Category: Spirituality

Happy Ostara (Spring Equinox)!

The first official day of Spring has arrived. For today is the day that the light and dark are of equal lengths, and the days will begin to get longer. More time to enjoy the outdoors.

Many faiths celebrate this time of year. The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the Spring Equinox on March 21. The Venerable Bede said the origin of the word is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of Spring. It’s also the same time as the Christian Easter celebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well.

For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season. Ostara is the time for new beginnings and awakenings, to act upon things we planned during the Winter months.

Ostara by Johannes Gehrts
Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts. The goddess flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic people look up at the goddess from the realm below.

Many symbols that are associated with Easter had their roots in ancient Paganism. Symbols of fertility and new life such as eggs, flowers, vines, and rabbits. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. Many parents take their children to visit the Easter Bunny, and my parents were no exception.

Little Stevi with Easter Bunny
Little Stevi with Easter Bunny.

I look a bit unsure, but still likely enjoying the festivities of that time of year, anticipating coloring eggs and eating candy. I have a childhood memory of an Easter Sunday after attending church, excitedly running around the wet and slightly muddy grass on the church grounds in my white patent leather mary janes, white tights, and new pink Easter dress, enjoying the warm sunny day. I got mud spots on myself, I don’t think my parents were too pleased with that.

Ostara Tarot Cards – Place the Chariot, card 7, on your altar as a sign of confidence in your ability to test what you have learned during the Winter months. Unlike the Fool, the Chariot knows the reason for his journey and creates his own destiny through his actions. The Eight of Wands generates creative new ways forward. The Magician, card 1, symbolizes the ability to visualize goals on the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual planes of existence. He then asks you to get to work on those goals to make them your reality. From Tarot for All Seasons: Celebrating the Days & Nights of Power.

Ostara Tarot Cards
Ostara Tarot Cards

Ostara is the time of renewal, rebirth and change. Just as nature is reborn, what will be reborn in you? Start something new during this time, or look back on what you had done in the past that you enjoyed and bring it back again for a rebirth. Or take a look to see if some spiritual housecleaning is needed, this is a good time for that as well.

Be joyful on this Ostara, the wheel has turned, the Winter months are behind us, and Spring is here again!

How Buzzard Got His Feathers

This is one of my favorite Native American legends, and I wanted to share it with you.

An Iroquois Legend

A long time ago the birds had no clothing. They spoke like people, but they were shy and hid from sight. One day they decided to hold a great council. “We must go to Creator and ask him for clothing,” said Eagle. So it was decided. But who would carry the message?

Many birds volunteered. But finally they chose Buzzard. He could fly great distances because of his long wings, and he could soar higher than any of the other birds and so come more easily to the sun-place, where Creator lived. All of the birds burned tobacco and sent their prayers up to creator, and then buzzard set out on his way.

It was a long journey. Buzzard flew and flew. He ate the food he had carried with him and still he was far from the place of Creator. He became hungry, so hungry that he stopped and ate some dead fish washed up on the shore below him. They were rotten and smelled bad. But his hunger was great, and he did not notice.

He continued on his way. Now he was close to the sun-place; he went higher and higher. It grew fiery hot from the sun, but still he flew up and up. The skin on top of his naked head burned red in the sun’s heat, but at last he came to the place of Creator.

“I have been waiting for you,” Creator said, “because I have heard the prayers of the birds. I will give you clothes made of fine feathers to take back.” Then he showed Buzzard the clothing he had prepared. It was fine indeed. There were as many colors in the feathers as there are in the rainbow snake that arches across the sky after a rain, and the feathers shone so brightly that Buzzard had to turn his eyes away from them.

“Now,” Creator said, “I know how hard it was for you to fly to me. You may have the first choice of all these suits of feathers. Remember, though, you may try on each suit only once.”

Buzzard was very pleased. “I must choose the finest feathers,” he said to himself. “Then everyone will see them and always remember it was I who brought back clothing for the birds.”

He tried on a suit of bright blue and white feathers with a jaunty cap. “No,” he said, taking it off, “not bright enough.” And so that suit went to Blue Jay.

He tried on another suit of brilliant red and black with a tall crest. “No,” he said, “I do not look good in red.” And so that suit went to Cardinal.

He tried on another suit of gray and black with a scarlet vest. Again he was not satisfied, and that suit went to Robin.

He put on a suit as yellow as the sun with handsome dark markings. “Too much black on this one,” he said, and that suit went to Goldfinch.

Creator patiently watched Buzzard trying on one suit after another. None of them were right. Sometimes the feathers were too long. Sometimes they were not long enough. Some were too dark, others too light. None of them seemed to be just right for the messenger of all the birds.

Finally Buzzard put on a suit of clothes that was too small for him. Although all of the other clothes had grown larger or smaller to fit whatever bird chose them, this last suit of feathers was very tight. Buzzard pulled and strained. Finally he got it on. It left his legs and his neck bare; the red skin of his bald head remained uncovered. He looked at the suit. Not fine. Not fine at all. The feathers hardly had any color, just a dirty brown. They were not shiny and neat like the others. Buzzard was not pleased, “This is the worst of all.” he said.

Creator smiled. “Buzzard,” he said, “it is the only suit left. Now it will have to be yours.”

And so to this day you can see Buzzard wearing the suit that he earned for himself. He still eats things long dead because of what he ate on his journey to the place of Creator. And though some make fun of the way he looks, Buzzard still remembers that he was the only one who could make that long journey.

Even in his suit of dirty feathers that fits him badly, even with his head burned scarlet from the heat of the sun, he remembers that he was chosen be the messenger for all the birds. When he circles high in the sky, he is close to Creator. Then, even in his ill fitting suit of feathers, he is proud.