Ostara, Revised

The following essays are revised version of previous ones which for one reason or another did not pass muster with my DP reviewer.  For this one, I was advised that my original essay lacked any Pagan lore.  It’s a fair cop,  but I think for a good reason which the new revised final paragraph hopefully makes apparent.

Ostara is almost here!

To us Canadians, Ostara is what Imbolc is to most of the rest of the northern hemisphere; the harbinger of the first real signs of spring. The ground begins to turn from ice to mud, it becomes as likely to rain as it is to snow, and the deep winter funk that has lain over our hearts since Imbolc finally begins to lift.

For me, Ostara marks some of the most special changes in the wheel of the year. To begin with, the birds start to return. The first of the Robins and Red-Winged Blackbirds appear, and the morning air becomes alive with their songs. Great formations of Trumpeter Swans and Canadian Geese go honking by. The beautiful, lonely Herons stop by for a visit, and we even see the occasional eagle on its way to its northern perches.

Ostara also brings a miraculous change to our national tree; the Maple sap begins to run! Even now I have six of my Maples tapped and am collecting sap to boil this weekend. Fresh maple syrup is truly a gift from the gods for which I am ever grateful!

On the wheel of the food production year, this is the time to begin indoor planting of some vegetables to give them a head start before transplanting them at Beltane. It is also possible to start planting some cold-hearty crops such as beans and spinach.

I have here dwelt long on the seasonal changes because the spring equinox, as with the fall, has very little if any evidence of actually being marked by the ancients. Those of the Norse/Germanic kin can at least point to the existence of a particular goddess, Ēostre, who may be related with this date. However for those of us working within the Celtic hearth culture there is simply nothing historical to work with. The proximity of Ostara to Easter tempts one to draw inferences that fertility symbols such as eggs and rabbits which are typically, and seemingly illogically, associated with the Christian High Day were borrowed from older Pagan celebrations. Such inferences certainly seem likely to be true on the Germanic side however, for the Celts, fertility symbols are more properly associated with Beltaine. As a result of this lack of Celtic traditions I personally identify this High Day more strongly as a celebration of the Canadian spring, and consider activities such as maple syrup making to be properly traditional.

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