Month: March 2017

Celebrating The Spring Equinox

I cannot believe that Spring is well and truly here and even though where I am in the south of England it is still a little cold and drizzly, the flowers, tree blossoms and birds remind me that it is definitely true. So to bring a little Springtime into your life this Ostara, here are a few lovely ways that you can celebrate the lighter days.

  • Creating sacred outdoor space is a wonderful way to soak in the energies of Spring. After weeding and clearing up you could decorate a little corner with handcrafted mobiles, painted flower pots, prayer flags, wind chimes, a shrine or altar with offerings of shells, flowers and pebbles for nature spirits or deity. Don’t feel left out if you live in an apartment, just bring nature inside. Windowsills, shelves and counter tops can all be covered with plants, flowers and herbs.
  • An obvious one I know, but decorating blown eggs is an inexpensive and fun way to celebrate the Spring Equinox. These can be hung with colourful ribbons from windows or even tree twigs in a vase. Experiment with natural dyes like beetroot, dandelion flowers or onion skin. There are plenty of tutorials on Pinterest for this.
  • Continuing with egg shells, a cute way of using broken egg shells is to put a little compost into half an egg shell and plant a bulb or some watercress seeds inside.
  • What better way to honour this time of year than to pick up litter from parks or beaches, so as to allow Mother Nature to breath.
  • You can continue with the Spring cleaning and decluttering that you began at Imbolc. Let go of everything that is holding you back from being happy, be it on a physical, emotional, mental or spiritual level. Clean with natural products, essential oils and salt even, all blessed with your own positive intentions.
  • Once your space is clean, a Spring Home Blessing can be performed by walking around each room, not forgetting those pesky corners, with a smoking herb bundle,  ringing a bell and carefully flicking salt water. Then you can say a few words yourself perhaps like,”I bless and protect this space with the love and light of the Goddess.” It doesn’t need to be grande occasion, just something small and simple, but it will really kick stagnant energy out and will fill your space with positively flowing prana.
  • Now that we are on the tipping point of having more light, use the waxing solar energy to boost goals and projects.
  • You could perhaps make your own Equinox water by filling a glass bowl with spring water and leaving it outside from dawn to midday. This can be used in your home blessing, your Equinox ritual or keep it to revitalize your plants with.
  • Perform a ritual for the passing of the dark half of the year. A white candle can be lit to represent the light half of the year and a black candle for the dark half.
  • This is the perfect time to do prosperity seed spells because you can use the energy of the germinating seed to fuel a goal of yours that you are wishing to achieve.
  • There’s still just enough time to get those bird boxes up. These are a great way to not only give birds a helping hand, but they can be very decorative and brighten up your outside space. Insect hotels can be built easily and inexpensively as well. Your garden will be a real wildlife haven.
  • Are you lacking drive? Meditating on the lunar hare is a fabulous way to connect with your inner creativity and fertile passion for life.
  • The easiest one of all is of course getting yourself outside, to the park, beach, forest or ancient site. Just to feel the breeze and sun on your face even for 5 minutes can do a magnitude of good for you on all levels.

So here were 13 easy ways to celebrate Spring. I would love to hear how you celebrate the equinox. If you want to ask me any questions about what I have written or anything to do with holistic living, green witchcraft or paganism, then don’t hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to answer your questions.

Brightest Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

The Origins Of Ostara

The celebration of Ostara or the Spring Equinox  and Alban Eilir (the festival of trees) normally falls around 20th March every year. Day and night are balanced for just a short moment before the days grow noticeably longer and warmer.

Deep within the earth life is sprouting, as wildlife and cattle prepare to give birth. The joyful rebirth of the Earth has truly begun. Everything in nature is coming alive and Demeter has been reunited with her daughter Persephone who is back from the underworld of Hades.

Ostara or Eostre is a popular mainstream name used today in place of the term Spring Equinox in some pagan communities. She is seen as an Anglo- Saxon goddess who is portrayed as the goddess of Spring, but is there any historical evidence to support this?

The only reference that can be found is in the writings of the Venerable Bede (673-735) titled The Reckoning of Time which describes the solar and lunar cycles followed by Pagans which they used to determine the course of the year. He explains that the months took their name from the moon, “for the moon is called mona and the month monath”. He continues, “The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giulli; February is called Solmonath; March Hrethmonath; April Eosturmonath…”

Talking about Pagans he explains,”Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated Paschal month and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month”.

This is the only source that we have on Ostara. We don’t know anything about the kind of feasts that took place and there is no mention of chicks, eggs, rabbits or hares; only that she was honoured in April. Christians then applied the name which today is Easter to one of their most important feasts.

If the Anglo-Saxons did honour a goddess at the time of the Spring Equinox then it would have been the goddess Hrede for whom Hrethmonath was named after.

Modern mythology attempts to associate Ostara with hares, eggs and hot cross buns, but there is no evidence at all for these. In some parts of 17th and 18th century England, however,  it was customary to hunt hare on Good Friday or to try and catch a hare on Easter Monday. Eggs were painted and eaten on Easter Sunday with relish as they were  forbidden during Lent and the cross on hot cross buns again is a Christian symbol.

So any stories that you do come across pertaining to the goddess Ostara are sadly just that, stories. Like the tale of Ostara finding a dying bird and being unable to save it transforms it into a rabbit. This story is said to be the origins of the Easter Rabbit.

Another explanation for the Easter Rabbit comes from the confusion of hares giving birth in shallow depressions in the ground that look like bird nests. Some birds like plovers, nest in the ground and when people used to come across the eggs they believed that the hares had laid them.

The Easter Rabbit was first mentioned in German literature in 16th century, when good children who decorated their hats with nests  would be rewarded with painted eggs.

Rabbits were also considered lucky by minors and there is evidence of the association of tin and rabbits inside several churches in Devon that have roof ornaments called Tinners Rabbits. These triangular carvings depict three rabbits sitting down, facing different directions and all joined by the ear.

The hare is also seen as sacred to the Lunar goddess and witches were thought to be able to turn themselves into hares too.

Some pagans believe that at this time of year the goddess is still a maiden, young and carefree just like the god. She courts the young god and their relationship is consummated at Beltaine.

If you know of any tales or ancient customs associated with this time of year then I would love you to share them.

Brightest Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

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