Celebrating Ostara: Rituals, Symbols, And Spiritual Practices
Join us as we celebrate a day of balance and the arrival of spring with Ostara! The Wheel of the Year continues to turn as winter ends and I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be happier to see the sun slowly taking back our days after a long, cold winter. Ostara is a time of incredible hope and excitement. It is a time of renewal, fertility, new beginnings and most of all growth. Learn how to celebrate Ostara.
Ostara and The Spring Equinox
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What is Ostara?
Ostara, also known as the Spring Equinox or Vernal Equinox, is a festival that celebrates the arrival of spring in many pagan and Wiccan traditions. It usually occurs around March 20th or 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, and September 20th or 21st in the Southern Hemisphere, when the day and night are roughly equal in length.
In astrology, the vernal equinox happens when the sun enters the Zodiac sign of Aries.
The festival is named after Ostara (also known as Eostre), an Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn, spring and fertility. Traditionally, it is a time of new beginnings, growth, and renewal. Ostara is also associated with balance. Balance between light and dark, masculine and feminine, and life and death. It is a time to honor the cycles of nature and to connect with the earth and its rhythms.
The term “equinox” comes from the Latin words “aequus” which means “equal”, and “nox” which means “night”. The word “equinox” refers to the time of the year when the length of day and night is approximately equal and balanced. Ostara marks this moment in the wheel of the year where the light that was rekindled at Yule (Winter Solstice) balances the darkness (equals it) before overtaking the night as the wheel moves towards Litha (Summer Solstice).
When is Ostara 2023?
Ostara takes place on the Spring Equinox every year. In 2023, it falls on March 20th in the Northern hemisphere and September 23, 2023 in the Southern hemisphere.
Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year features eight sabbats or holidays that are observed by many modern Pagan and Wiccan traditions. Each sabbat marks a significant point in the agricultural and astronomical calendar, as well as in the spiritual journey of the practitioner. Ostara falls between Imbolc and Beltane and is celebrated on the Spring (Vernal) Equinox.
Light and darkness are in perfect balance on this day, with day and night being equal in many places around the world. Moving forward from the equinox, daylight will continue to grow and nights will shorten. It is a time to celebrate balance and the arrival of Spring.
The origins of Ostara hail from Germanic and Celtic traditions. Eostre/Ostara is the goddess of fertility, the dawn, and spring. Eostre means East for where the sun rises.
For modern pagans and wiccans, Ostara is the time when the maiden Goddess meets her reborn consort in the form of Pan or the Horned God.
This time of year is one of celebration across many cultures and traditions. Other deities symbolizing spring include:
- Asase Yaa of the Ashanti people of Ghana,
- Cybele the mother goddess of Rome,
- Freya the Norse fertility goddess,
- Osiris of Egypt,
- Persephone the ancient Greek goddess of spring,
- Flora the Roman goddess of flowers and spring,
- Kono-Hana-Sakuya-Hime the Japanese goddess associated with the Springtime and cherry blossoms,
- Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of art.
Symbols of Ostara
The popular symbols of Ostara are ones you might recognize from another popular holiday in other religions at this time of year, Easter.
Rabbits and Hares
Rabbits and hares are one such example. In medieval times in Europe, the March hare was seen as a fertility symbol, and a sign of spring. This species of rabbit is nocturnal most of the year, but in March it is mating season. During this time, March hares are seen all day long. Additionally, females of this species can get pregnant with a second litter while pregnant with their first litter. This explains why they were used as symbols for fertility. Of course, the wildly popular representation of this is in the modern day Easter bunny.
Another popular symbol is eggs. Eggs are a symbol of fertility, birth, resurrection, and new life. The “dying of eggs” tradition may have its roots in the ancient Zoroastrians’ Spring Equinox ritual of painting eggs. Painting eggs is a common activity at various times of the year for many countries, including Ukraine, the U.S., Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia, and Bulgaria. Of course, this is also a common practice for Easter.
