Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Ostara (or Vernal Equinox)

Today, old Helios enters the sign of Aries and appears to cross the celestial equator on his way north, although we are the ones in motion, and not the Sun. Day and night are equal in length, and the power of the Sun is growing stronger. Believe it or not, we are already midway between Imbolc in the first days of February and Beltane on May 1. Hallelujah..... Pour the wine, summon the band, get out our dancing shoes - springtime has arrived.

The word Ostara has its origins in the the name of an ancient Germanic goddess of fertility and Springtime. Her name is Eostre, and she is also a lunar goddess. Her symbols include hares, rabbits, eggs, young birds, birds' nests, the New Moon, butterflies and cocoons. Her colors are all pastels; pale yellow, green and blue, as well as the stronger colors of the greening season - grass green, robin's egg blue, violet, and creamy white, and her stones are also pale; aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone. Mythical beasts include unicorns, mermaids and mermen, winged horses and centaurs. The plants associated with this festival are the delicate flowers of Spring, crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils, and narcissus, as well as jasmine, Irish moss and ginger. Ostara (or the Vernal Equinox) celebrates the warming and healing powers of the Sun, the greening of the earth, and the emergence of new life in Spring.

A marvelous thing is this great cosmic round in which we live - the seasons go round and round like a satin Möbius ribbon, and we dance out our days in a glorious magical living spiral.

If one lives in the north as I do, there will be no wildflowers for quite a while, but the first spring lambs are being born now, and it will not be long until spring fawns and little red foxes appear in the countryside. The maple syrup season or "sugaring off" time is in full swing, and the sounds of of the sawhet owl can be heard now and then in the woods. This beautiful little owl is a fierce predator, and it is known locally as the sugar bird for its melodious hooting during the maple syrup season. Green things are already stirring deep within the earth, and if one listens carefully, one can hear the sound of woodland streams flowing beneath the snow.

On my Ostara rambles, I think of the bloodroot, crocus and trout lilies which will adorn the hillsides in Lanark County in several weeks, and of the wild orchids and columbines which will follow them a short time later. When I return home after my rambles, I plant the first herbs of the season with a small blessing for each, and place a little clay pot in every window in the house. My cilantro, parsley, thyme and lavender seeds are already sleeping in their pots and preparing to burst into shaggy magnificence - they will grace our sanctuary with fragrance and good taste for many months to come.

Happy Ostara (and Vernal Equinox) to all of you!


Endment said...

Snow here today for the first day of Spring....
Your blossoms add a lot of WOW to the day :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Cate,
Beautiful picture as usual. I lift my glass to cheer with you as this Springtime starts. Spring from my Mom's days meant spring cleaning. Cleaning house, cleansing the body with herbal teas and all. May you be happy.

Paula & Skip said...

Being paganism myself I enjoyed reading your posting about Ostara

Sky said...

we join you in the excitement of spring's soon to be arrival. we can see the greenery of tulips and daffodils, and a couple of yellow buds have opened. we are still a few weeks away, however, from the glorious exhibition of life and color stirring in the gardens.