Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Ostara (and First Day of Spring!!)

For those of you new to this journal, I am learning about unfamiliar religious holidays which appear on my calendar.

Today is the Spring Equinox, and “Ostara”, which my calendar says is a Pagan/Wiccan holiday. It is the time of the balancing of the earth's gravity midway between the extremes of light and dark at Winter and Summer Solstice.

Ostara is based on several holidays celebrated around the Vernal Equinox. Ostara is one of the eight major Wiccan holidays and is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox. It marks the end of winter and beginning of the season of rebirth (spring). It is a time to honor the God and Goddess as natures balance returns to the world. To celebrate the rebirth of Mother Nature.

The name goes back to Jakob Grimm, who, in his Deutsche Mythologie, speculated about an ancient German goddess Ostara, after whom the Easter festival (german: Ostern) could have been named. (Although another article says this time is sacred to Eostre, the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility, where we get the word estrogen from and whose symbols were the egg and rabbit.) Obviously, the Christians took this holiday and made their own out of it, and incorporated some of the pagan symbols. That always amuses me because some Christians are or would be horrified to think that they are using pagan symbols. But to me, it is just another example of how many religions celebrate similar holidays around the same time. This is a time of rebirth and awakening after a long winter. Everything comes alive. I watch eagerly for the first crocuses, the first green leaves on the trees, the first yellow buds on the forsythia and I am filled with joy when I see them! It makes me want to celebrate too. What better time is there to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

I’m not sure exactly how Ostara is celebrated because I don’t have time to research it in depth. It appears to me that there is no one set way. Colored eggs, symbols of fertility such as rabbits and early spring flowers are mentioned, as are various rituals.

For Pagans, this is a day of preparation - reconsecrating magikal tools, balancing energies for new work, blessing seeds for spring planting, etc. It is also a time for introspection, examining where you might be unbalanced and where you need to let go of the past and prepare for a fertile future. You may conduct a simple ritual to honor the rebirth of Mother Nature and the coming of spring.

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