Celtic – Ostara 3 Rituals

ostara

Ostara Labyrinth Meditation

What is a Labyrinth?

The labyrinth has long been considered a place of magic and introspection. Labyrinthine designs have been found in nearly every major religion, and are an integral part of many ancient cultures. Labyrinths have been found all over the world. They are, in essence, a magical geometric shape which helps define sacred space. A labyrinth is not the same as a maze — there is only one path in, and one path out.

During the period of the Crusades, wealthy families often built a labyrinth as a way to represent the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today, they can be built and used by anyone as a tool of reflection and prayer. You can make a labyrinth out of just about anything — planted flowers, shrubs, or stones for a permanent structure, string or sand or cornmeal for a more temporary one.

When walking through a labyrinth, your body tends to turn back and forth – first you’re moving right, next you’re going to the left, with a 180 degree turn each time.

This causes you to shift your awareness from the right side of the brain to the left, and then back again. It is believed that this is one of the reasons why a labyrinth walk can induce varied states of consciousness.

The Labyrinth as Problem-Solving Tool

To do this meditation, if you don’t have access to a labyrinth, you’ll need to construct a simple one of your own. You can mark out your labyrinth with tape, string, or paint on the ground. If you’re doing it outside, consider using a trail of birdseed — it doesn’t damage the grass, and the local wildlife cleans up for you afterwards.

Once you’ve marked out your path, take a moment to meditate on what sort of issues you would like to resolve in your life. Ostara is a time of balance, so one of the great uses for this meditation is that of finding polarity and solving problems. Consider for a moment what problems — either physical, spiritual, external, or emotional — you would like to find a resolution for at this time. As you walk towards the center, you will begin working out solutions for your problem.

Take your first step into the labyrinth, walking slowly. Stop after each step, and think. Become aware of your surroundings, and what lies before you, and what lies behind you. Begin by thinking about not only your problem, but what you think of it on an intellectual level. Explore how the problem has come to exist, from a non-emotional standpoint.

As you continue to walk, move on to how the problem makes you feel. What emotions does it bring about in you? Do you find yourself unable to make rational decisions when you’re dealing with your problem? What is it about this problem that brings about such an emotional response within you, and WHY does it effect you so much?

As you begin the third part of the journey, move on to how your problem effects you in your physical world. Are you running out of money because of a bad job? Do you have someone in your life who is hurting you? Have you become ill because of your problem?

Continue walking slowly, and examine how the problem has effected your spiritual needs. Do you feel as though you are at a loss in your spiritual path? Does it inhibit your growth as a spiritual person?

As you approach the center of the labyrinth, it is time to begin looking for solutions. If you have a patron deity, you can ask them to take the problem into their hands. You can ask the universe to help with a solution. You can ask for a vision to guide you — whatever choice works best with you and your faith. As you reach the center, ideas will begin to come to you that will help resolve your issue at hand. When these visions arrive, accept them without questioning or judgment — even if they don’t make sense right now, you can analyze them later on. Meanwhile, accept that a solution has been given to you by a higher power.

Stand in the center of the labyrinth. Ask yourself, “What is the first step? How may I make this solution come to be?” Take some time to just stand — or sit — there, and let your solution sink in. You have completed the first part of your journey — the reaching of a resolution. When you are ready, start making your way back out of the labyrinth.

The Return Path

As you take your first few steps from the center, consider the solution you were given. Look at it in a non-judgmental way, and think of it logically. Is it something you can make happen? Even if it seems difficult or hard to achieve, if you set yourself a goal, it IS obtainable.

Continue walking towards the exit, and keep thinking about the answer to your problem. Consider the deities or other higher power which provided you with this answer. Do you believe they have your best interest in mind? Of course they do — so be sure to thank them for taking the time to pay attention to you and your needs, and for helping you reach this state of awareness.

