The vernal equinox. The welcoming of Spring. The celebration of rebirth. Known to many as Easter. Birth fertility new beginnings. The changing of the leaves from bare branch to bud. The defrosting of the ground the ice thawing on the lake. All these things that happen in Spring are being celebrated. Where ever you are, whatever your religion, Spring is a thing to be celebrated. That is what the Sabbat Ostara is about.
Ostara is actually the first full moon after the vernal equinox. That is why Easter isn’t the same day every year. It all depends like many things on our full moons. Without calendars to tell us it marks the beginning of our spring season. It is the time to start planting seeds and changing out our wardrobes. It is the end of winter and the end of the darkness being longer than our light. Animals come out of hibernation the chill leaves the air and we begin to prepare for summer.
We, as wiccans, choose to celebrate and be thankful for the spring just like everyone else. But instead of Easter, we have Ostara. There are many god and goddesses celebrated this day such as Eostre, Pan and even Ishtar. Believe it or not, like many pagan holidays adopted by the Christians, our Ostara history goes much further back and has many similarities.
I could go on and on about all the differences and similarities of the Easter celebrations in the different religions; but frankly I don’t have the time or patience for all that as there are so many! What we are here to learn about, is Ostara.
The main point of them all is to celebrate the new beginning. From the sprouting of the seeds to the balance of day and night followed by our days getting longer and our nights shorter. To celebrate our deities who have a hand in fertility, sex, love and birth.
As witches we celebrate Gaia and nature as much as any god or goddess we believe in. I feel Ostara is more our celebration of life. Or the cycle of life, should I say. As our wheel of the year turns to this Sabbot we give thanks for all the things being reborn in the physical and spiritual world. To say goodbye to all that has come and gone in the cold winter months and look ahead to better brighter warmer days. We celebrate the fact that the season has changed once again bringing new and exciting things to be cherished. For life to begin anew and the flowers to bloom again.
So as we decorate our altars with the symbols of Spring, the bright colors, the flowers, our candles and herbs; or as we patiently wait for our adorable children to go to sleep so we can start hiding those many plastic eggs filled with goodies, let’s keep in mind what this holiday is really about no matter what name you have for it.
Spring is here! Balance has been restored and new life is upon us!
Merry Ostara everyone! Blessed Be!
What's in the name?
Easter is actually named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara.
Not much is known about our German goddess Eostre except her one mention by the Venerable Bede in his book de Ratione emporium. This is the oldest and only mention of her to be found in history.
It is believed because she is a great fertility goddess she was taken on as the one to celebrate and give thanks to for our spring season. It is said that she rejoins with her lover who has arisen after having been dead in the afterlife for the winter months and the two are reunited so she can conceive and give birth at yule time.
She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the "female hormone" estrogen derives from her name. Ostara was, of course, a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the Vernal Equinox. Ostara had a passion for new life. Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal.
It’s all about birth, death, and rebirth. But again, I must say there is not much proof to any of this. Even without the proof of her existence, we do know that the Spring Equinox has been celebrated by us for a long time.