THE FESTIVAL OF FERTILITY
By Yasmine Galenorn
(From Dancing With the Sun*)
A clear crisp breeze, sky the color of robins’ eggs, branches covered with tight green buds, a sudden rainstorm breaking through the still-cool sun, the first crocus peeking out from under the cedar tree…it is the Spring Equinox, Ostara, and life renews itself.
Ostara is the celebration of the Spring (Vernal) Equinox when day and night balance. Astronomically speaking the sun crosses the celestial equator at this time.
Held in late March, the actual date can vary from year-to-year, as with the Autumnal Equinox and the two Solstices. The Vernal Equinox usually falls on March 20th or 21st. Always check your almanac for your time zone.
Called Ostara after the Saxon Goddess Eostre, this is a time of renewal, regeneration and resurrection as the Earth wakes from her long slumber. This is the time of planting, children, and young animals.
It is the fertility of the Earth that we celebrate, and we symbolize this new life springing from sun and soil with eggs, chicks, lambs and rabbits (all symbols of the Great Mother).
Ostara promises freedom from the dreariness of winter, it heralds the return of hope and dreams.
With the days lengthening, we fill our lungs with fresh air and drink the pungent cleansing teas that clear our bodies from the heavy foods of winter.
The Colors of Ostara
All pastels are appropriate for Ostara–especially the greens, yellows and pinks. I like the brightly colored (but not dark) variations of these colors, too. White makes a nice accent, but seems too sparse for an altar cloth representing the season of growth and fertility.
Incenses, Herbs & Woods
Violet, honeysuckle, narcissus and lemon make good incenses for Ostara–the scents should be clear and light, floral and evocative but not overwhelming or intoxicating.
Herbs associated with spring include meadowsweet, cleavers, clover, lemon grass, spearmint and catnip.
If you want to use wood in your spells and rituals, ash has a strong link with the equinox due to its connection with the macrocosm-microcosm concept in the Celtic Ogham Runes–the balance of light and dark…as above, so below.
What better way to decorate for the spring season than to use the flowers that blossom into life at this time? There are so many, and they’re all beautiful.
Daffodils, jonquils, tulips, narcissus, violets and crocus and snowdrops–fill the house with their color after you’ve finished your spring cleaning.
Charm Bags For Growth & Health
During the spring season, we concentrate on magic for growth and health. Charm bags are easy, quick ways to cast a spell and their powers last, emanating out to change our lives.
Cast a circle and invoke the elements. Into a green pouch (either home-made or bought) put 9 kernels of dried corn; 9 kernels of barley; a malachite or peridot bead; a 6-sided die; a white stone you collected from the beach on which you’ve painted the rune: $ for prosperity; a quarter and a dime; a piece of cedar branch.
Tie the bag with green ribbon, then ask Eostre to bless the charm and chant:
Silver and gold, corn and grain
Let my wealth increase and gain
Gem and coin, stone and tree
Lady Luck be kind to me.
Chant to peak the power, then release, focusing on your prosperity and abundance increasing over the coming season. Store the prosperity charm in your purse or hang near the front door so the fresh air can touch it whenever the door opens.
Cast a circle and invoke the elements. In a blue bag put: a white feather; a few springs of lavender; a quartz crystal; 6 pieces dried lemon peel; a small brass bell; a 2″ length of hazel wood on which you’ve carved the rune: a for insight.
Tie the bag with purple ribbon, then ask Eostre to bless the charm and chant:
Mind and vision, chant and wit
Ink and voice and talent
Muses of word, picture and song
I rise to meet your challenge.
Chant to peak the power, then release, focusing on those creative projects you want to complete, see them blossom and grow through the coming season. Store the creativity charm near your desk or your easel.
Cast a circle and invoke the elements. In a gold bag put: dragons blood resin; 9 cloves; a piece of citrine; a sprig of heather; 9 rowan berries; an oyster shell on which you have painted this rune: S for strength; a miniature brass sun face and a tin of Tiger’s Balm.
Tie the bag with red ribbon and then ask Eostre to bless the charm and chant:
Strength and health this charm has wrought!
Disease and pain touch me not!
Chant to peak the power, then release, focusing on your body and spirit growing strong throughout the coming spring. Store the health charm near your bed and hold it for a moment each night before you go to sleep.
There are numerous ways in which to decorate eggs for the season. We’ve come a long ways from when we boiled them with food coloring in the water, although that’s still a viable alternative.
One of the most intricate forms of egg decoration is called Pysanky and it is Ukrainian in origin. Pysanky uses a tool called a kitska, a pencil-like handle with a tiny metal cup on the end that has a narrow opening, not much bigger than the prong of a thumbtack. Beeswax is put into this cup and then the metal is held over a candle to melt the wax. Designs are drawn onto the egg’s surface and when the wax hardens, dye is applied to the rest of the egg. When the wax is melted off, the design is left a different color.