As you continue to walk, consider once more your spiritual life. Will this solution allow you to grow or learn spiritually? Will you feel more whole spiritually after the solution has been implemented? What about physically? Will your body and health be affected in a positive way once you begin working towards this resolution? How does the solution make you feel on an emotional level, and how will it effect the negative emotions you felt about your problem in the first place?

As you approach the end of your journey, try to look at your solution from a logical, non-emotional perspective. If you work towards this solution, will it resolve your problem? While it may create more work for you, and be difficult to obtain, will the end result ultimately be worth the effort of making it happen?

Once you step out of your labyrinth’s path, take a moment to once again thank the deities or higher power that assisted you. Think, as well, about how you feel as you emerge from the labyrinth. Do you feel lighter, as though you have truly found a way to resolve your issue? Take a deep breath, recognize the new power that you have, and get to work on making the necessary changes in your life!

 

Hold an Ostara Ritual for Solitaries

Ostara is a time of balance. It is a time of equal parts light and dark. At Mabon, we have this same balance, but the light is leaving us. Today, six months later, it is returning. Spring has arrived, and with it comes hope and warmth. Deep within the cold earth, seeds are beginning to sprout. In the damp fields, the livestock are preparing to give birth. In the forest, under a canopy of newly sprouted leaves, the animals of the wild ready their dens for the arrival of their young. Spring is here.

For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of the season. Think about all the colors you see in nature at this time of year — bright daffodils, crocuses, plump tulips, green shoots — and incorporate them into your altar. This is also a time of fertility in the natural world — the egg is the perfect representation of this aspect of the season. Symbols of young animals such as lambs, chicks, and calves are also great altar adornments for Ostara.

In addition, you’ll need the following:

Perform this ritual outside if at all possible, in the early morning as the sun rises. It’s spring, so it may be a bit chilly, but it’s a good time to reconnect with the earth. If your tradition normally requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

  • Three candles — one yellow, one green, and one purple
  • A bowl of milk
  • A small bowl of honey or sugar

Begin by taking a moment to focus on the air around you. Inhale deeply, and see if you can smell the change in the seasons. Depending on where you live, the air may have an earthy aroma, or a rainy one, or even smell like green grass. Sense the shift in energy as theWheel of the Year has turned. Light the green candle, to symbolize the blossoming earth. As you light it, say:

The Wheel of the Year turns once more,
and the vernal equinox arrives.
Light and dark are equal,
and the soil begins to change.
The earth awakes from its slumber,
and new life springs forth once more.

Next, light the yellow candle, representing the sun. As you do so, say:

The sun draws ever closer to us,
greeting the earth with its welcoming rays.
Light and dark are equal,
and the sky fills with light and warmth.
The sun warms the land beneath our feet,
and gives life to all in its path.

Finally, light the purple candle. This one represents the Divine in our lives — whether you call it a god or a goddess, whether you identify it by name or simply as a universal life force, this is the candle which stands for all the things we do not know, all those things we cannot understand, but that are the sacred in our daily lives. As you light this candle, focus on the Divine around and within you. Say:

Spring has come! For this, we are thankful!
The Divine is present all around,
in the cool fall of a rain storm,
in the tiny buds of a flower,
in the down of a newborn chick,
in the fertile fields waiting to be planted,
in the sky above us,
and in the earth below us.
We thank the universe* for all it has to offer us,
and are so blessed to be alive on this day.
Welcome, life! Welcome, light! Welcome, spring!

Take a moment and meditate on the three flames before you and what they symbolize. Consider your own place within these three things — the earth, the sun, and the Divine. How do you fit into the grand scheme of things? How do you find balance between light and dark in your own life?

Finally, blend the milk and honey together, mixing gently. Pour it onto the ground around your altar space as an offering to the earth**. As you do, you may wish to say something like:

I make this offering to the earth,
As thanks for the many blessings I have received,
And those I shall some day receive.

