Celtic Traditions: Ostara

Our Scottish ancestry is rich in Celtic traditions

The Celts follow an Earth based seasonal wheel. The Celtic year is divided into two halves, the dark beginning with Samhain and the light beginning with Beltane. In between these are Imbolc and Lughnasadh/Lammas. These key points of the Celtic year were recognized as doorways, when the veil between the worlds are thinnest.

These quarters are further divided by the solstices and equinoxes:  Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox. These were referred to as the Albans.

We’re all familiar with the solstices as they are noted as the longest (summer) and shortest (winter) days of the year. The word is derived from the Latin sol meaning sun and sistere meaning to stand still.

Equinoxes also occur twice a year, when day and night are equal lengths. In fact, the word is derived from the Latin aequus meaning equal and nox meaning night.


ostara_by_johannes_gehrtsToday is Ostara (pronouced OH-star-ah)

Ostara, or Ēostre, is the spring equinox falling between March 19th to March 22nd (this is the day the Christians borrowed to be their Easter). It’s a day of equilibrium – neither harsh winter nor merciless summer – a day where daylight and night are the same length.

During Imbolc the Goddess became the Maiden. Ostara represents the Maiden, in her sacred marriage, conceiving. Ēostre is the Saxon Goddess of fertility (and apparently where the word estrogen comes from) thus the egg and its promise of new life. The hare is the animal totem of a number of lunar Goddesses, Ēostre being one of them (now those bunnies at Easter make a bit more sense).

Traditionally, this is a time to free yourself from things that hinder your progress. Embrace your inner child.

Decorate your home with colored eggs, hares (rabbits), and yellow spring flowers. Scents to include are rose and jasmine.

Some activities to try:

  • If you still have snow on the ground, scoop some up and melt it in an End of Winter ritual.
  • Plant some flowers.
  • Prep and plan your vegetable garden.
  • We’re still a few weeks away from Easter, but why not recreate some fond memories from your childhood.

Sherri Siggy

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