Ostara is the festival of the Spring Equinox, when night and day are equal once again. The sun will now grow in strength and the day will be longer than the night after 21. March. From now on, the earth is in full swing, trees start to bud, the birds sing happily in the sunshine and all over the garden is evidence of new growth.
When you are in tune with nature, this can be a very stressful time. The 2 weeks before and after the equinox tend to be somewhat tense and full of stress (nothing new there then) as nature battles with itself to find balance once again. I personally always feel unsettled at the equinox and tend to do something rash – in the past I have set up the business, moved home, changed the car (several times), split up with a partner (several times) – are we getting the picture so you have been warned but just go with it as it is all about change and this time of conflict lasts 14 days before and after the equinox. Have a look at your life and if you are not happy with what you see, then this is the time to do something about it, whatever it is or at least start to plan. This is nature leaving darkness behind and heading for the light and you too can do the same. New things are paramount at this time – hence why we celebrate with an egg – the beginning of life itself. At Ostara, the symbolism is balance – if you or your life is not in balance, time to see how it can be sorted whether it is about health or things/people that stress you out!!
The festival is all about rebirth and growth, and this is highly apparent in it’s symbol of the egg. Yes, the chocolate egg is a modern-day pagan symbol to symbolize the Goddess Oestre. In days gone past, they would have been hard-boiled eggs brightly painted, but this tends to be a tradition that, in most places, has now died and be replaced by our favourite chocolate in brightly coloured foil (makes sense now). The Goddess even gives her name to the hormone that stimulates ovulation, Oestrogen. Life evolves from inside the egg, hence why we have chocolate eggs at this time of year. All of nature gets ready for their new life, be it the spring flowers of the earth, the blossom on the trees or the young of the birds, bees and animals. Place spring flowers in the home and, because it is the festival of New Life, it is time to “spring-clean”, clearing out the old and making way for the new.
In days gone by, to celebrate the spring and the new beginning, people would wear new clothes they had spent all winter making, but not until the equinox – bad luck to wear them before. They would rise at dawn, put on their new clothes and watch the sun come up. They would also bless the ground with seeds for the forthcoming season and ask Mother Nature to be kind and smile on them.
To symbolise the turn of the sun wheel, people would celebrate with what is now called hot cross buns – sweet buns decorated with a solar cross – and this was long before the church adopted them as a symbol of their own but to me they represent the sun and the moon, the circle of life, the four seasons and the Celtic cross and I love them toasted (the element of fire) so it is all in the power of what you believe yourself. Make them magickal and it will be so.. What – another pagan tradition adopted by the church – no!!! Yes, and the Easter bunny is another. He worshipped the Goddess Eostre, and to please the fertility goddess, he decorated sacred eggs and presented them to her. She thought them so beautiful that she wished this to be shared with all, so the rabbit went round the world distributing these gifts of life. This now is remembered on Easter Sunday as you watch the sun rise – that first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal Equinox – so which bits of Easter are Christian then?
Eostre is the Goddess of Spring and the white hare sacred to her. This Sabbat is all about the land and new beginnings – clearing away the old to make way for the new, just like you do the garden. This is the time to start new projects, just as I did my business! If you feel life has been difficult, make this a new start for you – closing the door on this part of your life and opening up to the next. Plant those new seeds and wait for them to begin to grow. The hare is associated with March due to their strange mating behaviour, Mad as a March hare accounts for their hopping and jumping about, boxing and trying to impress the females of the species, so as to mate. They produce several litters a year, a perfect representation for this season. As we are seeing, the weather is quite unpredictable in March. A wet March predicts a wet June but snow is good…last time we had lambing snow, we had a fab June so here’s hoping!
Things to do at Ostara…
Firstly, you need to bring spring flowers into your home. Support charity and buy daffodils, the sign of new hope and get some sunshine into your home. Even plant some to bring spring into your life. One of the signs of Easter is the egg – the symbol of fertility and life itself. What are you going to give birth to this year – what ideas do you have to nurture and make materialise? Don’t just sit there, make it happen. How are you going to find the extra time, space, etc? Well it means it is time to spring clean both your home and you life. Get rid of all excess, all those things you don’t need. Simplify things to allow time and space for the new to come in. We all have too much clutter these days, and what valuable time we have to ourselves tend to be taken up with “stuff”. Get rid of the stuff and you will have more time for yourself, for the things you want to do and for the people around you that matter.
