“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”
– Robin Williams
The Word Equinox originates in a Latin term equinoxium, meaning equal night and day. The sun crosses the equator and Spring reaches its midpoint. Ostera is a potent symbol of balance between light and darkness, increase and decrease. Earth is blossoming, and the Maiden Goddess is fertile, and all around we see new growth and births. The energy of creativity fills the air along with a sense of hope. The name Ostara (or Esotre) comes from an ancient Saxon Deity who was a fertility Goddess whose two sacred symbols were an egg and a rabbit. It’s easy to see how those emblems transformed but remained in our observances.
When is Ostara and Spring Equinox
March 20-23 in the Northern Hemisphere, September 21-23 in the Southern Hemisphere.
Other Names for Ostara
Spring Equinox, Vernal Equinox, Easter, Esotre. Lady Day
Easter, being a Christian celebration, has a set timing. Easter comes the first Sunday after the March Equinox full moon. Typically that’s March 23.
Passover, a Jewish spring festival begins on the night of a full moon after Vernal Equinox as well.
What is Ostara / Spring Equinox
Ostara is a Germanic Goddess whose name graces us this season. She was relatively popular, having been linked to an earlier Dawn Goddess (Daughter of Heaven), Austro. This name means “to shine.” There are locations and inscriptions about Her throughout England dating back to the 2nd century CE. This Goddes and Spring Equinox give us some insights into German Pagan lore. One story tells us that Eostre found a wounded bird in late winter. To keep it alive, she shapeshifted it into a hare. There was only one problem, this bunny was laying eggs. So, the hare in pragmatic style decorated them and left them for gifts around the village (akin to Santa at Yule, only in Spring).
Pagans weren’t alone in their celebrations. In Rome, the God Mithras was born on Winter Solstice. On this day, the Sun ordered him to sacrifice a white bull. He did so warily. As his knife began to sink into the bull, it transformed into the moon. Mithras’ cloak was now the night sky. Wherever the bull’s blood fell, lovely flowers bloomed along with stalks of grain. Here we see the idea of birth and sacrifice similar to Jesus. There is also Attis, born of a virgin. He died and was resurrected every Vernal Equinox. Certainly, this was a reason for celebration particularly for followers of Cybele with whom this myth originates.
Among the Mayans, welcoming the Spring Equinox was simply a part of their seasonal cycle. When the sun sets on this day, the sun’s rays caress the Western side of the Pyramid. Slowly the shadows appear upon the Northern staircase slowly reaching to the bottom. This event is called the Return of the Sun Serpent.
Persians also had a festival on the Spring Equinox called No Ruz which roughly translated means “new day.” Having roots in Zoroastrian tradition, this was a day to celebrate with hope and purify one’s home. Fire leaping was also common (most likely for personal cleansing and health)
Today many Neo-Pagans and Witches continue the observance of Ostara. Some prepare their soil for planting magical gardens, which the ancient Germans did for their fields. Some simply take in a walk to enjoy the fresh air and all the plants and animals as they reappear. This is another point on the Wheel of the Year.
Ostara and Spring Equinox Symbolism and Lore
There are a lot of superstitions and beliefs surrounding Esotre including:
- If your child is born on the Friday before Easter Sunday they will be given the gift of healing.
- Going fishing 3 days before Ostara ensures a good catch.
- Certain foods like gathered eggs and baked cakes produced on Good Friday will never go bad.
- Hot Cross Buns made during this holiday period and preserved have the magical ability to protect the house from fire. At sea, this amulet prevents shipwrecks.
- Water saved from Ostara rituals can be used as a curative tonic.
- If you do not wear at least one new item of clothing you will be soiled by a bird.
- The March Hare comes out during this time to mate, and it represents fertility (extreme).
- Dyed colored eggs became health amulets for the following year. In Britain, it preserved luck and protection.
- No iron instrument should break ground today (much to the delight of any nearby Fey).
- Sew your clothes on Spring Equinox, and they will never unravel or come undone.
- Young men donning long slacks for the first time today will have a happy marriage.
Spring Equinox Activities in China
In ancient China, Spring Equinox festivities stretched over 15 days. During the first five days, geese fly north. Come the second five days thunderstorms occur and in the last five days lightning comes.
Children and adults alike may take part in Egg Standing games, a tradition that’s over 4,000 years old. If you can make the egg stand, you will have good fortune.
