Mother Earth.
Eostre’s Eggs and the Legend of the Easter Bunny
As told by Edain McCoy in his book, Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring.
“The Anglo-Saxons hailed Eostre as the Goddess of Spring, the Greening Earth, and Fertility. Her name means “moving with the waxing sun.” Around the time of her festival, on the day when light and dark are equal, the local animals began giving birth or going into their sexually receptive cycles, named “estrus periods” after the goddess. From the fiercest to the most humble, the woodland animals – who also worshipped and loved Eostre – would play in the warmth of spring light and feast on the new vegetation Eostre provided.
One of Eostre’s devotees was a small hare who wished very much to give a gift to his goddess, but he didn’t know what he could possibly offer that would be of any value to her. Then one day while foraging, the hare came across a fresh egg, a very prized commodity indeed. The little hare wanted very badly to eat the egg, as it had been a long time since he’d feasted on anything finer than dry grasses. Before he could take a bite of his prize, he realized this egg might make the perfect gift for Eostre. But, he pondered, Eostre could have all the eggs she wanted, anytime she wanted them. She was a goddess, a creator, the embodiment of Life itself. Giving her just any egg would never do. How, he wondered, could he make this egg a fit offering for his goddess?
The little hare took the egg home and pondered how to make it as beautiful and new as Eostre made the world each spring. He began to decorate the egg. He pained it in the hues of Eostre’s spring woods and placed upon the shell symbols sacred to Eostre. When he felt he could not make the egg any more beautiful, he took it to Eostre and offered it to her.
Eostre was so pleased by the little hare’s sacrifice of his egg to her, and by the manner in which he decorated it for her, that she wanted everyone – especially children who are themselves symbols of new life – to enjoy these representations of her bounty. Since that Ostara day long ago, the descendants of that hare have taken up the task of delivering decorated eggs to the world’s children at spring. They are called Eostre’s Bunnies or, more commonly, the Easter Bunny.” (pgs 3-4)
- Fertility, new life, rebirth, new beginnings
- Life, death, and rebirth
- Flowers, plants, seeds, new buds
- Fresh foods, such as sprouts and dandelion greens
- Some choose to participate in a fasting to remove the toxins from winter
- Spring cleaning
- Green Man and Mother Earth
- Horned God and Spring Maiden
Eggs play a very large symbolic role in Ostara, being the vessel to symbolize life, death, and rebirth.
Decorate your altar with some of the symbols of the coming spring season, such as decorated eggs, flowers, feathers, seeds, earth, and wine.
In ritual, we must also offer a sacrifice to our deities and thank them for the coming spring. We have made it through winter and life is beginning to start anew. Popular items to offer as sacrifice include wine, food, flowers, herbs, eggs, and whatever you feel is right to offer. In German and Scandinavian lands, the tradition of offering eggs to the Goddess in exchange for blessings or wishes was a common spring practice.
Decorating Eggs & Egg Hunt
Eggs are one of the most prominent symbols for Ostara, so it is only expected that we would use eggs in our celebrations. I’m sure many of you have decorated eggs at some point in your lives and maybe even hidden them for a great egg hunt! With the rise of Christianity, Pagans had to hide their practices since they were considered a capital offense. Therefore, the offerings to the Goddess had to be hidden where only she could find them. This is how the egg hunt began.
The search for eggs also has a deeper metaphysical meaning in many cultures. The hunt represents the soul’s eternal quest for life renewed so that it may have the opportunity to perfect itself and reach a union with the deities.
It is best to decorate eggs with herbs and nature since that is how the eggs were decorated before commercial, chemical dyes. Pick herbs that have properties themselves that will attract your desire.
The symbolic image of the egg is almost as important as its organic aspect, so don’t overlook using “eggs” crafted from wood, foam, or plastic.
Get creative! You can use nontoxic watercolor or acrylic paints (or make your own dyes), decorate with symbols, trinkets, feathers, sequins, beads, and more! If you are keeping the egg for yourself to celebrate the season, add aspects to the egg which will magnify the powers and energies you are trying to manifest in your life. If you are giving the egg(s) to someone else or a deity, decorate with pieces that personalize it for the person you are offering it to.
Bear in mind that there is no wrong way to decorate your Ostara eggs. If they appeal to you as symbols of the season, that’s all that matters.
Seed Packet Greeting Cards
This holiday is all about new life and rebirth, so it would be a lovely craft to gift to loved ones. Simply gather seeds in a small bag and put them in a decorated card. While preparing the gifts, make sure to put positive energy into the seeds and card.
Ritual to Bring Spring’s Blessings to Your Home
As written by Edain McCoy in his book, Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring.
Early in the morning on a sunny spring day, take several pastel ribbons of your desired color (see properties of certain colors here).
Take items to a window or outside to a patio or balcony. Stand there and allow the spring breeze to envelop you. Hold out your arms and embrace it. Offer a greeting, such as:
Welcome are your balmy breezes.
Welcome, deities and nature spirits of spring.
I welcome spring’s blessings of new life,
Growth, love, partnership, and
The promise of bounty to come.
Consider which specific blessings associated with the coming of spring you want to receive. Write these on the ribbons with a marker. Attach the ribbons from a post, windowsill, and/or wind chimes.
Finish the spell offering of thanks to the spring wind:
Warm spring wind who blows my way,
Bringing blessings on this sun-filled day;
To all the spirits who in spring winds dwell,
Thank you for this successful spell.
Allow the window to remain open for as long as you can while the breeze captures your wishes on the ribbons and blows them into your home.
Eggs of Intention
Give thought to what new habits and energies you are welcoming into your life this new birth of spring. This year I’m working on self-love and continuing to bring positivity and happiness into my life. Think about what you need to focus on to better your life. Write your intentions on a hard-boiled egg. Feel free to decorate as explained above. Meditate on your intentions and visualize yourself bringing these things into your life. Place the egg(s) on the altar before, during, and after your Ostara ritual. The next day, take the egg and bury it in soil, placing seeds on top. As the plant grows, realize these intentions growing in your life. Each time you see the plant, take a moment to concentrate on the positive energy your are putting into making these intentions come true.
Other Craft and Activity Ideas:
- Magical crystal Ostara eggs
- Snake wreath
- Mini greenhouse
- Ostara tree
As with most celebrations and festivals,there is feasting! Food items made with eggs, honey, and milk are liberally consumed during Ostara. These are the traditional foods of these holidays due to their availability to our ancestors in the spring and summer months.
Some ideas on food items for your Ostara celebrations:
- Egg Nog
- Hard-boiled Eggs
- Deviled Eggs
- Cookies and cakes are popular food items for any holiday
REMEMBER!!! Don’t throw those egg shells away! Yourself, your friends, and/or your family put great time and loving energy into decorating these egg shells and they hold great magic. Use them in your garden. Keep larger chunks to use as a candle holder (see below).
McCoy, Edain. Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring.