It’s Ostara! So what?

It’s Ostara.

Here in New Zealand, everything is starting to really burst forth in a crazy rush of growth. I can’t keep up with the weeds, and I’m sure that the grass is growing so quickly I can see it happen.

Because I live on a small family farm, I’m fortunate enough to see the changes that are associated with the Wheel of the Year on a fundamental, earth-based level. I don’t need a calendar to tell me that the Equinox is here – I can see it in the earth and sky, and feel it in the air around me.

One of our new lambs.
The season’s lambs are here – seven of them, healthy and whole, after the devastating loss of a set of triplets born too small to live – with one pet lamb to look after. A perfect mix for the kids – my daughter loves giving our lamb her bottles, and playing the role of small mother to the baby lamb.

But on a cerebral level, Ostara always feels a little low-key for me. I’m sure it would feel more important in the northern hemisphere, where it would fit nicely with the massive consumerist nightmare that is Christian Easter. But here, at the other end of the world, there are no chocolate eggs to be found (unless you count Kinder eggs with a plastic toy inside). And although painting eggs is nice, it does feel like you’re rerunning a celebration that has already happened, and doing a rather poor job of it.

So how do we bring meaning to Ostara without making it simply a rehash of the bigger Easter celebration? It’s a tricky problem. For me, I turn to nature, and find my peace celebrating the beauty and life and fertility around me that is so blatant at this time.

As a woman, I also feel very fertile in Spring. Sex plays a bigger role in my life, whether I want it to or not. I’m more aware of my ovulation and the power of my own fertility. I’m awar of being attracted to others, and attracting them. I’m aware more of my physical self, and my connection to the world around me. And – in the middle of all this bursting, blooming, pumping life – somewhat ironically I find myself more aware of my mortality too.

So for me, the equinox becomes a place of balance. As I look forwards I turn outwards with the coming summer. But as I look behind, I also turn inwards with the winter. I’m aware of my place in the world, my significance as well as my insignificance. I make peace with reality. And that’s okay.

I love this time of year. For me, Ostara is the promise of new beginnings built upon the old work of the past year. I look back of the precog work I have done, and some of what is to come is already set in stone, and I’ve seen so many things and so much of what is going to happen whether I like it or not, but still so much of it is shifting. Change is still possible.

Here’s to a happy Ostara for you and yours, whatever the Sabbat means for you. For me, I will light a candle, go to the beach tonight, and make peace with my past before I move on to my future. Whatever your future holds, may blessings, peace and prosperity be yours.

Ostara ritual – group ritual for coven

Spring Equinox is a time when day and night is of equal length. Traditionally, this is the time of the year when the Crone departs, and we welcome the prospect of new life and new beginnings.

This ritual focuses on the transformation of the Maiden into the Mother, and welcomes in the new phase of a woman’s life when she prepares for motherhood. The ritual also honours the time of Maidenhood – in particular, the Maiden in her role as Warrior (Athene) and the Maiden in her role as Huntress (Diana).

For this ritual you will need:

  • A handful of white flowers or rose petals
  • A handful of withered leaves
  • Four white quarter candles
  • A lighter (or matches)
  • The Sword of the Maiden Warrior (sword)
  • The Knife of the Maiden Huntress (blade)
  • Small pieces of red paper, on which the Maidens have written their wishes for the Mother in childbirth.
  • Cauldron, methylated spirits, epsoms salts
  • Cakes and Ale.

Prior to the ritual:

  • The cauldron should be set in the middle of the Circle in front of the altar, with epsom salts and methylated spirits within, ready to burn.
  • At each quarter a white candle should be set ready to light, honouring the time of Imbolc which is passing, and the Maidens who preside over this time.
  • Two bowls – one containing white flowers or rose petals, the other containing withered leaves – should be ready on the altar.
  • Small pieces of red paper, with the wishes of the Maidens for the Mother, should be ready on the altar.
  • The Sword of the Maiden Warrior, and the Knife of the Maiden Huntress should reside on the Eastern side of the altar.
  • Cakes and ale should be ready on the altar for Feasting.