In Beijing, people make round cakes as offerings to the Sun God.
Country people go to their farms and feed cattle rice balls, as well as giving grain to the birds. This is a gift of thankfulness and a request that the birds do not eat their grains later that year.
Ostara Astrology – Northern Hemisphere
Ostara belongs to Pisces initially. The sign of the fish is fluid, and their vision is broad. Many Pisceans are old souls who see the truth that others try to hide. This vision is a gift for Spring. We enter with fresh understanding and an opportunity to really integrate the lessons from Winter.
On the heels of a water sign, Aries comes in with a blazing fire. Since this is a Sun celebration that only seems apt. Aries represents optimism, confidence, embracing challenges and lots of energy. If there is one word for Aries, it’s dynamic. Aries is ruled by Mars and the element of fire, so this sign ushers the way for us to really take action, tie up loose ends and engage in social events that celebrate the Season.
Ostara Astrology – Southern Hemisphere
In the Southern Hemisphere, we find Virgo high in the sky. It is ruled by Mercury and the Earth element. This sign offers the gift of practicality this season. It encourages playful engagement with animals, eating seasonal foods, listening to nature’s messages, remembering self-care, and taking things slow and methodically. The beauty of Virgo energy is that it helps us see Spring with a child’s wonderment. And like a Virgo, you can capture those thoughts in your Book of Shadows.
By the 23rd we’ve moved into Libra ruled by Venus and the Air Element. Libra symbolizes the social nature of Spring. The energies are gentle, fair, harmonious, outdoorsy and peace loving. Due to being ruled by Venus, love is often in the air when this sign rolls around. But it is not loved just for a person but for great art, moving music and the simple beauty of the Mother.
Ostara and Spring Equinox Element
Ostara is associated with the Element of Air, which symbolizes our ability to think and reason. It also represents the vital breath of all living things. Spring is typically a time when you can pay attention to your thoughts and how they help (or hurt you). Give some time to your spiritual education and enjoy renewal.
Ostara and Spring Equinox Crystals, Minerals and Sacred Stones
The symbolic colors for this season include light green, lemon yellow, pastels, robin egg blue and pale pink. So we can consider crystals in those hues for their potential value to our Ostara endeavours.
- Amazonite: At Spring Equinox the world is being reborn. In keeping with that theme, Amazonite is a master at manifestation. It also attracts happiness, success, and luck. Even the ancient Egyptians wore it for serendipity.
- Agate (blue lace): This pretty stone looks like a clear Ostara blue sky. Wise people regard it as a panacea for body, mind, and spirit. It opens the heart chakra so we can love others more completely as well as loving yourself. Carry it as an amulet that rejects toxic energies.
- Amethyst: Amethyst aids with our self-control as we begin to really venture out into the world again. It improves our spiritual awareness, sensibility, communication skills while neatly alleviating anxiety and stress.
- Amber (pale): A sunstone, Amber is warm like the Spring sun on your back. Light Workers say that Amber is a healer, particularly for blood issues. It belongs to the Fire element offering you confidence and patience for the new season.
- Chalcedony (blue): Cicero wore Chalcedony trusting in its power with effective speech. With that energy comes a sense of goodwill, gratitude and giving which resonates with this part of the Wheel of the Year. The Native Americans use it for stability in meditation and when they want to receive clear insights during vision quests. The Water Element.
- Chrysoprase: For anyone born between May 21- June 20, this is your companion stone. In Feng Shui, it comes under Wood Energy that governs prosperity and family well-being (who wants a spring cold?). Placed in the East or Southeast of your home it promotes kinship and harmony for all who dwell there.
- Bloodstone: Spring is creative and so is Bloodstone. It transforms concepts into a functional plan. Working with Bloodstone can be challenging because it pushes change for the better, which sometimes feels uncomfortable. Have no worries. However, Bloodstone guides you in this for a fruitful effort.
- Jasper: There seems to be an inner excitement in Spring that’s hard to impart. Jasper helps keep that vibration on an even keel. Jasper’s message is to truly stop and smell the roses and reconnect with all living things. Shamans and Kings alike wore jasper amulets for protection.
- Kunzite: The Equinox is whimsical, and Kunzite knows how to laugh and live fully. Humor is in its matrix along with the ability to cast away those things that restrain your joy.
