Ostara: Birth, Rebirth, and Renewal

9:59 PM

March 20, 2016
Sun enters Aries at 12:30 AM, Eastern Standard Time
Moon enters Virgo 1:39 PM,  Eastern Standard Time

On the vernal equinox, ancient Teutonic/Saxon tribes celebrated winter’s departure with a festival dedicated to Ostara, Goddess of the Dawn. Also known as Eostre and Eastre, Ostara’s arrival symbolizes birth, rebirth, and renewal. These concepts, along with Ostara’s name and principal symbols — the egg and the hare — became incorporated into the Christian celebration of Easter.

A maiden, lunar, and fertility goddess, Ostara personifies springtime. In her footsteps, new flowers grow. According to legend, Ostara once arrived late and discovered a bird that could no longer fly because its wings had been damaged by the frost. Filled with remorse and compassion, Ostara transformed the bird into a hare, and blessed it with great speed so it could outrun its predators. The hare became her companion and totem. Each year on the vernal equinox, the hare relives its avian past by delivering baskets of eggs in Ostara’s honor.

How the Legend Grew 

The World Land Trust provides this explanation for the egg-laying hare: The shallow hollows or 'forms' used by hares to rest and rear their young are similar to the nests of ground nesting birds such as lapwings and plovers, which are commonly found on open grassland or arable farmland.
Due to this similarity, people sometimes find eggs in what looked like hare forms! This gave rise to the belief that hares laid eggs in spring, and explains Pagan myths about mysterious egg-laying hares.” http://www.worldlandtrust.org/news/2013/03/march-hares-easter-eggs-exhibition-opens-world-land-trust-gallery-0http://www.worldlandtrust.org/news/2013/03/march-hares-easter-eggs-exhibition-opens-world-land-trust-gallery-0

Hares, especially the March Hare, are potent symbols of fertility. The March Hare, a nocturnal animal associated with the moon, mates in March. Its 28-day gestation cycle matches the length of the lunar cycle.

Symbolism of the Egg 

Ostara’s other symbol, the egg, is often thought of as the perfect form. It symbolizes fertility and rebirth and has been described as embodying the earth and moon, or the sun and moon. Modern science explains the connection between chicken eggs, modern symbols of Ostara and Easter, and the longer days that follow the vernal equinox. Light stimulates the chicken’s pituitary gland, which produces the hormones that affect the bird’s fertility and egg laying. Chickens cease laying eggs when daylight drops below 12 hours. Ostara’s arrival signaled lengthening daylight and the return of the egg-laying season.

Ostara Foods
Hardboiled eggs, spring greens, sprouts, flower dishes, seasonal fruits, and hot crossed buns.

Ostara Incense
Jasmine, strawberry, lotus, narcissus, and rose incense may be used.

Ostara Activities
Plant a magical herb garden. Plant vegetable or flower seeds. Hold an egg hunt or color eggs.

Ostara Altar
Use a bright, spring green altar cloth, and decorate the altar with rabbit figurines, colorful eggs, and spring flowers. Strew flowers to delineate the ritual circle.

Hare Magic 
The hare symbolizes fertility, frenetic and fertile energy, the ability to evade predators, tricksters, moon magic, and messengers to the underworld. To encompass the essence of Ostara, paint a rabbit and the moon on a wooden or hardboiled egg. While painting, think of what you’d like to give birth to or complete, or your own spiritual growth or rebirth. Place the finished egg where you will be reminded each day of your wish/goal.

Picture credits:
(This beautiful image of the goddess is included in Stephen D. Farmer’s wonderful oracle card deck, Earth Magic.)

All other photos are from pixabay.com
Copyright 2016 Ariella Moon

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