Eostar Sabbat

EOSTAR/OSTARA/SPRING EQUINOX

She comes, a maiden, barely clad,
In peeking buds and newborn leaves.
Holds up her arms to her young Lord,
To warm the seeds she holds within.

"Spring is the reibrth of the earth, the fulfillment of the
promise made by Candlemas.

It is also the time of planting. And of acknowledging that
those things growing now were planted in the autumn by the
Goddess.

And so it is the time of beginnings, of starting those
things you wish to "grow" during the year, and of continuing to work
on those things the Gods have given you to do.

Oh, and it makes the promise of the fullness of the earth
to come."

Welcome to my writing on Eostar/Ostara/Spring Equinox. The Sabbat goes by a variety of names. Pick one, they all mean the same day and the same celebration.

The approximate date used is March 21. However, this varies from year to year, depending on when the actual equinox happens. Consult a good calendar.

Let me state clearly: I am a kitchen witch. I don't know astrology, nor ceremonial magicks and rituals that take hours of prep time and everything must be "just so". Sorry, not me.

At the end, I have provided a complete listing of my sources. You will note they are referred to often in the course of this writing.

III. SPRING EQUINOX (C. MAR 21)
A. HISTORY The Equinoxes were not celebrated by most Britons, save for the pre-Celtic Megalithic peoples. It seems to have been a Mediterranean immigrant tradition that has melded itself into modern paganism.

Perhaps it is a question of "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" in deciding which sacrifice/mating rituals and traditions are followed. This is the time of the Christian Easter and the sacrifice of that deity.

It is also the time of the Attis/Cybele legendary sacrifice. Attis was a human male who was extremely handsome and was loved by the Goddess Cybele. Aphrodite, who was jealous, caused Attis to go insane and he castrated himself and bled to death.

Cybele, mourning fiercely, asked Zeus to return him to life and this was granted by making Attis a minor deity. Those who wished to be priests of Attis castrated themselves at this time of year as a grisly "entrance exam" to prove their sincerity.

The Easter egg appears to have started out as a pagan tradition, for there are many cultures which include decorated eggs in the rituals and traditions at this time of year, usually symbolizing the Sun and his fertilizing the Earth.

Everyone is well aware that in the spring, many folks turn their thoughts to love in all its forms. So do the animals. It is perfectly natural.

THE ALTAR AND CIRCLE

1. FLOWERS SHOULD BE LAID ON ALTAR, PLACED AROUND CIRCLE, AND STREWN ON GROUND. Spring-blooming flowers are best. As an alternate, make a floor cloth and paint/stencil spring flowers in a circle. (An old tablecloth will do, especially if it is light green in color)

2. CAULDRON CAN BE FILLED WITH SPRING WATER AND FLOWERS. No cauldron? Don't despair!! Use a big bowl, or drag in the birdbath and use that.

3. BUDS AND BLOSSOMS MAY BE WORN ON ROBES AND IN HAIR. This is a fun project. Go to the craft store and buy the little silk blossoms and hot glue them around a silk cord cut big enough and tied to fit around your head. Be generous with the flowers.

4. A SMALL POTTED PLANT SHOULD BE PLACED ON ALTAR FOR AS A SYMBOL OF RETURN OF ENERGIES TO EARTH. An herb or flowering plant is best, but this is, as usual, not carved in stone and called holy writ. After the Sabbat, give it a nice home in the garden or a suitable container. Use it as a living spell and bury with a SMALL piece of paper with an idea or thing you wish to grow with the plant in your life.

5. FOODS- THOSE MADE OF SEEDS SUCH AS SUNFLOWER, PUMPKIN, AND SESAME SEEDS, AS WELL AS PINE NUTS; SPROUTS, LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES, STUFFED NATURTIUMS OR CARNATION CUP CAKES (SEE FOOTNOTE ON P.133 "SOLITARY PRACTIONER" I highly recommend a salad and veggie tray as part of cakes and ale.

6. PRIAPIC WAND ON ALTAR For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a priapic wand is a wand carved in the shape of a male sex organ. This is a symbol of male fertility, as in the Sun-God fertilizing the Goddess-Earth. Any fertility symbol or male witch's wand may substitute. I have even heard of a case of a solitaire female witch who used her (ahem!) "toy" from her "magic box under the bed".