- Moldavite: Carrying or wearing Moldavite is like having a little bit of starlight with you wherever you go. Ostara is a time for wishes, so put those ideas out there! You are a soul in the Universe and all its wonder.
- Moonstone: Now that the weather has stabilized somewhat, many people take to the road. Moonstone is your guide for safe travels. Keep it in your glove compartment.
- Quartz (golden): Golden Quartz shines like the Spring sun. Gold is the color of rulers. It is a bit of hidden treasure that makes you appreciate your qualities and talents far more. Embrace your personal power.
- Topaz (light blue): If you made a resolution at New Years and got off track, Topaz can help. Topaz encourages getting rid of bad habits and replace them with healthy activities. Whether you are trying to learn patience or lose weight Topaz builds resolve.
Ostara and Spring Equinox Herbs and Plants
There are all kinds of plants and trees beginning to blossom come Spring Equinox, so let’s take advantage of some of that symbolism.
- Alder: Alder is a sacred Celtic tree that houses nature spirits. If you are working with Fairy magic, leaving offerings for those beings at an Alder is perfectly apt. Alder is a good addition to rituals and spells involving choices and weather magic.
- Ash: Where Alder attracts the Fey, Ash wards them off. Seedpods from this tree were once used in divination in Ireland. The tree’s sap was an anointing liquid for protection against malevolent witchcraft. At Ostara rituals use Ash as a component for luck, health, and protection.
- Birch: The season of Spring is all about fertility. So if you are having trouble in that area of your life, plant a birch near your home. Birch became associated with Ostara because it is one of the first to blossom. Folk names for this tree include Lady of the Woods and the Tree of Life.
- Cinquefoil: Also known as Witches Weed, Cinquefoil is one of those all-purpose magical herbs. You can use it spells and rituals for communication, blessing, protection, divination, prophetic dreams, romance (big breath), and uncrossing.
- Daffodil: Daffodil is a nearly indispensable, splendid flower for your Ostara altar (which may be why among Christians it’s called the Lent Lily). It attracts luck, fertility, and love.
- Honeysuckle: Use honeysuckle and green candle magic when you want a little extra money this season. This plant also augments your psychic abilities.
- Iris: For witches wishing to consecrate their wands or other magical tools, Use an Iris wash. This flower represents deep faith and the wisdom to use our gifts wisely.
- Jasmine: Use Jasmine when you want to charge your Golden Quartz by placing the crystal in a bundle of petals. This is also a good component for dream pillows. Jasmine also goes by the folk name of Moonlight on the Grove (how awesome is that for dancing in the moonlight?).
- Primrose: If you want to start this season on an honest note, primrose reveals the truth. In spells, it will break down any barriers caused by secrecy and lies so you can see clearly.
- Tulip: A flower associated with Full Moon rituals for raising power, this is a protective charm in Turkish Tradition.
- Violet: If you are celebrating Ostara by night violet is a good addition for amplifying your efforts. Take home the petals and put them under your pillow for a peaceful sleep.
- Woodruff: Woodruff has star-shaped leaves the come out in early spring. Sweet Woodruff has associations with sexuality and giving an eviction notice to any drab energy lingering from Winter.
Ostara and Spring Equinox Foods, Beverages, & Recipes
There is a saying, “if you feed them they will come.” This certainly holds true for your Spring Equinox observances.
- Chocolate: There is never a BAD time for chocolate. Mayan and Aztecs felt this bean was given by the gods. Chocolate improves our mood, inspires loving feelings and safeguards health. The Fire Element.
- Dairy: Dairy represents the Goddess at this festival in all her nurturing qualities. The Water Element.
- Eggs: One of the prominent symbols for Ostara in terms of fertility and new life. The Egyptians and Persians were the first to color eggs at spring festival before consumption. Giving one to another acted as a wish for prosperity. Eggs are a suitable offering for Ostera.
- Flower Dishes: Many people do not know that a lot of flowers are edible and can enhance the taste and presentation of any dish. Some of the Spring flowers for your consideration include Clover, Chickweed, Dandelion, Wisteria, Wood sorrel and Violet.
- Green Food: There is no question that Green is one of the dominant hues for Ostara. Think vegetables including things like dandelion greens emphasize renewal. They also cooperate with your Heart Chakra for greater empathy.
