Spring Equinox, Ostara, Eostre, Easter, Vernal Equinox
By Tara Sutphen
21st March Spring Equinox marks the mid-point of the Waxing Year, the nights and days are balanced once again; the time when Kore, (Persephone) was believed to have returned from the Underworld where she had ruled throughout the Winter. The spark of light, born at Winter Solstice has reached maturity, and from here onwards, the days progressively grow longer than the nights.
Western culture proclaims this the first day of Spring.Older traditions called the Spring Equinox, Ostara; the time of the festivals of the Grecian Goddess, Eostre, and the Germanic Ostara, both fertility Goddesses of Dawn. These influenced the naming of the modern-day Easter Holiday. New greenery bursts forth from sleeping seeds in the countryside, as metaphorically, pagans also plant their own seeds for future goals, future projects and growth at this time.Decorated eggs, being symbols of fertility are symbolic of Ostara. In days gone, Europeans gave gifts of decorated eggs to new brides, in the hope that they would bear many children. Similarly, bowls filled with eggs were given to farm workers by the farmer’s wife, to ensure a rich harvest.
Most all cultures see the egg as a symbol of Life; the actual home of the Soul. In Russia, decorated eggs are still given as gifts to loved ones and buried in graves to ensure rebirth. The women gathered the eggs only from hens which were around a rooster and decorated them, allowing no one to watch them work as they transferred the goodness of the household to the designs on the eggs, thus keeping evil away. Dyes were mixed to secret family recipes and special blessings placed on each egg.
Colors of Ostara Eggs:
• Wisdom, a successful Harvest, or Spirituality
• Spring, rebirth, wealth, youth, growth, happiness
• Good health, clear skies
• Power endurance, ambition, courage
• Happiness, hope, passion, nobility, bravery, enthusiasm, love
• Enrichment, good harvest, happiness
• Faith, trust, power
• Success, friendship, love
• Remembrance Lore:
The custom of eating Hot Cross Buns also has pagan origins. The Saxons ate buns that were marked with a cross in honor of Eostre; Ancient Greeks consumed these types of buns in their celebrations of Artemis, Goddess of the hunt, and the Egyptians ate a similar cake in their worship of the Goddess Isis.
There are conflicting ideas as to what the cross symbol represents. One suggestion is that it is a Christianisation of horn symbols that were stamped on cakes to represent an ox, which used to be sacrificed at the time of the Spring Equinox. Another theory relates to Moon worship; the bun representing the full Moon, and the cross, its four quarters. Christianity gave new meanings to the symbolism of the buns, saying the cross represented the Crucifixion Cross. Thus, superstitions arose crediting these buns as being charms against evil, so after Good Friday, people would save one or two of them to hang in their homes as amulets. During the festival season and indeed, for a long time afterwards, fishermen would carry these Easter buns in their boats, for protection.
The Spring Equinox defines the season where Spring reaches it’s peak, with the powers of light increasing. The God of Light, (Llew), now gains victory over his twin, the God of Darkness. Llew was reborn at the Winter Solstice and is now old and strong enough to vanquish his rival twin and mate with his Mother Goddess. The great Mother Goddess, who returned to her Virgin aspect at Imbolc, welcomes the young Sun God’s attentions and conceives a child. The child will be born nine months from now, at the next Winter Solstice, when the cycle closes, only to begin anew.
• The Easter Bunny is another symbol which has obvious links to fertility, rebirth, and the abundance of life which is evident in Spring.
• Eostre was a playful Goddess whose reign over the earth began in Spring when the Sun King journeyed across the sky in his chariot, bringing the end of Winter. Eostre came down to Earth then, appearing as a beautiful maiden with a basket of bright colorful eggs. Eostre’s magical companion was a rabbit who accompanied her as she brought new life to dying plants and flowers by hiding the eggs in the fields.
• Dairy foods
• Leafy Green Vegetables
• Nuts such as Pumpkin
• Hot Cross Buns
• Flower Dishes
Herbs and Flowers
• spring flowers.
Hot Cross Buns
1/4 cup apple juice, beer or rum
1 cup raisins, dried currants, or dried cranberries
1 1/4 cups milk
3 large eggs, 1 separated
6 tablespoons soft butter
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup & 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 teaspoons milk
2 3/4 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup beer or apple juice
1 tablespoon butter
2 1/2 tablespoon honey
9×5 Bread Pan
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast
Beer or Apple juice and other ingredients
warm the beer/ingredients on the stove.
Add egg last – cover & let raise 30 mins.
Kneed on flour surface, cover & let raise another 20 mins
Grease pan: place in pan, cover & let “another” 20 mins
Lavender Goat Cheese Figs
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 cup goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried lavender
1/2 tablespoons honey
cut figs in half, spoon in cheese/lavender mixture
ps. Happy Fall Equinox to the Southern Hemisphere –