7. ALTAR CLOTH AND CANDLES SHOULD BE LIGHT GREEN, SYMBOLIZING NEW GROWTH. Don't be afraid to use what you have!! If all you have is a pink sheet, then use that. I went to the fabric store and found a yard of Easter egg-covered cloth that I made into a table runner.

8. Other symbols of the season include the ubiquitous bunny. Go ahead!! Decorate your altar, circle, and room with easter eggs, bunnies and flowers. Have a ball! (Yes, even the chocolate bunnies can go on the altar, why not?) Bunnies and eggs are both symbols of fertility.

There is no need to change your traditional scheme of decorating at this season of the year. The symbols of Easter and those of Ostara/Eostar are the very same. Even the lilies, though the meanings are different.

So, hit the craft/fabric/discount stores and get those baskets, eggs, and bunnies with good heart. Eat the candies to bring sweetness into your life, enjoy the eggs to bring fertility of mind/body/soul into your existence and be joyous. Spring is here!

RITUALS

1. TEND RITUAL GARDENS. Don't have one? Don't worry. It is easy. Even apartment dwellers can stick a few herbs in potting soil in a large pot and have a ritual garden. A waterproof statue of the Deities is a nice touch, tucked in the leaves. Even crystals will do. How about a cheap ceramic or plastic bunny? Put on some great music, cast your circle, and start digging.

For those with a yard, think about creating a ritual garden. No, it doesn't have to look like Stonehenge! A few plants and a large rock for your offerings to the Deities will do. (I used a leftover paving stone for years.)

2. FERTILITY RITUALS. There are many, many varieties of this. The best kind focuses on what kind of fertility you need. Fertility of the mind for a project? Bless the materials of your project. Fertility of the soul? Use mind-opening incenses and ask the Deities for help. Fertility of the body? Well, nothing like a Great Rite!

3. USE A SMALL POTTED PLANT FOR RITUAL IN "SOLITARY PRACTIONER" BY SCOTT CUNNINGHAM, P. 132. Sense it's renewal and growth and feel yourself grow and be renewed with it.

4. GO INTO A FIELD AND PICK WILDFLOWERS. BRING THEM HOME AND DIVINE THEIR MAGICAL MEANINGS BY THE USE OF BOOKS, INTUITION, A PENDULUM OR OTHER MEANS. THE FLOWERS YOU'VE CHOSEN REVEAL YOUR INNER THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS. There are many, many books on the meanings of flowers. Borrow one from the library.

5. TAKE A CELEBRATORY WALK IN A GREEN PLACE. Yes, a city park will do, or even your own garden. If you are lucky enough to be near a national park or forest, plan an excursion with family and friends. Take a walk and watch the Lady renew herself. Look up, and silently thank the sun for his return.

6. PLANT SEEDS, AFTER PERFORMING A BLESSING RITUAL. Bless your seeds with pretty poetry, or whatever comes into your heart. If you are celebrating with friends, let them all add their energies to the seeds. This is also a great time to share seeds and seedlings with those same friends.

7. PRACTICE ALL FORMS OF HERB WORK- MAGICAL, MEDICINAL, COSMETIC, CULINARY, AND ARTISTIC. Even a little chia herb garden in a sunny window can provide you with much gratification (besides some tasty things). Remember that many herbs are just one step up the ladder from weed and are very hardy. Water them only when they are dry, give them some sun, and they are happy.

8. WOODEN OR EARTHENWARE BOWL FULL OF EARTH AND LARGE SEED ARE PREPARED. PAPER AND PENS FOR WRITING A SEED OF AN IDEA OR QUALITY THEY WANT (PATIENCE, PERSEVERENCE, CREATIVITY, OPPORTUNITY) ARE GIVEN TO ALL COVENERS. PAPERS ARE COLLECTED AND LIT. ASHES FALL IN TO BOWL OF EARTH. ASHES AND SOIL ARE MIXED WITH ATHAME BY PRIESTESS. PRIEST CHARGES PRIAPIC WAND AND SEED, THEN PLANTS SEED IN SOIL. (SEE BUCKLAND "COMPLETE..." P.89-90).

You can also use the little potted plant on the altar, if you wish, as I mentioned earlier. Just drop the ashes in the soil and mix well before potting the plant in it's permanent home.

