ostara/spring equinox

OSTARA – SPRING EQUINOX

Pronounced: OH-star-ah
March 19-23
Themes: balance, renewal, action, beginnings, hope, new possibilities
Also Known As: Eostra’s Day, Easter, Vernal Equinox, March Equinox, Bacchanalia
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Ostara or the Spring Solstice is the second of the three spring time festivals on the Wheel of the Year. This is a time for celebrating the balance between winter and the coming summer. This is the official beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the moment of exact balance between the dark (winter) and the light (summer).

Typically celebrated on March 20, the exact moment of the Spring Equinox varies from year to year because of a slight misalignment between the Gregorian calendar and the actual rate of the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. Depending on where you live, it may fall the day before or the day after the date listed on any given calendar.

The Earth is becoming warmer and more fertile and the promise of greener, warmer, more fruitful times is awakening as buds and bloooms emerge from the trees, bees return and beging to pollinate the opening flower buds, and fields of grass are awakening from winter slumber. This is a time when we can open our windows a little, step outside in maybe just a sweater on some days, we feel a hint of the coming summer with the sun kissing our cheeks.

To celebrate this time of year, you can decorate with fresh flowers, and potted plants. Traditional colors for this holiday are pale greens, yellow and pale pink. Images of bunnies, decorated eggs in pastel colors are also traditional decorations. It is a time of child like wonder and an eagerness to be with nature as the earth comes alive with beauty.

Colors of the Spring Equinox include yellows, purples, blues, greens and pinks. Symbols of balance such as sun and moon symbols, Ying and Yang. Also add something that represents “new life”. This could be eggs (real or maybe paper mache (No Cook Paper Mache Paste). Things that represent to you, new life!

Spring Magic

Wish for Something New

March brings in renewed hope and promise. Winter will end soon and new life is blooming all around us and everything feels filled with promise. According to the ancient Roman calendar, this was New Year’s Day. This little intention setting ritual will bring something new into your life. You’ll need the following supplies:

  • A pen
  • A sheet of paper
  • An envelope
  • A photo representing your wish
  • A purple candle

First, write your wish on the paper. Then place the paper and photo in the envelope, but don’t seal it yet. Next, light the candle. Gaze at the flame and visualize your wish coming true. When you feel the time is right, close the envelope and seal it by dribbling some of the warm candle wax on it. Snuff out the candle. At Ostara, open the envelope to release the spell’s energy. Continue working toward your goal until you achieve your desire.

From: Llewellyn’s Spell-A-Day

Surrendering

Use fire in a ceremony with a bonfire, fireplace or candle to surrender something that still needs to be unloaded to make room for all that is new. It can be symbolic as in burning a written narrative about what you are surrendering. Spring is renewal, taking the nourishment from the winter cycle and the freedom from surrender and weaving it into a new picture or new expression of your vision forward in the season.

Earthing

There is a lot of confusion as to exactly what it is, but simply put, earthing is connecting with Mother Nature through the earth, the ground we stand upon. Grounding is centering and balancing your energy as in bringing it back to Earth. Earthing will help ground you, but the purpose isn’t just to ground, but also open a line of communication between you and Mother Earth, whether it be to receive healing energy or ask questions. Grounding can occur anywhere, whether you are in contact with Earth (soil, grass, rock, etc) or not. Earthing, however, can only occur if the person is directly touching the Earth, as in the soil, sand or grass outside. Spring is a great time to get outside and reconnect with our Mother Earth after a long winter indoors. Find a safe place to walk barefoot and spend time feeling the energy flow into you.

Spring Activities

  • Include hot cross buns with your breakfast. To honor the union of the earth and the sun (son of God/Jesus) for Spring blessings. Don’t forget to bless or say a prayer before eating!
  • Wear pastels.
  • Bless the seeds planted in the garden. Plant some seeds in pots or in your garden (if you blessed some seeds for Imbolc and saved them, use those). Start seeds indoors to be planted out in your garden after the frost.
  • Place a lit green candle in a dish full of moist earth. Ask/Pray to your higher power or universal energy for blessings, abundance and/or fertility. Let it burn down and then bury the remainders (except the dish).
  • Dye or paint eggs with symbols of spring, or just in pastel colors. Make natural dyes from herbs.

