We are coming into the time of the year when the weather is going to start getting warm and the flowers are going to begin to grow. The Earth, once again, is going to become green and lush. For the mundane, the 19th/20th of March marks the first day of spring. For many people in the pagan community, the 19th/20th of March marks, not only the first day of spring, but also Ostara (the Spring Equinox), a very important holiday in their community. This is one of two days in the entire year where both night and day will be the exact same in length. The next time this happens will not be until the Mabon (the Autumn Equinox), which will not take place until the 21st of September.
There are 375 ¼ days in a year and in all of these days – the hours in the evening are either longer than those of the day or the hours in a day are longer than those of the night, with the only exceptions being the Spring and Autumnal Equinoxes. The equinoxes are the days marking these changes.
In the northern hemisphere, the days are longer than the nights from Ostara until Mabon, with the longest day of the year being around the middle Litha (the Summer Solstice). Litha normally takes place around 21st of June, the exact date depending on whether or not it is a leap year. After Mabon, the nights are longer than the days, which continues until we reach the next equinox (Ostara), with the longest night being Yule (the Winter Solstice), which normally takes place around the 21st of December, the exact date depending whether or not it is a leap year.
It is important to note that many different religions celebrate holidays around this time of year. Most people are familiar with the christian holiday, Easter. However, there are several other religions which also celebrate around this same time. The Jewish religion celebrates Purim, those of the Hindu faith celebrate Holi, and the Sikh celebrate Hola Mohalla. All of these holidays are celebrated around the same time as Ostara or the spring equinox. Throughout history, there have been many different cultures that have celebrated the spring equinox. It is believed by many the celebration is derived from the ancient Celtic and Saxon spring holidays. According to several sources (some of which are listed below) Ostara is an anglo-saxan goddess that represents dawn and is most commonly associated with spring, overseeing new plants that are fertile.
Now that we have gone over a bit about what equinox and solstice are let’s discuss why and how Ostara is celebrated.
For many in the pagan community this is a time to celebrate the maiden, new beginnings and a time of new life. This makes sense to many as the season is spring and that is a time for new young, new growth and the world coming out of hibernation as we move into warmer weather. This is also known as a time of fertility for these same reasons.
Ideal Types of Magickal Workings for this Time of Year
There are several different types of magicks and spells that would be very well suited for working at the time of ostara/spring equinox. Spells that are working with fertility, new beginnings, and the Earth. Spells and workings which center around the self, letting go of things from the past and starting a new beginning are also good to work at this time. This time of year has a focus on growth, birth and rebirth and it is for this reason that spells revolving around growth of self and family are good to perform.
Traditionally, this the time of year when everyone does their spring cleaning this is a good time to spend some time on spiritual self cleaning as well. Self-care is an important aspect of taking care of one’s self and this is a good time to focus on getting rid of what isn’t serving you well. It is a good time to focus on setting new goals and achieving new things within your life. It is also a good time to focus on aspects such as prosperity. The equinox can be a good time to look to the future by goal setting, looking to our higher self for guidance and learning as well. If you are stuck on your path or think the path you are on may need adjusting then it might be a good time to do some meditations and seek guidance as this is known for the time of new beginnings. Historically this is the time of year when crops would be started and blessed of the coming growing seasons would take place. This time of year is symbolized by rabbits, eggs, flowers, lambs, clovers and baskets. These are all symbols of spring and new growth.
There are several ways that Ostara is celebrated in the modern day. Some choose to start with a festive meal which may include foods made with honey, eggs sprouted greens or anything that would make one feel like spring is in the air. This is also a good time to plant any spring plants such as flowers or vegetables. Many choose to spend time in nature by hiking or taking a walk in the woods. Some choose to also hunt for eggs with the children and spend the day in family activities to make the day special. Playing outside games such as red rover, ring around the rosy, or tag can also be good for children. There are many different ways in which the day can be celebrated in the modern era.
Dressing the Altar
Setting up an altar for Ostara can be as simple or complex as you wish it to be. When setting up your altar, it is generally ideal to keep in mind the ideas and symbolizations of the holiday. Items such as flowers, eggs, pastels colors and anything that makes you think of spring, items that reflect balance are also a good idea. If you are planning to perform a ritual, it is a good idea to incorporate the theme of your ritual into the setup of your altar.
Ostara at My Home
Each year we have a celebration on Ostara and we invite all of our friends over for a feast and to spend the day together. I generally make a ham and we eat deviled eggs and salad. The kids spend the day outside enjoying the time playing together. We hide eggs for the children to find and we speak to them about the value of the equinox, why it is important and what it means. We talk to them about spring and what happens at this time of year and why it is important. We tell them the story of Ostara and the bird (link found below). In short, it is a story of how the goddess Ostara was late starting spring one year and it resulted in her finding a bird frozen near to death. She fell in love with the bird and brought it back to where she lived, but he couldn’t fly, so she turned him into a rabbit, but to honor him as a bird he still had the ability to lay eggs. He lived with her, but was allowed to go back to earth on spring day and as a result left colored eggs for all to find. This is a very brief retelling of the story.
After we have had dinner with our friends we enjoy some time by the fire the more over to my large outside altar when there is a ritual for all who want to partake. The ritual we are doing this year is below.
Items required for this ritual:
Green candle (to represent growth)
Yellow candle (to represent hope and prosperity)
Bowl of milk (offering to the Earth and/or Deities)
Honey (offering to the Earth and/or Deities)
Note: You may choose to also have an item to represent each element.
You will begin by casting a circle as you normally would per your practice.
Next, you will light the green candle. As you light it, recite the following incantation:
The wheel of the year is always turning
The Earth is always moving
Now night is the same as day
The earth is awaking from her sleep
The plants are growing
Life again is once beginning to bloom.
Light the yellow candle. As you light it, recite the following incantation:
The sun is now closer
The days will now be longer
The grass will once again be beneath my feet
The days will be longer
And things will once again begin to grow
At this time, spend a few moments thinking about how you would like this season to go and what you wish to learn and accomplish during the coming season.
Following this moment of reflection, mix the honey and the milk to prepare the offering for the Earth. As you mix, recite the following incantation:
I mix this offer for the Earth
May it help the world around me
Grow and flourish
May it help to teach me what I need to know
As the world around me grows and flourish
May I to grow and flourish too
Now, be sure to take a few moments to once again think of what you would like to achieve and accomplish over this coming month. Be sure to give thanks to whomever you invite when you casted your circle and the Earth or whichever Deities you have worked with. Be sure to give the milk and honey to the Earth as an offering, and then finally, close your circle.
I hope this article has given you inspiration with respect to how you will observe this wonderful day.
May you forever be blessed.
~ Sara Lynn
References and Further Reading
*** Updated as of the 20th of March 2021
Goddess and the Greenman: Ostara
Goddess Gift E-Magazine: The Goddess Ostara
Learn Religions: Celebrating Ostara, the Spring Equinox
Mabon House: Ostara
Mooky Chick: Ostara and the Hare