The Maiden Warrior takes up the lighter/matches from the altar, and lights the Eastern candle.

Maiden Warrior:

I light the candle of the East
The Dawn, new beginnings, new life…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms on the Element of Air)

Maiden Huntress:

I light the candle of the North
The Midday sun, passions, sexuality, lust…
(The Maiden Huntress free-forms on the Element of Fire)

Maiden Warrior:

I light the candle of the West
The Dusk, emotion, the family…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms on the Element of Water)

Maiden Huntress:

I light the candle of the South
The Midnight Hour, the silence, the strength…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms on the Element of Earth)

Maiden Warrior:

Imbolc is ending
The time of the Maiden is passing
The darkness is over
And hope is reborn in the Mother…

Maiden Huntress:

Winter has ended
The Crone departs, her cold touch leaves us
I honour her in her strength and wisdom
Watch over our sister in the trials of birth that await her!

Maiden Warrior: (takes up her Sword from the altar, and salutes the Mother)

I salute and honour the Mother
Our sister, our friend…
(The Maiden Warrior free-forms with good wishes and love towards the Mother)

Maiden Huntress: (takes up her Knife from the altar, and salutes the Mother)

I salute and honour the Mother
Our sister, our friend…
(The Maiden Huntress free-forms with good wishes and love towards the Mother)

Mother: (moving into the centre of the Circle, and lighting the Cauldron)

I light the Cauldron of Akasha
The Spirit, the Soul, the web
Maiden, Mother, Crone.

The Maiden Warrior takes up the white flowers / rose petals from the altar and casts them into the Cauldron, symbolising the transformation from Maiden to Mother. She then takes up her Sword from the altar, and salutes the Mother, before kissing her on the forehead in blessing. (If the Maiden wishes to say anything at this time, she is welcome).

The Maiden Huntress takes up the withered leaves from the altar and casts them into the Cauldron, symbolising the passing of the Crone as winter ends. She then takes up her Knife from the altar, and salutes the Mother, before kissing her on the forehead in blessing. (If the Maiden wishes to say anything at this time, she is welcome).

The Maidens now take up from the altar their pieces of red paper upon which their wishes are written, and cast them into the Cauldron, with any appropriate words they might like to say.

The Mother kneels in front of the Cauldron, and expresses her thanks, and asks for a safe and joyous birth, and for a healthy and happy child.

All: (chanting)

Time is change, change is time,
Change is the way of the Goddess…

The Maidens now close the Circle, blow out the white quarter candles, and the Coven move inside for Cakes and Ale.


Image of eggs by Thorskegga

Ostara ritual 2 – solitary ritual

The following is a beautiful and simple ritual that can be performed by a solitary practitioner to celebrate and welcome the arrival of Ostara, the time of rebirth and new life.

You will need:

  • A yellow candle
  • Rosewater or rose oil
  • A slip of pastel paper (preferably handmade) Your favourite pen
  • A piece of rose quartz
  • String (optional)
  • Your cauldron set to light
  • Matches or a lighter
  • A bowl of rain or spring water
  • Some flower bulbs or seeds.

Cast a Circle in your preferred way.

Anoint the candle with the rosewater/oil. As you do so, meditate on the year to come, on the new life springing from the earth, and give thanks to the Lord and the Lady for their gifts.

Next, write your goals for the year to come on the slip of paper, and wrap it around the rose quartz, to form a small package. If necessary, tie it with string. Anoint the package containing the rose quartz with rosewater/oil as well.

Next, place the package containing the quartz into the cauldron. Light the yellow candle and, while focussing on its flame and meditating on your goals that have been written on the slip of paper, begin the Ostara chant slowly:

Ostara, ostara
Time of rebirth
Time of new life
echoing, echoing…

While continuing the chant, light the cauldron from the candle flame, and focus on the cauldron fire, directing your will into its flames and using its energy to focus your goal.

Focus your thoughts on achieving your goal as you chant the Ostara chant and as the flames in the cauldron burn the quartz package.

When the fire at last has died down and the cauldron contents have cooled, lift the quartz (the paper will have burned away) out of the cauldron, and rinse it in the bowl or rain/spring water. Take cakes and ale, and close the Circle.