Natural Egg Dyes:

Blueberries: blue
Blackberries: blue-violet
Beet juice: red
Red onion skins: red
Brown onion skins: yellow-orange
Turmeric: yellow
Walnut Shells: dark brown
Cranberries: red
Red Cabbage: purple
Carrot tops: green
Carrot Tops:Yellowish-Green

After the eggs are dyed, dip them into white vinegar to set color.

  • Take a long walk and take in the beauty of nature reawakening all around you.
  • Meditate.
  • Hold a spring party outside if the weather is nice enough. And an Easter egg hunt for the kids!
  • Make bird and/or squirrel feeders.
  • Read stories about Easter, Passover, or other Spring themes. 
  • Open windows and air out your home.
  • Dust out cobwebs.
  • Get rid of old furniture and things that are not useful, beautiful or joyful.

Seed Mosaic 

This is a great way to use old seeds not suitable for planting. If you don’t collect seeds, just post a request for them in your local chapter of free websites such as www.freecycle.org or www.craigslist.org, or ask some farmers at the local farmer’s market if they have any.

You Will Need: 

  • An assortment of seeds 
  • Paper (blank or with a picture) 
  • Extra paper to “catch” seeds 
  • White craft glue 
  • Paint brush 
  • Cups or bowls

Sort the seeds into separate cups or dishes for easy use. Seeds come in so many different sizes, shapes and colors Give the child a piece of plain craft paper, or give them a print out or coloring page so they can follow the image with their mosaic. Show the child how to paint some white craft glue onto a section of their picture, and then sprinkle seeds onto the section. After a minute, tilt the page to allow the excess seeds to fall off onto a separate piece of paper. Return them to their proper bowl. Seed mosaics can be as simple or elaborate as the child likes.

Spring Potpourri

A small pot filled with homemade potpourri can be used as a fragrant blessing for your home.

  • 45 drops rose oil
  • 1 cup oak moss
  • 2 cups dried dogwood blossoms
  • 2 cups dried honeysuckle blossoms
  • 1/2 cup dried violets
  • 1/2 cup dried daffodils
  • 1/2 cup dried rosebuds
  • 1/2 cup dried crocus or iris

How To Dry Flowers

Mix the rose oil with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and then store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.

The above recipe for “Spring Equinox Ritual Potpourri” is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich’s book “The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes“, page 162, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995

Spring Intentions

  • Ostara is a symbol of the transition into the light.
  • Spring is a time for renewal, rebirth, and bright beginnings.
  • Honoring the brief balance of light and dark at the equinoxes is a powerful way to reconnect with your own wholeness.
  • Use this day to find balance of body, mind, and soul
  • Light a candle to symbolize the return of the Sun (Son), and set your intentions for new beginnings and renewed passion. 
  • *Charge crystals under the Sun, in the light of the equinox, to infuse them with the energy of renewal. Ask them to generously hold the power of the Sun’s radiance, making it readily available to you as the year continues to move forward on the wheel. This ritual is especially powerful at noon when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky, and at the first moment of spring, which varies by geographic location.
  • Make a birch besom as a symbol of renewal, fertility, and new beginnings.
  • Use this day to cleanse, heal, balance your spirit, and regenerate your vital energy.

*Ostara Blessing

Speak, Ostara, of hope and growth – your gifts to us.
Teach me the ways of light
and reveal the path of illumination
as I prepare to transcend.
Shedding my cold winter skin,
I activate my sanctity,
burning away what no longer serves me.
I emerge from my hibernation,
awaken my dormant energy,
and blossom with the spring.
Amen, A’ho, So it is.

From: Sage Goddess

Poems

Beginning 

by Warren Hanson

This is the Beginning…
This is where it will all start,
on the wings of some new Spirit with the Beat of some new Heart.
Every morning brings a Promise.
Everyday has Gifts to give.
But Today…Right Now…this Minute…
is when I begin to Live.
And the air that I am breathing
is the breeze of what could be,
as I stand here looking out
on all the things that could be Me.
And the road that goes before me,
leading somewhere out of sight,
is a brand new Opportunity for me to get it Right.
This is the Beginning.
This is Once upon a Time…
There are dragons to be vanquished!
There are castle walls to climb!
But this story isn’t written yet.
I’m only on page One.
The Adventure that’s awaiting me has only just Begun.
There are Mysteries and Treasures.
There are daring deeds to do!
And if I speak the secret word, then all my Wishes will come true.
That Magic Word has powers that can make the heavens spin.
But it really is no Secret that the password is…”Begin!”

