Spirituality Page: Essays and Articles

Ostara (March 22)

© Gordon Ireland. Used with permission.

Author's Biography: Gordon Ireland is active in the Michigan Pagan community and runs several Pagan websites. For more information please visit his website http://www.earthspirits.theshoppe.com

Ostara (pronounced Oh-star-ah) is also called Eostre, Easter, Vernal Equinox, Spring Equinox, and the First Day of Spring. This is the time of year when day & night are equal, and heralds the return of longer days. Signifying when light triumphs over darkness.

In countries that are located in the Northern Hemisphere this is a time when seeds are planted. This relates to the neo-pagan philosophy of planting new ideas for the coming year.

Ostara/Eostre is the German Goddess of the Dawn/Spring. Ostara is one of the most important of all the Germanic holidays. Eostre symbols are the egg and the rabbit. The story behind this is that a white rabbit fell in love with Eostre and to demonstrate his love, he laid colored eggs everyday.

The rabbit symbolizes innocence and continuing fertility. The egg symbolizes birth and rebirth. Estrogen's root word is Eostre. The legend of the egg hunt comes from the fact that birds (chickens) were not as domesticated as they are now and in the spring our forefathers would literally have to hunt for the eggs.

The neo-pagan version of Ostara is a celebration of birth and new life. The time of year when death holds no power over the living. It is the return of the Goddess after her winter hibernation. It is the time of the year when the Goddess and God consummate their love. Many of the neo-pagan Ostara rituals have fertility implications and are largely sexual in nature.

Two other cultural Ostara celebrations are Greek and Christian: The Greek myth of Persephone also has it relates to Ostara. When Persephone returns in the spring, her mother's joy brings forth life once more to the world. Easter, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon falling after Ostara. The Christianity version of Eostre also follows the rebirth pattern.

Ostara is mainly a day to celebrate new life and new beginnings. It is a time to plant new ideas and seeds for the future, both literally and figuratively.


There are many versions of this ritual, many of which can be found in RavenWolf, Buckland and Starhawk. This version is one of my more original ones, thus being more personal, though this is the Readers Digest version, and some of it's elements have been left out purposely. Now you can decorate your altar with wildflowers and with eggs, etc. Though the following ritual has none of the above. It follows more along the lines of a fertility ritual, though it is not a Great Rite.

TOOLS: Sheathed Athame, Cauldron, earth (dirt), seed (of your choice, though we use Sunflowers), water, smudge stick, chalice, four yellow candles.

Open circle per your personal tradition. Have altar face towards the East, as Eostre is the Goddess of the Dawn. Place candles in the four directions, place cauldron and seed to the East, place earth to the North, water in chalice to the West, Smudge stick to the South.

SAY: (Facing East, take sheathed Athame in both hands raise above head.) We welcome you Mother of Life and Light.
ALL SAY: We welcome you Mother
SAY: (Removing Athame from sheath) Mother who comes once more from the darkness to the light, we welcome you. (Place Athame to the right of the East Candle, sheath to the left.)
ALL SAY: We welcome you
SAY: (Lighting candle to the East.) You, whose light gives us life, we too give life. We welcome you.
ALL SAY: We welcome you.
SAY:(Taking seed and raise it above your head) Mother teach us through you warmth and love to accept all living things and my teaching us, we honor you. (Take seed and place in cauldron)
ALL SAY: Mother teach us.
SAY: Let us give thanks
ALL SAY: (Silent moment of thanks)
SAY: (Moving to the North, place cauldron before the North candle) We seek your bounty through the Earth. (Light candle) We ask permission to enjoin with you to give life for our future. (Place seed in earth)
ALL SAY: Mother give us your bounty.
SAY: Let us give thanks
ALL SAY: (Silent moment of thanks)
SAY: (Moving to the West, place cauldron before the West candle) We seek your life's blood. (Light candle) We ask your grace to give life to our seeds, you children. (Take the chalice with water and more over the earth in the cauldron)
ALL SAY: Mother give us your blood.
SAY: Let us give thanks
ALL SAY: (Silent moment of thanks)
SAY: (Moving to the South, place cauldron before the South candle) We seek your gentle breath, and guidance. (Light candle) We ask for your winds to direct to your path.
Mother. (Take smudge stick and light from candle, wave of the cauldron.)
ALL SAY: Mother direct us.
SAY: Let us give thanks
ALL SAY: (Silent moment of thanks)
SAY: (Moving to the East, place cauldron before the East candle, take sheath in left hand athame in right) Mother who births new life. (Lift sheath above head) Young God who fertilize her. (Lift Athame above head) Let us join you. (Return Athame in Sheath) ALL SAY: Let us join you.
Close circle per your tradition.


Dandelion Wine

Recipe from Wine Art - Recipe Booklet - 1992
Recipe for 4 litres and may be multiplied. All teaspoon measures are level.