Clear the debris from the garden tidying the way for the new growth. Enjoy spring by simply being with it. Fill your space with aromas of sunshine such as bergamot and grapefruit by sprinkling on carpets etc. Give your home a physical clean plus a purification to cleanse the negativity alongside the dust. Purify just before the new moon if possible – use the cycle of the moon to be rid of negative issues, then your home will be wonderful for Ostara and the arrival of Spring. So, first, instead of cleaning the home with a traditional cleaner, make an infusion of rosemary, lavender, thyme and bay and use this water to cleanse the home. Wash down windows, paintwork and doors, whilst knowing you are banishing negativity and evil with this cleaning process. Once the physical aspect is all done, pour the remainder of the infusion down the drain banishing all negativity from the home (watch as the water disappears and you will know it is all gone). Burn purifying oils such as frankincense, rosemary and juniper in the home or smudge each room with sage. Clean your altar and decorate with spring flowers and yellow candles to mark the growth of the sun to come. Your home is now clean and cleansed and ready for the forthcoming season and I am sure you will notice the difference in the atmosphere now the stagnation of winter has been removed. Now to simplify – recycle, recycle, and recycle. Give old clothes away to friends if they can re-use them (including the ones that don’t fit but one day I might be able to get into them again!!!!). If not, give them to charity. Simplify your life and if that means redesigning a room or changing the house around, then do it. Also, try and take a walk daily if possible but weekly if that is all you can fit in and over the coming months, make a point of watching nature develop. We have an avenue full of daffs planted for Marie Curie and it is spectacular at this time. Watch for the bluebells, crocuses, cowslips and primroses appearing as spring progresses, not to mention all the fantastic aromas as the blossoms of various trees fill the air. If you don’t get out in nature, then you cannot appreciate the magick of life itself and how spectacular Mother Nature really is. Enjoy her at her best!
Once winter starts to give way to the spring and better weather, the body suddenly looks not as in shape as it should be (I am being polite here folks!), as the winter coat that has been responsible for keeping you warm now becomes more noticeable and in need of shedding – again. Time to start a programme for cleansing the body and getting fit! Indulge in a day of pampering if you get the chance as we all need a little indulgence after the winter and this would give your new fitness programme a good start. Now, by shedding the coat, I do not mean start a new diet!!! I mean more exercise, walking, swimming or something to get that body moving!! Diets don’t work and your body just begins the yo-yo syndrome as it thinks it has hit a famine. To balance the weight loss, it starts to hold on to every calorie you eat and so you actually end up putting on weight. This is due to the body having not yet evolved from the days of feast or famine. So, in fact, all you have to do is eat in moderation, cut out the current junk and convenience foods and increase your activities, but you know all this if you are a regular, so get on with your body’s spring clean.
Now to the body…
Spring cleaning isn’t just about the home – the body, especially the skin, also needs attention after the winter. For the body, I tend to repeat the Candidiasis diet (get it off my website or pick up free leaflet in the shop). This ensures my body is balanced after all the winter seasonal activities, which in Aberdour, tend to be just finishing (Burns suppers, winter gatherings, 6 Nations rugby etc). A few weeks and the body will be refreshed again as the lighter foods begin to appear in season and the winter stodge can be forgotten until next winter.
The body has, for most of the winter, been covered in layers of clothing, especially after this cold snowy winter (which was exactly what we needed!!), and the central heating has been belting out. Then we throw off the layers and expect the skin to look great and take whatever rays the sun throws at it. Now what we have to remember is that the skin is our largest organ and reflects what is going on on the inside. Eczema and psoriasis can be indicators of omega deficiencies, stress and a liver not coping, whilst cellulite means toxin build-up. We have to learn to both read and respect the skin and look after it more so it can protect us from the elements. So this spring, let’s pay attention to our skin and prepare it for what I hope is going to be a great summer.
Firstly, increase your water intake to 8 glasses per day and cut out the rubbish replacing it with salad and fresh fruit to improve vitamin and mineral levels (try to get your 5+ portions daily). Cut down on drugs and alcohol to rest your liver to allow regeneration and if you smoke – stop…it ages you dreadfully! Take your multi-vitamin & mineral, extra zinc & Vitamin C, omegas 3 & 6 plus probiotics and you should see a vast improvement very quickly if you follow this plan. Good skin means good health…it is that simple and you cannot have one without the other.