So, this is the Beginning…
My Beginning.
My Rebirth.
I Awaken to the Wonder
of what I am Really worth.
It is a Springtime for the Spirit, and it’s Giving me a Choice.
So I choose to Use this season as a reason to Rejoice!

Ostara Meditation

Create a Flower Mandala and Meditate

This is another activity that can be done alone or with others. Collect flowers, flower petals, crystals and even candles to create a flower mandala. Play music and burn some incense as you make patterns and spirals or whatever imagery you are drawn to. Put positive energy throughout your creation process. When you finish sit in meditation with the mandala and the energy you created.

Freshly baked spicy Easter hot cross buns with glazed white pastry crosses on a white background

Spring Foods

During the Winter we tend to eat warmer and heavier foods. When Spring returns it is time to eat fresher foods that are full of color. Start eating lighter meals made of from fresh, Spring fruits and vegetables.

Honey Fry Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Mix the flours, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Add about 1/2 cup water and mix well, adding a bit more water if needed to make a stiff dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until dough becomes elastic and smooth. Let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out 1/2 inch thick. Cut into squares, strips or circles. Deep fry in very hot oil until golden brown. Drain on brown paper bags or paper towels. Drizzle honey in a very thin stream over bread and serve immediately. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon if desired.

Hot Cross Buns with Lemon Frosting

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 110°)
1 cup warm milk (about 110°)
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 Tbsp. each salt and ground cinnamon
1/4 Tbsp. each ground cloves and nutmeg
2 eggs
3/4 cup currants
1/4 cup finely diced candied orange peel or citron
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, unsifted

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 400°. In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Beat in eggs. Add currants, orange peel and enough of the flour (about 4 cups) to make a soft ball. Turn dough out onto floured board; knead until smooth and satiny (10-20 minutes), adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Turn dough over in greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch dough down and divide into 36 equal pieces; shape each into a smooth ball. Place balls about 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Brush each gently with egg yolk mixture. Cover lightly and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 35 minutes).

Bake in a 400° for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a rack for about 5 minutes; then with a spoon or the tip of a knife, drizzle frosting over top of each bun to make a small “X”. Makes 3 dozen.

Lemon Frosting:
Combine:
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. water

Stir together until smooth.

Sunshine Punch

1 qt. cranberry juice
1 c. sugar
2 c. orange juice
1 c. pineapple juice
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 c. chilled ginger ale
1 pint pineapple sherbet

Blend the cranberry juice, sugar, fruit juices, and almond extract. Refrigerate, covered, until serving time. Just before serving, stir in the ginger ale and sherbet.

Early Spring Salad With Creamy Lemon Dressing

4 cups wild greens

Dressing:
1-1/2 cups olive or vegetable oil
1 tsp rosemary
1 cup water
1 tsp turmeric
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp miso
1 tsp fresh ginger
1/2 cup any cooked root vegetable (potatoes, yams, yuccas, evening primrose root, etc.)
1/2 small onion
Juice of 1 lemon
Small handful parsley or cilantro

Wash the greens and pat dry with towels.
Chop greens into bite-sized pieces.
Into a blender, add oil, water, and lemon. Blend. While the blender is running, put in the remaining ingredients except root vegetable. This will prevent anything from getting stuck under the blender blades.
Blend until smooth, then add the root vegetable to thicken the dressing. Vary the amount of the root vegetable according to how thick you like your dressing.
Toss the salad with the dressing and serve.

SOURCE: http://indianspringherbs.com/salads.htm

Dandelion Salad

**DO NOT pick dandelions from a lawn that has been chemically treated**

1 Tb vegetable oil
1 tsp cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 c. young dandelion leaves
1/4 c. sliced green onion or leeks
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 c. grapefruit or tangerine sections or mandarin oranges
Dandelion blossoms, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar. Combine dandelion leaves and onions; add dressing and toss to coat. Arrange on two salad plates; top with eggs and fruit. Garnish with dandelion blossoms, if desired.

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sea glass

I want to age like sea glass.
Smoothed by tides,
but not broken.
I want my hard edges to soften.
I want to ride the waves
and go with the flow.
I want to catch a wave
and let it carry me
to where I belong.
I want to be picked up
and held gently by
those who delight in my
well earned patina and
appreciate the changes I went
through to achieve that beauty.
I want to enjoy the journey
and always remember that if
you give the ocean something
breakable it will turn it into
something beautiful.
I want to age like sea glass.

Bernadette Noll