- Honey: Honey in many forms adorns Ostara tables. It is an ancient food sacred to Gods and Goddesses including Ra (the Sun God) and Demeter. Honey symbolizes joy and fulfillment. Honey bees get active at this time of year. They restock food, establish new colonies and the queen mates for egg production. Worker bees are gathering pollen land upon about 2,000 flowers a day. This gives honey the extended symbolism of diligence and commitment to the community.
- Nuts: Nuts, in general, represent the fertility and prosperity of Spring. Use Pine nuts for love and health, Sunflower for luck and love (and an emblem of the sun), Hazelnut for keen wits and Almond for wisdom.
- Olives: In Egypt, Olives were sacred to the supreme Sun God, Aten. Having a branch from an olive tree was a sign of favor from the Divine. Olives keep in tune with the season by inspiring sexual potency and fertility. Air Element.
- Sprouts: Sprouts are like the first little leaves that appear out of the earth on Spring days. They are filled with esoteric energy.
- Sweets: Let your life be sweet and enjoy a little traditional candy like jelly beans or maple candy.
For more delicious holiday feast ideas visit our Pagan & Wiccan recipes section!
Creating a Wiccan / Pagan Ostara & Spring Equinox Ritual
The windows crack open for the first time since late fall, letting in fresh, cherry-blossom-scented air that plays in every corner of the home. Sunlight dances across the glass. Spring has finally come.
As you have seen, the themes of this holiday are liberation, fertility, the Air element, and new beginnings. We, like the ancients, and find this to be a miraculous moment of awakening. Everything on Earth shows signs of life and potential. The world is fruitful, and the child within all of us has reason to rejoice. Today, light and darkness are equal; then the Sun God begins his ascent to power.
To prepare the ritual space, burn incense (such as orange bergamot, lavender, lily, mint, or sage); use a handheld fan or large feather to disperse it as you walk. Have a tape or CD with flute music (or any other wind instrument) playing in the background. Turning a fan onto low adds to the ambiance if no natural winds are present.
A cauldron or cup is again filled with rich soil. Also have ready a rectangular planter, the seedling from Candlemas, and four stones, one for each element. For Earth use green agate, coal, green jasper, or salt. For Air use aventurine, pumice, or mica. For Fire use red agate, amber, bloodstone, or carnelian. For Water use blue agate, amethyst, coral, or lapis.
If you have an outdoor garden where you can work, hold the ritual outside instead of having a planter at the altar. Anoint yourself with patchouli oil to honor the Fire element. If possible, perform the ritual at dawn, the time of beginnings. Finally, into the ritual carry a raw egg and leave it on the altar as a symbol of spring fertility.
Cover the altar with a yellow cloth, honoring the Air element and Ēostre. Prepare a bowl of fragrant petals from early-blossoming flowers and small feathers (try a craft store to find these) and leave it on one corner of the altar. On the other, place a string of tiny bells. Pale green candles are a good choice for divine representations because this is the color of new plant growth.
Pick up the bowl of flower petals and feathers, and begin walking the circle, sprinkling them along the perimeter. Stop at each compass point, lighting an appropriately scented stick of incense at each quarter point as you invoke that power.
Sylphs and Spirits of the Winds, I call to you. Come to this place with the ancient song of air on your wings.
Salamanders and Spirits of Fire, I call to you. Come to this place to warm the winds of spring and give life to the magic.
Undines and Spirits of Water, I call to you. Come to this place with salty sea air that motivates the tides of inspiration.
Gnomes and Spirits of Earth, I call to you. Come to this place with the living magic that abides in each grain of soil, and within my soul.
Guardians and Great One, I call to you. Come to this place with creation’s power. Bind the elements into one and bear the magic safely to its mark.
Meditation and Visualization
Envision a wheel of spinning starlight; you sit at the vortex. It slowly moves clockwise. The cold, silvery stars transform into tiny green buds and sprouts. The scene around you teems with life, with the smell of new grass, early flowers, and the sounds of robins, which bear the spring on their wings.
As the light saturates every cell, let all your tension and any sickness fill the egg you’ve carried. Whisper to the egg of things that you wish, of abilities you want to hone. Also, place within its shell those things that bind you. Leave them there; your spirit no longer needs such constraints. Let it fly free with the winds of spring.
