Ostara the Spring Equinox

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"Ostara the Spring Equinox"
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Pagan holidays are intrinsically connected to the cycles of the seasons and, thus, are linked to both astronomical phenomena and agriculture. The spring equinox (also called the vernal equinox) in particular occurs circa March 21st by current time-keeping standards and is astronomically one of two days during the solar year that the hours of day and night are equal, daylight gradually becoming dominant. It is this day that pagans and other nature-reverent people celebrate the end of the long winter and the new promise of spring.

The spring equinox is often called Ostara in honor of a Teutonic spring goddess. Pagan mythology from around the world tells of the long-awaited return of the Goddess from the Underworld. One of the most well-known myths is the Greek depiction of Persephone's return from Hades to be with her mother Demeter, the goddess of grain, once more.

The return of the Goddess is truly a celebration of rebirth. The Earth is finally beginning to show signs of life again. This is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts, and renewal. Pagan cultures of old greeted this day with festive planting rituals, praying to their respective deities for a bountiful and abundant harvest in the coming months. The tradition of spring cleaning may have even originated from the pagan idea of cleansing their surroundings, getting rid of the old, stagnant clutter to usher in the blessings of the new.

Pagans today, though generally not as tied to the Earth as the ancient pagans who depended upon horticulture directly for survival, still can find creative ways to celebrate the coming of spring. Planting seeds in honor of the Goddess is one way to maintain the Earth-related sentiment of the holiday. Painting eggs, a common children's Easter activity, can also be transformed into a powerful magical ritual. The egg, a representation of life-giving forces, is charged with the energies of the colors by which they are painted. For example, painting an egg yellow with the directed intent of happiness and allowing the egg to sit in a prominent area of your house would assist in elevating your mood, especially when the egg is meditated upon.

The astrological year is also about to begin anew as the fiery sign of Aries dominates the solar sky. The fire of this first zodiac sign is yet another symbol for beginnings through the powers of initiation and the will to accomplish set tasks. Now is the time for action. Start new projects that you have been wanting to initialize. Be creative! Let any magic performed during this time focus on attainment and drawing beneficial energies toward you.

Home cleansings and the re-cleansing and dedication of ritual tools are excellent activities for this time of year. You may also want to self-cleanse through the use of elemental purification. This is done by submergnig yourself in the physical representation of each of the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. You could, for example, step through the smoke of floral scented incense for air, take a ritual bath or shower for water, surround yourself with candles for fire, and lean up against a tree for Earth. Mental and emotional cleansing through meditation is also beneficial to give you a clear and renewed perspective on where your life is headed. Take a walk in an area where nature presides, and simply let your mind wander in admiration and personal reflection. This is also an excellent time for performing general divinations. There are many tarot spreads, for example, that focus on various aspects of life in relation to the zodiac signs or the planets, and other spreads will give you an overall view of the year month by month.

The spring equinox is definitely a time of immense blessing as we are all given another chance to start fresh, if we only take the opportunity to do so. Take the time to appreciate the mild weather and the beauty of the plant life that is beginning to flourish. Meditate on what you want to achieve this year, and then go out and take steps to accomplish your goals. Revere the sacred cycles of nature, and BEGIN!

More about this author: Kristin Kurtzweil

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