Pagans celebrate Ostara (also known as Eostre) when the sun enters 0 degrees of Aries; this year that happens on March 20. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox ushers in warmer weather, days that are longer than nights, and the advent of new life. Christianity adopted this joyful period of the year for the celebration of Easter (which usually falls near the Spring Equinox). Ostara gets its name from the German fertility goddess Ostare; the word Easter derives from the same root. Both holidays celebrate the triumph of life over death.
The Holiday’s Significance
According to mythology, the Sun King’s chariot continues climbing higher in the sky, reaching the point at which day and night are of equal length on Ostara. Therefore, this sabbat is associated with balance, equality, and harmony.
The Spring Equinox marks the first day of spring and the start of the busy planting season in agrarian cultures. Farmers till their fields and sow seeds. Trees begin to bud, spring flowers blossom, and baby animals are born. Ostara, therefore, is one of the fertility holidays and a time for planting seeds—literally or figuratively.
Ways to Celebrate
On Ostara, sow seeds that you want to bear fruit in the coming months. This is an ideal time to launch new career ventures, move to a new home, or begin a new relationship. If you enjoy gardening, start preparing the soil and planting flowers, herbs, and/or vegetables now. Consider the magickal properties of botanicals and choose plants that represent your intentions. Even if you aren’t a gardener, you could plant seeds in a flowerpot to symbolize wishes you hope will grow to fruition in the coming months.
Witches connect each plant—herb, flower, and tree—with specific magickal properties. Sage, for example, is used for purification rituals. Mint and parsley can be added to prosperity talismans to attract wealth. White snapdragons ensure protection and roses play an important role in love magick.
Some popular Easter customs have their roots in Ostara’s symbolism. Eggs represent the promise of new life, and painting them bright colors engages the creative aspect of this sabbat. You might enjoy decorating eggs with magickal symbols, such as pentagrams and spirals. Rabbits, of course, have long been linked with fertility. In an old German story, a rabbit laid some sacred eggs and decorated them as a gift for the fertility goddess Ostara. Ostara liked the beautiful eggs so much that she asked the rabbit to share the eggs with everyone throughout the world.
(Excerpted from The Everything Wicca & Witchcraft Book)