Here we are again, it’s Thursday, my witches. We are back, and thank you so much for joining me today. Especially after last week’s episode, which was a bit of a departure from our normal programming, I know. We delved into chaos magick a bit last week, which isn’t the kind of thing we usually talk about and the reviews were… mixed. But that’s okay! Not every topic is for every witch. Sometimes we talk about concepts that are polarizing. But as one witch said, sometimes we hear about something and it’s completely off-putting. And then some time goes by, we have different experiences, and suddenly we hear about it again and it just hits different.
And if the topic of thoughtforms did not land for you last week, that’s totally fine. Maybe it’s just not for you, or maybe it’s just not for you right now. Who knows. But this week, we are heading into more familiar territory. We are going to talk about Ostara today. The March Equinox is coming up on the 20th, so we have just about eleven days to get our ducks in a row for any rituals, tributes, or ceremonies we may want to put together. But first, this is an email I received a couple weeks ago with a really cool story that I wanted to read. It’s not a spring story per se, but it gave me some spring vibes and I wanted to read it anyway:
Listening to your fairy episode reminded me of a time when I had taken my girls to the lake on my parents land. There’s a strip of forest. It’s not very large but boy is it just a completely magical place. My family’s land has a lot of energetic spots and portals, but that’s another story. You can feel the fairy magic in the air here. Everything is so green, the spirits of the trees and plants. We call it the enchanted forest because that is what it is… a lot like your field.
We had been playing and walking and just enjoying being in nature and we headed back home. We have 35 acres and it’s a bit of a walk. When we got home I distinctly remember hanging my keys up on their hook and then going about my day. I went out to run errands later and couldn’t find them. Finally, remembering our walk from earlier, I got a bit miffed and told the fairies off and said they better give me at least a hint of what they did with those keys… before I could even complete the sentence I was bombarded with images of the woods and a birch tree branch by the edge of the woods… sure as shit as soon as I walked my butt out to that woods they they were hanging from a birch tree branch plain as day glistening in the sunlight. I’ve moved since then but no matter where I go I always seem to sense the Fey folk nearby.
I loved this story. I mean, this is some real fairy bullshit, isn’t it? But I loved the description of this witch’s family property. It did remind me a lot of the field that’s near our house and all of the weirdness that we sometimes feel while we’re there. And then one last email before we dive in today. And this one is just a snippet of a larger message that I received but it’s got a really cool moon ritual that this witch and her family have devised. I know the full moon was on Tuesday, but this is one to keep on the back burner for next month, especially if you have little witches in the house.
I have really loved coming up with new moon and full moon rituals with my family. Our new moon ritual is to write out some intention to try and improve ourselves. For our full moon ritual we made “moon muffins” and put a birthday candle in each, said something we were grateful for, blew them out, and then ate the muffin. We had an extra muffin we are leaving out for the moon and the house fae and some wine. And my 4yo drew a picture for the moon. She wanted to burn it. She is already so witchy and has no idea.
And for any witchy mamas out there, my kids love my tarot cards but some of the pictures are a bit adult, so I found a tarot deck for kids. They LOVE having their own deck, and doing a card of the day every morning. My 6yo’s favorite card is the Tower, my 4yo likes the Moon.
I am going to put a link to the tarot deck that she’s talking about; it is called Tarot for Kids by Theresa Reed and Kailey Whitman. It’s really cute and I would totally have bought it for my kids when they were little. So I loved how simple, yet meaningful and especially how interactive that ritual is. This witch combines cooking with intention and some candle magic to create an excellent means for enacting those full moon manifestations or expressions of gratitude. And of course it’s always nice to leave a little something for the house fae. We like to keep them happy.
If you’d like to join the discussion, you can email me at email@example.com or message me from the website, middleagedwitch.com, or you can DM me on social media at @middleagedwitch, or join the Facebook group or the Discord server, and I will link all of those in the episode description.
So today, as I said, I want to talk about Ostara, which is March 20th. This actually marks the new year for a lot of ancient cultures. The Roman calendar, Babylonian calendar, the Persian calendar, and the Indian national calendar are among those cultures who recognized the vernal equinox in March as the beginning of the new year, and of course even now, the equinox is used in the West to calculate the date that Easter falls each year.
Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Equinox. Christians don’t put any stock in astrology or moon phases though. I’m just being facetious, don’t mind me. Easter this year actually falls on April 9th, so we’ll talk about that a little more in a few weeks. But Ostara, which is the precursor to Easter, is the pagan vernal celebration of Spring and rebirth and fertility and abundance and new beginnings.
The equinox is the day that falls exactly between the winter solstice and the summer solstice. We are right in between the shortest day of the year and the longest. From here on out, the weather gets warmer, the sun gets higher. This is the planting season. Literally and figuratively, this is when we need to plant the seeds that we will be tending over the next few months that we intend to reap in the future.
This is go time. When we did the Winter Solstice episode, we talked about how that is the fallow time of year. A time of deliberate rest and mindful rejuvenation. And this is the time of year we get back to action. Whatever that means to you, it’s different for everyone. For me, this is a time of very literal growth. I focus my energies in my garden and I do my spring cleaning and I set my goals and enact my plans for achieving them.
These goals, and they change from year to year, also inform how I build my altar, which is another major part for me, of acknowledging and observing the season. My main altar is where I keep shrines for the deities that I’m working with at a given time, and whatever current intentions that I’m working, and I do also like to include seasonal elements that I change up with the seasons as they come.
