Signs of a Greening Earth

Those who observe the Pagan holiday Ostara are celebrating the ancient rites of spring.

BY: Edain McCoy

 
Excerpted with permission from "Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rites for the Rites of Spring," published by Llewellyn.

The Rites of Spring

The hushed expectancy of the sacred dawn envelops you as you awaken. It is the day of the vernal equinox. The warming rays of the sun have been hidden by the shadow of the Earth for only a little more than twelve hours. You throw on a shawl, go outdoors, and look to the eastern horizon as the sky turns from black to a rich midnight blue, from amber to orange, then finally to a bright azure as the first long legs of the sun step tentatively over the horizon to flood the land with light. The daylight will last exactly twelve hours before the last of the sun's legs steps out of our landscape again, giving way to the night, which will also last exactly twelve hours. You revel in the perfect balance of heaven and earth, knowing that, with this special sunrise, ancient rituals are renewed.

Behind the doors of a locked bedroom a young Witch lights the ribbon-bedecked pastel candles on her altar and murmurs a private welcome to the Goddess of the Sun.

An elderly, robed man--a Druid alone in the woods--stirs blood-red wine three times three before offering a toast to the spirits of spring.

Children in the daycare center of the local Greek Orthodox Church dye hard-boiled eggs a rich red to share as gifts and offerings to celebrate the miracles of life renewed.

An ecumenical study group wends its collective way through the twists and turns of the labyrinth they have created to reenact ancient resurrection rituals and to honor the rebirth of many religions' deities of spring.

A Wiccan coven in England walks out to a secluded meadow bursting with new greenery and taps three times on the back of Mother Earth to gently awaken her from her winter's nap.

The citizens of a small town in Scotland march through the hills and meadow outside their village banging on pots and pans, blowing whistles, ringing bells, and shooting off rifles to celebrate the arrival of spring.

A solitary student of Witchcraft gathers the first flowers of the season to decorate her personal ritual space, and is surprised at how in tune with the earth's energies this simple act makes her feel.

An Irish lad dons the leafy mask of the Green Man and dances on his nimble feet through the streets of his village, where its citizens are celebrating the greening of the earth.

A German woman who has no conscious knowledge that the hare was an animal sacred to the spring goddess of her ancestors still feels compelled to make a rabbit stew for her family's equinox dinner, a tradition practiced by her grandmother.

Simple.

Timeless.

Continued on page 2: »

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