|Names||Ostarûn, Eostre, Eostra, Eostar, Eostrae, Estre, Eastre, Osteria, Ostar, Easter, Spring equinox|
|Meaning in the annual cycle||Beginn of spring, Beginn of growth|
|Symbols||Egg, Rabbit, Lady bird, Birch|
|Colours||All colours, but in pastel|
|Stones||Fluorite, Agate, Jade|
|Keywords||Growth, New beginning, Fertility, Prosperity|
The origin of Ostara
The first written evidence of the goddess ‘Eostrae’ is from Beda Venerabilis, an monk of the eighteenth-century from Northumbria, England. Today, the authenticity of this goddess is doubted by many scientists. Not least because of the efforts of the Christian church to wipe out paganism. As result of that, we can only find proof of pagan customs in Christian publications today. Other resources have disappeared over time. The monk Beda Venerabilis (‘Beda the Venerable’) wrote:
“Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.”– De temporum Ratione ch. 15
Parallels can be found to the Hindu Goddess of the Dawn ‘Ushas’ and the Icelandic fertility goddess ‘Freya’.
In order to weaken and cover up paganism the Catholic Church put its greatest feast on the time of the ancient Ostara rituals. This is how the Christian “Easter” was born, including Easter eggs and fertility prayers. Easter always takes place on the first Sunday after the first spring full moon.
Whether and how Germanic and Celtic tribes have worshiped a goddess Ostara cannot be proven anymore. The Spring Festival regained importance in neo-paganism of the 19th century. Most traditional rituals date back to this time. Ostara is the 4th festival in the Celtic annual cycle.
Why are we celebrating Ostara?
The goddess Ostara symbolizes the awakening of the earth after a long winter. Warming sunrays make snow, frost and cold disappear. Ostara brings fertility, the earth is reborn. It is a time of growth and life. The first seeds are spread and begin to germinate. It is a time of new beginnings.
We live in luxury today. Even in winter we have fresh food, heaters in our home and electric light. Nevertheless, we feel the spring and the awakening in our whole body. We are filled with energy, optimism and good humor. Whether with Easter or Ostara – we should celebrate the spring and nature.
How can we celebrate Ostara today?
According to ancient traditions, Ostara was celebrated with a fire ritual at dawn, where the goddess was asked for protection of the crops. Today we can celebrate Ostara as well with a fire ceremony. After the long winter time we rekindle our inner fire.
The plans we have forged at Imbolc can now take shape. The increasing light and growth will support our project. The waxing moon also supports us. Let the old go for good and pay special attention to your dreams, wishes and thoughts.
Our ideas are now easier to implement. Sit in a quiet place and write down your goals for the coming year (or use your list from Imbolc). Then it’s time to think and research: What do you have to do to achieve your goals. Make a detailed “readmap”, with all the practical steps that bring you closer to your goal. Then it’s time to move
If the first spring flowers are already visible, you can go for a walk and pick your favorite ones. It is very important that you give something back to nature if you take something from it. As a small offering you can leave some milk or honey, or a few seeds of a wild herb. You risk upsetting the nature spirits, if you only take and don’t give anything back to nature. And who wants to take a grumpy troll back home? By the way, the flowers that you choose carry a message. After you have watered them at home, you can look for the meaning of each flower. These can be found in books, the internet or inside yourself.
- Colour eggs
Coloring and decorating eggs (fertility symbol) is a very old tradition of Ostara. You can give away the colored eggs to family and friends or you can bury them as a gift to Mother Earth (Gaia).
A very nice tradition is baking bread. You can bake bread rolls with a cut in the middle. The incision symbolizes the vulva, a sign of fertility. Braided bread is a symbol of the trinity of the goddess Ostara (Virgin, Mother, Old lady).
Fire ritual for Ostara on March 23rd
The custom of the Easter fire has its origin in Germanic paganism as well. Fires serve the final expulsion of the winter and the welcoming of the spring and the sun.
If you want to conduct a fire ritual, invite friends and family. Also, make sure that camp fires are allowed in your area. It would be a pity if the police interupts your ceremony. If you are not allowed to have a fire, you can also work with lanterns and candles. When you are dealing with fire, be very careful. Fire is a strong element that we cannot always master.
You can design the ritual according to your wishes. Therefore you can thank the fire with some incense or alcohol, provide food and drink for your guests, conduct an egg hunt etc.
We wish you an eventful Ostara!
May your new beginning be full of prosperity and joy!
|1.||Samhain||beginning of the winter half-year, 11th new moon in the calendar year||usually celebrated on the 31st of October|
|2.||Yule||winter solstice||21st of December|
|3.||Imbolc||2nd full moon after Yule||usually celebrated on 2nd of February|
|4.||Ostara||Spring Equinox||21st of March|
|5.||Beltane||Beginning of the summer half-year, 5th full moon after Yule||usually celebrated on 30th of April|
|6.||Litha||Summer solstice||21st of June|
|7.||Lammas||8th full moon after Yule||usually celebrated on 2nd of August|
|8.||Mabon||Autumn equinox||23rd of September|