Ostara: The Spring Equinox

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“Rising Spring” by John Byam Liston Shaw

O sweet spontaneous earth,
how often have the doting fingers of prurient philosophers
pinched and poked thee,
has the naughty thumb of science prodded thy beauty?
How often have religions taken thee upon their scraggy knees,
squeezing and buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive gods?
But true to the incomparable couch of death, thy rhythmic lover,
thou answerest them only with spring.

— e. e. cummings, “O sweet spontaneous”

Ostara (pron. oh-STAR-ah) is the spring equinox, when the days and nights are equal length. The spring Ostara corresponds roughly with the Christian Feast of Annun­ciation, also called “Gabrielmas,” and the English quar­ter-day, called “Lady Day,” both of which fall on March 25th. Depending on the year, Ostara may or may not fall near Easter, which falls on the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox, and near Passover, which falls on the new moon following the spring equinox. The themes of the Neo-Pagan celebra­tion of Ostara are similar to the Christian themes of Easter, i.e., new birth, although the Christian motif of sacrificial death is not celebrated by Neo-Pagans until the autumn harvest.

Mythologically, at Ostara, the Bright Youth becomes the Stag King and courts the Flower Maiden. The Goddess and her Con­sort mate and the Goddess conceives the Sun Child who will be (re-)born at the winter solstice. The Flower Maiden matures into a woman and is transformed into the Lady of the Beasts, reflect­ing her new sexuality. The Stag King and the Lady of the Beasts are betrothed.

Updated 2019

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