Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Wheel of the Year: The Vernal Equinox and Its Lore

The Vernal Equinox, also called the Spring Equinox, Ostara, Eostre, and Eostar, is celebrated around March 21st. Its exact date can be found on many calendars, often marked as the ‘first day of spring.’ It is on of the two days of the year when light and dark are equal, and so it is a time of balance.

The Themes and Practices of the Spring Equinox

This festival takes its most common Wiccan name, Ostara, from the Saxon goddess Eostre. She is the goddess of desire and of love, both the morning and the evening star. She searches for her lost lover, ready to do battle to secure his return.

Many Wiccans set aside some time at dawn on this day. This time is usually reserved for the contemplation of the return of spring and all that this means for the world. Fertility of animals, crops, and humans is celebrated. The balance of darkness and light, and so female and male, is acknowledged. It is also a time when the mother-daughter bond is at its height, as illustrated by the myth of Persephone and her mother Demeter.

The Christian holy day of Easter is based upon the festival of Ostara, and is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox.

As a part of the Wheel of the Year, the Spring Equinox is the time when the God begins to leave His childhood behind as He moves toward adulthood. At the same time, the Goddess senses that Her lover draws near, and begins to seek Him out. This is the root of the sexual nature of Ostara.

Some symbols associated with Ostara include:
  • Colored eggs;
  • Baskets;
  • Rabbits and hares; and
  • Brightly colored ribbons.
The Feast of Ostara

Traditional foods at this time include meats such as hare or rabbit, and possibly ham or fish. Seasonal vegetables can also be served, including sprouts, shoots, and a variety of early spring greens. Eggs and cheese are also common.

Some feasting suggestions for this holiday include:
  • Hot crossed buns;
  • Chili eggs;
  • Tender baked white fish;
  • Spring sprout salad;
  • Baked sandwiches;
  • Pasta with goat cheese;
  • Omelets;
  • Gammon ham; and
  • Egg and artichoke pie.
Beverages For the Vernal Equinox

There are several beverages suitable to Ostara. Red wine, symbolizing blood, is very common. Milk, eggnog, or Honey Mead are also appropriate. Mint wines also make a lovely addition to an Ostara feast.

Celebrating Ostara

There are many ways to celebrate the Spring Equinox. Since Ostara is, in many ways, an ancient version of Easter, you can use many of the same traditions, perhaps modified only slightly. Consider holding an ‘Egg Hunt.’ Dye some eggs red to symbolize fertility and resurrection and hide them well, indoors or out. Have your family and friends hunt for these eggs, anointing a winner at the end. The winner is the Spring Queen/King for the day.

Children usually love crafts. Have them create ‘Wheel Charms’ to represent balance. You can also choose to celebrate this Sabbat with an Ostara Ritual. Magick would typically not be worked during this ritual, as Sabbats are celebratory in nature.

Dressing for the Vernal Equinox

Fancy dress can be a wonderful way to experience the magick of Ostara. You may wish to wear ritual robes, or you might prefer something simpler. Either way, try to wear something special, perhaps in the traditional Ostara colors of silver, green, or lavender.

The Vernal Equinox, which is celebrated in many forms around the world, is a time of celebration and balance for Wiccans around the world. It is a time of merriment and a chance to welcome warmth back to the Earth.

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