So colors that are particular to Spring might include lavender, green, and yellow. Crystals that I might decide to incorporate would be peridot, moss agate, green aventurine, pink tourmaline, moon stone or jade. Early spring flowers are also very on point right now, so daffodils, crocuses, and my very favorite flowers, tulips would make sense on a Spring altar. I also have some hand painted eggs that are really special to me that I’m going to be keeping out for the season, but if you’ve got any kind of animal totems that are appropriate, like rabbits, lambs, birds, that would also be very fitting.
Now, I went through and reviewed the Ostara episode from last year just to make sure I don’t repeat myself too much today, but I did want to mention the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Bunny again. It’s a cute little ritual that kids love and it’s a lot of fun for everyone and there’s tons of candy involved in it and it’s a great way to introduce ritual to your little ones while keeping things light and silly. I’m going to put a link to the ritual in its original form in the episode description so that you can check it out and see if it’s something you’d like to include in your celebrations this year.
It’s totally customizable in terms of the script that you use and the candy that you include, but it’s a cool way to reinforce correspondences to little witches. Ok, basically the Cliff notes version is this: you’ll get a bunch of jelly beans, marshmallow Peeps and a chocolate bunny for each person who is participating. You’ll eat the jelly beans according to each color, so the yellow jelly beans represent the sun, and the blues represent the bluebirds and the purples represent the butterflies or whatever, and then the marshmallow Peeps, because they’re shaped like chicks, represent new life, and then the big finale is the chocolate bunny itself, which represents Ostara as the embodiment of spring.
It’s so cute and such a fun ritual. And it can be a beautiful culmination of an Ostara celebration to include a big feast with seasonal foods, an egg hunt and anything else that strikes your fancy. But again, I’m not trying to just repeat last year’s episode. I’ll link it in case you’re interested, but there are so many tales and origin stories and obscure deities of the season that I didn’t include last year. Every culture has a unique Spring celebration, and they’re all so rich and just fascinating.
One that I think is very interesting is the feast of Anna Perenna, who is an ancient Roman deity who actually represents the circle or the wheel of the year. In fact her name means per annum. Her festival fell on March 15th, or the Ides of March and would have marked the first full moon of the Roman new year. Offerings were made to Anna Perenna to ensure that the circle of the year would be completed happily. Sacrifices and prayers were made to her at this time.
The poet Ovid wrote of this festival in the year 8AD:
On the Ides is held the jovial feast of Anna Perenna not far from the banks, O Tiber, who comest from afar. The common folk come, and scattered here and there over the green grass they drink, every lad reclining beside his lass. Some camp under the open sky; a few pitch tents; some make a leafy hut of boughs. Others set up reeds in place of rigid pillars, and stretching out their robes place them upon the reeds. But they grow warm with sun and wine, and they pray for as many years as they take cups, and they count the cups they drink.
So we see here that young lovers would gather on the banks of the Tiber river to fraternize and flirt and pray for as many years as they drank cups of spirits, essentially a drinking game with socio-religious undertones, which I fully support. This celebration involved a big feast for the community, lots of drinking and revelry.
Some ancients identified Anna Perenna as a moon goddess, others conflated her with Themis, the Greek goddess of justice and divine order. But Ovid prefers the origin story that depicts Anna as an old woman who would bake cakes each morning and bring them out to the hungry Romans. She was so revered by the people of Rome that they began to worship her as if she was a goddess, to the point that, according to legend, upon her death she actually became one.
After she achieved this deification, she was said to have impersonated the goddess Minerva and talked her way into bed with Mars. It’s this sauciness and ribaldry that gave her festival its flavor for randy songs and dirty jokes, and it’s the association with Mars that explains why her festival is celebrated during the month of March, which is of course, named for Mars.
This kind of irreverence and joviality was so pervasive in so many of the ancient Spring festivals and fertility rites and is such a stark contrast to the very reverent, devout, joyless Easter celebrations that came to replace them once paganism and polytheism fell out of favor.
But the reason I wanted to talk about the goddess Anna Perenna was that I really want to impress that Ostara is a time for joy and for release. I know there’s a time and place for everything in the craft, but I have to say we really don’t need to take everything so damn seriously all the time. The ancients had it right; all of their major religious observances basically turned into keggers and orgies by the end of the night. And after the somber, solemn seriousness of winter, we are ready for some levity. So have some people over, open up your home and bring in that warmth that we are chasing right now.
Invite the fun and the vigor of Spring inside, make things colorful and just think a little bit about what you’d like to grow this season. Consider what kinds of seeds you’d like to sow during this celebration and just start putting intention into action.
Ostara is for optimism and looking ahead and celebrating the fact that we all made it through the long, dark, harsh days of winter. So please maybe think about approaching your Ostara celebrations from a place of gratitude and exuberance. There is so much to be excited about. Have a wonderful weekend, thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me today, and I look forward to next Thursday. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.
Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Bunny: https://www.pattiwigington.com/the-chocolate-rabbit-ritual/
Tarot for Kids: https://www.amazon.com/Tarot-Kids-Theresa-Reed/dp/1683648226
Facebook Group link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/941149357051804/
Discord server: https://discord.gg/KW65UFvF3A
Ostara 2022 Episode: https://middleagedwitch.com/ostara-spring-equinox/