The Vernal Equinox
What is Ostara?
Ostara occurs at the Vernal(Spring) Equinox, or when the Sun enters the astrological sign of Ares. This sabbat welcomes Spring. In some mythologies, this is when Persephone returns from Hades (in other mythologies, this happens at Imbolc). This day marks the triumph of daylight over darkness, after today, there is more day than night (until the fall equinox). We celebrate with colored eggs, and bunnies and chicks, and things of that nature. These kinds of projects are discussed in many other places; even as a Jewish child growing up, we dyed eggs at this time. It's so much fun, and so beautiful.
When is Ostara? For year 2007, Ostara occurs on Thursday, March 22th, 2007.
Things to do for Ostara
- Dye eggs. You can get really elaborate with this, as I am finding. Besides the standard hard-boiled-eggs-dipped-in-food-dyes, you can do some pysanky. Pysanky is the term used in the Ukraine for coloring eggs. It is done with raw eggs, or eggs that have been blown out (empty egg shells). The dyes are not edible (and some are toxic - there are warnings to keep them off your skin), but they are incredibly brilliant colors. The egg is decorated with lines of beeswax and dipped in progressively darker dyes. After all the colors are on, the wax is melted and rubbed off, and the resulting egg varnished for extra protection. I don't have photos of the pysanky I did in 2001, nor the eggs - one exploded around Samhain, and the smell was so bad, I had to get rid of all of them.
- CandlesYou can also decorate egg-shaped candles. We found some at a craft store, and they had yellow wax inside that acted like egg yolk as the candle burned. We also obtained square sheets of colored beeswax. The colored wax can be cut and placed on the egg candle, where it sticks quite nicely.
- Make your own mobile. (This idea comes from Circle Round) This emphasizes the balance between day and night, and you can make these as simple or as elaborate as you like. Items to create or find to balance on the mobile are suns and moons, eggs (real, empty shells, plastic eggs or paper eggs made by your children), thematic designs for the season, or anything else, really.
- Start seeds indoors. It's time to do this, anyway, so include your children. Remember to also plant something that sprouts quickly and spectacularly - like beans - that your children can see in a couple of days.
- Decorate flower pots. This can go in conjunction with starting seeds.
- Make a bunny doll. A while ago, I found a really cute pattern for a beanie-baby sized bunny stuffed animal pattern (I found the site - but the bunny pattern is no longer there. Another bunny doll is there, but it's more complex http://www.sewing.org). It only took about 90 minutes to throw together, and it makes a great gift to add to the altar for your ritual, and kids love it because it's so cuddly.
Egg Shell Mosaics
This is something I did once as a child, and I always wanted to do it again, but I never had the opportunity.
You will need:
- Colored egg shells
- Contstruction paper
- Pencil, crayon, or marker
- Your imagination
How to proceed:
- Carefully peel the shells from the colored eggs. Remove the membrane from the inside of the shell (otherwise, it will smell over time). The shell pieces should be large enough to handle, and small enough to lay mostly flat when placed on paper.
- Group like colors together.
- Draw an outline for the mosaic on the construction paper (this may be necessary for younger children, or if you can't complete the project in one sitting). You may want to use Sabbat-appropriate designs, or just whatever takes your fancy.
- Coat the mosaic area with glue.
- Place eggshells on the glue in the patterns you desire.
- Allow the glue to dry.