When there’s still snow on the ground and you literally just struggled the other day to get your car out of a parking space that’s mostly ice and snow, it’s hard to picture Ostara being right around the corner. But the days are indeed getting longer. In fact, daylight saving time starts this weekend! And it’s not quite as cold as it was not long ago. So the signs are all there, but it’s New England. We’re used to skepticism on when the actual end of winter will be. As pagans and polytheists in our area, we celebrate the spring equinox in hope.
So what exactly is Ostara, anyway?
Ostara as a holiday is inspired by a number of different pagan traditions. It’s not completely new, but it’s not exactly old, either. I’ve commented on historical precedent for pagan holidays in the past, and as always age does not matter but historical accuracy does. Different traditions have varied takes on how to celebrate this time of year and while Blue Star has our own traditions, many of our individual members do our own personal celebrations as well.
As for folks like myself, we tend to be more apt to celebrate the return of Persephone from the underworld during this time. In ancient Greece spring was the time of year during which the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries performed initiations. These initiatory rites were the prerequisite for receiving initiation in the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries. Initiates afterwards had to wait until the following year in order to receive the Greater rites in autumn. The Eleusinian Mysteries promised immortality and rebirth to all who initiated into them, and inspired many modern initiatory traditions.
As a more modern holiday, Ostara is about celebrating rebirth also as well as the return of life. We welcome back the flowers, the leaves on the trees, and the continued lengthening of the days as the world around us slowly once more becomes green.