The vernal equinox (arriving Thursday, March 20) is the time of year for new beginnings. We see this phenomenon everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere and primarily in its more temperate regions. It is classically named “vernal” after the Latin term vernus meaning, “of spring” and is called “Ostara” by Wiccans.
Ostara, according to Jacob Grimm (of “Grimms’ Fairy Tales”), was the name of a goddess of the dawn whose day of celebration was on the vernal equinox and is where the origin of the word “Easter” derives. Easter is marked by the feast of the Passover, which is on the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
Games and activities that characterize Ostara traditions are carried down to us from the ancients. Egg painting, egg hiding, egg finding and eggs-a-plenty to eat are only a few things that characterize this time of year for planting, starting and beginning.
Reproduction is often symbolized by rabbits due to their particular procreative nature to multiply readily, and bunny rabbits are no exception. People long ago associated this time of year with fecundity and the mating season, and it is for this reason too that many symbols like the egg and the bunny survive in today’s culture. Sparked by the mating contests of rams, the astrological cardinal sign behind the sun that leads this time of year is reflected in the name of “Aries,” the ram.
The kinds of foods you might find at a Wiccan Ostara Sabbat include sunflower and pumpkin seeds (since they keep well over the winter), sprouted seeds such as alfalfa or broccoli sprouts, green vegetables, eggs of all sorts, flower garnishes of rose or carnation, and one may even find an occasional rabbit on the spit!
Pastel and soft colors characterize the still, yet soft light of the sun; here the sun is only at half strength due to the equal nature of night and day that gives the equinox its name. Wiccans revere the day of Ostara to honor the Goddess and the God, in all of their fruitful ways and in all ways yielding.