Flowers are another popular symbol as they represent the new growth that comes with spring. The bright colours are also uplifting and provide hope. This brightness and colour is so welcome after a cold, dark winter. Dandelions, daffodils, tulips, violets, and crocus are all wonderful choices.
The trees of Ostara are the birch, and ash. The birch tree in particular is one of the first to bud each spring and produce leaves. The goddess Eostre is said to have been celebrated around a birch tree.
The ash tree is very important among Norse pagans, as Yggdrasil is said to be an ash tree. It represents fortune telling, fate, and the link between the physical world and the spiritual realm.
When it comes to colours for Ostara, embrace light and bright. Yellow, purples, green and pinks are all colours associated with this time of year.
How to Celebrate Ostara?
There are many ways you can celebrate this festival and the arrival of springtime with these Ostara rituals. For many it is such an important time in the Wheel of the Year. Winters can be very hard for many people. The arrival of spring means sun, warmer weather, growth, rebirth and new beginnings. No matter how you choose to celebrate this holiday, take a moment to mark this important time in the year.
Spring cleaning is a practice practiced around the world. It is a fantastic time to clear out everything stagnant from the winter months and bring in that fresh air and sunshine. Consider doing a cleaning of your home, both physically and spiritually. Do a cleansing of your tarot decks and crystals. Or embrace some self care and do a physical and spiritual cleansing of yourself with a ritual bath.
Getting out into nature is the perfect way to celebrate Ostara. You could go hiking, prepare the gardens, take a walk amongst the newly budding trees, or simply walk where nature calls you.
Picnic or Feast
As with any holiday, feasting is a popular way to celebrate. If the weather permits, head out and have a picnic. Or plan a wonderful feast. Consider incorporating foods associated with Ostara such as eggs, lamb, dairy, spring greens, asparagus, honey and berries. Another popular food to include in your feast is Hot Cross Buns.
Decorating eggs whether you are dying the eggs or painting them, is a popular activity across many traditions at this time of year. Why not consider making natural egg dyes from berries for a special offering for the season?
Starting seeds is traditionally very popular at this time of year as we prepare for the new growing season. Another fun option is to make seed paper or seed bombs.
Prepare an Altar
The Sabbats are a wonderful time to refresh your altar or create a new altar to mark the season. Since this holiday is about balance, consider working that into your altar.
Some ideas to include in your Ostara altar:
- Spring flowers
- Oracle Cards with messages for the season
- Seedlings or seeds
- Images of rabbits or hares (Oak, Ash and Thorn Tarot would be a wonderful addition)
Work with Dandelions
Spring is about Dandelions. Incorporate these yellow orbs into your rituals. You can add them to your altar, make tea, use them in bath bombs or homemade soap. Check out our tips on how to love Dandelions for ideas and recipes.
Spend Time Crafting and Creating
There is something really special about being creative. Whatever lights up your passion. Consider this time of year, your permission to try something new.
Candles are a popular addition to Ostara celebrations and rituals. Consider making your own. You can easily buy beeswax sheets and make rolled candles. Or one of my favourite creative activities is to save the left over wax from candles I have burned, melt it down, and pour new candles. You can also colour your candles for the season with yellows, greens, purples or pinks. Or add herbs like lavender.
I am a big believer in the power of manifesting and meditation. Whether permitting, head outside for a meditation session. While meditating, listen for guidance or those tugs that lead you where you need to go in this new season. As always, journal and embrace gratitude.
Depending on where the moon is at in its cycle, making moon water or using moon water created during the full moon prior to Ostara is a powerful way to incorporate lunar energies into your work. Ostara is about the balance between night and day, sun and moon, use that energy in your work.
Ostara Tarot Spread
Another activity you may wish to do for Ostara is a tarot reading. Here is a special tarot spread for Ostara.
- Light – What is the light in my life?
- Dark – What is the darkness in my life?
- Balance – What can I do to cultivate balance in my life?
- Spring Cleaning & Fertility – What do I need to let go to create room for abundance?
- Growth – What seeds do I need to sow to create new beginnings and growth?
- Guidance – A message for this season of rebirth.