Celebrating the Return of Ostara and Sunna

The Vernal Equinox happens in the Midwest on March 19, at 11:31 in the evening. This is the time when the relative tilt of the Earth's axis is at an angle so that the length of the day and the length of the night are even. Though weather may choose to ignore this detail, it is the official start of Spring. So, what are you going to do about it?

I'm not aware of any research that says our Heathen ancestors were very aware of the equinox. There are megalithic structures that line things up fairly well, but to the average farmer, spring was when the green things started growing and the livestock could be allowed outside to forage. Critters in the area, whether livestock or wild, gave birth to young. The ewes and cows produced more milk. Depending on the latitude of your home, this could be earlier or later in the spring season with no care for the equinox.

The important thing for those folks was that it was time to start building up so they would have sufficient stores for the darker, colder times that would come again. That's not to say they would not be happy to feel the warmth of the sun and see the buds on the trees. We Heathens are pragmatic, though, and we know we should always find the joy in the adventure even if there will be struggles to come.

This is a time to give thanks for making it through the winter and to plan for the coming year. We take the time to invite the wholesome, life-giving sun into our homes and families, and we prepare to work hard to make full use of the good times so we can more easily survive the less-good times.

Various scholars fight about the details, but in general we Heathens look to the Goddess Ostara as the Goddess of the Spring. She is also known by her Saxon name, Eostre, from which the Christians get the name of their spring holiday, Easter. A quick look at the name suggests that it is related to the name of the direction East from which the sun rises. As such, She is also thought of as the Dawn.

There is not much written material about Her. What we know is based on linguistics and the survival of folk customs that were absorbed into the Christians traditions, particularly the association with rabbits. The good news is that we are Heathens and are not bound only to those things in writing. Our Gods are still around and are still active. That's where you come in.

The Ceremony

If you can, try to get some seeds that are appropriate for your area. If you have a garden, use the ones you plan to plant anyway. Be aware that it may be too cold in your area yet and you may need to put off this ceremony until the weather catches up to you.

Also get some clean water. Make sure it is something that you would feel comfortable drinking. A watering can, such as used in your garden, would be enough. The benefit of using the watering can is that curious neighbors may not realize that you are engaged in a Heathen ceremony, not that it's any of their business.

Dress in clean clothes appropriate for the outdoor environment. Try to wear spring colors such as green or yellow. Look to the colors of your environment during spring and try to blend in. The point with the clean clothes is that you want things to be fresh and renewed, like the waking spring.

If you can, make bread. It would be nice if the bread was in the form of eggs. Eggs are a symbol of rebirth and are, therefore, associated with spring. This bread will make up part of the offering during the ceremony.

Note, in the following ceremony text there is a reference to Delling's Door. Delling is a God or an elf who watches the East and through whose door the sun rises. He is the father of the Day, but little else is known of Him.

Go to the place where you will conduct your ceremony. We will be planting seeds and making an offering of bread, so make sure you are not violating any laws. You can also perform this ceremony indoors, but you will want to bring in a little soil for the planting part.

Facing east, say: "Hail Ostara! Hail to the Goddess of Spring! Hail to the Goddess of Dawn! Welcome to this world! We welcome you as you guide Sunna through Delling's Door! Hail Sunna, Glory of Elves! We welcome your light and warmth as you travel the paths of the sky!"

"Great Ostara, long has been our winter sleep! Rested are we and ready to work. With your help, we will bring new life and health into the world. Great Sunna, with your light and warmth, we will help things grow strong and wholesome."

At this point, add your seeds to the soil and add an appropriate amount of water. If you are outdoors and have water left, give that to the other plants in the area.

Now say, "Great Ostara, I offer you this bread; bread that would not have existed if you had not helped us last year. We are grateful for what we have received in the past and we will work hard to do our part as the year turns again."

Make an offering of the bread. If you are outside, and it is legal to do so, crumble a bit of the bread and scatter it on the ground around the place where you have planted. Birds will take the parts of your bread egg and survive to pass life on to their own eggs.

"Hail Ostara! Hail Sunna! You are always welcome in my home and with my folk. Long may we work together to grow and maintain the worlds."

Take a moment to quietly bask in the weather. Try to relax your mind and feel the life stirring in the world around you. Let the energies excite your own energies. The newly wakened plants, animals, and spirits radiate a life vibration and you can feel it and resonate with it.

Gather your items and return to the place where your store them. Now is a good time to think of the things that you would like to work on in the coming year.