Celebrate the Awakening Earth at the Spring Equinox
Embrace Ostara as a point of balance in your life, a moment in time where both dark and light and night and day are in harmony before the light is victorious and carries us on to the bounty of summer pleasures. Ostara is packed with rituals, spells, recipes, crafts, and customs to celebrate the awakening earth.
This delightful guidebook will help you deepen your understanding of the spiritual aspects of this ancient spring holiday, and discover new ideas for expressing that spirituality.
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Edain became a self-initiated Witch in 1981 and has been an active part of the Pagan community since her formal initiation into a large San Antonio coven in 1983. Edain has researched alternative spiritualities since her teens, when she was first introduced to Kaballah, or Jewish mysticism. Since that time, she has studied a variety of magickal paths including Celtic, Appalachian folk magick, and Curanderismo, a Mexican-American folk tradition. Today, Edain is part of the Wittan Irish Pagan tradition, where she is a priestess of Brighid and an elder.
An alumnus of the University of Texas with a BA in history, she is affiliated with several professional writer's organizations and occasionally presents workshops on magickal topics or works individually with students who wish to study Witchcraft.
This former woodwind player for the Lynchburg (VA) Symphony claims both the infamous feuding McCoy family of Kentucky and Sir Roger Williams, the seventeeth-century religious dissenter, as branches on her ethnically diverse family tree. In her "real life," Edain works as a licensed stockbroker.
Edain is the author of fifteen books, including Bewitchments; Enchantments; and her most recent release, Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring.
The not-so-humble egg is inarguably the most pervasive symbol of the world’s spring festivals, Ostara included. Within its shell is contained all the archetypical connections humanity has ever held with life, death, and life renewed. This eternal cycle of rebirth at spring is a major theme in the spring holidays of virtually every one of the world’s religions, from the most ancient Pagan expressions of spirituality to the most modern sects of Christianity.
How did the egg—particularly the chicken egg—get appointed to this lofty position of symbolizing a universe full of new life? Like many of our modern holiday customs, the egg’s place in spring spiritual rites is derived from the way our ancestors observed the natural world around them and honored their deities through these natural occurrences. With modern refrigeration, factory farming, and a fast-moving global marketplace making a variety of food abundant to us year round, it’s hard for us to fully comprehend that food was once a seasonal commodity that was impossible to obtain when the natural conditions allowing it to be produced were unavailable.
The eyes of a laying hen and the amount of light she receives are the components responsible for her ability to produce eggs. A hen lays eggs when the retina, the part of the eye that captures light and images, is stimulated for periods of twelve hours or more by sunlight. When that light stimulation ends, so does her laying cycle. Because fire, the only source of light for our ancestors, was not a strong enough light to fool the hen’s retina, there were no fresh eggs for a full six months out of every year.
Though the scientific connection between light stimulation and laying cycles would be not known for many more centuries, their laying pattern was still reliable. Hens could be counted on to begin producing fresh eggs at the spring equinox and cease producing them around the autumnal equinox, a holiday period associated with dying and death and imagery opposite that of Ostara. As the world bloomed and greened anew each Ostara, the abundance of fresh eggs made them a natural symbol of new life.
In Asia, red-colored eggs are on occasion offered at funerals and births to symbolize the natural cycles of life, death, and rebirth. In the Ukraine, eggs called krashanka—sometimes dyed in shades of bright yellow—are eaten to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. More elaborate eggs, called pysanky, are decorated to use as talismans of fertility, prosperity, and protection. In places as diverse as west-central Africa and the southern Appalachian Mountains of the United States, eggs are buried near cemeteries to encourage reincarnation.
Gently place one egg in a pan that is half-filled with boiling water. As you watch the egg boil in the steaming pot, concentrate on something you feel is gone from your life that you wish to have manifest back into it. Conceptualize this desire as living within the egg, a need that will be birthed into being with the egg’s assistance. Visualize this miracle happening with as much clarity and detailas you are able. Do this for at least five minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool.
When the egg is able to be handled, take crayons or felt markers in any color or colors you feel best represents your desire and draw a symbol or some other representation of your wish on the egg.
Bury the egg near your front door, as deep as is reasonable. Each time you walk past the place where the egg is buried, be sure to remind yourself of its purpose by restating to yourself an affirmation of your desire.
In a short time the egg will break down, the shell cracking open and the yolk decomposing. This symbolic life, death, and rebirth of your wishing egg is linked by magick to your life, and it will help your desire to be rebirthed soon.
Eostre’s Eggs and the
Legend of the Easter Bunny
The Anglo-Saxons hailed Eostre as the Goddess of Spring, the Greening Earth, and Fertility. Her name means “moving with the waxing sun.” Around the time of her festival, on the day when light and dark are equal, the local animals began giving birth or going into their sexually receptive cycles, named “estrus periods” after the goddess. From the fiercest to the most humble, the woodland animals—who also worshipped and loved Eostre—would play in the warmth of spring light and feast on the new vegetation Eostre provided.
