Ostara occurs on the Spring Equinox – the moment of balance when light and dark are equal. In the northern hemisphere, it is both the last day of winter and the first day of spring. At the Ostara portal, we step from the end of the previous solar year into the beginning of the new one; from Pisces to Aries, from the last to the first.
Ostara is emergence, when the invisible is becoming visible. In the growth cycle, it is the Bud phase. The seed has germinated and sprouted, and is focusing its energy on the creation of a flower. At this time, we welcome spring and the hope for new life, new beginnings.
Ostara (Eostre) is named after the Goddess of Spring. Picture her as a young woman surrounded in light and budding trees and flowers. She is the Maiden, the young Goddess, full of potential, representing playfulness and the opportunity for release, growth and rebirth, after the stagnation of winter.
Although the details of Ostara’s story maybe lost, her true power and mystery are evident every year. She is the first warm spring winds, the birds that return, the trees that bud and curl forth leaves and flowers. She is the awakening of the Earth. And the God is re-born with her. He is the great fertilizing force of the land, the masculine life essence.
Symbols and Correspondences:
Ostara represents Dawn, the time of morning light with the returning warmth of the sun's rays and the lengthening days. Her worship goes back to ancient Pagan Teutonic & Saxon cultures and her very name derives from the Germanic word, Osten, for “east.”
The element associated with the east is air, with its essence of inspiration and new beginnings. We see and feel and hear the energy, the pulse, the sound of new growth. The trees have come back to life, blossoms are blooming, grass is growing, the sprouts are sprouting, growth is everywhere, including, and especially inside, our beings. We have the opportunity to consciously align with this energy and ‘use’ it to fuel whatever new beginnings we are creating in our lives. This is the time of fulfillment of the whispered promise of Imbolc, when six weeks ago we welcomed Brigit’s flame and the first quickening within the womb.
Ostara’s symbols are representative of fertility; fertility of the land and animals, and the fertility of the mind as well. They include rabbits, eggs, chicks, and other baby animals. Eggs are possibly the oldest symbol of birth and renewal and also hold all potential, symbolic of the wholeness of the Universe. This may sound very familiar to you, because the Christian holiday of Easter, celebrating resurrection and rebirth, grew upon the meaning, symbols, and name of Ostara. Even the “Easter Bunny” is rooted in the Hare, the trickster, long identified with magic, spring, and mysteries.
Ostara is celebrated with pastel colors of yellow, blue and pink and purple; with robin’s egg blue and grass green. This is a time to revel in spring flowers, such as crocus, daffodil, tulip, lily, violet, and pussy willow. Indulge in scented oils of jasmine, lavender, rosemary, cypress, rosewood, lemon, cedarwood, clove, sandalwood, and many other floral scents. Connect with the powers of herbs such as thyme, tarragon, lemon balm, red clover, marjoram, and also crystals that empower new beginnings and balance such as amethyst, aquamarine, rose quartz, citrine, moonstone, bloodstone and red jasper.
All of the symbols and correspondences can be the foundation of our altars and rituals. We may enjoy foods and drink in our joyful celebrations, such as hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs, honey cakes, dairy, leafy green vegetables, flower dishes, sprouts, fish, hot cross buns, sweet bread, milk, chocolate, jelly beans/eggs, lemonade, and fresh fruit.
Ostara and the Tarot:
The Empress reminds us of the fertility we possess physically, mentally, emotionally, and spirituality. The Empress is the embodiment of The Goddess, especially as life-giving Earth Mother. She is rooted in the physical world and invites us to be the same as she often heralds the birth of something - new phases of life, new cycles of growth, successful projects, being receptive to change and more. Along with care and nurturing others, she tells us to be kind to ourselves, finding beauty and happiness through dancing, singing, cooking, giving and receiving love. As the third step on The Fool’s journey, The Empress reminds us that our spiritual gifts and inherent power both also need to be planted in the physical world. There is value in doing the internal work, but we must also bring it into our outer lives.
Ostara is the perfect time to:
Read and share the story of Persephone.
Plant seeds – share your growing energy with them. Speak to your seeds and encourage them to grow and prosper. Any harvest from them will be imbued with the energy you first began wit
Decorate eggs – decorate with symbols, words, dried flowers, paint, and anything that embodies the spirit of Ostara. You can use markers, wax. Decorated eggs can be displayed on your altar, hard-boiled eggs can be consumed, and raw eggs can be planted in the ground near the entrance to your home to symbolize your intentions being sown.
