OSTARA | A CHRONICLE
The 7th century text, De Temporum Ratione by the Christian monk Bede, mentions the “season by her name,” referring to the goddess Ostara. Prior to this time, there is nothing documenting her place in the traditions of the Spring Equinox. This doesn’t mean traditions didn’t exist. They were most likely shared through a long line of oral storytelling. Not until an entire millennium later is the Old High German name Ostern, meaning Easter, crafted as a derivation of Bede’s Ostara goddess by the folklorist Jacob Grimm.
The egg and hare associations with this holiday were introduced later, and written documentation is just as scant. It is true that numerous ancient spiritual practices honored a universal egg as symbol for new life. Most notably, iconic medieval imagery of the Phoenix egg is suggestive of notions of rebirth. Researchers have proposed that the hare or rabbit was a sacred companion to Ostara. Some writings from the early 1900’s suggest a bird which once honorably drew the flying chariot of the goddess Ostara was injured and so transformed into a hare by the goddess. In gratitude, the hare is believed to have honored Ostara by laying eggs as its offering to her.
Ostara is all about creation! It marks the new stirrings of the beginnings of life in all forms. Now is the time to begin seed starting indoors for summer gardens, as well as planting the “seeds” of future projects. Begin collecting what is needed to create new works of art, renovations, or collaborations. Symbolically color eggs for yourself or as gifts to others. Bake sweet breads with sprouted seeds. Bring blooming plants into the home. Hold a small feast with your beloved humans as a way to bring hearts together in rebirth and unity.
THE OSTARA ALTAR
An altar is a collection of items which create a hum in your being whenever you are near. It’s a reminder of where we are in the turning of the year, and a soulful expression of who you are in its turning.
As you gather in all the items, keep in mind that there are no rules, only suggestions based on those who have come before us—
• A cloth of yellow, Robin’s egg blue, spring green, or lavender.
• Items to represent all the elements—earth, air, fire, water. Some soil, a feather, your candle, & a small bowl of water are simple selections.
• Pots of blooming daffodils, violets, tulips, hyacinths. As well as moss & mushrooms.
• Vases of birch branches, willow branches, or pussy willow.
• Ostara symbols—nests, rabbits, eggs, lambs, baskets of sprouted grass.
• Freshly grown herbs of mint, parsley, basil, chamomile, lemon balm.
• A bowl of fresh lemons or limes. A jar of honey.
• Stones of citrine, amethyst, moonstone, jasper, turquoise.
• Personal spiritual items such as deities, amulets, talismans, or images.
• Something to represent both the feminine & masculine.
Above all, make it a pleasure to gather and create your altar.