Kate Braun : Vernal Equinox Combines Customs from Many Cultures

“Eoster” was an Anglo-Saxon maiden goddess of the dawn. Image from Vita Marie Lovett.

Vernal Equinox:
A renewal of the land’s fertility

By Kate Braun | The Rag Blog | March 18, 2013

“Green, green, it’s green they say, on the far side of the hill…”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 is the Vernal or Spring Equinox, which may also be called Ostara or Lady Day. Lady Moon is in her 2nd quarter in Cancer; Lord Sun is entering Aries. The blend of Water and Fire can be volatile, producing lots of steam; it can also be gentle, resulting in the balance of energies necessary to properly boil an egg.

The name “Ostara” comes from “Eoster,” an Anglo-Saxon maiden goddess of the dawn. Many cultures have contributed to the customs associated with the Vernal Equinox. In the Long-Ago it was believed that the hare was a hermaphrodite and could reproduce without loss of virginity. This belief led to associating hares with maiden goddesses such as Diana.

In the Pennsylvania Dutch area of the United States in the 18th century, German tradition was added with the tale of the “Osterhase” (“hase” means “hare”) who brings good children gifts at Easter, putting the gifts in the “nests” made in caps and bonnets; is it so surprising that today we mention the Easter Bunny with his basket of treats? You may honor the maiden goddess of your choice.

This celebration is centered on balance: balancing a raw egg on its larger end; creating a menu to include legumes, dairy, and grains for balanced protein; remembering the past as we move into the future. Traditionally, the Vernal Equinox was the day on which to begin planting an herb garden; with global warming affecting us as it is, this may no longer be the case. Consider the weather in your area and make your gardening plans accordingly.

All pastels are appropriate colors for this day, but be sure to include pink, to represent fire; green, to represent water; and yellow, to represent Lord Sun as he continues to grow in strength.

Decorate with living plants, equal-armed crosses, representations of rabbits and eggs.

A suggested menu: salad of sprouts and leafy greens such as spinach and lettuces garnished with slices of hard-boiled eggs, crumbled blue cheese, toasted pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds, and toasted pine nuts. Ham-and-cheese quiche. Hot cross buns. Chocolate. (The representations of rabbits and hares in chocolate reflects the lore that Eoster enjoyed sweets.)

At the Vernal Equinox we celebrate the renewal of the land’s fertility. One custom to ensure fertility in the garden is to “plant” (i.e. bury) an egg, raw or boiled or dyed or not, in the east corner of the garden. This is an activity that could be easily incorporated into your festivities with you and your guests singing or chanting as the hole is dug and the egg planted.

A suggested chant: “Grow, grow, my garden grow, this is just the start; sun and rain and hands and hoe, each will do their part.” Or create a chant of your own.

[Kate Braun‘s website is www.tarotbykatebraun.com. She can be reached at kate_braun2000@yahoo.com. Read more of Kate Braun’s writing on The Rag Blog.]

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