celebrated at the Vernal Equinox (Spring Equinox), which is around
September 21 (Or around March 21 in the Northern hemisphere) . The
exact date is determined by the position of the sun. This is one of
the two days in the year when the hours of daylight and darkness are
exactly the same length (Equal = equinox).
In the Northern hemisphere, this is about the
same time that Christians celebrate Easter, which is held on the
first Sunday after the full moon following the Equinox. The
holiday of "Easter" takes its
name from the Saxon goddess of the dawn and springtime, Eostre. Many
of the symbols associated with Easter-- rabbits (or hares), eggs and
"Easter" lilies were originally fertility symbols of the Goddess. Of
course, here in the southern hemisphere Ostara is in late September.
The weather is
warmer and new life springs forth from field, tree, nest and water.
The world is beginning to awake from it's winter slumber, and it is
at this time we celebrate the Goddess in her aspect of the maiden.
In the Greek myths, Persephone returns to the upper world at this
time and her mother, Demeter, celebrates by bringing spring to the
world that had been cold and barren in her daughter's absence.
Though some regions are still buried in snow, the promise of spring
is evident in the lengthening days and the appearance of birds
migrating from the south.
It is the
fertility of the Earth that we celebrate, and we symbolize this new
life springing from sun and soil with eggs, chicks, lambs, and
rabbits (all symbols of the Great Mother). Ostara promises freedom
form the dreariness of winters, it heralds the return of hope and
In ancient times
the return of the birds meant an important protein source had
returned. Our modern games involving eggs and the yearly egg-hunt
re-creates this important part of our heritage, when the ability to
find eggs in the fields and forest could mean the difference between
health and hunger in the lean days before the harvest. The egg also
is a wonderful symbol of the promise of new life about to come.
Altar Arrangements - The altar for springs includes
-- what else?-- images of rabbits and birds, eggs of all
sorts, nests, flowers, and living plants. What better
day to decorate for the springs season than with the
flowers that blossom at this time? They are abundant and
beautiful. Daffodils, jonquils, tulips, narcissus,
violets and crocus and snowdrops - not just for the
altar, fill the house with their colour after you've
finished your spring cleaning. If you like to keep your
altar up for a long time, blow your eggs after you've
coloured them. Take a small branch from a tree and hang
the eggs from it. Start some seeds, to be planted out in
the garden, and let your seed trays become the basis for
your altar. Water them every day, talk to them, and
watch them grow.
pastels are appropriate for Ostara -- especially the
greens, yellows, and pinks. White makes a nice accent,
but seems too sparse for an altar cloth representing the
season of growth and fertility.
Herbs and Woods - Violet, honeysuckle, narcissus,
and lemon make good incenses for Ostara -- the scents
should be clear and light, floral and evocative, but not
overwhelming or intoxicating. Herbs associated with
springs include meadowsweet, cleavers, clover,
lemongrass, spearmint and catnip. If you want to use
wood in your spells and rituals, ash has a strong ling
with the equinox due to its connection with the
macrocosm-microcosm concept in the Celtic ogham runes -
the balance of light and dark... as above, so below.
Activites & Craft
celebrates Springtime by exploding with colours, scents and smells
that are absent the rest of the year. Enjoy it! Learn ways to value
the earth. Whether you live in the country, the inner city, or in
the desert, look for the gifts the earth offers. They are waiting
for you to discover! As soon a the weather permits, go walking
outside to look for birds in the trees and new growth in the plant
world. Even just in your own backyard you can find wonderful sights
and smells, letting you know that spring is here!
live near a river or pond you can look for tadpoles in the water.
(Be sure you return later to see the frogs which have grown from
those tiny creatures.) This is the time of year in our garden when
our water iris' is coming into flower, the jasmine and Port Wine
magnolia scent the air, the tiny native stingless bees are all over
the viburnum and nasturtium flowers, and the star jasmine is
jut starting to bud. We have a friend who has a small farm, and it
is a delight to see the spring lambs, kids and calves (And even more
fun to feed bottles to the baby animals!)
If you don't have
access to a farm, you can always watch some nature documentaries.
If you live where it
is still too cold for outdoor adventures, buy some fast-growing
seed is especially satisfying as
it grows fast and is virtually indestructible) and let your child
plant an indoor garden. If your child/ren plants seeds in a small
pot which will fit inside their egg-hunting basket a week or so
before Ostara, they can have real grass instead of shredded
cellophane to nestle their eggs.
but fun activity is to use hollow eggshells which have been opened
at the wide end as small pots. Let your child draw a silly face on
the side of the egg with markers. Fill them full of potting soil and
sprinkle with grass seed. Water the seeds lightly and in a few days
your "egghead" will have grown "hair". When the grass begins to die
put the eggshells outside for the birds and other animals to enjoy.
