For the Ostara altar:
— Candles should be light green.
— Incense may be jasmine.
— Decorate the circle with spring wildflowers.
— Place an earthenware or wooden bowl containing soil or a large seed of some kind on the altar.
HERBS to use in your magic at Ostara:
lily of the valley, tansy, lavender, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, lovage, lilac, violets, lemon balm, dogwood, honeysuckle, oakmoss, orrisroot, sunflower seeds, rose hips, oak, elder, willow, crocus, daffodil, jonquil, tulip, broom (Scotch or Iris), meadowsweet, acorn, trefoil (purple clover), vervain.
Clear quartz crystal, rose quartz, agate, lapis lazuli, amazonite, garnet.
- Perform a seed blessing and indoor planting ritual.
- Have a traditional breakfast of buns, ham, and eggs.
- Make natural egg dyes from herbs.
- Color hard boiled eggs and add symbols for the Fertility God, the Goddess, the Sun God, unity, fire, water, agriculture, prosperity and growth, strength and wisdom, spring, love and affection, and protection.
- Consecrate the eggs:
- In the name of the Goddess of Spring, (name); and the ever-returning God of the Sun, (name); By the powers of the four elements — earth, air, fire, and water; I do consecrate these eggs of Ostara..
- Point the athame at the eggs, make the sign of the pentagram, and see the energy flow through the blade into the eggs, and say:
- New life lies within as new life shall enter the soil. Let those who seek this life find it and consume it, for all life feeds on life.
- The eggs may be hidden and an Ostara Egg Hunt commences.
- Make pysanky and krashanky, magickal amulets of fertility, protection, and prosperity.
- Make hot cross buns to honor the union of the earth and the sun for Spring. Slash the “X” with the bolline and bless the cakes.
- Toss crushed eggshells into the garden and say:
- For fairy, for flowers, for herbs in the bowers, The shells pass fertility with springtime flowers.
- Wear green clothing.
- Eat an egg you have empowered with a quality you desire.
- On Ostara Eve, light a purple or violet candle and burn patchouli incense. Carry them both through the house, and say:
Farewell to wintry spirits and friends; On morrow we greet the spirits of spring. Our blessings to thee as your way we wend; And merry we’ll meet next winter again. Blow out the candle and say: Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.
- At this time, witches cast spells for careers, relationships, and love. It’s a time for planting new ideas. Seek harmony and balance in the incredible energy of the season, and project good health, good fortune, and confidence in achieving goals.
Eggs! Spring lamb, cream and milk, bake bread with a decorated egg inside, spring salad, hot cross buns.
HOT CROSS BUNS
On Good Friday, it is the custom in Britain to eat round, fruit-filled buns with a cross decoration on top. The combination of cross and round bun recalls the pre-christian Celtic Cross, which represented the union of male and female. The phallic cross within the yonic circle would be appropriate for this time of fertility (Spring). Hot cross buns are descendants of the cakes offered by the Greeks to goddesses Artemis and Hecate. These cakes were round symbolizing the Full Moon, and were decorated with horns that formed a cross-shape and represented the four quarters of the lunar cycle.
Hot-cross buns are eaten throughout the spring season, but in ancient Babylon the Chaldeans used to offer them to the queen of heaven (Ishtar) on the day now known as Good Friday. The ancient Greeks made similar wheat cakes marked with a cross or “horns”, called a “bous”, in honor of Apollo, Diana, Hecate and the moon (the latter also being Diana’s symbol).
The cross represents the four seasons, or the four phases of the moon, and are on the sacrificial bread of the lunar goddesses of many cultures. They are found from Egypt to the Aztecs of Mexico. A circle with a cross (the female symbol) was often set up on top of a pillar (representing the male)-the whole representing union or fertility. It is also interesting that the biological symbol for female remains a circle with a cross beneath (the symbol for Venus).