A Spring bath-time ritual…
At some point over the Equinox when you have an evening to chill, light some candles (fire) and incense (air), run a hot bath (water) to which you have added some Himalayan salt (Earth) and favourite oils or bath bombs! Back in the kitchen, add cup sea salt to a bowl and stir in oil such as olive or sunflower to make a scrub. Scent with geranium or juniper oil (or another indulgent favourite) and stir. Take into bathroom along with a piece rose quartz, and get yourself undressed and into the bath. Rub salt scrub into your skin and rinse, to exfoliate and moisturise, then lay in the water and relax, with the rose quartz on your heart. Close your eyes and spend 5 minutes just contemplating your life and what changes you can make at this time. Now say with conviction 3 times:
Fears and woes, you will take flight,
Worries and cares, you’re out of my sight.
Stronger and happier I will grow each day
Because my soul will find its way
Balance and harmony will spring into life
This is my will so no more strife
Relax with the rose, the candles, the warm water and the aromas until you feel ready to get out. Let the worries go with the bathwater as you pat your skin dry with a warm towel. Once dressed comfy, put the Rose Quartz in your ‘Serenity/self-esteem” corner to remind yourself you are worth a pampering! Repeat this ritual often…
Spells for Ostara
Ostara is the time of fertility and that includes birth of projects as much as children. As green and yellow are the colour of the sabbat, take one candle of each, a cleansed hematite, and a piece of paper with your aim(s) written carefully down. Now, holding the candles in your power hand, see yourself achieving your objective, and then place the hematite on top of the paper, which has been carefully folded, and the candles into holders. Hematite is a go-for-it stone to help you reach your goal. Light the candles dedicating them with a little poem, because, as we know, all good spells are done in rhyme that end in “this is my will, so mote it be”. Well, mine usually are anyway. You do whatever you feel best with. Following the completion of the spell, carry the stone with you and place back on your altar at night, back on top of your aim or objective. It is done.
As I have said, this festival is all about new life and growth. If there is a wish you want to materialise with all your heart and soul, then this is the spell for a long-term wish. I am always telling my clients that if you don’t plant the seeds, then nothing will materialise. This is taking that a step further and will need your love and devotion to make it happen. Decide on your need remembering it will take time to make your dearest wish happen. This is not the thing to do if you need it next week ok. Now take some seeds of the plant that will make your need materialise:-
Fertility – poppy or cucumber Healing – lavender, rosemary, sage
Love –jasmine, yarrow, coriander Money – honeysuckle, chamomile, basil
Peace – rose, valerian Protection – bay, rose geranium, St John’s Wort
Or use your own symbolic seeds.
Now, over a pot of soil or a chosen piece of garden, hold the seeds in your power hand (the one you write with) and visualise your need or wish coming to fruition. Hold that picture and tell the seeds what it is you would like and why, then still holding the visualisation, plant the seeds. Now you need to lovingly tend those seeds, giving it shelter, water and food, bringing the new life and healthy growth forth to aid your wish to manifest. Neglect the seeds or seedlings and your heart and soul isn’t going into materialising your wish, so your wish will not materialise at that time. Give it all it needs to grow healthily and you are doing all in your power to make it happen – the rest is up to the elements, you have done your bit and put it out there. As I always say, you don’t ask, you don’t get. Take care of your plant. After all, you gave it life and it will, in return, give you a little bit of life and magic. Happy planting.
As nature will be in torment and winds will probably be blowing with attitude, I thought a spell on the wind would be suitable, though on the East coast, the wind usually blows anyway! Remember though, these spells can be used anytime, not just the sabbat I include them in. Using Air for spells is very effective. Been depressed this winter? Then stand with your face into the wind, spread your arms out wide, and let the cold wind of the North (preferably) blow straight through you, and you will feel much better.
Better still, if your problems have been mounting, then, find a bush or tree that is dead but still planted in the ground in a place where the wind blows freely. Then, using one leaf for every problem or pain you wish to be free of, push each leaf onto the tip of a branch on the bush. As you do, just state:
“Of my ………………… I wish to be free; this is my will, so mote it be”.
