Ostara, the fertile season
By Nicholas Katsikis
Gray twilight looms over vast pale, yellow fields. Among the skeletons of old, gnarled trees and lichen clad boulders, the first stirrings of life are emerging. In the loamy earth, worms and tiny creatures are developing, getting ready for their first hatch. Soon the pipping of egg shells and the rustling of leaves will set the stage. In quiet burrows and cozy dens hidden in moist dewy fields and in bark covered forests a quiet beginning and fresh start is occurring. Snowflakes give way to rain drops showering the countryside in minuscule mirrors and tiny reflective surfaces. Distant sounds of crows and other birds echo along the lane, their caw shaking moisture from the trees and brush. Under each inky, black wing tip unfurling from either side, tall trees give way to greater forest.
Standing in the cloudy morning, high above the fog and mist the quite mountain rises. A view of seemingly endless green and brown, gray and black cascade to the horizon. Here in the patient presence of rock and stone, forest and field, river and stream you are able to feel it turning in the still air,… magick is happening. Curling tendrils of white steam and the blue hue of wood smoke billow into the sky like living beings of vapor and light. Sap and sweet water boil into a precious liquid, frothing and turning in steel vat crucibles. The aroma of fire and of rendering sap waft from the sugar alchemist’s shack and mix with loamy petrichor coming from the rain soaked dirt and field.
In the deep heart of the forest where the Maple trees and Robin Red Breast are heralding the oncoming Spring and the Vernal Equinox lief is beginning again. Preparations for the return of the Sun and swelling of rivers and streams, the birthing of little blessing and the budding blossom sharing its first breath with the fresh moist air of Spring are all in progress.
Wild brown and cunning, the March hares bound and run in the greening grass and the young partridge berry. The dances and acrobatic flirtation of rabbits, the whistling and singing of birds and the crow and carrying cry of the cockerel are the like the tuning of instruments in a symphony preparing to be performed, the cracking of river ice and the thawing of frozen ground akin to the tapping of a conductors wand… a moments pause, a deep breath and exhale.. Slowly spring approaches, the color and light of the Vernal sun illuminate the landscape.
As the super-natural changes take hold, the music of life and the joyous rebirth of the growing season comes into clear focus. Harmony and the polyphonic cadence of active life takes root.
Warm winds blow, soft breezes sweep mild days aside for cleansing rains and drum deep thunderstorms. With every passing day and the with each flash of sky fire the approaching kiss of Summer is not far off. Till those hot heavy days and long summer afternoons arrive, the wise steady wing beat of the night hawk and the hoot of the owl in the pre-spring branches will hold space for us. There among twisted roots and mossy woods we shall find peace in the rhythm. Here in nature we see the bounty of life issuing forth fertility and abundance. Change is manifest through desire it is accomplished by directing will and intention into the moments, days and weeks ahead.
In the arms of mother earth, at the feet of Ostara, during the Spring planting and planning days we are set free from winter’s grasp. We mark growth and the passing of time from this point on. In the movement of time and the love of the Goddess we feel ourselves unburdened by grief, praise has burst through. Tiny green life and budding strength pushes up from the grave of the dark months, now behind us. May we never hunger, may we never thirst…
Now in the planting time what do you wish to sew, what are your intentions for the growing season? What blessings do you create? What are the promises you are willing to make? What feeds you?
Even now folk traditions which follow belief in the Germanic Goddess Eostra and in the ancient fertility rites of old European settlers are practiced today. These customs connect a people to their planet and show history for what today are similar versions of old world pagan myths about spring and rebirth. Identical to the playfulness of symbols used in pre-Christian eras, decorations and preparations for the upcoming holidays associated with the Pascal and Easter weeks are detailed with rabbits, bunnies, chicks and painted eggs. All icons of the ancient pagan images for fertility and nature worship, the reverence and respect for the power of nature and its blessings happily can not be forgotten.
In the pre-christian days of old, the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox (just as it is for the planning of Easter), was considered to be the beginning of the planting calendar and the feast of Ostara. Celebration of the Goddess and her first fertile rite was a way of marking the cross quarter year with good memories and setting the intention for a prosperous harvest season in the weeks and days ahead.
In the days of the harvest calendar our ancestors watched the turning of the year, and when the time was right they worked with the land and the weather. They planted and sewed, reaped and harvested according to the world around them. Instructed by the return of migrating birds and newly seen fauns playing in the hillside each spirited soul knew the signs of natures promise, the return of the planting and growing season, and the beginning of new life each year.
Even unto this day and many to follow, nature will call and respond with the turning of the wheel and the cycle of life, death and rebirth. In the natural world our part in the great work is to stand as stewards to this earth, these lands and all of its creatures. Our ancestors knew this magick, this science, these ways of planning, preparing and harvesting life’s bounty and blessings.
In this sacred time and in these sacred places human, myth and magick all work to take advantage of well laid plans. Take the opportunity to focus on your intentions and on the budding promises you make in the weeks ahead.