Ostara is one of the earlier of the spring Sabbats, along with Imbolc. It’s a time when the real stirrings of spring life can be felt in the earth and animals are beginning to come together once again to thrive and reproduce. It’s that time of the year when it’s likely you will see the offspring of some types of animals be born, along with more types of flowers and plants coming back to life after a cold winter slumber.
The history of Ostara is somewhat convoluted when compared to the histories of the other Sabbats. While the name Ostara is derived from the old Germanic Eostre, essentially meaning ‘the Easter month’, with a goddess of a similar name being suggested, the confirmed existence of a goddess of this name has continued to be something of a disagreement amongst many. It’s widely believed, however, that a goddess by the name Eostre was something of a spring goddess, resulting in her being affiliated with hares, eggs and general springtime, which may have played a part in the Easter Bunny/Egg tradition that we know today.
What is interesting to note is that Easter or spring traditions amongst the Norse people from where Eostre is believed to descend eventually ceased to be celebrated. The Anglo-Saxon version of Eostre, spelled Eastre is believed to at the time have been adopted by the Christians, whom are likely to have tolerated the name and applied it to their own springtime celebration – the Easter we know today.
Deities Associated With Ostara
While typically the goddess Eostre is affiliated with Ostara, there are a number of other gods and goddesses that can be considered Ostara deities as well. Here are just a couple of them. As Ostara is an early Sabbat in the Wheel of the Year, the goddesses and gods honoured at Ostara are generally their “younger” versions, such as maiden goddesses.
Born of the sea off the coast of Cyprus when Cronus severed Uranus’ genitals from his body, Aphrodite was considered one of the most beautiful goddesses of the entire pantheon. Her beauty and sexuality were so intense that many of the gods fought for her hand in marriage, causing unrest and upset. Upon seeing this, Zeus ordered Aphrodite to marry Hephaestus. Aphrodite was largely unfaithful to her husband, frequently bedding Ares with whom she had a number of children. Aphrodite is considered a spring goddess in many places and loves offerings of flowers, plants, sex and general love.
Persephone is a spring goddess for good reason. In her maiden form, she’s considered one of the chief spring deities due to her agreement with Hades with regard to her staying in the Underworld for half the year (winter) and then re-emerging for the other half (summer). In her maiden form, she’s the ideal spring goddess.
A deity of love, sex, fertility and war, Inanna/Ishtar was worshipped in parts of what would become Sumer as early as 4000 BC. The cult of Inanna/Ishtar was generally regarded as something of a sex cult and it’s believed that many fertility and sexual rites were used to honour the goddess, making her an ideal spring deity. Eventually Inanna/Ishtar would wane in importance, but they both led to the development of gods such as Venus and Aphrodite.
Foods For Ostara
Foods for Ostara are varied and tend to have associations with spring. Depending where you reside, you can use things like dandelion greens or early fruits and flowers for decorating or baking into cakes. Eggs, made in a variety of ways are a popular choice given their correspondences with fertility and spring. A popular type of bun that is found around Easter is hot cross buns, and while they’re typically more of a Christian Easter thing, they can be used to honour the season of Ostara as well.
For those looking to get more in touch with the energies associated with Ostara, these correspondences will help tune you in and get you ready for the holiday and the general season.
- Colours: Yellow, pale green, pale blue, pale pink, white.
- Deities: Persephone, Eostre, Maiden Goddesses, Artemis, Aphrodite, Astarte, Inanna, Ishtar, Venus
- Herbs: Honeysuckle, clover, dandelion, daffodil, iris, crocus, snowdrops, peonies, primrose, ash, birch and mint.
- Animals: Hares, dogs, lambs, chickadees, robins, sparrows
- Crystals: Moonstone, rose quartz, bloodstone, citrine, aventurine, aquamarine.
- Incense: Sage, rose, jasmine, lighter scents.
- Rituals: Plan a ritual of rebirth. Bake cakes with flowers in them. Plant seedlings that can be put in the ground early, or if not in the ground you can start them off inside. Dye eggs, make spell papers. Write a spell for fertility – either for yourself, a friend or for the earth in general. Go on a nature walk. Start to develop and then bless your garden space. Host a coloured egg hunt.
If you enjoyed this blog about Ostara, make sure you stay tuned for our next one – all about Beltane!