A Pagan Easter
March 20-21 is a time when many people, including most pagans, celebrate the Spring Equinox. Depending upon the tradition one belongs to, this celebration goes by many names. For most, it’s called Ostara. Many times this is spelled Eostar.
What is Ostara about?
This is a happy pagan holiday with the focus being on rebirth. This holiday also has to do with growth and the balance between light and dark. Life is coming, and many are waking from the deep sleep of winter. The days are also starting to grow longer again. In many ways, Ostara is Easter for pagans, just as Easter is the word that Christians use to celebrate this very similar holiday in their faith.
Two goddesses become the center of attention during the Spring Equinox.
The first that the holiday focuses on is the goddess Eostar. She is the goddess of both new beginnings and of dawn. The animal we associate with her is the rabbit. This symbolism of the rabbit can be seen even in the modern versions of Easter through the concept of the Easter bunny.
The second goddess that is a focal point for Ostara is Persephone, the Greek goddess of growth and grain. As the story goes, Persephone became the bridge between the underworld and earth. Responsible for showing the dead the way to rebirth and reminding the living that all life in the physical form eventually comes to an end. When she descends to the underworld in fall, the leaves fall from the trees, and the land becomes bare. When she rises in the springtime, the world rejoices and celebrates. New life comes back to the world as plants and trees begin to grow, and as we prepare the land for planting once again.
The god that is celebrated at the Spring Equinox is any variation of the young god. A trickster and mischievous god is he. His actual holiday is April Fools Day, but many times he is also celebrated at the Spring Equinox.
Symbols Associated with the Spring Equinox
The following are all symbols we associate with the Spring Equinox:
Basically, anything associated with spring, rebirth, or growth.
For those wanting to fully embrace the Spring Equinox or Ostara, there are several activities that you can engage in.
Egg Hunts: Eggs hunts are fun, especially for children. Eggs are one of the oldest symbols for birth. Hiding eggs and searching for them is not only fun but reminds us that the miracle of life can be found just about anywhere. To make it even more entertaining, be sure to put a small bag of candy or other goodies with the egg – this acts as a reminder of the joy that comes with new life.
Coloring Eggs: Dying or coloring eggs is another way of celebrating Ostara and the Spring Equinox. Once an egg has been painted and thus decorated, it can be displayed in a multitude of ways. It can be set by the windows, put into a basket on a table, used as decorations around the house, put into a vase, made into a circle around a candle, placed in wreaths, and so forth. The color of the eggs is a reminder of two things. First, we are thankful for the many different forms of life in the world. Second, it is a reminder that this is a joyful time in our lives. It further serves to remind us of the beauty that is around us.
Egg Rattles: Egg rattles are easy to make. They involve hollowing out the inside of an egg and replacing it with beans or seeds. We are combing a few of the symbols of Ostara together and making a handy tool in the process. Rattles have long been used in a variety of cultures to clear away negative energy. Ever hear of spring cleaning? Once your rattle is made, go through the home using it to clear away negative energy from the past several months and infuse your environment with the power of renewal and rebirth. You can also rattle over a person for the same effect – clear away the negative and restore the positive.
Planting Seeds: Another way of getting into the Spring Equinox spirit is by planting a garden or flowers. This is to be taken literally here, but you can add powerful subconscious meaning to your planting by stating a goal for each type of seed (or seed) that you plant. As you nurture it and let it come to fruition, it is a reminder that we are continually planting seeds for our lives that we must cultivate if they are to grow.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the tradition of Ostara and the Spring Equinox. Regardless of what religion or belief system you come from, it can always be fun and eye-opening to learn about the customs and viewpoints of other cultures and religions.