To us in the Southern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Ostara as we move into Spring.
This festival is named after the Anglo-Saxon Goddess Eostre, also known in Old German as Ostara. Little is known about this Goddess except that Her festival was celebrated at the Spring Equinox. She was a Goddess of Fertility and was connected with hares and eggs. She may have been a Goddess of the Dawn. She may also be connected with the Greek Eos and the Roman Aurora, both Dawn Goddesses, and with the Babylonian Ishtar and Phoenician Astarte, both who are Love Goddesses.
The Spring Equinox is a time both of fertility and new life, and of balance and harmony. Light and dark are here in balance, but the light is growing stronger. It is a time of birth, and of manifestation.
The days grow lighter and the Earth grows warmer. At Ostara, seeds may be blessed and planted. Seeds of wisdom, understanding and magikal skills may also be planted. Eggs are used for the creation of talismans, especially for fertility, or ritually eaten. The egg is a symbol of rebirth and its yolk represents the sun, and the white representing the White Goddess. This is a time of both growth and balance, a time to work on balancing yourself.
Ostara is a celebration of birth and new life. You will begin to see shoots of new growth and swelling buds on the trees. Energy is building as the days become warmer. This is the time of the official return of the young Goddess after Her Winter hibernation. The young God has now grown into manhood. It is believed that at Ostara the Goddess and the God consummated their love for one another. From this the Goddess became pregnant with the God to be reborn at Yule.
The Green Man is very predominate at this time of the year. He is a personification of all life that exist deep within Nature and is usually represented as the foliate mask made up of greenery, leaves growing from mouth and nose, and encircling the face as beard and hair. In some pictures He looks savage, ugly or threatening; in others He is benevolent and watchfully protective.
And to those in the Northern Hemisphere I wish you a blessed Mabon as you leave winter behind and change season.
Mabon is very much like Thanksgiving. Most of the crops have been reaped and abundance is more noticeable than ever! Mabon is the time when we reap the fruits of our labor and lessons, both crops and experiences. It is a time of joy, to celebrate that which is passing (for why should we mourn the beauty of the year or dwindling sunlight?), looking joyously at the experience the year has shared with us. And it is a time to gaze into the bright future. We are reminded once again of the cyclic universe; endings are merely new beginnings.
Since it is the time of dying sun, effort is also made to celebrate the dead with joyous remembrance. Natural energies are aligned towards protection, wealth, prosperity, security, and boosting self-confidence. Any spells or rituals centered around balance and harmony are appropriate.
The tale of Mabon (Modron), also known as the Son of Light, is celebrated. The Equinox is also the birth of Mabon, from his mother Modron, the Guardian of the Outerworld, the Healer, the Protector, the Earth. Mabon was taken after he was a mere three nights old (some variations of the legend say he is taken after three years). Through the wisdom of the living animals — the Stag, Blackbird, Owl, Eagle and Salmon — Mabon is freed from his mysterious captivity. All the while Mabon had rested within his mother’s womb; a place of nurturing and challenge. With strength and lessons gained within the magikal Outerworld (Modron’s womb), Mabon is soon reborn as his mother’s Champion, the Son of Light, wielding the strength and wisdom acquired during his captivity.
Also, (from a variation in legend) the Equinox is the day of the year when the god of light, Lugh, is defeated by the god of darkness, Lugh’s twin and alter-ego, Tanist. The night conquers day. The tales state that the Equinox is the only day which Lugh is vulnerable and the possibility of his defeat exists. Lugh stands on the balance (Autumn Equinox-Libra) with one foot on the goat (Winter Solstice-Capricorn) and the other on the cauldron (Summer Solstice-Cancer). He is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio).
Two events occur rapidly with Lugh’s defeat. Tanist, having beaten Lugh, now takes over Lugh’s place both as King of our world and lover to the Goddess Tailltiu. Although Tanist now sits on Lugh’s throne, his official induction does not take place for another six weeks at Samhain, the beginning of Winter, when he becomes the Dark King, the Winter Lord, the Lord of Misrule. He mates with Tailltiu, who conceives, and will give birth nine months later (at the Summer Solstice) to her son, another incarnation of Tanist himself, the Dark Child.