Ostara’s Meaning, Traditions & A Simple Ostara Ritual
The Spring Equinox is knocking on our dew-stained windows, beckoning us to remember its beauty and release. Many Wiccans, witches and Pagans celebrate the Spring Equinox, also known as Ostara, which falls around March 21st on the calendar each year. Learn all about Ostara’s meaning, how to celebrate Ostara with old and modern traditions, and adapt our simple Ostara ritual as your own.
Ostara and Easter’s Similar Origins
The word Ostara originates from a Spring Goddess’s name—Eostre. The symbols of Ostara are uncannily similar to the traditions of the Christian holiday Easter. Why is this? To find Jesus’ Resurrection Day on the calendar – look at the first full moon following the Spring Equinox, and Easter will be on the first Sunday following the full moon. If it happens the first full moon of Spring falls on a Sunday, then Easter will be on the following Sunday.
Easter & Fertility
The word Easter looks a lot like the Spring Goddess’s name Eostre, doesn’t it? There’s no coincidence there! Ostara (the Spring Equinox) was celebrated by Germanic people and by the Anglo-Saxons. Fertility and rebirth of the earth were the two main reasons for Ostara festivities. The earth is returning to its abundant greenness and the sun is returning to the high skies. Flowers are budding, lambs are bleating in the fields, and the whole of nature is singing.
Ostara Symbols and Traditions
The Easter Bunny is an image on a pedestal with the likes of Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy. But where does the Easter Bunny come from? Just like so many other historical Holiday icons and traditions, the Easter Bunny was born from Pagan customs. Bunnies are cute, fluffy, and hippety-hoppety. But they’re also known for mating. LOTS of it. It should come as no surprise the Rabbit is one of Ostara’s original symbols of fertility. In addition, there’s speculation the goddess Eostre once had a consort who was part-rabbit.
Easter Eggs are another symbol of fertility and rebirth. Christians claim Easter eggs represent Christ’s Resurrection – an egg inevitably means new life or birth into a new life. The “dying of eggs” tradition may have its roots in the ancient Zoroastrians’ painting egg ritual on the Spring Equinox. Painting eggs is a common activity at various times of the year for many countries, including Ukraine, the U.S., Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia, and Bulgaria.
Another image that is widely associated with Ostara and Easter…the flower. The symbol of the flower is new life. Flowers have an uplifting effect on us. Their bright colors prove even though there is a time for death, there will always be a time for rebirth. This Ostara, pick some wildflowers and place them in a vase on your table or altar. Or decorate your table with Spring greenery. It will remind you of the beauty of Spring and of the true meaning of Ostara (and Easter, for that matter) which is new life.
12 SIMPLE Ways to Celebrate Ostara
Celebrating Ostara and the Spring Equinox is as easy as going outside and enjoying the new season. But if you’re looking for a few simple ways to participate in this sabbat, here’s our top 12:
1. Decorate Eggs
Painting eggs in celebration of Ostara, Easter and Spring in general is a tradition that crosses continents and cultures. Make this Ostara tradition simple and purchase a premade egg decorating kit from your local convenience store. OR go au naturel and learn how to dye eggs with natural items like herbs, teas, and plants.
2. The Ostara Bunny and Baskets
If you have children, carrying on the Easter Bunny – Easter basket tradition is a fun way to celebrate Ostara. The Easter Bunny, after all, is not a Christian invention. He is an ancient fertility symbol and represents new life. You can always have the Ostara Bunny come the eve or day of Ostara instead of Easter. Our Ostara bunny brings special baskets full of candy and treats for the children and hides them. So the morning of Ostara, my kids have to go on a hunt to find their baskets.
3. Pick Wildflowers
Go into the woods or a field and pick wildflowers for Ostara. If you have no access to wild land, simply paying a visit to your local florist works too! Tulips, in particular, are popular near the Spring Equinox and are affordable. Plus they come in many different colors.
4. Cleansing Rituals to Celebrate Ostara
Ever heard of Spring cleaning? Why do you think that is a thing? We take the old energy from Winter and cleanse it…ready for renewal and fresh energy in the Spring. We recommend performing your Spring Cleaning and spiritual cleansing rituals in the weeks leading up to Ostara. That way, when Ostara comes, your home is clean and vibing high! Don’t forget to clean out your closets, cabinets, garage, and sheds for a really deep clean. Then cleanse with the smoke from an herb bundle, spreading floor powders or floor washes, washing down your front door, or perform whatever cleansing ritual you prefer.
5. Refresh Your Altar
After you’ve cleansed the house and your altar, it’s time to refresh the energy of your sacred space. When we cleanse, we remove negative energy to make way for the positive. Now it’s time to redecorate your altar, add new offerings, and invite your gods and spirits back into the space.