RITUALS
10. GATHER THE BELTANE FIREWOOD SO THAT IT MIGHT DRY PROPERLY. THREE PIECES EACH OF THE FOLLOWING IS A GOOD MIX: OAK, ROWAN (OR MOUNTAIN ASH), WILLOW, HAWTHORN, HAZEL, APPLE, VINE (GRAPE OR IVY), AND FIR. Use what is handy and don't make this a chore. Deadfall out of the yard or gathered while in the park is just fine. Store it where it may dry well before Beltane.

11. MAKE WANDS. (SEE CHART P.51 "WHEEL") Certain woods have certain properties. A copper rod from the hardware store can be decorated with wire and crystal for a great "grounding" wand. A fine oak dowel, carved, decorated (using paint, wood burning, or wrapped in leather) is just great. Of course, on your ramble through the woods, you may just find that perfect wand...keep your eyes out. This is a great project for the neophyte.

12. MAKE WITCHES BOTTLES FOR PROTECTION. (SEE "WHEEL" P.52) Witches' bottles are jars with screw-tops that you fill with sharp things. Broken glass, pins, razor blades, sand spurs and burrs are good examples. When the jar is full, screw on the lid and seal it. Charge the bottle with its duty. Place the jar high in a closet, on a shelf, or in the attic to "cut" negativity to ribbons before it comes to you.

13. MAKE BESOMS (WHEEL P.53) They are not that hard! And many a witch keeps a collection. Cinnamon brooms bought from a craft store can be decorated and hung about your home to keep it cleansed of negativity. (Isn't hot glue a great invention???) You could have a broom for every Sabbat, decorated with it's symbols in an afternoon.

Besoms (or witch's brooms) are not made to be used for actual physical cleaning under normal circumstances. They are for magic, and need never be as strong as a normal cleaning broom.

However, there is nothing wrong with buying a regular-sized straw broom and decorating it minimally for the ritual physical cleansing of your sacred space. Yes, it can do double duty.

14. DYE EGGS WITH NATURAL DYES (P.55-59 WHEEL) Natural dyes are easy, but if you don't want to go that far, that is okay too. Grab a white crayon, dyes, and a can of gold spray paint and have a ball. Use the white crayon to draw bands of color (representing the birth/death/rebirth cycle), circles for the Goddess, runes for Earth, the God, and make one gold for the "big prize".

Leave one egg near the foundation of your house, or apartment balcony. If it is a fresh egg, break it on the foundation to bless your house. If it is one of the boiled ones, well, bury it well right near the foundation. For the apartment, stick it in deep in a potted plant on the balcony.

D. SYMBOLISM

1. FIRST TRUE DAY OF SPRING. THE GODDESS, now in her Maiden form, AWAKENS FROM SLEEP, BLANKETING THE EARTH WITH FERTILITY WITH THE WARMTH OF THE YOUTHFUL GOD.

The Lady has been resting since giving birth, as manifested by the Earth being in repose up to now. She now appears as the Maiden, to match her youthful God.

2. THE TIME OF DAY AND NIGHT ARE EQUAL. LIGHT IS OVERTAKING DARKNESS. The days grow longer now, as the God gains ascendancy. For those of you into astrology, this is the astrological new year, I am told.

3. TIME OF FERTILITY, AS ANIMALS REPRODUCE. Use the fertility of the Earth to gain all kinds of fertility for yourself.

4. TIME OF BEGINNINGS, NEW ACTIONS, PLANTING OF "SEED" SPELLS FOR FUTURE GAINS. Clear out the old and begin anew. (More on this in the next section.)

Notes from a kitchen witch's BOS.

1. You may have noted that this is a time for renewal; for getting rid of the old and beginning anew, as I said. Clean out the garage, attic, and the closets and hold a garage sale. If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it!

Anything that is not sold, give to charity. (Some even pick up in a truck, so do some dialing on the phone.)

2. This is also the traditional time of spring cleaning. There are several traditions that say that it must be done between Imbolg and Eostar. Yes, this means climbing up and dusting off the chandelier, taking down the drapes and blinds and cleaning them, and really opening up the house to the fresh breezes.

Please feel free to adjust this to your area. If it is still 30 degrees, then please delay! Instead, inventory your cleaning supplies, make your incenses, and get ready.

