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Ostara

It's that time of year. Allergies are flaring up and winter coats are tentatively being stored. After months of hunkering down for winter, there is a palpable excitement in the air, because today, March 20, 2017, is the Spring Equinox. Thank Goddess!

The Vernal Equinox, known among neopagans and Wiccans as Ostara, marks the time when the sun passes over the celestial equator. The Equinox, which translates from Latin as 'equal night,' is a time of perfect balance; the day is equally split between darkness and light. This sense of balance is compounded by the fact that the spring, the divider between the frigid winter and the blistering summer, is, in itself, a season of dynamic equilibrium.

Ostara does not have a clear origin story. Part contemporary revival and part modern creation, it is a loose interpretation of ancient spring festivals. While the goddess Ostara is considered to have various origins, from Teutonic to Anglo-Saxon, this composite figure is celebrated as the goddess of fertility and renewal representing abundance and the fecund potential of spring. This Spring Maiden, together with the horned god, symbolize new beginnings and the levity they bring.

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Here are a few ways to celebrate this Ostara and bring in the spring with intention:

1. Make an altar.

Altars are a great way to bring together objects of personal and ritual significance. Honor this day of equal night with two candles, one black and one white or other pairs of opposites. Spring is a time of new growth and fertility, so eggs, flowers, and seeds are all elements to bring in!

2. Try balancing an egg.

It has long been believed that in the moments around the equinox the gravitational pull is such that you can balance an egg (wider side down). While some argue that the imperfections of the egg shape allow for balancing any time of year, the act of trying in that exact moment helps bring focus and awareness to this changing of the seasons.

3. Speaking of eggs, painted eggs and egg hunts aren't just tropes of Easter.

Ostara is meant to help us focus on both the levity of the spring and the profundity of the life cycle. Eggs (along with hares and flowers) and key symbols of Ostara. So indulge your inner child and paint an egg, or a dozen!

4. It's time for spring cleaning.

The ritual of spring cleaning finds its roots in the pagan ritual of house cleansing. In honor of new beginnings, it can be cathartic to purge elements of the past and make space for the new. Smudging, with sage or incense, is another way to revitalize a space.

5. Take a bath.

Bathing is a ritual activity. Add a few flower petals and allow the water to renew you. 

6. Plant a seed or small seedling.

There is no better way to tap into the power of growth and renewal than to nurture a life and watch it blossom.

Happy Ostara! 

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Miriam Mosher graduated from Smith College before moving to New York where she is a writer by day and beer maven by night. She is a proud feminist, a champion of the semicolon and an avid thrifter. See more from Miriam at Bushwick Daily and Two Cities Literary Review.  

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