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When did our blessed Ostara get to be such a juvenile holiday?  I recall being new to the Craft but long attuned to the seasons and cycles of the earth, and smelling the first breath of Spring in the air.  There was a subtle shifting of energies, an inward stirring of freshness, possibility and new hope in the air.  As a wilderness child, I avidly searched for the first hint that the cold earth had thawed, for the first glimpse of wild dutchmans’ breeches, sweet violets and bloodroot flowers to come pushing up out of the ground.  Ostara brought silver minnows swimming in the creek, gusty breezes to coax kites aloft and wish bubbles to be blown out on the wind with a jar and plastic wand.

Somewhere along the way in the Pagan community, Ostara became only a children’s sabbat with grown-ups hovering awkwardly while kids scouted colored eggs.  There might be a picnic afterwards, with another avalanche of eggs.  What once was heralded as a light-hearted observance of greenings and hatchings and sighings of robins, wrens and hares, has been diminished to Cadbury eggs, jellybeans and egg coloring kits.

For all of us earthlings who are childless, or those whose children have grown, I propose returning Ostara to its roots…and stems and leaves and flowers.  If your young ones or grandkids have lost sight of their connection to the earth, and have no idea why there are chocolate rabbits hopping down from every grocery store shelf, this will be an educational outing for them.  There is magic and meaning in this observance, whether you are a covener of solitairy.  Make of Ostara a day of discovery, of newness in the wild.

If means permit, arrange a weekend camping or cabining trip to a place in nature.  Get away from the city’s concrete and steel. Along with other supplies, take your camera, notebook and pen.  Once settled in, find a picnic bench or break out your camp chair.  Seat yourself comfortably and invoke Ostara, Goddess of Spring:

“Lady of flowers returning, Lady of the earth’s green mantle,

Sweet your presence, blessed your spirit.

Awaken my senses to you, that I might be renewed.”

Now embark upon your great discovery.  Beginning with your sense of hearing, listen to the sounds of spring.  Is there a gurgling brook or a sunlit creek skipping over small stones?  Are there birds in the trees, industriously setting up housekeeping for the year?  Listen for as long as you like, then record what impressions came to you.

Next consider the smell of spring.  What is the scent of the earth, watered by spring rains?  How does the waterfall smell, rushing by?  Press your face to a leaf or bend to sniff a wildflower.  Tilt your face up towards the sun and drink in the fragrance of the day.  Jot down your thoughts or write a poem about this experience.

You may have to take the taste of spring camping with you.  Put together a salad of spring greens and herbs.  Set a dish of plump strawberries or blackberries for dessert.  I dare you to play at face painting by tracing some of the juice across your nose or cheeks!  Pour yourself a glass of spring water with a sprig of mint.  Dice up an apple and scatter it nearby, that the creatures of the earth might dine too.  If you are led to say a pagan grace, it might be something like this:

“Blessed is the earth on which I stand.  One Mother, giver of all life, renewed and renewing for time without end.  Blessed is the goodness you provide to nurture my body and soul.  May I walk gently, ever mindful of your grace.  So mote it be.”

Savor your little feast and thank Ostara for feeding you once again.  Take time to be grateful.  After your meal, see what gift you can give back to the earth.  Pick up some aluminum cans or trash.  Pour the last of your water at the base of a tree, or bury a few silver coins for the unseen spirits of the land.

Next look around you, visually noticing the colors of spring.  Ostara has painted the land with her palette, hoping you have the eyes to see.  Notice the changes in light and in shadow this time of year.  How many wildflowers have stars outlined in their pastel centers?  Like every good artist, the Goddess signs Her work.  Choose a single flower or a leaf, and press it in your journal.  Stand by a stream and note the patterns on wet stones. Have your camera ready to catch the budding trees’ reflection in the water.

Finally, reach out with both your body and your spirit.  Skip a few of those smooth flat stones!  Roll up your pant legs and go wading and splashing like the earth child you are!  Take your hiking stick in hand and see what’s around the bend.  Rake aside a bit of old brush and reveal the seedlings popping through the ground, tiny mushrooms and insects busy at work.  Tuck leaves into your hair.  Revel in the joy of spring!

When you have returned to your camp, write down anything of special significance to you.  Then thank Ostara with words like these:

“Here in the heart of nature, my spirit is renewed

And all my senses quickened.

Let me never lose the sight of beauty,

The scent of the breeze,

The taste of all the earth provides.

Let me hear the living earth hum around me

And feel your love in the weaving of nature’s web.

Blessed Be.”

Kiss your hand, then blow a kiss to Ostara on the balmy air.  She is all around you, and Her arms encircle the world.  List the treasures your day of exploration has revealed, by saying something like:

“For the little chipmunks who came for food, Ostara, I thank you!

For the first butterfly in the meadow, Ostara, I thank you!

For the shiny stone in my pocket, Ostara, I thank you!”

Hail to the Mother of Beginnings!  I’m betting that Ostara soon becomes one of your favorite sabbats.  Here’s to the sweetness of welcoming Spring!

