Ostara and the Spring Equinox
Spring draws near, and with the vernal equinox comes Ostara, goddess of the dawn and the symbol of the season’s fertile energy. She comes with her totem spirit, Rabbit, to bring light and renewal to our inner and outer worlds. The spring or vernal equinox is a point of perfect balance on the Wheel of the Year – when the Sun crosses the equator, and night and day are of equal length. This equality reminds us of the natural balance between darkness and light and masculine and feminine energies. Get ready to greet Ostara and the spring equinox – where everything begins.
This year, in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ll celebrate the first day of spring and Ostara on Sunday, March 20, 2022. It’s time for the hopes of Imbolc, fueled by the fire rekindled during Yule, to become action. We now prepare to give life to the ideas we’ve been cultivating inside all winter – to give thanks for the solitude, self-reflection, and wisdom the dark time of dreaming brought us. And to sweep away old patterns, emerging with the spring as our most enlightened selves.
History of Ostara and Spring Traditions
The native pre-Christian Germanic tribes of northern Europe worshipped a goddess of spring called Ostara. The Saxon tribes of old Britain called her Eostre, and she is known for giving her name to the Christian Easter. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox, much like the modern Easter. Ostara is the goddess of the dawn and awakening earth. She embodies growing light and fertility.
Eggs are sacred to Ostara, symbolizing the renewed cycle of life and staple source of food. Chickens kept in natural light quit laying in winter, resuming in the spring with peak months March and April. In the Western tradition, we’re all familiar with “Easter eggs,” which date back to ancient times, as a symbol of fertility and rebirth. In Persia, eggs have been painted and colored for over fifteen hundred years as part of the spring celebration of Nowruz, the Persian and Iranian New Year.
All around the world, ancient and indigenous cultures hold rituals, feasts, and celebrations at the vernal equinox. Ancient Roman followers of the goddess Cybele believed she had a consort who died and was resurrected on this day. The ancient Mayans honored many sacred days associated with celestial events, especially the equinoxes. As the Sun sets on the day of the equinox, the western face of the Mayan pyramid El Castillo is fully bathed in sunlight. This pyramid was intentionally designed to work with the lengthening shadows, giving the appearance of a diamondback snake descending the wall.
When we celebrate the equinoxes, we timelessly connect with our ancestors who have participated in ritual and ceremony on this occasion for millennia. Honor this time by cleansing, healing, and regenerating your vital energy. Activate spring’s energy of light, hope, fertility, growth, and new beginnings with the return of the Sun. Take a moment to pause during the brief balance between light and dark – day and night – and reconnect with your own harmony and wholeness, in perfect proportion.
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