Hot cross buns were also believed to last twelve months without turning mouldy, which was of great use during Pagan times when the storage of food was imperative for survival. It was believed that they would protect against evil forces and fire if hung in the kitchen. Sailors believed that hot cross buns would protect against shipwreck if taken to sea. Farmers in certain parts of England (UK) also believed that they would protect the granary against rats.
HOT CROSS BUNS
This recipe will make 2 1/2 dozen buns.
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried currents
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tablespoons water
1 egg yolk
1 recipe Icing (below)
Have the water and milk at 110-115 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the warm milk sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition. Stir in the dried fruit and enough flour to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn over to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Punch the dough down and shape into 30 balls. Place on greased baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross (or X) on the top of each roll.
Cover again and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Beat the water and egg yolk together and brush over the rolls. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle icing over the top of each roll following the lines of the cut cross.
ICING: Combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons milk or cream, a dash of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. Adjust sugar and milk to make a mixture which flows easily.
HOT CROSS BUNS
3/4 cup warm water
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. skim milk powder
1/4 cup sugar
3/8 tsp. salt
1 egg + 1 egg white
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp. yeast
Put ingredients in bread maker and start on dough program. When 5 minutes of kneading are left, add 3/4 cup currants and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Leave in machine till double.
Punch down on floured surface, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 12 balls and place in a greased 9 x 12 inch pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place till double, about 35-40 minutes.
Mix 1 egg yolk and 2 Tbsp. water. Brush on balls. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.
Make crosses with:
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 – 1 Tbsp. milk.
Natural Egg Dyes
|COLOR||HERB||TYPE OF MAGICK||RUNE|
for a pale green: spinach leaves
|Yellow green||Carrot tops,
for a green-gold: yellow delicious apple peels
|fertility, new beginning||Berkana|
for a light yellow: orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seeds or ground cumin
|sun, energy, vitality||Sowulo|
|Orange||Yellow onion skins||sun, energy, vitality||Sowulo|
for a pale red: fresh beets or cranberries, frozen raspberries
|Pink||Madder root||love, affection||Gebo|
|Bright blue||Red cabbage leaves||Spirit, Sky Father||Tyr, Mannaz, Ansuz|
|Beige to brown||strong brewed coffee, for a reddish brown: limes, deep brown: pecan or walnut shells||Earth, Mother Goddess||Berkana, Laguz|
To dye the perfect eggs the natural way, here’s what to do:
- Put eggs in a single layer in a pan. Pour water in pan until the eggs are covered.
- Add about a teaspoon of vinegar.
- Add the natural dye appropriate to the color you want your eggs to be. (The more eggs you are dying at a time, the more dye you will need to use.)
- Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the substance you used to color the eggs. Put eggs in a bowl. If you want your eggs to be a darker shade, cover them with the dye and let them stand overnight in the refrigerator.
Use small leaves from fresh or dried herbs like flat parsley, rue, thyme or fern. Press the leaves against the egg and wrap securely with a section of old nylon stocking. Do this before putting in the dyebath. After dyeing, rinse these eggs in clear water before unwrapping.The area under the leaves will have little or no dye if done properly.
Glue dried, pressed flowers, sequins, crepe paper, or similar flat decorations to the eggs. Use your imagination.
Create designs with markers, stickers, paints. NOTE: Drawing designs with crayons won’t work here as the waxy crayons will melt off in the boiling process.
Make a Pysanky
Pysanky are powerful magickal amulets. Traditional pysanky incorporate ancient symbols of fertility, prosperity, and protection. In olden times, an egg might have been decorated for protection and given to a loved one. Blue lines particularly protected against fire. Eggs with wheat designs were planted in the soil for abundant crops. Eggs decorated for prosperity were kept throughout the year, and so forth. Encircling bands of color represented the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Solar crosses represented the union of male and female, or spirit and matter. All symbols on the egg had meaning, from the obvious — wheat for fertile crops — to the obscure — ladders for different planes of existence.