One of Eostre’s devotees was a small hare who wished very much to give a gift to his goddess, but he didn’t know what he could possibly offer that would be of any value to her. Then one day while foraging, the hare came across a fresh egg, a very prized commodity indeed. The little hare wanted very badly to eat the egg, as it had been a long time since he’d feasted on anything finer than dry grasses. Before he could take a bite of his prize, he realized this egg might make the perfect gift for Eostre. But, he pondered, Eostre could have all the eggs she wanted, anytime she wanted them. She was a goddess, a creator, the embodiment of Life itself. Giving her just any egg would never do. How, he wondered, could he make this egg a fit offering for his goddess?
The little hare took the egg home and pondered how to make it as beautiful and new as Eostre made the world each spring. He began to decorate the egg. He painted it in the hues of Eostre’s spring woods and placed upon the shell symbols sacred to Eostre. When he felt he could not make the egg any more beautiful, he took it to Eostre and offered it to her.
Eostre was so pleased by the little hare’s sacrifice of his egg to her, and by the manner in which he decorated it for her, that she wanted everyone—especially children, who are themselves symbols of new life—to enjoy these representations of her bounty. Since that Ostara day long ago, the descendants of that hare have taken up the task of delivering decorated eggs to the world’s children at spring. They are called Eostre’s Bunnies or, more commonly, the Easter Bunny.
Decorating Eostre’s Eggs
The egg decorating and gifting custom long ago emerged in the modern West from the Teutonic traditions in which Eostre was first honored. Today, spring egg-decorating kits are numerous and inexpensive, and many adherents of the world’s Christianreligions decorate them in celebration of the resurrection of their savior deity, Jesus.
Many modern Pagans and Witches like to use natural dyes for their Eostre’s eggs, sometimes called Ostara eggs, since Ostara is often cited as a Greek translation of Eostre’s name. Natural dyes rarely produce a color as dark and rich as the commercially prepared dyes, and some finishes tend to scratch or rub off. They are derived from plants just like natural fabric dyes and, like these dyes, require more preparation and dying time than needed when using commercial dye kits. By using the materials nature provides, though, you will be coloring eggs as they were done in the past. Also, the use of natural herbs can be used to help empower specific eggs to assist with specific magickal tasks.
To make your own natural dyes you will need a generous fistful of herbs or plants that produce colored stains, a small- to medium-sized saucepan, and a wooden spoon. Glass saucepans are best, as metal can become irrevocably stained by natural dyes.
Place about three cups of water in the pan and allow it to come to a low boil; add the plant material and stir occasionally so that the water becomes a very deep version of your desired shade. The color the eggs take on will always be significantly paler and you may need to add, boil, strain, and repeat to get the darker shades you desire. When you have the water the shade you want, strain the plant material out of the water, return the water to the pan, and bring the water to a light simmer. Add to it a pinch of salt, a tablespoon or two of vinegar, and a couple tablespoons of cream of tartar. Mix these in well. Remove from heat, and place eggs in the dye until they attain the desired hue.
I have not personally experimented with all the dye sources listed below, but I have had experience with a great deal of them. The others I know of from contact with people who have tried them. But don’t let this list limit you in any way. Playing with natural dyes is fun. Feel free to experiment with any nontoxic plant source to which you have no allergy to see how a dye made from it might turn out. Sometimes the resulting color will be a delightful surprise.
Natural Dye Sources and Colors
White Grapes Pale Yellow
Carrot Tops Yellow
Vanilla Extract Yellow Orange
Daffodil Blossoms Yellow Green
Orris Root Rusty Orange
Paprika Orange Brown
Madder Root Red
Blackberries Red Violet
Red Cabbage Robin’s Egg Blue
Iris Blossoms Pinkish Blue
Black Raspberries Blue
Beets Blue Violet
Mulberries Blue Violet
The symbolic image of the egg is almost as important as its organic aspect, so don’t overlook using “eggs” crafted from wood, foam, or plastic. All can be painted with nontoxic watercolor or acrylic paints or covered with seasonal decals. You may decorate eggs with faces, symbols, or any other idea that captures your fancy. With a few trinkets or decorative items found in craft stores, and some school glue, you can add sequins, beads, fake gemstones, glitter, or feathering to make Ostara eggs say just how you feel about the season, your goddess and god, or about the person to whom you will be offering them.
Above all else, bear in mind that there is no wrong way to decorate your Ostara eggs. If they appeal to you as symbols of the season, that’s all that matters. However, you may want to keep in mind as you decorate that the colors you choose have meaning in both the archetypical and magickal sense.
Yellow • This is the color of creativity, mind power, intellectual pursuits, communication, and the solar plexus region of the body. It is also associated with the sun and with egg yolks.