– contributed by Bronwynn Forrest Torgerson

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HERBS to use in your magic at Ostara:

lily of the valley, tansy,
lavender, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, lovage, lilac, violets, lemon
balm, dogwood, honeysuckle, oakmoss, orrisroot, sunflower seeds,
rose hips, oak, elder, willow, crocus, daffodil, jonquil, tulip,
broom (Scotch or Iris), meadowsweet, acorn, trefoil (purple clover),
vervain.

Wick ~ from Secret Garden

When a thing is wick, it has a life about it.
Now, maybe not a life like you and me.
But somewhere there’s a single streak of green inside it.
Come, and let me show you what I mean.

When a think is wick, it has a light around it.
Maybe not a light that you can see.
But hiding down below a spark’s asleep inside it,
Waiting for the right time to be seen.

You clear away the dead parts,
So the tender buds can form,
Loosen up the earth and
Let the roots get warm,
Let the roots get warm.

Come a mild day, come a warm rain,
Come a snowdrop, a-comin’ up!
Come a lily, come a lilac!
Come to call,
Callin’ all the rest to come and see!

MARY:
When a thing is wick,
And someone cares about it,
And comes to work each day, like you and me,
Will it grow?

DICKON:
It will!

MARY:
Then have no doubt about it,
We’ll have the grandest garden ever seen!!
[Spoken]
Oh, Dickon, I want it all to be wick! Would you
come and look at it with me?

DICKON:
I’ll come every day, rain or shine if you want me.
All that garden needs is for us to come wake it up!

MARY:
But, Dickon, what if we save the garden, then Uncle
Archie takes it back, or Colin wants it?

DICKON:
Ay, what a miracle that would be, gettin’ a poor
crippled boy out to see his mother’s garden!

[Sung]
MARY and DICKON:
You give a living thing
A little chance to grow,
That’s how you will know
If she is wick, she’ll grow.
So grow to greet the morning,
Leave the ground below.
When a thing is wick
It has a will to grow and grow.

MARY:
Come a mild day, come a warm rain,
Come a snowdrop, a-comin’ up!
Come a lily, come a lilac!
Come to call, calling all the rest to come!

MARY and DICKON:
Calling all the rest to come!
Calling all the world to come!

DICKON:
Oh, somewhere there’s single streak of green below,

MARY and DICKON:
And all through the darkest nighttime,
It’s waiting for the right time.
When a thing is wick, it will grow!

Winter’s on the Wing ~ From Secret Garden

Winter’s on the wing,
Here’s a fine spring morn’
Comin’ clear through the night,
Come the day I say.
Winter’s taken flight
Sweepin’ dark cold air
Out to sea, Spring is born,
Comes the day say I,

And you’ll be here to see it.
Stand and breathe it all the day.
Stoop, and feel it. Stop and hear it.
Spring, I say.

And now the sun is climbin’ high,
Rising fast on fire,
Glaring down through the gloom,
Gone the gray, I say.
The sun it spells the doom
Of the winter’s reign,
Ice and chill must retire
Comes the May say I,

And you’ll be here to see it.
Stand and breathe it all the day.
Stoop, and feel it. Stop and hear it.
Spring, I say.

I say, be gone, ye howling gales,
Be off, ye frosty morns!
All ye solid streams begin to thaw.
Melt, ye waterfalls,
Part ye frozen winter walls.
See, see now it’s starting.

And now the mist is liftin’ high,
Leavin’ bright blue air
Rollin’ clean ‘cross the moor
Comes the day I say.
The storm’ll soon be by
Leaving clear blue sky,
Soon the sun will shine,
Comes the day, say I.

And you’ll be here to see it.
Stand and breathe it all the day.
Stoop and feel it. Stop and hear it.
Spring, I say.

Written by: Marsha Norman; Lucy Simon Simon

To awaken your own body, mind, and soul to spring’s rebirth, give back to Mother Earth some of the things we’ve taken from her. Plant a tree, herb garden, or flowers. Feed her animals and birds. As you do any of these things, consecrate your offering by saying:

Mother Earth, Goddess we walk upon,
May my gifts be of value
Even after I’m gone.
Today, while I’m here,
May my offering be,
An act of love
for you from me.

By: Edain McCoy

Ostara Seed Spell

Small plant pot
Coin
Seed
Soil
Paper
Ink

Write your goals and ambitions for the following year on the paper. Place the paper at the bottom of the pot, and lay the coin on top of it. Fill the pot with soil. Plant the seed into the soil, and water. Hold the pot between both hands and visualise your dreams/wishes growing as the plant does. Place the pot in a sunny spot, and nuture.

Limbs outstretched, fingers clawing at the sky,
An unmoving perch for the passing butterfly.
Towering giant, lay your veins into the soil.
Grasp at the earth, and let it feel your coil.
Spread sacred wisdom through your flowered offspring.
Whisper the secrets heard while the birds sing.
The knowledge of the universe lies beneath your bark.
Consciousness is no measure of one’s life spark.
I’ll join you soon, when all is finally seen.
I dream of the day when you become me.

~Paisley~