Sabbat Series: Ostara

Posted by Alexandria Huntington on

This month, we're learning all about Ostara, the Pagan Sabbat that falls on the Spring Equinox. from March 21st through the 23rd. While Christians celebrate Easter in honor of Christ's resurrection, ancient cultures across the world have recognized the Spring Equinox as a time of rebirth and celebration.

In ancient Greece, the Phrygian cult worshipped Cybele, an Anatolian mother goddess who is most well known for resurrecting her mortal lover, Attis after he committed suicide. He was resurrected each spring during the vernal equinox (between March 22nd and March 25th) and a festival was held in his honor.

The ancient Persians also held a festival during the vernal equinox, No Ruz, which translates to "New Day," a celebration of hope and renewal that is still observed today in modern Iran. It is preceded by a festival called Chahar-Shanbeh Suri where people purify their homes and leap over fires to welcome the 13-day celebration of No Ruz.

The ancient Mayans held a Spring celebration, known as "The Return of the Sun Serpent." This is because as the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid, El Castillo, its western face is bathed in sunlight, and the lengthening shadows create a pattern like the diamond-backed snake.
The name "Ostara" comes from the Anglicized version of a Germanic goddess called Eostre and is believed to be where we get the Christian "Easter." Her name is also part of the ancient Germanic month of April, Ēosturmōnaþ, leading to the assumption that she may have been some kind of spring/fertility goddess and/or a goddess of the Dawn. Her existence is only attested by Saint Bede of Northumbria, in his 8th-century text, The Reckoning of Time.
Whether or not Ostara ever existed was a point of contentious debate during the first Neo-Pagan revival of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with many scholars taking extreme positions on either side. However, there is little to no other physical evidence of the goddess's existence apart from Bede's text. As a result, much of the evidence in favor of the Goddess relied on etymological connections.

In his 1835 Deutsche Mythologie, Jacob Grimm details that the Old High German adverb ôstar "expresses movement towards the rising sun," as did the Old Norse term austr and potentially also Anglo-Saxon ēastor and Gothic áustr. He traces all of these backs to the Latin root auster and contends that the goddess cult may have been centered around an Old Norse form, Austra.
Grimm also notes that the Old Norse Prose Edda book Gylfaginning references a male god called Austri, described as a "spirit of light," and hypothesizes a female variant called *Austra. In the second volume of Deutsche Mythologie, Grimm picked up the subject of Ostara again, speculating on possible connections between the goddess and various German Easter customs, including Easter eggs: But if we admit goddesses, then, in addition to Nerthus, Ostara has the strongest claim to consideration [...] Then, through long ages there seem to have lingered among the people Easter-games so-called, which the church itself had to tolerate : I allude especially to the custom of Easter eggs, and to the Easter tale which preachers told from the pulpit for the people's amusement, connecting it with Christian reminiscences.
Adolf Holtzmann was the first to make the explicit connection to the goddess Eostre and the Easter Hare writing, "the Easter Hare is inexplicable to me, but probably the hare was the sacred animal of Ostara; just as there is a hare on the statue of Abnoba. [another germanic goddess]" He cited numerous folk Easter customs around northern europe involving the ceremonial killing and eating of hares, and other folklorists soon expanded on his work.
Of course, there was still the question of why the Easter hare laid eggs. Eventually, these cobbled-together sources culminated in the form of a legend wherein one cold winter's day, Eostre found a wounded bird on the ground. In an effort to save the poor creature, she transformed it into a hare. However, this transformation was incomplete, for the hare retained the ability to lay eggs.

While there is ample evidence to support that the hare and eggs were sacred in many pagan cultures and that the vernal equinox was recognized as a sacred time throughout the world, the specific tie of the Proto-Germanic goddess known as Ostara, to Easter tradition is, admittedly, a bit tenuous. 
However, Jacob Grimm and Adolf Holtzmann's conception of Ostara continued to capture the European imagination, eventually being adopted into the Wiccan Wheel of The Year and venerated by modern Neopagans across Europe and America. Furthermore, spirituality does not need a basis of historical accuracy to be meaningful. Our practice is a living, breathing entity that changes and evolves as we do.

