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Emerging out of Darkness Vernal Equinox


The Northern Hemisphere marks the spring equinox on Monday, March 20, 2017, at exactly 6:29 A.M. EDT.

When Does Spring Begin?

Astronomically speaking, the equinox (March 19 or 20 every year) marks spring’s beginning in the Northern Hemisphere (whereas it announces fall’s arrival in the Southern Hemisphere). The equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, even if our clock times reflect a different time zone.

Meteorologically speaking, in the Northern Hemisphere, the official spring season always begins on March 1 and continues through May 31. Summer begins on June 1; autumn, September 1; and winter, December 1.

  • Weather scientists divide the year into quarters this way to make it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics from one year to the next. The meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature cycles rather than on the position of Earth in relation to the Sun, and they more closely follow the Gregorian calendar. Using the dates of the astronomical equinoxes and solstices for the seasons would present a statistical problem because these dates can vary slightly each year.

What is an Equinox?

At the Vernal Equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic.

All over the world, days and nights are approximately equal. The name equinox comes from Latin words which mean “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night).

On the equinox, Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the Sun’s rays about equally because the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. (Note, however, that the Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.) Basically it means enjoying increasing sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets.

Spring Equinox Customs Around the World

Cultural traditions welcoming spring’s arrival vary widely from one country to the next. Here are some excerpted from About.com and Wikipedia:

Holi Festival, India – Steven Gerner flicker.com

India: Holi, the Festival of Colors, is a popular Hindu spring festival observed in India. It is celebrated with great fanfare with bonfires and by people throwing colored powder and water at each other. Holi celebrates the most popular stories from Hindu texts.

Egypt: The Festival of Isis was held in ancient Egypt as a celebration of spring and rebirth.

Mexico: Festivals (Festivales de primavera) take place and children dressed up as flowers or animals can be seen on parade. The most popular places to celebrate are archeological sites like the Mayan archeological site of Chichen Itza.

Iran: The Festival of Noruz (new day) is a time of hope and rebirth and has been celebrated for over 3000 years. This secular holiday begins on the day of the equinox and lasts for 12 days. Typically spring cleaning gets done, families get new attire and visit with each other for a ceremonial meal to celebrate the New Year.

Ireland: The Holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland by driving out pagan snake worshipping and his day is celebrated just before the Spring Equinox.

Maslenitsa – Russiapedia.com

Russia: The celebration of Maslenitsa is observed as a time of the return of warmth and light with customs intended to fertilize the year’s crops. It is a week full of merrymaking and lots of symbolic baked pancakes as well as the preparation for Lent.

Italy and Greece: The Feast of Cybele celebrates the ancient goddess Cybele – considered the ruler of fertility. This ensures agricultural fertility for the year to come.

Judaism: The Festival or Pilgrimage of Passover, is observed for eight days and commemorates the end of Egyptian slavery. A thorough spring cleaning of one’s home is done to prepare for the Seder, a symbolic meal which represents the story of the exodus from Egypt.

Easter: A Christian holiday celebrating Jesus Christ’s resurrection, falls the first Sunday after the full moon following the Vernal Equinox. Its ancient pagan influences, including the bunny, a symbol of fertility, and colored eggs, represent the sunlight of spring. In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting, repentance and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter.

Japan: Spring Higan or Vernal Equinox Day is an official holiday traditionally spent visiting with family and remembering ancestors by visiting graves celebrating the spiritual move of the deceased from the world of suffering to the world of enlightenment.

Spring Equinox and Feminine Energy

The Spring Equinox is associated with many fertility goddesses and women have been gathering forever in honor of this sacred time. It is a time to release the past and rejoice in the rebirth of nature, the beginning of the seasonal cycle and of the occurrence of a new moon.

The vernal equinox falls on March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the change of seasons and the time when many pagans celebrate Ostara. The spring festival might not be as well-known as other pagan celebrations like Samhain or Beltane, but it is nonetheless an important part of the calendar as one of the eight sabbats, or holidays, pagans celebrate throughout the year.

While the beginning of spring has been seen as a time of renewal by cultures around the world throughout history, modern celebrations of Ostara actively incorporate rituals and symbols that honor fertility and rebirth.

Historical Roots

Unlike many other pagan holidays, Ostara does not have its roots in Celtic tradition, rather in ancient Anglo-Saxon beliefs. The holiday is thought to have derived its name from the fertility goddess Eostre, whose own name comes from the Germanic word for “east.” The goddess is typically depicted as a young woman surrounded by light and budding trees and flowers, symbolizing her association with dawn and the coming of light of the spring season. Symbols like eggs, rabbits and spring flowers are also associated with the goddess, speaking to the fertility and renewed life she is believed to bring.

Relation to Easter

It’s no coincidence that Ostara and Easter sound alike, share similar symbols and typically fall around the same time. The Christian holiday gets its English name from the Saxon goddess Eostre, and early Christianity adopted many of the rituals and symbols associated with the equinox festival because of their popularity.

