I was doing some light reading and there is a lot of information out there about Ostata, some good, some kind of stupid. I found seven of my favorite things, spiritual and mundane, that I wanted to share with you about Ostara (spring, or vernal, equinox). Enjoy!
- The name Ostara comes from the derivative of the name of a Teutonic, Eostre. She is the Goddess of dawn and fertility. Eostre is alternatively and cross—culturally associated if not inferred to represent Ishtar and Astarte, but there is much back and forth on that. The animal we identify with Eostre, most commonly is, wait for it, the rabbit (Easter is starting to make sense now, eh?)
- The egg has long been a symbol of life, fertility and the world. In days past, druids would color the egg scarlet; this was to represent the sun, and its life giving nature. You can lightly dye an egg today in turmeric to get a yellow tint to the egg, and then soak in the remnants of red beets that have been boiled down. The turmeric base cuts down on the violet shade that is common to beet dying. Or, Paas sells a pretty good egg dying kit I have used since my youth.
- At the Spring Equinox, the day and night are equal. Gotcha, this is actually an inaccurate myth. The term for the date when the day and night are exactly equal is called the equilux from and is usually a few days before the equinox, depending on where you are on Earth. The equilux, due to the nature of the light and the universe bending light, is the day where day truly equals night. Science, kids!
- You can make a shadow disappear in the middle of the day, if you prepare and have a compass, protractor, stick and GPS handy. Find an empty space, and search out the latitude of that space, then subtract that number from 90. This will give you the degrees at which you will set your stick into the earth. We here in the Northern Hemisphere use our compass to find south, and then place the stick into the earth at the correct angle from above, facing south. If you did this right, at noon, the stick will have no shadow. This is the only one of two days this will work each year, can you guess the other?
- It is the only day that you can stand an egg on end. OK, fooled you again. I know, you don’t believe me, we all grew up having fun with gravity and this experiment, but with the right egg you can do this any time of year.
- In Wicca, Ostara was not originally celebrated as a holiday, or sabbat, this came later. It is based on early pagan spring and fertility rights, but as a Wiccan holiday it was invited a little later to the party.
- Ostara, in some form, is celebrated by most people through religious or philosophical deed. A lot of public works, volunteer and fund raising happen at this time of year (not as much as Yule, but enough to notice), it is a time to celebrate the fecundity of the world; new beginnings and time to sow your seed. Take that for what it is. It can be found in Christian, Hindu, Jewish and other major religious holidays.