When you have gone through each problem individually, then leave the bush to release its leaves, therefore releasing the energy of the problems into the universe and letting the Universe get to work on them for you. Know that as you walk away, it is done. This will take a few days or so for the leaves to go free and start working so don’t just sit around waiting for the leaves to be freed or you might be sat there a while. You have done what needs to be done, so just let it go and get on with the job in hand.
Luck for Ostara incense…ruled by Jupiter for luck
Refresh life and luck with the new springtime by creating this incense yourself for your home and family.
Grind together in a pestle and mortar, a mix of copal and pine, and add your own mix of any of the following:
Rose petals, orange peel, heather flowers, star anise, poppy seeds, nutmeg, grains paradise, or a selection.
Grind together to make a fine blend, then burn daily to encourage vibrations in the home to help boost luck and success to all who live within until the storminess of the season is over and calm reigns supreme.
Weight loss spell to aid your new diet and exercise plan for the spring…
If you would like to improve what you see in the mirror, the here is a little magick to support your plan:
Firstly, at sunset mix together fennel, dill and lavender and add a green tourmaline, ruby or apatite to the mix. Place in a yellow pouch. Next, take a small piece of paper and draw a cross in the middle, and draw a straight line through the centre of the cross to make an elongated star-shape. Fold the paper into a small size and add to your pouch. Close the pouch and hold in your power hand (writing hand). Close your eyes and visualise yourself now and then see yourself changing to how you want to be/see the scales coming down from the weight now to a more healthy weight. Carry this pouch wherever you go in your pocket, visualising daily your aim and magickally, it will help with overeating and weight loss, and positively encourage healthy exercise…and help you achieve what you want to be…but please be realistic – size zero is impossible and unless nature created your body to be that size, extremely unhealthy too. Be real and it will be done…so mote it be
Spell for the Spring Full Moon…
Here’s a lovely Spring spell for the forthcoming full moon from Ellen Dugan…her poetry is better than anything I can write!! You will need to:
Gather some spring flowers in a pretty vase put on your luck incense. Place a white candle in a pretty holder (or a white votive / tealight in a glass holder). Set a cream moonstone in front of the candle and sprinkle a circle of fresh floral petals around the spell.
Light the candle, and, holding the stone, repeat:
On this bewitching night of the full storm moon,
I call on the old ones to grant me a boon
May I find prosperity and balance today
Leaving room for good luck and joy to come my way
This small moonstone will act as a talisman true
May I be blessed and steadfast in all that I do
This March full moon spell closes up with a rhyme
I walk in balance and wisdom at all times.
Allow the candle to burn out. Carry the moonstone with you until the next full moon. Keep the fresh flowers going for the next month until the next full moon and return your moonstone to the altar every night,
Whether an Ostara bonfire, a symbolic candle in a cauldron or a simple tealight in a holder, sit out in the moonlight on 20th Mar after 10pm but before 1.30am when the moon is full. Place a reflective bowl of water to catch the Moon’s rays to which you have added a supportive amulet crystal of choice. Close your eyes and visualise your life-balancing list actually in place and part of your new regime, then simply say 3 times to the Moon…
What was old is now new, what was dark is now light,
What was asleep is now awake, what was dim is now bright
At this time of nature’s balance, oh Mistress of the Moon
Please bring harmony, hope and balance, into my life very soon
Balance is in need and life’s renewal is the key
And as this is my will, Then, so mote it be
Next, dip each of your hands in the bowl of water three times and let it dry onto your hands, whilst thanking the Moon for her help. Take the crystal out of the bowl to carry daily for support to action the changes, then pour the water into a nearby plant or tree. Your intentions have now been set in motion…
Yarrow…a true Celtic plant
It may be a funny little plant growing in the wild, and most will not even give it the time of day, but one of my favourite magickal plants is yarrow. Its Latin name is Achillea Millefolium, so named after the Greek Warrior Achilles, who supposedly discovered its power to stop bleeding on the battlefield and made a salve with the plant to heal his warrior’s wounds, but he must have been unable to find it when an arrow struck him in the heel and killed him…hence Achilles tendon!! This plant is native to Scotland and can be found on any wild walk. Highlanders still make a Yarrow healing balm, and in Orkney, Yarrow was used as a tea to ‘dispel melancholy”. It was always found in Saxon apothecaries and in Monastic herbal medicine gardens as is actually a very useful 1st aid plant. It is said that if out and about on a walk and someone gets a nosebleed, putting a yarrow leaf up the nose with stem the flow of blood (remove once stopped), whilst chewing a fresh leaf can help calm toothache and a leaf pressed into the skin will also help a shaving cut or any cut even!!The stems can also be used as I Ching sticks.