Celtic Ostara Eggs
to colour, or copy onto real eggs and paint (Of course you can
always make up your own designs).
You can make
pictures using small pieces of coloured eggshell. Either use the
shells from the eggs you coloured for Ostara or follow the
instructions below to colour eggshells from either hard-boiled or
(or cardboard from cereal or detergent boxes)
In a cup or small
mix a few drops of food colouring with about ½ cup white vinegar for
each colour you wish to use.
egg shells in the food colouring until you have the colour desired.
The longer they soak the darker they will be. You may wish to crush
the shells into small pieces before putting them into the colouring.
the coloured shells and spread on paper towels or newspaper to dry.
simple picture on the plain side of the cardboard. Colouring book
pictures are good.
glue in each area of your drawing.
small pieces of coloured shell in the different sections of the
the glue to dry completely before moving your picture.
This has been one
of the traditional favourites of nursery school teachers for years.
paper (White, Brown, Grey or Black & Pink)
1. Cut the headband
from construction paper. (If you use 30cm x 45cm paper, 1 headband
strip 5cm wide cut from the long edge of the paper + one 5cm strip
cut from the short edge should be enough...If you are using A4
paper, cut three 5cm x 21cm strips) Place the strips end to end and
staple together to fit snugly around the child's head.
2. Using the shapes
shown in the example, cut 2 outer ears from "bunny coloured"
3. Cut 2 pink inner
ears and glue them to the front of the outer ears. Allow the glue to
dry before going on to next step.
4. Fold the glued
ear pieces in half lengthwise and then unfold them (The crease will
help the ears stand up straight.)
5. Staple the ears
to the headband with the ears standing straight up.
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part Cinnamon
few drops Patchouli
Burn during spring
and summer Sabbat rituals.
1 Part Benzoin
1 Part Dragon's
1/2 Part Nutmeg
1/2 part Violet
(or few drops violet oil)
1/2 Part Orange
1/2 Part Rose
Burn during Ostara
Puffy Paint Pictures
Food colour or tempera paint
Empty squeeze bottles
1. Mix equal parts
of flour, salt, and water to make the puffy paint.
(It should have the consistency of frosting)
2. Stir in desired
amount of food colouring (remember that paint will dry lighter than
it is when wet.)
3. Fill the squeeze
bottles with the mixture (one colour per squeeze bottle).
4. Squeeze the
paint onto the cardboard. Try zigzags, dots and other designs.
5. Allow the
cardboard to dry flat. When it is dry, the design will be raised and
Colour Change Flowers
Put water into three glasses and add several drops of food
colouring to each (One colour per glass).
Stand white flowers (Daisy or carnation works best, but we have even
tried it with celery!) in each
glass-good choices are daisies or
After a few days the petals will start to change colour. Leave for
two more days and the flowers will be the
same colour as the water
they're standing in.
The modern belief
that eggs are delivered by a rabbit known as the Easter Bunny comes
from the legend of the Goddess Eostre. A rabbit wanted to please the
Goddess so much that she laid the sacred eggs in her honour, gaily
decorated them, and then humbly presented them to her. The Goddess
was so pleased that she wished all humankind to share in her joy.
Honouring her wishes, the rabbit went through all the world and
distributed these little decorated gifts of life. Other foods for
springtime are pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Sprouts also
carry out the springtime theme. (Taken from A Pagan Feast: Food for
(or Broccoli) Quiche
pie crust, unbaked
3 eggs, beaten
30g of Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1 small onion,
sliced and sautéed lightly
250g frozen spinach
(chopped) or broccoli, cooked and drained
Cut cheese in
strips. Toss with flour. In pie crust, alternate layers of onion,
spinach (or broccoli) and cheese, ending with cheese layer. Mix
milk, eggs, & spices. Pour into crust. Bake at 180 °C for one hour
or until toothpick comes out clean.
(We also made a
bunny with scone mix - Yum)
1/2 C warm water (approx 40°C)
3/4 C sugar
2 pkg active dry yeast
5-6 C all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs at room temperature
(set one aside)
1 Tablespoon cold water
and butter in a small saucepan. Heat until butter melts. remove
from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
warm water and 1 T of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the
surface and allow the yeast to soften for 1 minute. Stir to
dissolve and allow to stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).
