3 Awesome Ways To Celebrate This Ostara
Happy Spring Equinox witches!
This is such an exciting time of year, the world is waking up, shaking off the darkness and last chill of winter and coming back to life. The spring equinox is the time when the day and night hours are equal, this day marks the transition from the darkness that dominates our winter months into the long sunny summer days that are to come. This moment of balance is a perfect time to reconnect with our witchy selves and perhaps bring our current practice into this new energy as well.
Modern pagans celebrate the equinox with a festival called Ostara. This festival is all about the awakening of spring, the balance felt in the world at this moment and the joy of longer, brighter days.
How to celebrate Ostara
As I said in my post last Imbolc, I like to celebrate my holidays in a few ways. I usually incorporate an element of ritual, some kind of introspective time for myself, and some way to celebrate with friends (usually food!)
Hot Crossed Buns
Now I know what you’re thinking. Um, crosses?! Isn’t that kinda not pagan? And in modern usage, the hot crossed bun is often associated with Christianity's cross. This was not always the case, however! These lovely pastries likely got their symbolism from the sun wheel, a symbol representing the perfect balance of the spring equinox. this recipe is a little involved but the resulting buns are absolutely worth it and so much fun to bring to a Spring Equinox celebration!
For the Buns
- 2 cups Milk
- 1/2 cup Oil
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 package Active Dry Yeast
- 4 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup additional Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- Optional spices: Cardamom, Nutmeg, & Allspice
- 1/2 cup Raisins
For the Glaze
- 1 Egg White
- A Splash Of Milk
For the Icing
- 1 Egg White
- Powdered Sugar
- Splash Of Milk
Making the Buns
Combine 2 cups milk, oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir and heat until very warm but not boiling. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until mixture is still warm, but not hot--about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle yeast over mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. The mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.
Add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir till combined.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and whatever other spices you want to use.
Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is "plain" again. Repeat the sugar/raisin process, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time until all the raisins are used. (You won't use all the sugar/cinnamon mixture.)
Pinch off one-inch rounds of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes...an hour-plus is better.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Making the Glaze
Mix an egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll.
Bake for 20 minutes, give or take, or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown.
Remove from pan and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Making the Icing
Mix an egg white with enough powdered sugar for icing to be very thick. Splash in milk as needed for consistency.
Add icing to a small Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on each roll, making sure they're completely cooled first.
Taking time with every holiday to journal and reflect on my life and practice helps to keep me grounded and in tune with the seasons throughout my year. This holiday is particularly good for teasing out the areas of balance and imbalance in my life and taking a hard look at the transitions I’m undergoing at the moment. Feel free to choose a single question that sparks your interest or write about all of them to really dig deep into how this holiday impacts you.
- What areas of your life feels balanced at the moment? What areas feel unbalanced? Can you identify a reason for this imbalance?
- What kind of balance are you seeking at the moment? In what ways do you hope this balance will serve you?
- What kinds of transitions have you been experiencing or have you experienced recently? How do you feel about these events?
- If any of the transitions in your life have been negative or unwanted, take a moment to look at them through a new lens. Can you see any positive effects that might come out of this change? Finding even one positive ray of light in your transition can help ease your journey.
- Take a moment to think and write about how both balance and imbalance are important in our lives. In what ways can imbalance benefit you? In what ways can balance serve you?
Spring Cleaning: A Ritual for Purification and Balance
This ritual can be incorporated into your yearly spring cleaning or it can serve as a purely spiritual spring cleaning. The choice is yours! If you decide to incorporate real cleaning into your ritual, I suggest checking out my post on making your home a magical sanctuary for tips and recipes on how to make your cleaning a little more magical.
This ritual begins with opening a working space at an altar which you can think of as your base of operations as you move about your home. Since this ritual is likely to take you out of the same room as your altar I do not suggest lighting candles! Kids and cats have the uncanny ability to find open flames and “cleansing fire” isn’t exactly the direction we want our ritual to go.
Begin by setting up your altar space, I’m fairly freeform about my altars so I suggest placing a small bowl of salt and another of water, perhaps some reminders of the holiday such as spring flowers, or an egg, and an item to represent any deity you wish to take part in your ritual. Note that working with a deity is completely optional! You may also like to find an object to represent some situation or part of your life that you want to return to balance, this can be a symbolic item or it can simply be a slip of paper that you’ve written your desires down on and rolled up into a scroll.
After your altar is set up, you’ll need to find a number of ways to perform cleansing (I like to use 3 but that’s just a personal preference, choose the number that works for you) Options include smoke cleansing with cedar, sage or incense, using crystals like smoky quartz or citrine, creating a blessed spray or floor wash, or using music or a bell. The methods you use are entirely up to you!
When you’re ready to begin your ritual, take a few moments to breathe and center yourself and then open your ritual space by reciting the incantation below.
“On this Spring Equinox I call upon the equal powers of light and dark to guide my working, I call to my aid the powers of balance and transformation. Let the night and the day be equal in this place.”
After this, you may invite any gods or spirits that you wish to work with.
Now it’s time to begin your cleansing. If you’re focusing only on cleansing yourself you can simply stay in front of your altar and work there. If you wish to cleanse but not clean your home then you’ll simply use your cleansing materials to give your house a good once over.
If you want to go all in and clean while cleansing, your altar will help to hold the intention of your energy while you work. Just be sure to clean BEFORE you cleanse!
Take your first cleansing method and say:
“With this ________, I cleanse and clear my space. I bring balance, and harmony back into my life and I welcome that transformations that occur along the way”
Walk around your home slowly and methodically cleansing every nook and cranny. Don’t miss closets, crawl spaces, and cabinets! You want to really flush out any stuck or stagnant energy that’s lying around.
Work in a circle from your altar, around your home and back to your altar as much as possible. When you return to your altar, move on to your next method of cleansing and repeat the incantation and the cleansing process. Continue this until you’ve used every method of cleansing you wanted to use. After this, I suggest filling the space up with a new energy.
To close your ritual, take a moment to breathe deeply and center again and then recite the closing words:
“In this newly cleansed space I rest, my work is done and home blessed. As night gives way to day so too my troubles fade away.”