You know those pretty altars you see so many pagan bloggers set up? The ones that have about fifteen different items, many of which are store-bought, that probably took those poor people at least an hour to arrange, let alone find just the right lighting for that perfect photo?
Yeah, I rarely set those up.
Does this mean I don’t acknowledge sabbats? Absolutely not! But I do prefer a more natural approach, one that doesn’t take me half a day and a trip to my local metaphysical store. (Especially since I live in Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico where there isn’t a metaphysical store within a hundred miles. Trust me, you ain’t done middle of nowhere until you’ve done it New Mexico style…)
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not declaring a blog war on those motivated individuals who take the time to set-up a full altar. Why in the world would I criticize such dedication? Especially when I enjoy pinning the crud out of their pretty pictures?! But spirituality isn’t an all or nothing endeavor. So, for those of us who prefer a more simplistic, nature-based approach, or for those who are just too tired to create an altar after a long day at work, I’ve got some easy earth-based suggestions for you! (And make sure to check back for more simple approaches to other sabbats!)
What is Ostara?
Generally occurring on March 20, 21, or 22, Ostara is the spring equinox, the time of year when the hours of daylight and nighttime are equal. But unlike Mabon, this is when the light is overtaking the darkness, when the days following Ostara begin to grow by one minute or so every day. In ritual, this is a time of beginnings, a time when the earth is waking after a long slumber, when nature is coming into fertility and abundance. This year, Ostara is taking place on the 20th.
Symbolically, Ostara is represented by rabbits (a symbol/manifestation of the Goddess ) and eggs (fertility and life).
It is appropriate to mark this sabbat by including seeds, leafy greens (especially dandelion and nettle), young meat (like lamb or game hen), spring vegetables (especially asparagus), and of course chocolate into your Ostara feast.
Looking to decorate for Ostara? Don’t forget to include light green and light yellow accents with your bunnies and chicks!
How you can celebrate without spending a dime:
1. Take a walk. But, like, really take a walk. Notice the birds twittering. Take a moment to study a budding flower. Take your shoes off and feel the grass. (And while you’re at it, take a moment to ground yourself) Let the breeze dance in your hair. Take a deep breath of the first exhale of spring, and take a moment to thank the Goddess and God for the beauty that is nature. Bonus points if you spot a rabbit!
2. Meditate outside. Find a quiet spot in your backyard, a park, the woods, wherever you feel most comfortable. Take a seat, close your eyes, and just breathe. Relax and allow yourself to be open to whatever message Mother Earth has for you. She’s always speaking; you just have to listen.
3. Plant something. What better way to celebrate fertility than to garden? Whether it’s a single seed or full blown tree is totally up to you. After you put the plant in the earth, take a step back and appreciate the living essence you just connected with. After all, there is no better way to commune with the earth than getting your hands in some dirt!
|Courtesy of Pannonnique|
5. Bird watch. Of course you can always sit quietly in your yard and watch the birds, but if you’re really in the mood for a gaggle throw a handful of seed onto the grass and wait for the party. Or if you downed some coffee this morning and are really feeling motivated, you can make bird seed eggs to hang in the tree!
|Courtesy of Blankdoll|
7. Have a picnic. You can plan a special Ostara meal filled with Ostara foods (anything fresh and vibrant is appropriate!) or throw together a couple of PB and Js. The point is to be outside, observing the fertile turn of nature and connecting with the earth.
8. Smudge yourself. I think you should smudge yourself often, but if you haven’t done so in a while take the time to do so now. Ostara is about casting off the old to make way for the new. Just as the earth sheds its icy cloak, it’s time for you to shed that funky energy! Grab yourself a smudge stick, a twig of rosemary, or a handful of sage leaves and get rid of the stagnant energy of winter! And while you're at it, spring clean your home's energy!
9. Dye eggs using natural coloring. Gone are the days of buying a chemical-ridden egg-dyeing kit from Walgreen’s with those funky wire egg scoops. Now you can do it at home using food from your fridge!
10. Have an Ostara feast. Plan a special meal that honors the fertility of nature. Roast chicken. Sautéed asparagus with lemon and butter. Nourish your body with a fresh spinach salad. Ostara is a great time of year to cook because produce is bountiful and colorful. Try something new or stick to an old favorite. Either way, take a moment to reflect on the burgeoning spring as you chop, stir, and season. And as always, make sure to say a blessing and show gratitude for the sacrifices made for your meal, especially if it includes meat!