Spring Equinox (Ostara) History, Meaning, and Ritual

What is the Spring Equinox?

The Spring Equinox is the day when light and dark are in perfect balance, each occupying 12 hours of the day. This balance occurs twice during the year: once now and once again at the autumn equinox. The Spring Equinox, also known as the Vernal Equinox, is the middle point of lengthening days and signals the beginning of the spring season. Balance is a major theme of both equinoxes, as the perfect equilibrium between night and day can help us find balance in areas of our own lives.

The Equinox this year falls two days after the full moon in Virgo and one day before the start of Aries season. Aries season signals the astrological “new year,” when the Zodiac cycle begins, and brings fiery passion and energy onto the scene. This is a perfect time for new beginnings, renewing your new year’s resolutions, or simply recommitting yourself to your goals.

The Spring Equinox is called Ostara in the Wiccan tradition and often corresponds to the Christian holiday of Easter, with which it shares themes of birth and rebirth. As the start of spring, it carries powerful fertile energy – both in the literal sense (a good time for those wishing to start a family or simply plant a spring garden) and in the metaphorical sense – give birth to your creative passions.

Traditions and Beliefs of Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox Around the World

The Spring Equinox’s astronomical and astrological significance has been recognized and celebrated by cultures around the world since antiquity. In ancient Rome, two mystery cults associated their deities with this time of year: Cybele and Mithras. The cult of Cybele, otherwise known as the Magna Mater (“Great Mother”) cult and which originated in Phrygia, told a mythological story of Cybele giving birth to a son Attis despite her being a virgin. Her son Attis is said to have died and resurrected three days later (yes, this should be familiar…) around the time of the Spring Equinox. Cybele worshippers celebrated both the miraculous fertility of the virgin goddess and the likewise miraculous rebirth of her son. The cult of Mithras also had a death and resurrection tale: their god Mithras died at the Winter Solstice and was reborn at the Spring Equinox. This god, another Roman adoption from neighbors east of them, was said to guide his followers through death back into the light, reiterating the theme yet again.

In Chichen Itza, the ancient Maya celebrated the Spring Equinox and associated it with serpents and the feathered serpent god Kukulcán. The monument at this site, located in modern Mexico, was built so that at the moment of equilibrium on the Spring Equinox, light from the sun would trail down the massive steps and resemble a serpent slithering down from above. Some modern practitioners associate this serpentine motif with Kundalini energy and tie it closely with the other Divine Feminine elements of this holiday.

Wiccan Ostara and Germanic Eostre

Wiccans and other modern pagan traditions celebrate the Spring Equinox as Ostara, one of the eight points on the Wheel of the Year. The holiday is named after a supposedly Germanic goddess Eostre, a springtime fertility goddess associated with the dawn. Evidence for this goddess is scant; she appears only in the medieval Christian writer Bede, and some scholars believe he invented her. Nevertheless it is likely that a springtime fertility goddess was in fact worshiped among ancient Germanic peoples, whatever her name may have been. Wiccans celebrate this time of year with symbols of fertility like the hare and the egg.

Spring Equinox Affirmation

As life blooms around me, I give birth to new ideas and beginnings. Creativity flows from me and all around me. I am renewed and reborn into an ever-better version of myself.

Spring Equinox Activities

  • Plant a spring garden
  • Decorate eggs or hold an egg hunt
  • Practice balancing meditation or kundalini yoga
  • Get creative! Practice art, dance like no one’s watching, sing to the sun, whatever gets your creative energy flowing

Spring Equinox Recipe: Egg Custard Tarts

Eggs are one of the main symbols of the Spring Equinox. They represent fertility, birth, and rebirth. To celebrate the equinox, try out this custard tart recipe!

Ingredients:

  • ½ c butter (1 stick), cold
  • 1 ⅔ c flour
  • ¼ c sugar, plus 3 tbsp separated
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 ¾ c milk, plus 2 tbsp separated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg for dusting (optional)

Method:

  1. To make the tart crusts, add the flour and 3 tbsp of sugar to a bowl or food processor and combine. Next, cube the cold butter and add it to the mixture. Pulse in the food processor or use a fork or your hands to rub the butter into the flour/sugar mixture. Be sparing with your hands – you don’t want to melt the butter. The mixture should be dry and crumbly.
  2. Next, slowly add milk one tbsp at a time (up to 2 tbsp) and combine until the mixture forms a dough. It should still be dry but hold its shape. Cover or wrap the dough and store in the fridge for 30-45 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line or grease a cupcake/muffin tin. Once the dough has cooled, roll it out on a floured work surface. Using a large round cutter (~4in), cut out circles from the dough. You can re-roll and cut more rounds if necessary. Press the circles into the tin gently and return to the fridge.
  4. To make the custard, place the rest of the milk, along with the vanilla, in a saucepan and heat over low heat until warm. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Slowly pour the warmed milk into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
  5. Next, take the tin from the fridge. Slowly and carefully pour the mixture into each pastry crust. Carefully place the tin in the oven, taking care not to spill any of the mixture.
  6. Bake at 400º for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º and bake for another 10 minutes. When the top of the tarts is golden brown, it’s time to take them out and let them cool completely. Finish by sprinkling cinnamon and nutmeg on top.
  7.  

Spring Equinox Crystals

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