Ostara is the celebration of the spring equinox. Its origin, like many other pagan celebrations is Celtic and Anglo-Saxon. Ostara was later “Christianized” into the modern commercialized American holiday known as Easter. On this day, night and day are of equal length and the world is in a momentary phase of perfect balance and equilibrium. It is celebrated sometime between March 19th and March 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere. Celebrations for this holiday are usually focused on springtime and can include fertility rituals, planting rituals of the sacred marriage of the Goddess and the God.
This ritual is designed for a group and can be done either inside or outside, depending on conditions.
What you’ll need to prepare for this ritual (as written)
Quarter Candles (4 total) in these colors – Red (South,) Yellow (East,) Green (North,) and Blue (West)
Goddess Candle – Large White Candle (I use a three wick candle for the Goddess)
White Taper Candle
Incense stick and lighter
Chalice filled with sacred well water (if you don’t have access to sacred well water, substitute melted snow and adjust the ritual accordingly)
Black Cloth Section for Each Person to Cover Their Heads (cloth napkin size)
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> refers to instructions and should not be spoken aloud.
<Opening Statement – A call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual>
“Let it be called, let it be cast, this sacred circle with no present, nor past; a meeting place, a spiritual space”
Join Us as We Call the Quarters
I call to the great spirits of the East, where the garden of hospitality is found – share with us the great wisdom to help us determine how our purpose is meant to serve others <light yellow candle>
I call to the great spirits of the South, where the garden of inspiration is found – share with us the many gifts of transformation though the healing powers of music, verse, and creativity <light red candle>
I call to the great spirits of the West, where the garden of knowledge is found – share with us the skill to unlock that which already exists inside each of us and also to never cease in our quest to learn <light blue candle>
I call great spirits of the North, where the garden of being is found – share with us the skills and disciplines necessary to meet life’s challenges <light green candle>
Great Goddess, on this night of perfect balance, we call upon to you to join and honor us as we gather in fellowship. Tonight we celebrate last sunset of winter and the first dawn of the spring with the understanding that all things are dependent on the turning of the great wheel. <light white goddess candle>
Hail Great Goddess and Welcome to All Who Have Gathered!
We come together once again to celebrate the turning of the great wheel and the transition from the cold of winter to the warming renewal of spring. It is a time of balance in the world and marks the time when the light grows and the darkness shrinks. It is the dawn of new growth in the natural world. Green shoots will erupt from the once frozen ground; the sounds of newly hatched birds and recently birthed animals fills the forests and glens; thawing ice and shifting soil give birth to new streams and rivers; and that which has been dormant now awakens to flourish once again.
Our patron Deity on this night is Eostre (Ee-ost-ray.) She is the Celtic Goddess of Spring and the Dawn. She is a fertility Goddess and her legacy is symbolized by a hare and an egg; the former a symbol of fertility and the latter of fertile purity. She touches each new life every year, including those which have chosen to be reborn. She reminds us that brighter days are on the horizon and that now is the time to embrace spiritual, emotional, and physical growth.
<many rituals are enhanced by the addition of music, singing, or other “joyful noises” – the rebirthing portion of this ritual is sacred and solemn – if you choose to, a very low steady drumming can be added during this portion>
<this is written for a group, however you may choose to do it by individual – follow the same routine expect go through all four steps with each person before moving to the next person and so on>
Springtime means many different things to many people, but all agree that more than anything, it symbolized rebirth and renewal. Tonight we will open the doorway to growth by experiencing a spiritual rebirthing.
<Give everyone a moment to prepare themselves for rebirth with time to meditate and self-clearing>
Today is the time of the Spring Equinox
When Light and Darkness are equal
Tomorrow, the dark will yield to the light
The days shall grow in length
All that is green will once again be revealed
Life which has lain dormant shall flourish
All around we shall see that which is new
The earth welcomes new beginnings
Tonight we too shall be given opportunity
To reinvigorate that which has been dormant
An opportunity to be reborn
A chance to step forward and grow
All those who wish to be reborn, please kneel and cover your heads
<this portion of the ceremony has four distinct stages whereupon the leader will ask a question and only upon an affirmative answer, perform the next step in the process>
Do you wish to shift your consciousness from the darkness to the light?
<If a YES answer, then Sprinkle salt on each person>
With the blessings of the earth, you are given new roots to anchor yourself as you grow
Do you wish to free yourself from the storms that seek to limit the heights you can achieve?
<If a YES answer, Smudge the person with incense>
With the blessings of the air, the winds have cleared the path for your spirit
Do you wish to cleanse all remaining aspects of negativity in your life?
<If a YES answer, Use the burning taper candle to carefully circle above each person’s head>
With the blessings of fire, all negativity is cleansed and banished, leaving you surrounded with heat, light, and warmth
Do you wish to be reborn?
<Sprinkle sacred water from a chalice on each person’s head>
<if you choose to substitute melted snow you’ll need to use the second line instead of the first>
With the blessings of this sacred water, sourced from the deepest and most ancient wells of the world, you are given a new life and a new pathway of your own choosing
Alternative – With the blessings of this sacred water, sourced from the last remnants of winter to remind you of your emergence from the darkness, you are given a new life and a new pathway of your choosing
Rise and cast off your darkness!
A new shines in each of you!
Your spirit has been blessed!
All things are in perfect balance!
As it was in the beginning, so it shall be once again!
<ritual continues below>
A Story of Eostre
Before we close the circle, I’d like to share a short story; one that might help some of you understand the symbolism of Ostara and how it became part of our culture today.
On the first day of spring each year, animals and children would come to the great meadow to celebrate with the Goddess Eostre and bring her gifts and offerings. No one is sure when, but on one of those years, a young rabbit was preparing to make the great journey. Being a creature of the earth, the rabbit had no possessions worthy enough to present to a Goddess. Instead of abandoning the idea, the rabbit went to the forest to search for something worthy.
The young rabbit came upon a fresh egg and was about to enjoy it as a meal, when he came to the realization that it would make a fine offering to the Goddess since it was a true representation of springtime. But, the egg was no different than any other egg, so the young rabbit decided to take it home to decorate it first.
Nervously, the young rabbit approached the Goddess in the meadow on the first day of spring and humbly presented the now brightly colored egg. She beamed at the beautiful egg; smiling down upon the rabbit. In fact, she was so happy that she wanted everyone to have one, so they could feel the same joy she was feeling. She also knew that the rabbit was unselfish in presenting the egg to her rather than eating it, so she rewarded him with a new life, of sorts.
From that day forward, the rabbit would have the job of creating and delivering decorated eggs to children and animals across the land on the morning of the great festival of the spring.
Closing the circle
Great spirits of the North – we know that life will continually challenge each of us in our own way – remind us that the power to overcome exists within each of us <extinguish green candle>
Great spirits of the West – leave us with the seeds of knowledge planted firmly in our minds and the talent to coax them into being <extinguish blue candle>
Great spirits of the South – as the echoes of verse and note still hangs upon the winds, leave us with wide open avenues to grow and develop our creativity <extinguish red candle>
Great spirits of the East – thank you for the gift of purpose so that we may never forget that the greatest good we can achieve is often through our work in helping others <extinguish yellow candle>
Great Goddess, we have been blessed in so many ways; the fertile earth that awaits the new seeds; the warmth of the nurturing sun; refreshing cool, clean water; and the fellowship of those around us. Thank you for your wisdom and love. Thank you for sharing this night with us in our sacred space. <extinguish Goddess Candle>
“The circle is open but never broken”