Combine 4 C of
the flour, the remaining sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large
bowl. Add 4 of the eggs, yeast mixture and the warm milk
mixture. Beat until blended. Add enough of the remaining flour
to make a soft dough.
Knead dough on
a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 10
minutes--don't cheat!) Place in lightly oiled bowl turn to cover
with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place away from drafts
until doubled in bulk 1-1/2 hours.
down. Knead briefly. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. While
waiting, grease 2 baking sheets.
Preheat oven to
into 12 equal pieces. Place 11 of them covered in the
refrigerator while you work with one piece.
Pinch off a
piece of dough about the size of an egg. Form into an egg-shaped
body on the baking sheet.
Pinch off a piece of dough about the size
golf ball and form into a
ball for a head. Glue head to the body by dipping the head in a
little water and touching it to the body on the baking sheet.
remaining piece of dough into 6 equal piece Form 4 of the pieces
into balls. Glue to the body for the arms and legs. Roll the
remaining 2 pieces into logs and glue to the top of the head for
1-4 for remaining pieces of dough. When the baking sheet is
full, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator
while you finish the remaining pieces.
When you and
your children have finished making the bunnies, place them in a
warm, draft-free place and allow to rise double, 1/2 hour-1
whisk together the remaining egg with 1 Tablespoon water. Brush
each bunny with the egg mixture.
Press raisins into the dough for eyes and nose. Brush each bunny
with egg mixture a second time.
minutes. Bread should sound hollow when tapped. Remove from
baking sheets and allow to cool.
This is a good game
for groups of kids up to about age 8 or second grade. It is played
just like "Mother May I?".
stands at one side of the room or playground area. (To make it extra
fun, make a set of ears from the Ostara crafts section and have the
"Bunny" wear them.)
The rest of
the children line up at the opposite end of the room or playground.
calls on each of the other children in turn, who then must ask if
they can move by saying, "Bunny, may I move____ jumps, giant steps,
hops, baby steps etc."***
gives the other players permission to move by saying, "Yes you may"
or "No, you may not."
of the game is to cross the space to the "Bunny" and tap him/her on
the shoulder. The first to touch him/her is the next "Bunny".
Children can try to move up when the Bunny isn't looking at them,
but if they are caught cheating, they must go back to the beginning.
way to play is by having the "Bunny" tell the other players how many
steps and what kind of steps to take e.g. “Billy, you may take 3
hops" to which Billy replies, "Bunny, may I?"
This is another fun
game for kids of all ages. Little kids will have a difficult time
just learning how to lean over and push the egg. You can make it
more difficult for older children by placing obstacles in their way.
hard-boiled eggs or plastic eggs with something inside to give them
a little weight
line up at one side of the room or playground
of the game is for the children to push the eggs across the finish
line WITH THEIR NOSE. No hands allowed! (The hardest part of the
race is usually stopping the gales of giggles long enough to
actually finish the course.)
someone finish the course, the prize can be a special decorated egg
or basket of eggs.
A story by Kathryn Dyer
Once upon a time
there was a little girl named Meagan. She lived with her mommy and
daddy, her big brother Corwin and her beautiful cat named
One day in spring
Meagan was walking with her father in the woods behind their house.
He was showing her some of the plants that lived in the woods.
Michael smiled down at Meagan, "Well, soon it will be Ostara Meagan.
We will be planting seeds to celebrate. Do you know what kind of
seeds you want to plant for the harvest in the fall?" Meagan thought
hard. She knew that Ostara was one of the holidays when pagans ask
the gods to make the fields fertile so that there would be food for
winter. "I like flowers, daddy," she said, "but I wish that I could
plant niceness". Her daddy looked confused, "What do you mean?"
Meagan, "Sometimes I have a hard time being nice to one of the boys
at my school. He's really mean to everyone. I don't like being
around him. I know that I should be nice to him even when he's mean
to me but it's really, really hard to do. That's why I wish that I
could plant some niceness." "Hmmm," said Michael, "Do you want
niceness for him so that he won't be so mean, or niceness for you so
that you can be nice to him even when you don't feel like it?"
Meagan stopped to pick up Starweaver who was rubbing her legs, "I'd
like him to be nice to me, but if he won't then I guess that I need
some more niceness for me to give to him." Michael nodded, "I see.
Well, it wouldn't be right to work magic on him without asking him
first." Meagan gasped, "I couldn't do that!"