Once you have made your offering, stand for a minute facing your altar. Feel the cool earth beneath your feet, and the sun on your face. Take in every sensation of this moment, and know that you are in a perfect place of balance between light and dark, winter and summer, warmth and cold — a time of polarity and harmony.

When you are ready, end the ritual.

Tips:

  • Instead of “the Universe”, feel free to insert the name of your patron deity or the gods of your tradition here.
  • If you’re doing this rite indoors, take your bowl of milk and honey and pour it in your garden, or around your yard.

 

 

Hold a Spring Rebirth Ritual for Ostara

Spring is the time of year when the cycle of life, death, and rebirth is complete. As plants bloom and new life returns, the theme of resurrection is ever present. As Ostara, the spring equinox, arrives, it’s the season for that which has gone dormant to become revitalized, alive, and reborn. This ritual includes a symbolic rebirthing — you can perform this rite either as a solitary, or as a part of a group ceremony.

In addition to setting up your Ostara altar, you’ll need the following supplies: a black sheet for each participant, a bowl of dirt, water, a white candle, and incense. For this rite, the High Priestess (HPs) or High Priest (HP) should be the only person at the altar. Other participants should wait in another room until called. If you’re doing the rite outside, the group can wait some distance away from the altar. If your tradition calls for you to cast a circle, do this now.

The first person in the group waits outside the circle, covered from head to toe in the black sheet.

If your group is comfortable with skyclad rituals, you can be nude under the sheet — otherwise, wear your ritual robe. Once the HPs is ready to begin, she calls the first participant into the altar area, cutting an opening in the circle as the person enters and then closing it behind them.

The participant, still covered in the black sheet, kneels on the floor before the altar.

The HPs greets the participant, and says:

Today is the time of the Spring equinox.
Ostara is a time of equal parts light and dark.
Spring has arrived, and it is a time of rebirth.
The planting season will soon begin, and
life will form once more within the earth.
As the earth welcomes new life and new beginnings,
so can we be reborn in the light and love of the gods*.
Do you, (name), wish to experience the rebirth of spring, and
step out of the darkness into the light?

The participant replies with an affirmative answer. The HPs takes the salt from the altar, and sprinkles it over the sheet-clad participant, saying:

With the blessings of the earth, and the life within the soil,
you are reborn in the eyes of the gods.

Next, the HPs takes the lit incense and passes it over the participant, saying:

With the blessings of air, may knowledge and wisdom
be brought to you upon the winds.

The HPs takes the burning candle and (carefully!) passes it over the participant, saying:

May the fire of the spring sun bring growth and harmony
into your life.

Finally, the HPs sprinkles water around the participant, and says:

With the blessings of water, may the chill and darkness of winter,
be swept away by the warm spring rains.

Rise! Step forth out of the darkness, and climb into the light.
Awaken once more in the arms of the gods.

At this point, the participant slowly emerges from the black sheet. Remember, this is a symbolic rebirth. Take your time if you feel you need to. As you pull the sheet back away from you, remember that you are not only stepping into the light, but putting behind you the darkness of the past six months. Winter is over, and spring has arrived, so take a few moments, as you emerge, to think about the magic of this time of year.

The High Priestess then welcomes the participant, saying:

You have stepped once more into the light,
and the gods welcome you.

Repeat the ceremony until all members of the group have been “reborn”. If you are performing this rite as a solitary, obviously you would speak the lines of the HPs yourself, and bless the area around yourself with the dirt, incense, candle and water. Once everyone in the group has gone through the rebirthing, take some time to meditate on the balancing energy of Ostara. Light and dark are equal, as are positive and negative. Consider, for a while, the polarity of this season. Think about the balance you wish to find in your life, and consider how you may work harder to find harmony within yourself.

When you are ready, end the ritual, or move on to a Cakes and Ale ceremony, spellwork or other healing magic.

Tips:

  • Feel free to substitute the name of your tradition’s deity here.
  • If you’ve ever thought about rededicating yourself to the gods of your tradition, Ostara is an excellent time to do this.

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