This evening, my local group came together to celebrate Ostara – the Vernal Equinox, the birth of Spring. Traditionally, Ostara is a time of balance – one of the days where there are equal hours of light and dark. Tonight is not the true equinox, but like many groups, we shift Ritual to a date that works for the majority of our members. Since the true date is Wednesday, and Thursday is our Teaching Circle and New Moon Esbat, we thought two rituals in a row would a be bit much. I have some additional things I want to work on, so I will probably be doing a personal Ostara Ritual later this week as well.
We actually had only a handful of people there this time. It was kind of nice getting to visit with a smaller group. We don’t have huge rituals as a rule, but some have been very well-attended. There’s a big difference in energy and the feel of the ritual with a larger group. Our circle space is quite large, so with only a few people, it feels very open. We also held this ritual in the early evening; since we’re in daylight-savings time, it was still light out, which was a nice change.
One of the things I love about my circle is the diversity of the beliefs and practices. Our ritual this evening was eclectic, with a Norse/Asatru flair. I don’t follow a Norse path, but I am drawn to Germanic Neo-Paganism, so having the opportunity to see how Norse-flavored rituals are, and participate in them is very satisfying. I learn better by doing, and I practiced as a solitary for a long time. That definitely has it’s advantages (like privacy for personal magic), but overall, I think that having a group to work with is so much better! Nothing in the rules says I can’t have both, right?
During ritual, we talked about the history of Ostara as a holiday and the ways that Christianity ‘adopted’ it and re-appropriated the various symbols and traditions into their practices. We also talked about the sun moving from Pisces into Aries, and about how this time of year is moving away from home and hearth. This is a time of new beginnings, growth, change and putting plans into motion. At the same time, though, we honor our home and hearth by Spring Cleaning – getting rid of things that no longer fit or have a place in our homes and lives. We completed that exercise by making an actual Spring Cleaning list, with the intent of checking it at Beltane to see what’s been accomplished. We also did a really cute meditation that was geared towards ‘spring cleaning’ our minds and inner selves so we can start fresh as the Wheel turns into Spring.
This week, I will be changing my altar decorations. I don’t know how others time the changing of altar decorations, but I keep my altar up from Sabbat to Sabbat. The week of the Sabbat, I change it to reflect the colors, symbols and feel of the next season. Right now, my altar is still set for Imbolc – the last of Imbolc’s energy and working is petering out this week. I will be bringing in fresh flowers and other Spring-time decorations, and rummaging through my ‘witchy chest’ to see what all else needs to go on it. I’ll also add my list from this evening, and a stone that I received tonight. Some of my spring cleaning goals include getting the garden space ready, doing some de-cluttering and painting inside the house and organizing in the kitchen.
I have tried other time frames and have settled on doing my altars that way because it feels right. Rather then picking a point in between the Sabbats, I like keeping one up until the week of the next. That way, I don’t feel rushed – the transition from one ‘season’ to the next is marked at the same time each year, and I don’t feel like I am slacking on any one season. I have a couple of altars; the only one that I decorate for Sabbats is my primary altar in my bedroom. The others (in my kitchen and office) are changed less often. I have a Goddess offering dish (that I made) in both of those spaces; the kitchen one is small and usually holds a bit of whatever I am cooking. The one in the office usually holds either flower petals or a thought written on a piece of paper and folded. I also have incense in there, and a bell. Since they’re small, and more purpose-focused, I don’t feel the need to change them up.
What a bout you – when will you celebrate Ostara, and do you change your altar decor for the Sabbats?
Brightest Blessings and Happy Ostara!