Midway through Spring!
This is the time of equal day and equal night, the balance of light and dark,
and so at this time we have the chance to invite balance into our lives.
Add this to the energy of Spring, and as we see in our gardens, we also have the opportunity for new growth, fresh starts and new beginnings. Now would be the appropriate time for the Easter Egg hunt!
The trees have come back to life, blossoms are blooming, the grass is growing, the sprouts are ‘taking off’, growth is everywhere! Beautiful smells, sprite-liness and baby animals…
During Spring, everywhere in nature, we see and feel and hear, the energy, the pulse, the sound of new growth.
And so we have the opportunity to consciously align with this energy
and ‘use’ it to fuel whatever new beginnings we are creating in our lives.
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Ostara is a modern Neopagan festival. It is loosely based on several holidays which were celebrated around the spring equinox. The modern holiday does not have a strong relation to any known historical Pagan religious observation.
In the northern hemisphere, the end of March is the focus for a number of religious and traditional celebrations. As the sun appears to cross the earth’s equator on the 20th or 21st of March, entering the Zodiacal sign of Aries, day and night will be equal in length. This astronomical phenomenon is a day anciently revered amongst Pagan peoples. Their festivals included Alban Elfed, the Teutonic festival in honour of Eostre, Roman Hilaria Matris Deûm, Welsh Gwyl Canol Gwenwynol (‘Day of the Gorse’), the Christian Feast of the Annunciantion of the Virgin Mary (Lady Day) as well as Easter itself. The Wiccan Eostar (Ostara) Sabbat (one of the four lesser Wiccan holidays or sabbats of the Wheel of the Year) is a more recent addition to the Spring time festivities.
Here in the southern hemisphere the spring equinox will fall this year on Tuesday September 23, 2008 at 1:44AM. Many southern hemisphere pagans choose to celebrate Ostara when it is seasonally appropriate, in September, rather than following the northern dates.
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Northern Hemisphere Date: March (20-23)
Also known as Eostre.
The Equinoxes are the balancing points in the cycle of the seasons, when the day and night are of equal length, reminding us of the harmony of the whole. Buds of flowers and leaf, all manner of eggs and just-born life are celebrated in decorations and imagery as Pagans rejoice in the Earth’s reawakening. The urge of spring is to do, create and bring in the new. Here light overcomes darkness with lengthening days bringing the magic of new growth. Ostara is associated with childhood and new life, and the God and Goddess are perceived as children, personifying youth and innocence before their entry into adulthood. The Goddess, as the Maiden, covers the earth with flowers and love while the God grows to maturity. This is a time to honour the masculine and to celebrate everything that is great about being alive.
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The name comes from the Koine Greek ἀμέθυστος amethystos from ἀ- a-, “not” and μεθύσκω methysko / μεθύω methyo, “intoxicate”, a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness. The ancient Greeks wore amethyst and carved drinking vessels from it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.
It is one of several forms of quartz. Amethyst is a semiprecious stone and is the traditional birthstone for February
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I’ve chosen Amber as the stone for Imbolc, even though this attractive gem is not a stone at all, but is, rather, an ancient fossilized tree resin that once flowed from the wound of a conifer. The pine trees from which Amber hails are no longer in existence, and the specimens of their once life-giving resins which we hold today are roughly between 25 – 50 million years old. I think it fitting that just as Imbolc which means “in the belly” and Oimelc (or Oimelg) which means “ewe’s milk” which has begun to flow… so, too, was Amber once in the belly of the tree whose essence flowed forth to gift us in its new form.
The name Amber derives from the Arabic word “ambar” which refers to ambergris, a secretion from the sperm whale which is used in making perfume. The only similarity between the two, though, is color, for they are without a doubt two totally separate things. Although both are often transported on the waves of the sea, it is this, along with their color similarity, which was most likely how the two may have been once confused. Amber registers only 2 to 2½ on the Mohs Scale and is light enough that it can float on salt water. And it does…for Amber is often found in or near the ocean, with its deposits existing in sediments along the shore. Its most prevalent locales are on the shores of the Baltic Sea, predominantly in Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany. Other prominent Amber findings are in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
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Amber is fossilized tree resin, which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Much valued from antiquity to the present as a gemstone, amber is made into a variety of decorative objects. Amber is used in jewelry. It has also been used as a healing agent in folk medicine.
There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents. Because it originates as a soft, sticky tree resin, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions. Amber occurring in coal seams is also called resinite, and the term ambrite is applied to that found specifically within New Zealand coal seams.
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