After Imbolc, the next Pagan sabbat on the Wheel of the Year is Ostara.
The third of the 8 sabbats, Ostara occurs at the spring equinox.
This sabbat, named for the Germanic goddess Ēostre (yow-str), celebrates the balance between the light and the dark. It is the day of the spring equinox, which always falls on either March 20th or 21st, and marks one of the two days each year that night and day are approximately equal in length everywhere on earth (the other being Mabon, the autumnal equinox).
As the days now begin to grow longer than the nights, this holiday celebrating hope and renewal is a time to plant the seeds for what you want to grow throughout the coming year.
Origins of Ostara
Commonly thought of as the origin of the Christian Easter, Ostara was originally celebrated by Germanic pagans, from which the name derives. Ēostre, goddess of the dawn, represented spring and new beginnings.
Popular legend says that Ēostre found a bird, wounded, on the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But “the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs...the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Ēostre.”
How to Celebrate Ostara
Today, Ostara is celebrated across most pagan traditions. It is a good time to start taking action on the ideas and goals you started thinking about around Yule and Imbolc. What you plant during Ostara will be ready for harvest during the coming summer months and the sabbats of Beltane, Litha and Lughnasadh.
Ostara is also a good time to freshen up your home and life. Take time to do some spring cleaning - declutter and clean up areas where you spend a lot of time, like your home, car, computer (delete those old emails!) or office. Open your windows and invite in the spring air and rid your home of stale energies. Light candles to infuse new scents in your home and encourage the sun’s energy (fire) to radiate throughout. Whatever you choose to cleanse will create space for new, fresh energy to come in.
There are simple and fun things you can do to celebrate Ostara. From decorating your tarot altar to crafting and performing house cleaning rituals, bring the energy of spring into your home. If you have little pagans, they can join in on all the festivities with you!
1. Decorate Your Altar With Ostara Symbols
With Ostara’s focus on fertility and renewal, the traditional colors and symbols of the sabbat include eggs, fresh flowers, and soft, pastel colors. Because there are equal hours light and dark at the solstice, this is a time of balance — what items can you use that reflect harmony and polarity?
Colors, Symbols, and Imbolc Candle Colors to Use for your Tarot Altar:
- Eggs - Eggs have the obvious symbolic meaning of “birth”. They also represent fertility, abundance, and the sun.
- Hares - In addition to the hare’s presence in the story of Ēostre, hares and bunnies are also obviously associated with fertility (considering how many babies they have).
- Serpents - The snake awakens from its winter hibernation around the time of Ostara. Its soaks up the sun, lays eggs, and sheds its skin. It’s easy to see how this creature can be associated with Ostara.
- Spring Flowers - Brighten you altar by bringing newly-emerging spring flowers indoors. Appropriate spring flowers include crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, primroses, pussy willow, and violets.
- Ostara Colors - The colors of Ostara are pastels and the bright colors of spring. Light pinks and blues, bright greens and yellows are all springing up around us now.
Say prayers or daily devotionals at your Ostara altar, and/or make offerings to Ēostre. Eggs, seeds and mead are all traditionally appropriate to leave out for the goddess during this time.
2. Eat Hot Cross Buns
Ancient pagan Saxons would bake buns marked with a cross at the beginning of spring in honor of the goddess Eostre. The cross represented the rebirth of the world after winter and the four quarters of the moon, as well as the four seasons and the wheel of life.
Pick up some hot cross buns from your local bakery or try your hand at baking them yourself with one of the many recipes you can find on line.
3. Plant Seeds
An old (but perfect) standby for your Ostara celebration: planting seeds. If you live in an area that’s still in danger of frost, just plant them in a pot on a windowsill and wait until after the last frost to transplant them outdoors. Bless your seeds first by holding them in sunlight, and empower them with your intentions for the coming season and year before placing them into the soil.
Tarot Spread for Ostara
The egg is an important symbol of Ostara, representing fertility and new life. This spread embraces the representation of the egg, starting from within.
- Card 1, The Yolk: What has been gestating all winter and is ready to be born?
- Card 2, The Shell: What limiting beliefs or old structures am I ready to break through and leave behind?
- Card 3, The Crack: How do I break through the shell and open myself up to transformation and rebirth?
- Card 4, The Sun: What will awaken and nourish me this season?
- Card 5, The Song: How do I speak my truth and embody my light?
- Card 6, The Wing: What new journey or opportunity invites me this spring?
Join Others on Your Tarot Journey
Ostara is but one of the opportunities throughout the year to reflect, celebrate, and look forward to the future.
Practicing tarot as you navigate the Wheel and each sabbat can support how you process the changing of seasons and the growth that comes with them. Even if you’re just starting out on your tarot journey, there’s a lot you can gain from pulling and reading cards during these times of shifting perspective and goal setting.
When you check in with yourself throughout the year, you can be a better member in your relationships, your family, and your community. You can gain deeper wisdom along your path and have a more nuanced understanding of your surroundings.
The best part is, you never have to go through this journey alone! Join our community of like-minded Tarot lovers to get tips, answers to your questions, and access to special community events and workshops.
About the Author
Sheila is the Creator and Founder of Writual Planner, a tarot journal for self-care.
She enjoys all things mysterious and spiritual and hopes to explore it all someday.
Sheila is a wife and mother of five kids, a dog, a cat, and an occasional goldfish in Longmont, CO. On her days away from her desk you can find her soaking in a hot tub with a glass of cabernet and a good supernatural novel.
*Tarot deck images from the Sacred Sisterhood Tarot by Ashawnee Dubarry and Coni Curi