The Spring Equinox!
Ostara (pronounced o-STAH-ruh), also known as Vernal Equinox or Eostre’s Day, is the Spring Equinox celebration. It is of Germanic (Norse) origin and is a celebration of life, fertility and the end of the non Celtic winter (Imbolc being the Celtic end). This festival gets its name from Eostre, the Germanic goddess of fertility. And yes, another festival taken by the Christians and changed to their suiting.
Why did the Christians take it and change it to Easter? Well, there are records that show Persian kings, known as Achaemenians, celebrated the spring equinox with a festival known as Nowruz, which means new day. Noruz is (or was) a celebration of hope and renewal, and much like the Christian myth of Jesus, earlier versions of the festival had the Roman god, Mithras, resurrect at this time. So you can kinda see why it was adapted by the Christian religion to gain favour of another group of people.
You may now be thinking, what does a Roman god have to do with Persians, it’s another complicated thing but myths are deeply rooted in the path of Mithrasim that you’ll need to read about because that’s whoooooole other story. Now, since I’ve already gone off track, lets go off track a little further and look into some of the well known symbols of Ostara/Easter. Then ill get back on track!
So why the rabbit and why the egg?
Let’s start with the egg! “Easter” Eggs, which are universally regarded as a symbol for new life, originate from Persia’s Noruz festival. For thousands of years, eggs have been painted as part of the celebration and placed on the dinner table. As a part of this tradition, the mother of the family eats one egg for each child she has.
And now, the Rabbit. The European March hare became the symbol of spring and fertility due to their spring behaviour. This species of rabbit is largely nocturnal, but during Spring in Europe, their mating season begins, and they can be seen all day long. In fact, the females can be pregnant with more than one litter at a time, making them extremely abundant during this period of time, hence abundance magic!
So where does the Easter bunny come from? Surely that isn’t a Christian thing? Well, the Easter bunny first appeared in 16th-century German writings stating that well-behaved children would be visited by a rabbit who would give them coloured eggs on Easter. This tradition was picked up in the 1900’s, in America, with the settlement of German immigrants. However, as normal, it gets a bit messy with the rabbit having an egg. Rabbits create a nest or form on the ground that is abandon once the babies are grown. Over there, Plover birds will take over the nest as their own and lay eggs. So now you have eggs in a rabbits home!
So when is Ostara?
Traditionally, Ostara is from the 19th to the 22nd of March in the Northern Hemisphere. However, down here in the Southern Hemisphere, Ostara is from the 20th to the 23rd of September.
This is when we get to see all the beautiful flowers, animals and trees start to reawaken from their winter slumber! This festival is basically the Norse version of the Celtic Imbolc.
What to do on Ostara
Since I’m an Australian and most of the readers here are Australian too, if you think of Ostara as Easter, then you already know what to do! But just in case you have no idea what I am talking about or have never gone in depth into Easter celebrations, here is a good list to start your Ostara celebrations off.
- Hot Cross Buns! Yes, this is an Ostara thing before they made it the “Christian Cross”
- Dye or paint eggs
- Collect flowers for your altar or make flower chains
- Make honey cakes and all sorts of sweet baked goods
- Colour in or draw pictures of Rabbits (Bilby for us Aussies)
During this time, anything that brings together family fun, colour and uplifting aromas is best. And of course since this is a Germanic festival dedicated to the fertility goddess, Eostre, this is an excellent time to start planning those dates or big romantic events for Beltaine!
Many of things listed are a combination of traditional northern hemisphere associations and Australian associations.
Crystals and Gemstones
- Pale Purple
Herbs, Fruits and Spices:
- Lemon Myrtle
- All Australian Wild Flowers
The weather is warming up, your seeds should have sprung and the magic within Springs is truly one of creativity and fun! This time is perfect for learning new skills, look for new jobs and start your journey of manifestation from Imbolc. To me, this time awakens a creative Green magic within. During this time I go outside and frolic within the garden, yell at the nasty bugs eating my little plant babies and creative odd foods from colourful flowers and weeds! So keep an eye out for a few recipe post over the month of September.
Just remember, always go outside, feel the energy, see the changes and make your own mind up about the seasonal celebrations.