Everywhere I look, the signs that spring is returning are cropping up. The weather was absolutely gorgeous last Saturday; the shining sun and the gentle breeze seemed to carry the promise of spring with them. Soon, the flowers will be blooming and the lushness of the earth will appear in full swing all around us. We are quickly approaching Ostara, the vernal equinox, which occurs on March 20 for those of us in the northern hemisphere.
Ostara is a Sabbat that honors and celebrates our beloved mother earth as she wakes up. Fertility and new life abound and we rejoice in the return of warmth and light. We have survived the cold and relative barrenness of the winter and we look forward to the warmer months ahead. As we celebrate the fertility we are starting to see all around us, it is easy to overlook another important component of this Sabbat. Yes, Ostara is a time of rebirth and renewal and that certainly deserves a great celebration. But we should also keep in mind that the vernal equinox is as much about balance as it is about fertility. The equinox gives us an equal day and night, providing us with the opportunity to look at the balance in our own lives. Two times a year, at Mabon and Ostara, we celebrate Sabbats whose defining feature is the equal length of the day and night. As I look forward to Ostara, I find myself contemplating the differences between the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
What is the balance of Ostara and how does it differ from the balance of Mabon? The balance of Mabon concerns looking at what we need to let go of as we prepare for Samhain and what we need to eliminate from our lives as we prepare for the darkness and quiet of the winter months. For most of us, the winter is a time of decreased social activity and increased introspection. We spend more time in our homes and less time out and about in the cold of winter. At Ostara, many of us are coming out of hibernation, at least on the metaphoric level.
Though it shares the characteristic of having a day and night of equal length, the balance of Ostara in many ways opposes the balance of Mabon. As we prepare for spring, we look at what we want to add to our lives to achieve a more balanced state. It is time to venture out into the warming, waking world and to think about what seeds we want to plant, both literally and metaphorically.
I have many pagan friends who are avid gardeners and I see them excitedly making trips to nurseries and discussing plans for their planting. Out of mercy to the plants of the world, I do not attempt any type of gardening myself, but I can certainly appreciate watching my friends make their preparations. I believe that a large part of finding balance at Ostara is based on what preparations we make. In these last weeks before the fertility of the earth burst forth, really spend some time considering what you hope to plant, grow and harvest for the remainder of the year. Think about what preparations you need to make now in order to realize your vision.
If you want to work on building ties to the community, find an open circle, a class, a volunteer organization or a study group that interests you. If you cannot find a group that appeals to you, then consider starting one yourself. For suggestions on how to get a group started, please see my previous article www.beepwire.com/x-10755-Denver-Wicca-Examiner~y2009m6d28-The-benefits-of-starting-a-Wicca-study-group. Ask yourself in what area of your craft you really need to expand your knowledge (astrology, tarot, ritual-crafting, herbalism, history, a survey of other spiritual paths, etc.), then stop making excuses and figure out how what you need to do to learn it. Do you need to buy a book, sign up for a class or simply find the time to dedicate to your studies? Perhaps you have already mastered a skill or ability and you should be considering offering a class to teach others. Honestly assess where you need to see growth and fertility in your life, and then take the necessary steps to begin that growth process.
If you are having trouble figuring out where you need growth in order to achieve balance, take the opportunity to meditate or journey for some divine guidance. Try consulting with the deity or deities in your pantheon that are associated with balance or fertility. If you are not working with a specific pantheon and are unsure what deity to visit, I recommend you try connecting with Ma’at because I find that she is easily accessible and always willing to provide help and guidance in this area. Try lighting a candle and some rose incense in her honor, then invoke her and ask for her assistance. If connecting with deity through journeying or meditation is difficult for you, you may want to consider tarot, runes, oracle cards, oghams or whatever form of divination you prefer.
Pagans in the metro Denver area who are looking for open Ostara rituals have several available options. JUC CUUPS will be holding their Ostara ritual from 7 pm to 9 pm on Friday, March 19. The ritual will take place at the Jefferson Unitarian Church located at 14350 W 32nd Ave in Golden. For more information about JUC CUUPS, please visit http://www.meetup.com/JUCCUUPS/. Earth Temple will be holding their Ostara ritual at 7:30 pm on Saturday, March 20. Earth Temple meets at 3232 Depew in Wheat Ridge. Please remember that Earth Temple rituals are adult only (18+). For more information about Earth Temple, please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EarthTemple/. Living Earth will be offering an afternoon of both Ostara activities and ritual on Saturday, March 20 at Daniels Park located at 7800 N. Daniels Park Rd in Sedalia. The festivities start at 3 pm, with ritual scheduled to begin at 4 and a potluck dinner after the ritual. For more information on Living Earth, please visit http://www.meetup.com/livingearth/.
However you decide where you want to focus your efforts and preparation for balance and growth this season, take advantage of the balanced energy provided by the equinox. Celebrating the Wheel of the Year allows us to tune into the seasonal energy around us and partner with it to create positive change. As you go about your Ostara rituals and celebrations, keep in mind that as balance and rebirth occur in the world all around you, they are also occurring deep within you.