My plan this year is to mark the ancient Celtic sabbats, because I love how they are grounded in the natural patterns and cycles of nature, and how they call me to notice, in ritual and action, these changes around me. I cannot help but be a tiny bit more grounded, I believe.
We marked Samhain (Halloween) in May with a communal ritual, fire and feast, the carving of pumpkins and the toffeeing of apples! And my family spent a Northern Hemisphere Litha (Midsummer) at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, California, riding the rollercoaster (okay, that was just me!), immersed in warmth and high, youthful energy.
On Sunday, it was Ostara, the Spring Equinox. The irony of having missed the silence and inner world of winter, and instead being caught up in the flurry of a Northern Hemisphere summer was not lost on me. And yet, my time there was a stepping away from all that my life usually holds, and in that way, perhaps it functioned as winter might in a snow-bound landscape, shifting the usual shapes and patterns of life.
Ostara, or Eostre, was Goddess of the Dawn, and it’s where the name and some of the traditions of Easter originate. The symbols of Easter – eggs and lambs and blossoms – make more sense when Easter actually corresponds with Spring, which, for us in the Southern Hemisphere, it never does! I really enjoy the feeling of synchronicity – the symbols matching what I see emerging around me outside.
To mark Ostara, I went for a walk at dawn to greet the day. The kids and I also created a spring altar. We (and my Dad too) coloured a tree for the background, which was a beautiful experience of working on something together. We went for a walk down a local track and picked flowers – sparaxis, bluebells, onion weed, apple blossom, camellias and unfurling bracken. I set the altar up and the kids arranged everything, and to complete it, we placed a Goddess card of Ostara in the centre. The kids had made butterflies on a different day (by pressing paint between two layers of paper), and some of these ended up on the tree.
At first, looking at what we’d created, I felt like my friend would have made a better one. That’s honestly what was coming up for me! But after a time, I felt like we’d created a beautiful thing, which was a reflection of us, somehow. The altar and the tree are imperfect, but perfect. I am appreciating the constant reminder of Spring and all its vitality and life in the house.