When you feel finished, open your eyes, and make notes of your impressions in your journal. Then, continuing to carry the egg, start the main part of the ritual.
The Ostara Ritual Body
Stand before the altar. Hold your hands, palms down, over the string of bells. Close your eyes and repeat this chant until it naturally grows loud, then quiets into silence: “Winter recedes, spirits are freed; darkness take to flight, spring winds, fill with light.” Take a moment to just stand here, absorbing the energy created by chanting.
Next, take out the egg you carry. Hold it cupped in both hands, saying: “Bonds are broken, by potential replaced; sickness shall cease, the magic’s released.” Break the egg to symbolize your spiritual rebirth. Place in the bowl to give to a pet cat or dog, or to mingle with the soil in the next part of the ritual so the negatives can grow into something positive.
Finally, take out the four stones you’ve chosen to represent the elements. Begin placing them in the four corners of the planter (or your garden) saying,
Earth is alive and fertile. The winds blow the seeds to the soil [East/Air];
the Sun God gives warmth [South/Fire];
the Rain Goddess nourishes [ West/Water];
the Earth roots [North/Earth].
Pour the soil from the cauldron into the planter (or your garden), gently place the seedling in the center, then hold both hands over it. “Let my spirit be as this seedling, flexible to the winds of change, ever reaching toward the sun, inspired to grow by the rain, and grounded solidly in my path.”
After the ritual, keep this planter in a sunny window, where you can tend and nurture your spirit with the seedling. If you used your garden, make sure it receives plenty of water. Whenever possible, meditate quietly with this plant nearby; Nature spirits have much to teach us when we learn to listen.
Because one of the themes of this day is restoring balance, make yourself a special charm to represent symmetry out of opposites. Gather together a white stone and a black stone, a feather (for the sky) and some soil (for the Earth), a two-toned cloth, and a piece of string. At sunset, place the items in the center of the cloth. Gather the ends of the cloth and tie them with the string. As you do so, repeat this incantation three times, each time making a knot to bind the magic: “Poised between Earth and sky, moon and sun, now the magic is begun.” Carry this anytime you feel a portion of your life is getting out of balance.
Another activity entails taking pieces of grain and rubbing them on every doorway and window in your home. According to Peruvian custom, this protects the inhabitants from misfortune. Or you can tie wishes in the form of ribbons loosely to a tree, so the winds can lose them and release the magic.
This is an excellent day to perform any Blessingways, Birth Rites, and children’s rituals, too.
Closing the Circle
Since this ritual focuses on the Air element, it will be the last one dismissed before the Spirit. So the closing begins in the north.
Gnomes and Spirits of the Land, I thank you for your fruitful energy. Carry peace and renewal from this place through the roots of trees, and on the breath of beasts.
Undines and Spirits of the Water, I thank you for your flowing energy. Carry peace and renewal from this place in every drop of rain, and on every wave that caresses the shores.
Salamanders and Spirits of the Fire, I thank you for your motivating energy. Carry peace and renewal from this place in every ray of sunshine that touches Earth.
Sylphs and Spirits of the Air, I thank you for your billowing energy. Carry peace and renewal from this place in every wind and breeze, in the sound of bells, and on the wings of birds.
Guardians and Great One, I thank you for your blessed energy.
Carry renewal from this place with every star wished upon. Release in me my inner child, lose any bondage, and grant my spirit the wings of peace. So be it.
When the circle is closed, take the string of bells that have been charged by your ritual to a nearby window. Hang them here, where their gentle music announces the winds of change and the never-ending turning of the Wiccan Wheel.
All egg dishes are perfectly suited to spring, being symbols of fertility. Make scrambled eggs for breakfast, an egg salad sandwich for lunch, a quiche for dinner, and deviled eggs for snacks.
Consider making hot cross buns. These represent the Wheel of the Year and the solar disk. Preserving one in the house keeps all within from ever wanting for food. In Russia, people serve small pancakes with butter to represent the sun, accompanied by vodka with a twist of lemon (vodka equals fire; lemon equals the yellow of the solar disk).
Personal Celebrations for Ostara / Spring Equinox
There are so many wondrous ways to observe Ostara / Equinox. Look to the symbols from the season as a starting point for creating spells and ritual. Topics might include your spiritual growth, manifestation, new relationships, renewed health, fertility, balance and immersing yourself in the Sacred Feminine. Walk in joy!