3. Your house will need a spiritual spring cleaning as well. After your house is all neat and shiny, hold a little Esbat to give it a thorough spiritual cleaning. Make some cleansing incense, clean up the altar (give it a polish), and do it right.

4. This is also a good time to consider doing something a little extra for your altar. The Sabbat colors alter each time, so go get a yard each of seasonally appropriate colored cloth and some of that fusible webbing. With an iron and a bit of patience, you hem those suckers in an afternoon and have a Sabbat "topper" for your regular altar cloth for every season.

Even more skilled in crafting? Use your imagination, a glue gun, and some acrylic paint and make it REALLY special! Here are some "quickies" to get you started:

a. Eostar- paint eggs or even applique if you know how and have webbing left over. How about spring tulips from a stencil?

b. Beltane- strings of pearls or lace glued on a white cloth to make it look like you are really participating in the wedding of the Lord and Lady!

c. Litha- daisys? watermelons? summer flowers, like roses? Colors like bright sun yellow for the cloth will dictate your choices...

d. Lammas- wheat sheaves, bread loaves?

e. Mabon- grapes, apples, etc. Fruit harvest!

f. Samhain- must I really say it, or do you already know?

g. Yule- c'mon...think about it...you know the colors and symbols...

h. Imbolg- I recommend a change from the traditional brown. BORING!!! Use ice blue cloth and snowflakes of lace or glitter paint...have fun!

More notes from my BOS

Foods and drinks figure heavily into how to make your celebrations different and special. Earlier, I made brief mention of some foods. Here are more.

Hot cross buns are easy and very symbolic. Just cut a cross in some purchased, ready-to-bake dinner rolls. The cross symbolizes the equality at this time of year. Frost with powdered sugar icing in the cross and you are done!

Feeling a bit more ambitious? Got kids? Make a bunny cake! Make two round layers of any cake. Divide one in half to make the ears and place to make a bunny face and ears. Frost with white frosting, and sprinkle with coconut. Make the eyes and nose out of jelly beans and whiskers out of licorice strings.

For the REALLY ambitious, make a bread basket. Make regular bread dough, enough for two loaves. Divide out 1/3 of dough and set aside for now. Roll about 12 ropes out of the rest. Weave over a large, well-greased bowl to make a basket...

Make a handle out of the reserved dough, and mould it over another same-sized bowl, similarly greased. After the usual rising and baking, pin the two pieces together with toothpicks and decorate. There!! not so bad, huh?

Drinks? Welllll...eggs feature heavily, so why not eggnog? Or a pink punch? Or are you feeling like something really special? Honegar!

There is an easy recipe for Honegar I got out of "Sabbats" by Eddain McCoy. Six cups of honey and six cups apple cider vinegar, made in 2 cup each increments. Heat them together in a non-metal saucepan, until the mixture no longer feels heavy or coats the wooden spoon. Store in sealed jars in the fridge after they cool.

Non-food items like incense, ritual soap, anointing oil, more drinks, and more food are available, both from my sources and probably from your own books. Even magazines get into the seasonal swing. Take a look around you!

There are many more ideas available in the sources I used.

Okay, I can see the wheels spinning in most of your minds now....see? Eostar can be a really fun and imaginative time to celebrate.

Here are my promised sources:

Wheel of the Year by Pauline Campanelli. One of my first books. Simple, easy things to do and say.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. A great beginner's book.

Incenses, Oils and Brews by Scott Cunningham. One of the basics every witch should own who hates spending big bucks for incense.

Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland (don't groan! He has pretty words for you to use)

The Magical Household by Scott Cunningham. Things to do in your home all year round. Don't neglect any chapter!

A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook by Patricia Telesco. Great and unusual recipes.

The Sabbats by Edain McCoy. Great crafts and recipes!

A Victorian Grimoire by Patricia Telesco. This is where I found soap, incenses, and other good stuff.

Southern Living Magazine. These folks do a great job on seasonal recipes and gardening tips. Adjust to your area if you don't live in the south. I recently switched to Sunset magazine and found it great for my new home in the West.

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (1996 and 1945 editions) My kitchen "bibles". I found the 1945 edition in a thrift store, and it includes the meatless, sweetless and wheatless recipes that are still worthwhile today.

Bon Appetit Magazine. Yes, the ingredients are more pricey for their recipes. But it is inspiring, and they do have great recipes and sources for the unusual and special things.

Are you inspired? I hope so!

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