OSTARA (pronounced O-STAR-ah, also known as Lady Day or Alban Eiler) is one of the Lesser Sabbats, and is usually celebrated on the Vernal or Spring Equinox around March 21. Other names by which this Sabbat may be known are Oestara, Eostre’s Day, Rite of Eostre, Alban Eilir, Festival of the Trees, and Lady Day. The Christian holiday of Easter is very near this same time, and is determined as the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 – Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venusand Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time.
- Ostara herbs: lily of the valley, tansy, lavender, marjoram, jasmine.
- Ostara colors: lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink, silver.
- Ostara offerings: bread and cakes, eggs, first fruits of the season.
- Ostara is a time to honor Cernunnos,Druantia, Corn_Maiden, Attis, Eastre, Persephone,Nerthus, Asherah.
The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eostre (aka Eastre and Ostara). Second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations and attempted to convert them to Christianity. As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense to the christian church, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.
In the Pagan Wheel of the Year, this is the time when the great Mother Goddess, again a virgin at Candlemas, welcomes the young Sun God unto her and conceives a child of this divine union. The child will be born nine months later, at Yule, the Winter Solstice.
The Great Rite, symbolic of the sexual union between God and Goddess began to be enacted on Ostara. The positive effect of this rite, a form of sympathetic magic helped to bring fertility to the land and people and the animals.
In ancient times the return of the birds meant an important protein source had returned. The ability to find eggs in the fields and forest often meant the difference between health and hunger in the lean days before the harvest.
The festival of the Thesmophoria – sometimes called the Eleusinian Mysteries – lasted between three and ten days. Each day of the festival had a different name and included specific rituals.
A highlight of the festival was a procession from Athens to Eleusis which was led by a crowd of children known as ephebi. The ephebi assisted in carrying the hiera (sacred objects) including an egg (Easter eggs), and in pulling a statue of Dionysus as a boy (Iacchos). The children also assisted in the ceremonial cleansing of the initiates (candidates of the mystery religion) in the sea.
Upon arriving at Eleusis the women organized the first day of the celebration (anodos) by building temporary shelters and electing the leaders of the camp. On the second day (nesteia) they initiated the Greater Mysteries which, according to myth, produced the cult’s magical requests (a fertile harvest). Such mysteries included a parody of the abduction and rape of Persephone, and the positioning of the female devotees upon the ground weeping (in the role of Demeter for her daughter), and fasting for the return of Persephone (the return of spring). The setting upon the ground and fasting was also intended to mystically transfer the “energies” of the women into the ground, and thus into the fall seeds. Not suprisingly, the festival was held during the time of the fall planting, so as to nearly guarantee a positive response to the cult’s magic.
On the fifth day of the festival the participants drank a special grain mixture called kykeon (a symbol of Persephone) and ate Easter (Ostara) eggs in an attempt to assimilate the spirit of the goddess. The idea was to produce an incarnated blessing of fertility, both of the crops and of children.
Instructions for an Ostara Egg Hunt
- Make natural egg dyes from herbs.Color hard boiled eggs and add symbols for the Fertility God, the Goddess, the Sun God, unity, fire, water, agriculture, prosperity and growth, strength and wisdom, spring, love and affection, and protection.
- Consecrate the eggs:In the name of the Goddess of Spring, (name); and the ever-returning God of the Sun, (name); By the powers of the four elements — earth, air, fire, and water; I do consecrate these eggs of Ostara..Point the athame at the eggs, make the sign of the pentagram, and see the energy flow through the blade into the eggs, and say:
New life lies within as new life shall enter the soil. Let those who seek this life find it and consume it, for all life feeds on life. The eggs may be hidden and an Ostara Egg Hunt commences.
Key actions to keep in mind during this time in the Wheel of the Year include openings and new beginnings. Spellwork for improving communication and group interaction are recommended, as well as fertility and abundance. Ostara is a good time to start putting those plans and preparations you made at Imbolc into action. Start working towards physically manifesting your plans now. The most common colors associated with Ostara are lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink. Other appropriate colors include grass green, all pastels, Robin’s egg blue, violet, and white.
Stones to use during the Ostara celebration include aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone. Animals associated with Ostara are rabbits and snakes. Mythical beasts associated with Ostara include unicorns, merpeople, and pegasus. Plants and herbs associated with Ostara are crocus flowers, daffodils, jasmine, Irish moss, snowdrops, and ginger.
For Ostara incense, you could make a blend from any of the following scents or simply choose one… jasmine, frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, cinnamon, nutmeg, aloes wood, benzoin, musk, African violet, sage, strawberry, lotus, violet flowers, orange peel, or rose petals.
Foods in tune with this sabbat include eggs, egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, first fruits of the season, fish, cakes, biscuits, cheeses, honey and ham. You may also include foods made of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as pine nuts. Sprouts are equally appropriate, as are leafy, green vegetables.
Herbs & Flowers
Daffodil, Jonquils, Woodruff, Violet, Gorse, Olive, Peony, Iris, Narcissus and all spring flowers.
- Planting seeds or starting a Magickal Herb Garden.
- Taking a long walk in nature with no intent other than reflecting on the Magick of nature and our Great Mother and her bounty.
- Make hot cross buns to honor the union of the earth and the sun for Spring. Slash the “X” with the bolline and bless the cakes.
- Toss crushed eggshells into the garden and say:For fairy, for flowers, for herbs in the bowers, The shells pass fertility with springtime flowers.
- Wear green clothing.
- Eat an egg you have empowered with a quality you desire.