But what about a bit of Yarrow magick for Spring?
When out walking on the lovely days as they begin to arrive, look for this feathery plant with its head of tiny white flowers. The first flowering plant you see of the new season will grant you one wish! On seeing the flower, hold the flower head in your hand straight away and make your wish. Now cut the stem and take the single flower home and sleep with it under the pillow going to sleep visualising your wish. The next day, place the flower head in a green satin bag and hang on your altar to help your wish come true.
Got a new challenge?
As for the challenge of Ostara, this sabbat may have a different challenge for you. I rented my shop and began my business on Ostara nine years ago and that was certainly a major challenge for me, so if there is something you really really want, then this is a good time to go for it. When I got the keys to the shop, I entered my business premises as mine for the first time and called on the help of Mars to help me in this new challenge I was now confronted with. It is this is that I am now passing on to you if you are venturing into a new project yourself:
Between the hours of two and three in the afternoon, anoint a red candle with rose oil, light it and say:
“Mars, great warrior, protector of the fearful and energiser of the weak, I ask you to enthuse me with your knowledge and power, your fearlessness and enterprise. Infuse me with your inspiration, armour me with your brilliance and guide me always with your light so I may always trust and be guided by the light of my spirit within me. This is my will, so mote it be”
Let the candle burn until it is finished and it is done. Good luck with your new venture and may it be as successful to you as mine is to me.
Oils of Mars…for added help
All new beginnings and challenges take courage. If you have to face a nerve-wracking situation, make an important phone-call, or confront someone or something, but really doesn’t warrant calling on Mars to help, then call on his oils. Black Pepper has an unforgettable fiery aroma, and with visualisation, will give you the courage to literally “face your fears”. It will also sharpen your memory and mental faculties and help you stay awake – so a good oil to inhale if you need to drive at night. Ginger is also a Mars oil and can be used in much the same way, except that it also brings money and success if used in prosperity spells and situations, and will also spice up your sex life – so add to passion spells or massage oil. A passionate energising little oil or what!
And so to Mother’s Day
In line with the theme of new life, Mothers are honoured at this time. Instead of going out and purchasing a few flowers at extortionate prices, here are a few ideas for you (aren’t I just too good to you!!).
Why not buy her a houseplant, with magickal qualities to enhance her life:-
Aloe Vera protects against accidents and intruders in the home.
African Violets promote peaceful vibrations and promote spirituality, as do crocuses.
All types of fern are magickally protective for the home, especially if placed before large windows.
Orchids and tulips are both governed by Venus and bring love to the home.
Ivies of all kinds protect the home and drive away evil and negativity, whether inside or out(grown on the walls).
The Venus flytrap is a strange plant but traps or catches luck, money or whatever the owner wants to find.
The Weeping Fig is restful if grown in the bedroom whilst bringing good luck & prosperity anywhere else.
If you have jewellery in mind, then why not pick a crystal with loving vibrations to emanate the reason she is receiving the gift:-
Rose Quartz – to help her feel good about herself and promote peace & happiness
Fluorite – to bring about a flawless state of health & bring order to chaos (if she needs it)
Amethyst – for peace and tranquillity
Kunzite – for relaxation, it soothes tension & stress and gives you a lift.
Citrine – for health, wealth and happiness
Amber – for protection, strength, energy, to attract friendship, love and happiness, and enhance the cashflow.
Mothers are invaluable and your best friend so use this time to honour her and let her know how much she is loved.
Rain collection…a simple spell
They say the first rain of spring is the luckiest of rains, so on rising on the morning of Ostara, put a glass or earthenware container outside to collect the first rain that falls, the luckiest being on Ostara itself. After the first rain has stopped, bring the container inside and reserve the water. To utilise this luck, you can either:
1. Add the water to a bath to attract luck and joy to you for the next year
2. Use as a hair rinse to attract romance into your life
3. Sprinkle or spray into the corners of the house to attract luck and joy into your home
4. Use as a facial rinse to help delay ageing for as long as possible
5. Use as a wash for abdomen and genitals to attract fertility
The sky gives us the rain so let’s use this gift for good to help us during the next year.