"No," said Michael,
"but there's no reason that you can't plant some niceness for
yourself." They turned a corner on the path and started back toward
their house. Just then, Meagan's big brother Corwin came racing
toward them. "Hey!," he shouted, "Mom's got the eggs to dye for
Ostara!" Meagan clapped her hands in glee and jumped up and down.
"Run ahead," said her daddy, "Just make sure you save some for me."
Meagan and Corwin ran back to the house. They slowed down when they
got to the door. It was a safety rule in their family not to run
indoors unless it was an emergency. Meagan didn't think that her
mother Elizabeth would think that eggs were
When Meagan got
inside the kitchen she saw her best friend Cindy sitting at the
table. Cindy's mom Anna was standing at the stove with Elizabeth.
"Hi!," said Cindy, "My mom met your mom at the store and she said we
could come over and make Easter eggs with you!"
Meagan slid into
the chair next to Cindy. "Cool," she said, "but we're making Ostara
eggs!" "Meagan!", her mom turned around, "that's not very nice. You
know that Cindy is Christian and not Pagan!" Anna turned with her,
"Actually, we don't celebrate Easter as a religious holiday like
some Christians do. For us, it's just the day when the Easter bunny
Here kids, we have
special dyes made from herbs for you to use. You should put on these
gloves first so that you don't dye your hands!" Meagan and Cindy
quickly put on their gloves while Elizabeth and Anna set out the dye
pots. There were all the colours of the rainbow. Meagan had learned
a name that helped her remember the colours of the rainbow. "Roy G.
Biv," she told Cindy, "that stands for red, orange, yellow, green,
blue, indigo and violet." "I know that," answered Cindy, "and I
remember that you said red was for fire. Yellow is for air. Green is
for earth. Blue is for water." Meagan smiled at her friend. They
coloured all the eggs and put them in special racks that Corwin had
made for the eggs to dry.
Soon it was time
for Cindy to go home. "Mom says I can come back on Easter and we'll
have an egg hunt!" she told Meagan. "I'll ask my mom if you can
spend the night before!" said Meagan. She gave Cindy a hug goodbye.
wait for the holidays. Soon it was time to celebrate Ostara. Her
parents had explained that Ostara was also called the Spring
Equinox. On the equinox the day was just as long as the night. They
told her that even though the Christian church had taken a form of
the name Ostara for their spring holiday, Easter was based on the
Jewish holiday of Passover. Christ had been celebrating Passover
when the bad people came to take him to jail.
The other members
of the coven came to Meagan's house. She and Corwin helped to
decorate the circle with flowers. Just before circle was going to
start Michael took Meagan apart. "This is for you," he said, as he
handed her a big seed that was coloured bright pink. "What is it?"
asked Meagan. "Well, tonight we will all plant seeds to represent
things in our lives that we want to grow over the summer. This is a
seed to stand for niceness." Meagan hugged her daddy close. "Thank
you" she said. She couldn't wait to plant her seed.
It took awhile for
Meagan's seed to grow. Some days it was still hard for her to be
nice to people who were mean to her. But thinking about her growing
When Easter came,
Cindy was sick and couldn't come over to Meagan's house. Meagan was
really mad. Her parents reminded her that Cindy didn't want to be
sick. Meagan stopped and thought about it. Her parents had sent her
to her room because she had gotten so mad that she had been stomping
all around the house. She thought about how she would feel if she
were the one who had been sick.
Soon Elizabeth came
to tell her she could come back out. "I'm sorry mommy," Meagan said,
"Could we make a basket to take to Cindy so that she will feel
better?" Elizabeth smiled, "I think that that would make her feel
much better." She took Meagan downstairs and helped her make a
basket for Cindy.
Later they took the
basket to Cindy's house. Meagan couldn't go in because Elizabeth and
Anna didn't want her to get whatever Cindy had. She stood in the
yard and waved up at Cindy's window. Elizabeth came back out, "Cindy
said to tell you thank you for the basket. It really made her feel
much better. It was very nice of you to think of doing that for her.
Especially when you were so mad about her not being able to come
Meagan stopped at
the car, "I guess that my niceness seed is growing." Elizabeth
smiled, "I guess that it is."
Later that night
Meagan lay in her bed with Starweaver curled up beside her. She was
still a little sad that Cindy could not come over to hunt eggs. But
she felt proud that she had thought of doing something that made
Cindy feel better. Her niceness seed was really growing big. All in
all, she thought, it had been a good day.