Ostara - The Pagan Celebration of the Spring Equinox

Ostara – The Pagan Celebration of the Spring Equinox

In Paganism by Chris A. Parker

Ostara is the pagan name for the Spring Equinox period when both day and night are equal. The spring equinox was celebrated in many ancient cultures as a time for rebirth and a crucial period in the agricultural calendar. It is a transition point, too, as the sun is getting warmer and the days are about to get longer. Even modern-day cultures and religions have a spring equinox celebration, including the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter.

Ostara Sabbat / Spring Equinox | Wh...

Modern-day pagans celebrate Ostara as part of the eight sabbats and observe it from March 19 to March 23. The holiday gets its name from the Germanic lunar goddess Ostara also called Eoster. She is the goddess of spring and dawn and the goddess of fertility. Here is a comprehensive look at the origins of Ostara and the traditions and practices around it.

Ostara Origins and History

Ostara origins are found among the Anglo -Saxon in the medieval period. The first mention of the name in written work is by 8th-century monk Bede who in his work “The Reckoning of Time”(Aff.link) describes the month names of indigenous English people. He notes that the month of Eosturmonath was named after a goddess Eostre, to whom they held feasts in her honor during this period.

In later centuries, scholars have split as to whether Ostara was a creation of Bede or a real goddess. Most of them, including Jacob Grimm, have agreed with Bede, citing practices and traces of vocabularies in older German dialects pointing to such a deity in those cultures.

The coming of Christianity found the observation so rooted that the church leaders adopted it into their calendar with the resurrection of Jesus, borrowing also from other cultures who had deities resurrecting during springtime marking its theme of rebirth.

Ostara Symbols

As with any other Sabbat or pagan holiday, there are plenty of symbols associated with Ostara. These symbols are used during worship, setting up the altar, or as decorations. The main Ostara symbols include;

The Hare

The hare is strongly associated with the goddess Ostara with many myths explaining why. A popular one includes the goddess finding a wounded bird and healing it by turning it into a hare as it could no longer fly. The hare retained its egg-laying abilities and laid colored eggs. It then gave these eggs to the goddess as gratitude. The hare represents the graciousness of the goddess and fertility, given how many young ones they have. It is nocturnal and thus associated with the moon.

Ostara Symbols
Image by Pezibear from pixabvay
Eggs

Eggs represent both fertility and birth. Worshippers also bring gifts for the goddess and eat them at feasts. They also represent abundance and their yolk the sun. You can also use eggs to remove curses, witchery, funeral rites, and making wishes.

Hot Cross Buns

Baking is essential during Ostara festivities, and hot cross burns are a primary feature. The four cross points can represent the four elements of Fire, Earth, Water, and Air. It can also represent the four fire festivals in the Wheel of the Year and the moon’s phases.

Serpents and dragons

The snake comes out of hibernation during this period. It then lays eggs and proceeds to shed its skin. These actions make it symbolize rebirth and renewal. It is also featured in many creation myths. While being mythical creatures, Dragons also play a similar role in symbolizing creation, regeneration, and sun worship.

Wildflowers

Springtime also sees flowers emerge, which symbolizes the end of winter. They are a symbol of hope and life. You can use flowers to offer to the deities and decorate your altar.

Butterflies

Like flowers, butterflies emerge during spring, indicating the end of the dark winter. They symbolize the necessity of the dire times for transformation since they emerge from their long internal sleep and blossom into beautiful creatures.

Seeds

The Ostara period is also the start of the planting season. The seeds have the potential for new life and represent hope in the abundance to come. They are also associated with fertility and nature’s rebirth.

The goddess Ostara

The goddess Ostara is the main deity symbolizing grace, blessings, abundance, protection, fertility, and the sun’s coming.

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Ostara Colors

Colors also hold plenty of meaning when associated with sabbats. Each Sabbat has its colors to go with its central themes. For Ostara, you even get colored eggs, and besides, you can use the following colors in your decorations and rituals.

Green

Green represents all the newly growing plants. It represents the abundance of nature, hope, and new life. It also represents earth, growth, new opportunities, fertility, and forgiveness.

Light Blue

Light blue represents healing, fairness and truthfulness, honest communication, trust, and patience. It is essentially a virtuous color that also represents innocence and purity.

Pink

Pink’s soft and tender nature represents romantic love, good relationships at home and with friends, empathy, self-care, and healing of the heart. It is also a reminder of the warmer colors to come during summer.