Orange • Orange is another solar color. It is used in spells for attraction and friendship. Spells for willpower often use orange, as this is the color of the navel-area energy center, called a chakra, the area in the body governing personal desire and drive.
Red • Red is the color of blood, and this fact links it symbolically with the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. In the Greek Orthodox Church, eggs dyed deep red are used to decorate altars in homes and churches, and are given away as gifts after the traditional Easter Eve church service. The Druid priests of the Celtic tribes were reputed to have used red eggs in a similar manner. Red is also the color of desire, courage, lust, sexuality, war, and strength, and represents the womb blood of the Mother Goddess from which all things are born.
Green • This is the color of the Earth Mother in spring and summer. It represents abundance, prosperity, personal appearance, and fertility. Spells to neutralize difficult situations or induce calm often employ green. Green is linked to the energy center around the heart, so it’s a natural that spells for love of all types work well under green’s influence.
Blue • Blue represents sleep and dreams, peace and healing, and fidelity and unity, and is frequently employed in spells for dream magick and astral projection. Its paler shades are often associated with the coming of spring and with virgin goddesses.
Violet • This is the color of intense spirituality, metaphysical mysteries, deep sleep, the healing of serious illnesses, the uncovering of past lives, and of communicating with higher-level beings. This is also the color of the crown chakra of the body, which is activated when we seek a connection with the divine.
White • White is used in healing and purification spells and rituals. It is always perfect as an all-purpose color substitute when no other color feels quite right.
Brown • Brown represents the Earth and its animals, and is often used in connection with stone magick to help the inner self connect to the rhythms and energies of the Earth.
Black • Contrary to its reputation, black is not a color of evil or negativity. It represents mysteries, voids, and the Crone Goddess, and is used in spells to absorb and dispel negative influences. Though not a popular Ostara color, black should never be summarily dismissed as a magickal color choice when decorating eggs for spells or ritual. Even though it is associated with death in the West, it is symbolic of life in many parts of the East—and it should be remembered at Ostara that new life may only come from death, be it physical or metaphoric.
Pink • Like all pastels, pink is associated with spring. It is used primarily in spells and rituals for household peace and romantic love.
Silver • Silver represents the moon, the Goddess, psychicism, and the inner self.
Gold • Gold can represent the solar deities, both male and female. It is also used in summer festivals, in rituals to honor the sun, and in spells for wealth and employment.
Did being hit over the head ever seem like a blessing to you? It would if you lived in the American Southwest, where the Latino people have adapted a lovely Easter egg custom with Pagan origins into their spring celebrations. They bless you by knocking you in the head with special eggs known as cascarones. Cascarones (pronounced cahs-cah-ROE-nays) are eggshells that have been collected for many weeks prior to Easter and carefully hollowed out. They are then decorated and filled with a variety of substances that will shower over their recipients when cracked over their heads. Common cascarone fillers include confetti, lavender, sage, perfumed herbs, and flour or cornmeal. Though the idea now is more one of playfulness, it was once a very real tool for making magick and offering the blessings of the equinox to others.
Items you will need to make your own cascarones include eggs and some clear carton-sealing tape. You will also need bowls to catch the inside of the eggs as you hollow out the shells; colorful items with which to decorate your eggs, such as paints and decals; and some herbs or confetti with which to fill out the empty shells. A small kitchen funnel can also be useful to have on hand.
Start by emptying the eggs. Make a small hole in both ends of the egg (I use a fork tine) and, with the narrow end down, gently blow the contents into the waiting bowl. Wash out the empty shells with cold water and let dry. Paint and decorate the shells before filling them. The filling is done by taping up the smallest hole and using a small funnel in the larger hole to channel your desired contents into the egg. Be careful not to fill the shell more than three-quarters full or it will not break well and could be solid enough to hurt the recipient of your attention. When full, seal the other end with clear tape and store in a cool, dry place until Ostara morning.
A Cascarone Love Spell
Following the instructions given above, make a cascarone and fill it with magickal herbs associated with attracting romantic love. These include lavender, yarrow, apple blossom, rose petals, daisies, lemon verbena, willow, or rosemary. Copal can be added too—this is a popular herb in Mexican folk magick. You may also want to toss in some herbs that help create a lusty atmosphere, such as cloves, cinnamon, dill, or damiana.
As you create the cascarone, visualize the contents as catalysts that will allow your desired lover to notice you more intently without impinging on his or her free will ...
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Descrizione libro Llewellyn Publications, 2002. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110738700827
Descrizione libro Llewellyn Publications, 2002. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0738700827
Descrizione libro Llewellyn Publications, 2002. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 0738700827
Descrizione libro Llewellyn Publications. PAPERBACK. Condizione libro: New. 0738700827 New Condition. Codice libro della libreria NEW6.0374961