In fact, one might even say that the Grimm Brothers and other folklorists like them resurrected the Pagan celebration of the Solstice. In this way, it's almost fitting that the origins of Ostara were nearly lost to time, only to be brought back to life and reimagined by a new generation.
Many NeoPagans have re-appropriated the imagery of eggs and rabbits, as they still have deep roots in ancient magicks. In fact, ovamancy (divination through eggs, especially in regards to pregnancy and fertility) is an ancient practice found in nearly every culture around the world and is especially powerful during this time.

Above all, Ostara is a time of rebirth and renewal, when the soft rays of the sun warm the earth and plants burst forth from their seeds, blooming with promise and potential. Many use Ostara as a time to connect with their Divine Feminine or Moon aspect, practice fertility magick, and reconnect with nature and reflect on the ways in which they have grown and flourished.
  • Amethyst: Amethyst is a healing stone that transmutes anxious energy into peaceful tranquility. It dispels rage, sooths anxiety, and opens space in the mind and heart for psychic awareness. It is a great stone to cleanse and declutter our minds and spirit as we prepare to blossom for the spring season. 
  • Aquamarine: Aquamarine is a stone that increases creativity and joy and quiets judgement both of the self and others. The Spring equinox is a time to be receptive to new growth and possibilities and this cannot take place under the steely eye of a harsh and discerning critic. This stone clears confusion and self-doubt, replacing it with openness and self-expression. It is also a good stone for mothers and children, often believed to protect against mischarges. 
  • Rose Quartz: Another stone of love and protection, rose quartz opens our hearts to give and receive the love we know we deserve, be it romantic, platonic, or self love. A relational stone, it restores harmony in our relationships and strengthens trust. It also protects mothers, especially pregnant women. 
  • Moonstone: Moonstone is a gem for new beginnings, strength, and growth. Moonstone stabilizes emotions, enabling us to tap into our intuition, inspiration, and inner knowing. Being associated with the moon, it is also naturally protective of mothers and children, and can help us in our quest to re-parent our own inner child and reconnect with the tenderness and innocence of youth. 
  • Bloodstone: Bloodstone is a gem of sacrifice, rebirth, and courage. It clears the mind of negativity, enabling swift decision-making and courageous acts of selflessness. It stimulates dreams and intuition, allowing us to reconnect with our values and ideals as well as providing the strength and good judgement to act on them. 
  • Red Jasper: Jasper is known as the "supreme nurturer" as it grounds our spirit and balances masculine and feminine energies so that we may reach our highest selves. It aids in organization and quick thinking, making it an excellent "spring cleaning" stone and also promotes assertiveness and self-advocacy. 


  • acorn: growth, prosperity, abundance, luck
  • celandine: joy, luck, persuasion, protection
  • crocus: rebirth, hope, joy, love, friendship
  • daffodil: fertility, new life, rebirth, love, friendship
  • dogwood: banishment, ancestors, love, lust, fertility, comfort
  • Easter lily: purity, birth, hope
  • ginger: protection, good health, luck, fertility, lust
  • hyssop: cleansing, protection, rebirth
  • linden: hospitality, protection, peace, relaxations, sleep, dreams
  • honeysuckle: Intuition, happiness, faithfulness 
  • iris: Wisdom, hope, trust, and valor
  • jasmine: love, purity, sensuality, modesty, feminine power
  • narcissus: beauty, fertility, transformation 
  • peony: abundance, protection, fertility, faithfulness, enduring love
  • rose: love, lust, beauty, abundance
  • violets: luck, love, fertility, protection
  • woodruff: protection, victory, abundance, virility 
  • forsythia: love, anticipation, new love, new birth, fertility, infatuation
  • spring flowers


  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Green
  • Gold
  • Yellow
  • Blue 

Tarot Correspondences:

  • The World
  • The Empress
  • The Queen of Coins
  • The Queen of Cups
  • The Fool
  •  Seven of Coins 
  •  Three of Coins
  • Two of Cups 
  • Four of Wands
  • Three of Cups
  • Ten of Cups 
  • The Sun 
  • Judgement 
  • Six of Swords


  • Eostre
  • Syble 
  • Persephone 
  • Gaia 
  • Aphrodite 
  • Athena
  • Pan
  • The Green Man
  • The Maiden 
  • Venus
  • Mars
  • Osiris
  • Adonis 
  • Cernunnos
  • Thoth 

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