White

White represents a blank slate to start over. It is the fresh start that spring offers so you can pursue new ideas and opportunities. It also signifies cleansing and purification, peace, and connection to divinity.

Yellow

Yellow celebrates the returning sunshine, which keeps getting stronger each day. It also represents persuasion, protection, self-control, self-confidence, happiness, abundance, and self-empowerment.

Blood Red

Blood red symbolizes vigor and vitality, in tandem with the energy present during Ostara. The color is also associated with lust and passion, new life rituals, goddess rituals, courage, and strength.

Lavender

Lavender is associated with romance, love, and healing.   

Related Reading: Tables of Magickal CorrespondencesOpens in new tab

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Ostara sacred plants & Herbs

Plants and herbs also serve a significant purpose during celebrations. They are used for cleansing, making incense, decorations, and other rituals. The plants for this occasion are;

Violets

Violets help bring inspiration, feminine energy, and insight into your life. They also have medicinal properties as they are anti-inflammatory and contain vitamins A and C. Violets also stimulate your creativity, and promote peace, and tranquillity. They can also help you obtain visions and dreams.

Birch

The birch tree is among the first to grow new leaves in spring. The early Ostara observers often used birch as a site for worshipping the goddess. It promotes harmony, balance, and connection with others. The druids used the tree’s sap to make wine. Birch trees can also enhance spiritual and psychic openings to connect with your spiritual helpers.

Primrose

It helps break down dishonesty and secrecy, allowing for the disclosure of secrets, and it helps reveal the truth and solve mysteries.

English cowslip

The English cowslip is often used with love sachets. It is a plant associated with the goddess Freya, and you can also use it for protection.

Nettle

Nettle, with its natural stinging, is perfect for protection. It also serves to clear negativity in a cleansing bath. You should be careful while handling it, though, and you may have to blanch, pulverize or sautee it before using it for a bath or drinking. It has some medicinal benefits, including clearing damp colds, increasing iron levels in the blood, fighting bloating, and helping in detoxification.

Chickweed

Chickweed has a blue star-like flower, which is the origin of Stellaria, its botanical name. According to folklore, carrying it promotes fidelity and increases the chances of meeting a lover. It has a sweet taste and is rich in minerals and other nutrients. You can also make topical creams for rashes and itchy skin. It also improves your sinuses’ health and combats several respiratory conditions.

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Honeysuckle

The flower’s aroma helps increase your vitality and ward off any negativity. It also helps in detoxifying your body and control inflammation. It is also good for your immune health.

Cleavers

Cleavers function as obstacle removers. Their energy helps you clear obstacles in your path. Worshippers also use them in ceremonies to cement commitment or a union. It is also another plant that medicinally helps in body detoxification and reduces liver inflammation.

Calendula

Calendula is an herb that is full of optimistic energy. The sunny yellow flowers match the theme of the season and are refreshing the spring sunshine. It provides vitality and attracts success and abundance in all areas of your life. You can also use it to bring light to your life and even provide comfort in a time of grief.

Dandelions

The dandelion is widely available and according to folklore, blowing to disperse its seeds brings good fortune. The plant is excellent for providing dream insights and financial abundance. It is also rich in nutrients and supports the good health of the liver, kidney, and heart.

Ash tree

The ash tree is prominent, especially in Norse mythology, as the giant serpent, Yggdrasil, sat on it. The tree provides a link between the physical and spiritual realms. It also represents fate and fortune-telling.

Ostara Deities

Ostara deities are gods and goddesses whose role matches the central themes of spring. There are many gods and goddesses in the different pantheons who feature since many cultures observed the spring equinox.

Thus, for goddesses, you will have virgin goddesses, moon goddesses, goddesses of love, and fertility goddesses. These include;

  • Aphrodite (Greek)
  • Eostre (Teutonic)
  • Ma-Ku (Chinese)
  • Lady of the Lake (Welsh-Cornish)
  • Minerva (Roman)
  • Isis (Egyptian)
  • Rheda (Anglo-Saxon)
  • Coatlicue (Aztec)
  • Asase Yaa (Ashanti)

For gods, you will have fertility gods, gods of love, sun gods, gods of song and dance, etc. Some examples include;