I’m not sure of the entire process, but the examples I’ve seen are incredibly intricate. An arts-crafts store would have more detailed information, or you can check your local library for reference material.
For awhile we used blown-egg shells on our Ostara altar until our cats decided to have a party one night and destroyed every one of the thirteen eggs I’d hand-painted. So we switched to wooden eggs.
You can poke two holes in the egg, one in the top, the other in the bottom, and blow the inside of the egg out. Then carefully rinse the shell with cool water and dry. Use magic markers, acrylics and/or watercolors to decorate your eggs. Paint runes and pictures and designs on them, or color them uniformly and have a basket of multi-colored eggs on your altar.
As I said above, we use wooden quail’s eggs and this time I decided to go with plain colors. For some reason, this seems prettier on my altar for now, but I may change my mind later on and paint over them–adding designs and runes again.
For a long-term project you want a spell that will last the length of whatever it is you’re trying to do. Depending on your area, choose a packet of vegetable seeds that do well in your climate (we’ll use corn, for example).
Cast a circle around the pot or plot you’ll be planting the seeds in. If it is near a larger garden, mark the area off with string so you can tell which are your ‘magickal’ stalks of corn and which are the regular ones.
Invoke the elements and then sit, under the sun, holding the corn kernels in your open palm. Charge the kernels while thinking about your project. Think about what you want it to blossom into, think about the work you know it will take. See any potential obstacles evening out and disappearing. Then see yourself harvesting the rewards of your project as you harvest the corn.
Creatures of corn,
Strength be born!
As you grow, so shall (project)
As you flourish, so shall (project)
As you mature, so shall (project)
As I harvest your bounty, so shall I harvest
The rewards of (project).
Eostre, Lady of Spring,
bless these seeds and all they bring.
So Mote It Be.
Plant the seeds. You must tend this little garden carefully, for if you neglect it and let the plants die, then the energy and vitality of your project will also wither away. Just so, you must spend the time and energy on your project that it needs. If you do both, you should flourish and prosper.
When you harvest the corn, return the stalks and husks to the Earth.
Often spring brings with it brisk winds and we can capture the energy of these winds in our magic.
#1: Scatter Spell
This is a good spell to use when you are searching for something but don’t know where to find it. It might be love, a new job, a new home, a new sense of physical strength…whatever you are looking for, you will want to gather together your spell components in advance.
You will need a handful of herbs and a brisk wind.
- If you want to attract love, use powdered rose and orange petals and wait for a west wind.
- If you want to attract a new job, use dill and basil and wait for an east wind.
- If you want a new home or other material item, use patchouli and ground (uncooked) oats and wait for a north wind.
- If you want revitalized health, use powdered dragon’s blood and cinnamon and wait for a south wind.
Have your herbs ready so that when the wind rises you can grab them and go. Head to the tallest slope in your area and when you reach the top, wait for the gusts to really blow. Clench the herbs in your fists and visualize what it is you want. Raise your arms up to meet the wind and slowly open your hands, letting the gusts catch the herbs and blow them up into the air. Say:
Wind of the (direction), hear my cry
Take this charm and make it fly
With your (direction) breezes kiss
My life and bring to me my wish!
Watch the herbs scatter in the wind and know that they are spreading out through the world, searching for what you need or feel you have lost. Stand and commune with the wind for a few minutes before you go home. Take all physical actions necessary to provide the opportunity for the spell to work.
#2: Knotting The Wind
The old Finnish shamans were respected and feared for their abilities to knot up the winds for later use. They caught up the wind in ropes, knotting the gales to sell to sailors. Their abilities were so well-known that certain Norse rulers would not allow Finns to ride in their ships.
We may not be able to knot up the wind as effectively as some of those shamans, but if you want to capture the essence of the wind for use in your spells (especially if you need to shake up your life and get things moving again) then find a piece of rope about three feet long and go out to a windy slope.
Hold the rope taut in the wind and close your eyes. Feel the wind tugging on the rope, feel it blowing against your body. Visualize the strength of the wind flowing into the rope. Spend some time doing this.
Then, still holding the rope overhead, knot at three equal points, saying:
One knot, the power of breeze
Gently shakes the maple’s leaves.
Two knots, the power to sail
Blow crisply now and do not fail.
Three knots, the power of storm
What can destroy can also form.
Hold the rope taut again, still focusing on the power of the wind and say:
Power of wind in these knots three
Untie them and your force runs free
Harm me not, wind and breeze
As I will so mote it be!
Tag the rope as to which wind you knotted up (direction) and keep with your magickal paraphernalia until you have need of the strength of wind. Untie one, two or three knots depending on how strong a force or spell you need. Use for spells like: clearing away old patterns or habits from your life; shooing pests and negative people from your life; shaking up a stagnant patch in your career or love life, etc..
*Copyright Yasmine Galenorn 1999, and 2020
You may print this out but you do NOT have permission to post it on other websites, etc. Or to use it in your own writing.