Dandelion Petals8 cups8 cups
White Grape Concentrate285 cc10 oz
Water4 litres1 gallon
Corn Sugar OR1.3 kg3lb
White Granulated Sugar1.1 kg2 1/2 lb
Vinacid R3 tsp.3 tsp.
Yeast Nutrient1/2 tsp.1/2 tsp.
Campden Tablets (crushed)22
Wine Yeast Lalvin
Starting Specific Gravity should be 1.090
Acid 4 g/l

Method: Use only dandelion petals. The green pieces will impart a bitter flavour. Put all ingredients except Water and Wine Yeast in primary ferment. Add 1/2 quantity of Water hot, stir to dissolve sugar. Add balance of Water cold. Cover with plastic sheet. When must is 21 - 23o C (70 - 75o F) add yeast. Stir must daily. Ferment 4 - 5 days or until S.G. is 1.030. Strain out pulp through nylon straining bag and press. Siphon into carboys or gallon jugs and attaches fermentation locks. Rack in 10 days and again in one month. If necessary, fine with recommended Finings. When wine is clear and stable, bottle.

Spinach (or Broccoli) Quiche

  • 1 9-in pie crust, unbaked
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 8 oz pkg. of Swiss cheese slices
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • dash pepper
  • 1 c milk
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1 small onion, sliced and sautied lightly
  • 10 oz pkg. frozen spinach (chopped) or broccoli, cooked and drained

Cut cheese in strips. Toss with flour. In piecrust, alternate layers of onion, spinach (or broccoli) and cheese, ending with cheese layer. Mix milk, eggs, and spices. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) and during the Lenten season, but they are good anytime. This recipe will make 2 1/2 dozen buns.

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dried currents
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 recipe Icing (below)

Have the water and milk at 110-115 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl; dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the warm milk sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition. Stir in the dried fruit and enough flour to make soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn over to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Punch the dough down and shape into 30 balls. Place on greased baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross (or X) on the top of each roll. Cover again and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Beat the water and egg yolk together and brush over the rolls. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle icing over the top of each roll following the lines of the cut cross.

ICING: Combine 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 4 teaspoons milk or cream, a dash of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. Adjust sugar and milk to make a mixture, which flows easily.

Easter Crown Bread

To decorate this pretty Easter crown, you will need 5 colored eggs but they must be UNCOOKED. Be sure to use non-toxic dyes as you color them.

  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided use)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruit
  • 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon aniseed
  • 5 uncooked eggs Non-toxic egg coloring
  • Vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1-cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the milk and butter and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium. Add the eggs and 1/2-cup flour and beat on high for 2 minutes. Stir in the fruit, nuts, and aniseed, mixing well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 to 8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour). Meanwhile, color 5 eggs (leave them uncooked) with non-toxic dyes. When dry; lightly rub them with vegetable oil. Punch down the risen dough. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 24-inch rope. On a greased baking sheet, loosely twist the two ropes together. Form into a ring and pinch the ends together. Gently split the ropes and tuck the 5 colored uncooked eggs into the openings. Cover and let rise again until doubled (about 30 minutes). Bake in a 350-degree F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Personal Note:

I noticed as I finished penning this essay, that I have written the last of the Sabbats. It has been a year since I have started writing them, and now they are done. I am not quite sure of what I want to say, so I will say thanks. Thank you readers for being gracious audience, and Thank You John and Misti for giving me a forum to present my thought and ideas.

Work Cited

Bord, Janet & Colin, Earth Rites, Fertility Practices in Pre-Industrial Britain, Granada, London, 1982.

Buckland, Raymond, Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 1997.

Carr-Gomm, Philip The Elements of the Druid Tradition Element Books, Rockport, MA 1998.

Cunningham, Scott, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 1998.

Danaher, Kevin, The Year in Ireland, The Mercier Press, Cork, 1972.

Henes, Donna, Celestially Auspicious Occasions: Seasons, Cycles & Celebrations, A Pedigree Book. NY, NY 1996.

Hole, Christina, Witchcraft in England, Rowman & Littlefield, Totowa NJ, 1977.

Holleston, T.W., Celtic Mythology: History, Legends and Deities, NewCastle Publishing, Van Nuys, CA 1997.

MacCana, Proinsias, Celtic Mythology, The Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd., London, 1970.

MacCulloch, J.A. Religion of the Ancient Celts, Folcroft Library Editions, London, 1977.

Matthews, John, The Druid Source Book: Complied and Edited by John Matthews, A Blanford Book, London, England, 1997.

Matthews, John and Caitlin Matthews, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom, Element Books Rockport, MA 1994.

McCoy, Edain, The Sabbats: A New Approach to living the Old Ways, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 1998.

Nichols, Ross, The Book of Druidry, Harper-Collins, London, England 1992.

Powell, T.G.E. The Celts, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1980.

Ravenwolf, Silver, To Ride a Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 1997.

Sharkey, John, Celtic Mysteries, the Ancient Religion, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1979.

Squire, Charles, Celtic Myth, Legend, Poetry, and Romance, Newcastle Publishing Co., Van Nuys, CA, 1975.

Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient religion of the Great Goddess, Harper Collins Publishers, SanFrancisco, CA 1989.

Stewart, R.J. Celtic Myths, Celtic Legends, Blanford Books, London, England, 1997.

Williamson, John, The Oak King, The Holly King, and the Unicorn, Harper & Row, New York, 1986.

Wood-Martin, W.G., Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, Kennikat Press, Port Washington, NY, 1902.