  • Adonis (Greek)
  • Lord of the Greenwood (English),
  • Ovis (Roman Etruscan)
  • Dylan (Welsh)
  • Odin (Norse)
  • Osiris (Egyptian)
  • Attis (Persian)
  • Mithras (Greco Persian)

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Ostara - The Pagan Celebration of the Spring Equinox
“Ostara” by dragonoak is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ostara Crystals

Crystals help match the energies of the Sabbat, and you can use them in rituals, meditations, or as lucky charms to help you attract what you want in life. For Ostara, you want crystals that give you the soft, warm, and soothing calm of spring. Some crystals to consider include;

Carnelian

Carnelian provides stabilizing influence and protection. It also sharpens your mental concentration and provides clarity in your perception, and boosts your self-confidence. Further, it improves your analytical abilities and, along with the other benefits, helps you make better decisions.

Orange Calcite

Orange calcite is a stone that features heavily in rituals because it helps cleanse chakras. It helps you let go of negative emotions and removes stagnant energies in your life. It is also helpful if you are trying to quit any negative habits. Ridding your emotional baggage and other negative energies revitalizes you and provide a new lease of life in tandem with Ostara’s theme.

Lavender Amethyst

Lavender Amethyst is a crystal with a high vibrational frequency making it excellent to serve as a shield against negative energy. It attracts emotional healing and compassion while also helping you love yourself and experience peace in your life. The crystal will also keep you grounded and enables you to achieve emotional balance.

Peridot

The peridot crystal is perfect, especially if you plan to conduct any spring cleaning. It is a purification crystal and will help banish negativity and attract positive changes in your life. It also promotes fertility, abundance, and prosperity.

Tiger’s Eye

Tiger’s eye crystal helps with stabilizing you by balancing the yin and yang energies. It boosts your vitality, mental clarity, and gives you a sense of wellbeing and self-sufficiency. The crystal also shields you from outside influences allowing you to focus on the positive things in your life. It is helpful for someone seeking to overcome their fear and doubt and those looking to balance their emotions during the warmer months.

Teiwaz
Teiwaz
ehwaz rune
Ehwaz
berkana  rune
Berkana

Ostara Runes

Ostara runes capture the creative forces present in the spring equinox and how they bring together the new life. The three runes to use during Ostara are Teiwaz, Ehwaz, and Berkana.

Teiwaz, also called Tyr, is the God rune representing the Sky Father. It encourages action and direction. Some qualities associated with it include social values, order, justice, oaths, and courage. 

Berkana is the goddess rune that represents mother earth and feminine mysteries. The rune is associated with fecundity, birthing, creativity, caring, growth, and regeneration.

Between these two is Ehwaz, often represented by a foal, symbolizing newborn life. It is a rune associated with partnerships, movement, a call to your spiritual self, astral energy, and adjusting to transitions. Together these three capture the energies around the spring equinox and provide a guide on how we can connect to these energies.

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FAQ about Ostara

Is Ostara a real goddess?

Yes, she is a real goddess first mentioned in the 8th century, and there are traces of her existence in the Germanic vocabularies.

What does Ostara symbolize?

Ostara is in springtime, which is when most life is germinating, and it marks the start of the agricultural cycle. So it symbolizes fertility, rebirth, and renewal.

What is Ostara the goddess of?

Ostara is the goddess of Spring and Dawn. She is also worshiped as heaven’s daughter and the goddess of new beginnings.

Did the Celts celebrate Ostara?

It is not clear if the Celtic people marked Ostara in the way we know it today, but they did celebrate the spring equinox and had elaborate festivals to observe it.

What tarot card represents Ostara?

The Empress tarot card represents Ostara as it has all attributes representing the season and the goddess. The empress is the goddess and the great mother. The card also has the symbol of Venus, signifying fertility, creativity, beauty, and love.

Who is Eostre?

Eostre is another name for Ostara, the goddess of dawn and springtime.

Are Ostara and Easter the same?

Ostara and Easter are not the same holidays though both are celebrated around the spring equinox. Easter is a Christian holiday marked any day between March 20 to April 25 on the first Sunday following the full moon coming on or soon after the equinox.

Did Easter or Ostara come first?

Ostara came first many centuries before Christianity adopted the celebrations around the spring equinox into Easter. Even the word Easter comes from Eostre, the goddess of spring. 

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Chris A. Parker

Since 1998, researcher and blogger in practical occultism and Mind-science, who believes that the best way to predict the future is to create it…