6. Decorate for Spring
One of my favorite ways to celebrate Ostara is to decorate my house. Add greenery: a Spring wreath to the front door, green or floral garland around the house, and flower bouquets in vases throughout the home. Fun items like rabbit figurines, birds nests, and Easter decorations add an element of whimsy.
7. Have an Ostara FEAST
We all love to eat, especially on the holidays. While everyone else eats a big dinner on Easter, you can do the same on Ostara. A few options for Ostara dinner include leg of lamb, split pea soup with crusty bread (made from the hambone you saved at Christmas/Yule!), or a quiche lorraine with fruit salad. Find more Ostara recipe ideas here. Traditional Ostara foods include dairy (cheese, milk, cream and butter), eggs, berries and fresh greens like spinach, kale, herbs and spring onions.
8. Ostara Baking
At Yuletide, baking with the kids is a big deal and so it should also be on Ostara. One of my most cherished memories as a child was baking with grandma on Christmas AND Easter. We typically baked Easter cookies: sugar cookies cut out into bunny rabbits, eggs, and other Easter symbols. Mix it up and add a witch cookie cutter to your repertoire for additional witchy Ostara fun!
9. Easter / Ostara Tree
In Germany, it’s traditional to have an Easter Tree. For pagans, we call it an Ostara tree. This can be a faux Christmas tree repurposed OR a smaller version. I’ve even used a faux birch tree found at my local HomeGoods. Then decorate the tree with twinkly lights, painted eggs, and Spring decorations. Tying ribbons on trees and giving offerings on trees was an ancient tradition in the Germanic nations, as well as Celtic.
10. Be in Nature
If you can’t do anything else to celebrate Ostara, just go outside. If it’s cold, bundle up! Have a bonfire. Go for a nature walk. Hide eggs and have the kids hunt for them. Or go on a nature scavenger hunt based on Spring: look for wildflowers, spring onions, baby animals, etc.
11. Start Your Seeds
Since Ostara is officially Spring, it’s time to start sowing your seeds or starting your seedlings. If you haven’t already, that is. I love watching my seeds spring up from the earth, to grow into full blown plants by early Summer and blooming or fruiting by the end of Summer. What an amazing process to watch and weave your magick into! It’s also a great project for the kids and a fun way to celebrate Ostara.
12. Egg MAGICK
Since eggs are the symbol of this Spring sabbat, make some magick with eggshells you’ve collected. If you’ve removed the membrane, you can then grind down the eggshells into cascarilla powder for protection and purification. If you didn’t remove the membranes, crush the eggshells and spread them over your Spring garden to nourish the earth and plants with new life. In addition, try an egg cleansing ritual to rid yourself of the negative vibes from the Winter.
A Simple Ostara Ritual
If you’re looking for simple Ostara rituals, here’s one of ours to adapt to fit your needs.
On Ostara, stand outside somewhere private. Breathe in the air and remind yourself why Spring is special and magical. Let old memories of the Springtime and Ostara arise in your mind. Holding the joyful memories of spring in your mind:
- Turn and face the direction of the sun. Thank the sun for its grand return to the sky and ask for its blessings upon the land.
- Thank Mother Nature for her nourishment and love.
- If you have shoes on, remove them and allow the earth’s energy to rise into your feet and gradually up your legs and then through the rest of your body.
- Choose the nearest tree and walk over to it, still feeling the earth’s energy undulating in waves throughout your body. Hold your hand out to the tree, fingers up and place your palm against the tree, as if saying hello.
- Let the tree’s energy flow into your fingers and palm and then into your arm, slowly meeting and mixing with the energy still rising from your feet. Place your other palm against the tree to greet the tree’s spirit.
- Let the tree’s energy fill the top portion of your body, including your mind and heart. At this point, you will feel the earth and tree’s energy meeting and combining. If you cannot feel it physically, feel it with your mind and spirit.
- Visualize the energies mixing and filling your body fluidly. This is the spirit of Spring and the soul of nature.
Wrapping Up the Ritual…
- To end your Ostara ritual, be sure that both of your feet are flat upon the ground and both palms are flat against the same tree. Imagine some of your energy and spirit flowing out from your heart chakra and into the tree.
- Think of your solar plexus as sending waves of your energy down through your legs, through your feet and into the earth. This is to give some of yourself to the earth, as you have taken some of its energy in this rite.
- Once more, face the sun (don’t stare directly at it), and thank the sun for its warmth and thank the earth for its upcoming gifts to us this Spring.
- After you have performed this simple Ostara ritual, remember the exchange of energies for the rest of the day. Remember why we love Spring and be grateful for all of the fruitfulness of the earth. If we take, we must give something in return.