Bake bread – baking bread is a wonderful way to watch yeast grow and transform with the purpose of providing us nourishment. Decorate your bread with seeds and herbs, form it into a seasonal shape, or garnish the finished loaf with fresh flowers and herbs.
Arrange flowers – fresh seasonal flowers are as visually beautiful as they are emotionally uplifting. Place small vases around your home, by your entry and on your altar to enjoy the sights and smells of your Spring blossoms.
Take a bath or soak your feet - whether it is a long hot bath or a foot soak. Add a blend of seasonal flowers, Epsom salt, and local herbs are wonderful additions as you submerge yourself in the energy of Ostara.
Cleanse - find a spring tonic or water from a spring, add some more greens to your life, increase your water intake. Cleanse your system after a winter of hearty meals. Think about replacing one of your daily meals with a smoothie or green juice.
Spell Work - whatever it is that you want won’t just magically appear on its own, so move some energy, dust off your Book of Shadows, check the moon calendar, and start working towards what you would like to add to your life. It begins with the first step of figuring out what that is.
Create and Walk a Labyrinth - the labyrinth has long been considered a place of magic and introspection. Ostara is a time of balance, so one of the great uses for this meditation is that of finding polarity and solving problems.
The Story of Persephone
(as told by Starhawk)
Many of us have heard of the story of the Goddess Persephone. She was the daughter of Demeter, originally known by the name Kore. She was a very curious maiden who lived on the surface of the beautiful earth, loved and protected by her mother Demeter, who was the Goddess of all green and growing things. Her life was filled with pleasure and abundance. But she had always secretly wondered what lay underneath the bright surface of the world. Where did the spring flowers come from when they pushed their way up from below, what wonders might lie in the land where they originated?
One day while gathering flowers, she was drawn to a beautiful golden flower. When she picked it, she instantly heard a great roaring and the earth shook under her. When the air grew still she saw a deep chasm before her. Even though she knew it probably wasn’t a great idea, her curiosity led her to climb down into the depths below. Even though the passage way grew narrower and tighter, she kept moving forward until the earth gave way beneath her, and she fell, tumbling and turning over and over, falling through the dark..and then landing as softly as a feather floats to earth, in the heart of the Underworld.
There she met the dark and handsome God Hades, Lord of the Underworld, who told her she could never return to the living world of sunlight and flowers. He had instantly fallen in love with her and wanted her for his bride. Kore was very sad and missed her mother, she didn’t want to be Hades’ bride and refused to eat or drink for a very long time.
Meanwhile, the Goddess Demeter was grieving the loss of her daughter who could not be found anywhere. She was so angry that she stopped all things from growing, “until Kore is returned to me, there will be no more growth! No food, no life; no seeds will sprout, no fruit will set, no grain will ripen, no young things will be born? Nothing, until the whole world is as dead and empty as I feel!” As time went on the harvests had failed and famine covered the land.
The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus knew something had to be done and Zeus announced that as long as Kore hadn’t eaten any food down there, they could let her come back. Well wouldn’t you know that by this time, Kore had become fond of Hades. He was so attentive and kind, and so worried that she wouldn’t eat. Finally, when he held out a handful of pomegranate seeds. They were red as rubies, a brightness in the shadows and she reached out, took them, and popped them into her mouth.
Instantly everything changed and the shadows came alive. They were the ghost memories of all that had ever taken place above, but they were also the images of what had not yet been, rich with all the possibilities of change and growth. The dead and unborn danced together like color in a kaleidoscope, and from their movement new life would be born.
Suddenly Kore was filled with a joy and power she had never known before. She took two flaming torches from the wall of the cavern and began to dance. She whirled and spun and leaped, playing with fire, dancing the way from death to rebirth and back again. The dead followed her and as they spiraled together, women in the upper world began to feel new life stirring in their wombs. And she announced, “this is the wonderful place where seeds come from where flowers are born. And I am its Queen, Queen of fire, Persephone, Queen of the Dead.”
Now Zeus didn’t know what to do. “She has changed,” Hecate said, “No longer is she the sweet young maiden Demeter grieves for. Now she is a Queen in her own realm. She can never again belong wholly to the upper world, but she cannot belong completely to the Underworld, either, She must be a bridge between them, showing the dead the way to rebirth and reminding the living of life’s end so they remember to be fully alive.
Zeus agreed that for every seed she ate, she would spend a month in the underworld, but in the spring, she can return and bring life, hope, and all of nature will rejoice.