In the morning, bury the quartz with the flower bulbs or seeds. As the flowers grow, your goals will come to pass.


Egg image by Thorskegga

Ostara ritual 1 – large group ritual

Akasha WitchCraft – Ostara ritual (group ritual)

Introduction

Spring Equinox is a time when day and night is of equal length. Traditionally, this is the time of the year when the Crone departs, and we welcome in the Maiden as a recognition of renewed life. Spring Equinox is all about celebrating new life, and working with the power of the Green Man to welcome the Maiden back into the world.

Spring Equinox is a time when we can plant new goals, hopes and wishes for the future.

Requirements for the ritual

  • Candelabras or candle holders; lighter
  • Pure white candle (for the Maiden)
  • Small candles (tealights are suitable)
  • Crown of withered leaves (for the Crone)
  • Cauldron with lid
  • Heat-proof mat for cauldron (if ritual is performed indoors); or fire-safe space cleared for cauldron in center of circle
  • Singing bowls or bells for raising musical energy
  • Small slips of paper and pens / pencils (enough for attendees)
  • Cakes and ale.

The ritual

The Spring Equinox (Ostara) ritual starts with a ‘Meet and Greet’ session, in which new attendees gave a brief intoduction about who they were and a little about their life. They can say as much or as little as they wished, and both magickal and / or non-magickal names may be used.

When we are ready, one Covener outlines what will happen throughout the evening. Then the lights are dimmed and general lighting candles (candlabras) are lit.

Next, slips of paper and pens are passed around, and people are asked write down a goal, a wish or a hope that they want to see come about through the strength of the Maiden. Small candles should also given to everyone. Once this is done, people are asked to hold on to the papers until the Crone collects them later in the ritual. Their candles will be lit later in the ritual.

Lights are turned off completely, and the quarter candles lit.

The CRONE, veiled in black, with a crown of withered leaves and a staff of dried pine, casts the Circle, thumping her staff in each of the quarters and calling the Elements in. In the background, ritual singing bowls hum eerily, helping people to establish a trancelike state and heighten the energy within the Circle.

Then the GREEN MAN, at the South of the Circle, speaks the following:

GREEN MAN: The Green Man is awake!
The Green Man is alive! I wait for the Maiden to join in the Dance!

The Green Man then starts moving deosil (anti-clockwise) around the Circle, whispering “Awake! Alive! Alive! Awake!” and touching people to join them. Eventually the whole Circle is moving deosil, chanting “Awake! Alive! Alive! Awake!” and gradually getting louder, building the energy within the Circle.

At this point, two Coveners moved into the Eastern quarter of the Circle, and formed an archway with their hands, creating a gateway into the Circle.

1ST COVENER: We welcome the Maiden into the Circle
We welcome the Maiden into the Dance
Life and warmth are renewed.

2ND COVENER: She wakens the green leaves
She touches the living earth
She kisses the dawn and embraces the fiery dusk
She is awake once more
Light and life are renewed!

The MAIDEN, dressed in white and carrying a pure white lit candle, starts approaching the Circle from the East.

The Maiden enters the Circle, and is welcomed by the Green Man, who kisses her and places a wreath of flowers on her hair. She then moves deosil about the circle, lighting the candles of the Circle members in turn, and bringing light and warmth to the Circle.

As the Maiden moves around the Circle, the Crone follows her, collecting people’s wishes on their slips of paper in a brass bowl.

Once all the candles are lit, and the Circle is ablaze with light, the Crone passes the wishes to the Maiden, and throws down her crown of withered leaves, signifying that Winter is indeed ended.

The Maiden raises the bowl of wishes up to the sky, blesses them, then bends to place them in the cauldron. She then sets the cauldron alight with blue flames, and finally puts the lid on the cauldron, closing the flames and sealing the wishes.

Cakes and ale (bread and juice) are then shared, with the traditional greetings of “May you never hunger” and “May you never thirst”. This helps to ground people, and signifies the end of the ritual. After cakes and ale the Crone closes the circle.


Egg image by Thorskegga