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Vana Grimoire: Ostara and spring altar

In the Vana Grimoire series, we share tips and background information on pagan festivals, recipes, mythologies, history and other worth knowing subjects that are related to our events. In this blog, Lunadea will tell you all about Ostara and how to decorate your Ostara altar.

Ostara is the name of the spring festival that our Celtic and Germanic ancestors celebrated during the spring equinox. This always takes place around March 21st. With the start of spring, we dwell on the birth of nature. Lambs are being born, flowers sprout from the earth and leaves and buds make their appearance on trees. It's the time of a new beginning after the dark winter months. The sun shines brighter and warms the earth, and with that, increases fertility.

For our ancestors this was key. As they knew that when nature is fertile, it would result in a greater harvest. Reason enough to take a moment to appreciate the start of this new season and show our gratitude to this fertile earth through ritual. What you pay attention to, grows.

Nowadays mostly pagans, druids, witches and shamans still take a moment to appreciate the changing of seasons. They often do this through symbolism and ritual. As we don't grow our own food anymore, this symbolism is often found in ourselves. As with Ostara we ourselves will bloom and will go out to find the sun and start moving after the cold period. As for fertility: the spark of vitality within yourself is ready to come to life after winter!

What is Ostara's origin?

The name Ostara is also the name of the spring goddess Ostara, or Eaostre. She is a Germanic goddess who grants fertility to our lands. Her symbols are a hare and an egg. Those pagan symbols are still present in the current Easter celebrations as we decorate eggs and gift hare-shaped goods to one another. The painting of eggs is a spring tradition that can be found all through Europe, and even further. Even the Egyptians had a tradition to gift painted eggs to their loved ones to celebrate the revival of nature. 

Out with the old, in with the new

For many of us, the return of light and warmth marks the end of winter and the start of spring. It brings us joy and makes us want to celebrate!

Bring the spring in! By bringing elements into your home you'll transform the energy inside from a winter hide our to a place full of vitality and happiness. To do that, you have to start with a traditional spring deep clean. Don't just dust the most noticeable spots, but try to find and remove old dust in every nook and cranny in your home. Literally: out with the old (year)!

If that is too much work (as I would understand, it's quite time-consuming) take a moment to open all doors and windows and let the fresh air in. You'll notice that only that will already make a big difference in how your house feels.

By creating a spot in your home dedicated to spring, you'll create an altar. The word altar sounds a bit overblown, but it's not what you think: It is no place of worship but a dedicated place for positivity. In this case, the goals is to let the positivity of the spring flow through your home. If you're afraid your housemates will think it's weird, you could call it a season table. Make sure it radiates new life and happiness, as that is the energy you want to invite into your home!

How to make your Ostara altar?

The most often used symbols for a spring altar are: seeds, flowers, twigs with green leaves, eggs, hares and the colours light green and yellow. You may recognize all these items and colours from the Easter decorations that fill the shops around this time. All those decorations are perfectly useable for your home and altar. Your thoughts and feelings, that they are decorations for Ostara, give them another meaning.

  • Start by clearing space for your altar and clean the surface.
  • You could place a rug or animal skin. Covering the surface is a traditional sign of respect and transformation. Where it used to be your windowsill, shelf in your bookcase, or the top of a dresser, after covering it is your spring altar. 
  • Decorate the altar with items that symbolize spring:
     Painted eggs (symbols of recurring fertility)
    Spring flowers
    fresh branches of hazel or willow (symbols of nature becoming alive and green)
    Pictures or figurines of Ostara, hares, chicks, lambs (symbols of fertility) 
     Candles (fire and light symbolize the return of the warmth)
  • An Ostara custom is to place seeds on your altar to charge them with all the symbolic energy you've placed. Afterwards, you'll sow them to be aware of the awakening of nature with the warmth returning to the earth. If you want quick results, use cress seeds: these will sprout within a few days. 
  • You can decorate your altar however you like. If you want to add chrystals? Please do! You can take the colours of Ostara into account, but this is not mandatory. Another option is to scatter flower petals on your altar. Or burn some incense. Decorate your altar by listening to your senses and feelings, there are no set rules.
  • While decorating, take a moment to think about your dreams. In a symbolic way, you are awakening from hibernation or hatching from an egg, what are your dreams right now? What makes you want to spread your wings? By keeping this in mind while creating your altar, you'll steer your thoughts towards those goals. Spring has a lot of budding energy! Find that energy within yourself, as you are part of nature too. You can experience the feeling of blooming in the same way flower buds do. The energy of spring is the energy of starting something new and letting it bloom. Wouldn't it be great to start this year by chasing your dreams? 

Blessed Ostara celebrations!

Love,
Lunadea

Lunadea fills her days with nature, spirits and traditional witchcraft. On her website www.lunadea.nl (Dutch) you'll find more blogs, courses and self-written books to learn all about witchcraft and the magic of nature. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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