I made a pysanky to empower a career move as a professional tarot reader. I incorporated runes into my design, particularly ones to stimulate intuition and open channels to other realms. I also added the prosperity rune, as this was, after all, a job. These were worked into a sun symbol with encircling bands and a wheat design. This egg is now displayed beside my tarot decks. I’ve also used more modern symbols in my designs — the goddess with upraised hands, the eight phases of the moon, and others. Utilize the ancient symbols, but also be creative.
A Pysanky Ritual
You will need:
- Raw, room-temperature eggs (cold eggs will “sweat” as you work with them and resist the wax and dye)
- Transparent dyes made particularly for pysanky Beeswax
- A kistka (a funnel-shaped stylus that holds the melted wax for “drawing” on the egg)
- A spoon for dipping eggs in jars of dye
- Egg carton or egg holders for eggs
- Newspaper to spread on work area
- A ritual candle, preferably in a color that matches your magickal intentions, inscribed with runes, and dressed in oil (also for melting the wax)
- Herbs and incense to match magickal intention
- Prepare your area as you would for any magickal working by casting a circle, calling the quarters, etc.
- Bless and consecrate your eggs and other tools for the purpose of your magickal working.
- As you light the candle, recite a chant asking the God/dess to be with you and to accept the magick you are about to perform. Summon the power of the ancient signs and begin to draw them on the egg. As you draw on and dye the egg, visualize your magickal goal. Is your spell for prosperity? Visualize yourself with abundance. For fertility? Visualize your healthy, beautiful baby. Continue this visualization throughout your work. Chanting is entirely appropriate here, and will strengthen your magickal working.
- When your egg is completed, bless it with these or other words:
In the names of the Goddess of Spring,
And the ever turning God of the Sun,
By the power of the four elements —
Earth, Air, Fire, and Water,
I do consecrate these eggs.
Then point your athame at each egg and make the sign of the pentagram as you visualize the energy flowing from you through the blade into each egg.
Now do they contain new life.
In accordance with their signs,
And with my will,
So mote it be!
- Place your magickal amulet in a safe, well ventilated place. I use raw eggs, and it takes approximately a month for the inside of the egg to dry. If it breaks in the meantime, you’ll have a smelly mess on your hands. Avoid shaking and excessive handling — although the egg will need to be turned every two weeks until you are sure it is completely dried. Of course, if you blow out your eggs (AFTER decorating), this will not be necessary. Save the amulets to display each Ostara.
They are beautiful, powerful additons to your Ostara altar.
Another Ukrainian magickal egg is the krashanka. Unlike pysanky, krashanky are hard-boiled and intended to be ritually eaten at sunrise on Ostara, while pysanky are kept raw, to preserve their fertility magick.
Krashanky are dyed a single color, usually red, while pysanky are inscribed and dyed with several colors.
Krashanky are associated with a race of spirits called “Blazhenni” or “kindly ones,” who dwell in darkness on a distant land on the banks of a river. On Ostara, the red shells of the krashanky were thrown into the rivers to float as messages to the Blazhenni, informing them of the Sun’s return. In later Christian times, the Blazhenni were associated with the spirits of children who died before baptism.
Krashanky were also placed on the fresh graves of loved ones at Ostara. The egg here was a symbol of rebirth and resurrection. Krashanky also have magickal applications, mainly healing. A sick person would wear the egg on a string around the neck where it would absorb the sickness. Touching a person with a consecrated krashanka would prevent blood poisoning. Amulets of krashanky and tassels of wheat were hung over doorways of new homes for protection. Rolled in green oats and buried in a field, they insured crop fertility. Placed under a beehive, they increased honey production while protecting the bees. (Of course, these would not be eaten).
The Druids dyed eggs scarlet in honor of the Sun, using furze (gorse) blossoms or possibly madder root. They too, ritually ate the eggs at sunrise on Ostara.