Ostara: The Spring Equinox
Ostara (pronounced Oh-star-ah) marks the official start of spring. Lady Day, as it is also called, falls sometime between March 20 and 23. It marks the astrological start of the sign Aries. It is honored on the day when night and day are of equal length. It is a day for lightheartedness and joy.
The goddess is still maiden. Whether or not she has had any physical relations with the god, she remains free and unencumbered. She holds no ties to any man or child. (This is the true meaning of “maiden,” not simply virgin.) Popular goddesses to invite to ritual would be Kore (or Persephone), Hathor, Flora (goddess of flowers), or Inanna. Or the goddess can simply be welcomed as Lady of the Earth.
At this point in the cycle, the god is still growing. He is the laughing Lord of the Greenwood, young, carefree, still coming fully into his power. He maintains the wild spirit of youth and nature. He is often represented by Pan, Cernunnos, Ra, or Osiris.
The name Ostara comes from Eostre, an Eastern European moon goddess whose power peaks at this time of year. This is also where the word Easter comes from, and there are many similarities between the symbolism of Easter and Ostara, including decorating and hunting eggs. According to legend, Eostre is closely connected to rabbits. Ostara colors are pastels, especially blue, yellow, pink, and green. Popular flowers are daffodil and hyacinth, both of which bloom early in this season.
The tradition of decorating eggs comes from the ancient Egyptians and Persians who dyed them in pastel colors and exchanged them as gifts. In ancient Rome, eggs were given as prizes during spring races. The bunny was first associated with eggs in Germany in the 1500s, and Eostre sometimes takes the shape of an egg-laying bunny.
Other Ostara practices include lighting a fire during ritual or planting a seed in a pot. Because Ostara was one of the last sabbats added to the Pagan calendar, there are very few strict observances for the day. Instead, it is often celebrated as a carefree, fun, frolicking sort of day and the rituals are usually quite lighthearted.