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“Eggs, bunnies, candy, Easter baskets, new clothes, all these ‘traditions’ have their origin in practices which may have little or nothing to do with the Christian holiday,” said Peg Aloi, in a commentary for the religion site Patheos. “The traditional coloring and giving of eggs at Easter has very pagan associations. For eggs are clearly one of the most potent symbols of fertility, and spring is the season when animals begin to mate and flowers and trees pollinate and reproduce.”

Modern Celebrations

Pagans celebrate Ostara with various rituals focused on themes of renewal and rebirth. Planting seedlings and cultivating gardens is one of the most traditional celebrations of the holiday, though any engagement with nature, whether lying in grass or hiking through a forest, can be used as an opportunity to meditate on the change of seasons, according to paganism expert Patti Wigington. “Take some time to celebrate the new life that surrounds you in nature. ... As you do so, observe all the new things beginning around you -- plants, flowers, insects, birds.”

Many pagans also celebrate by eating fresh greens like sprouts and other vegetables, while others choose to fast in order to purge their bodies of toxins to clear their minds for the new season

In celebration of increased sunlight and renewal, below is a collection of rituals and meditations.

Purification Everyone prepares for ritual differently. In my circle we perform a ceremonial hand-washing. Some groups prefer to use incense, smudge, salted water, etc.

Statement of Intent “Winter now stands behind us and before us the lies promise of Spring. The Maiden walks the land once more, awakening all that is in her path. The Horned One lurks in the forest, running with the beasts upon the growing/thawing earth*. The world around us is reborn . . . . fresh blossoms, new green grasses , the scent of spring flowers on the wind. Tonight let us look at the Earth as the Maiden with fresh and young eyes! Spring is dawning, let us greet it!”

Casting the Circle “With sword in hand I now cast this circle thrice round. First pass to stand between the worlds and create sacred ground. Second pass to protect and keep all within safe from harm. Third pass to hold in our energies, magic, and charm. Consecrated in the name of Lord and Lady, the circle is now cast, so mote it be!”

Calling the Quarters

East: “Spirits of the East, element of air and wind, powers of clear will and knowledge we summon you to join us this sacred sabbat night. Guard, protect, and bless our joyous rite! Hail and Welcome!”

South: “Spirits of the South, element of fire and sun, powers of illumination and desire we summon you to join us this sacred sabbat night. Guard, protect, and bless our joyous rite! Hail and welcome!”

West: “Spirits of the West, element of water and rain, powers of death and initiation we summon you to join us this sacred sabbat night. Guard, protect, and bless our joyous rite! Hail and welcome!”

North: “Spirits of the North, element of earth and field, powers of harvest and home we summon you to join us this sacred sabbat night. Guard, protect, and bless our joyous rite! Hail and welcome!”

Call to the God High Priest: “Tonight we call upon the young Horned God. We ask Him to grace us with us with his sense of wonder and delight. May we see the world as he does, as new and beautiful and full of magick and wonderment. His power grows in the sky, and his presence stirs the trees, the green of the Earth and our hearts. Great God be with us tonight. Hail and welcome!

Call to the Goddess High Priestess: “Tonight we call upon the Maiden, the goddess of the dawn and new beginnings. As the Earth grows around us let us bring change and growth into our own lives. Let us manifest your many blessings. You are the jeweled moon in the sky, the breeze that awakens all around us and brings forth new life. Great Goddess smile down upon us and be a part of our circle this night! Hail and welcome!

Charge of the God I really like to read (and have read) The Charge of the Goddess and The Charge of the God on the sabbats. Not surprisingly I use my version of The Charge of the Go

Drawing Down the Moon High Priest: “As Ostara is the dawn of Spring, we shall now call upon She who is the dawn of all things.”

“Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.” (HP kisses foot of HPs) “Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.” (HP kisses knees of HPs) “Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.” (HP kisses womb of HPs) “Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.” (HP kisses breasts of HPs) “Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.” (HP kisses lips of HPs)

“Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth, Thou from whose immortal bosom Gods, and men, and beasts have birth, Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom, Breathe thine influence most divine On thine children me and thine.”

“Hail The Lady! From the Amalthean Horn Pour forth thy store of love; I lowly bend before thee, I adore thee to the end, With loving sacrifice thy shrine adore. Thy foot is to my lip (HP kisses HPs’s right foot) My prayer up borne upon the rising incense smoke; Then spend thine ancient love, O Mighty One, descend To aid me, for without thee I am forlorn.”

The Charge of the Goddess/The Great Lady This ritual calls for a full fledged Drawing Down the Moon, but includes this Charge of the Dawn as a back-up plan. When doing a drawing down you never know what you’ll get, and if you’ll get anything at all. If the drawing down is successful the Goddess then dictates the ritual and does as She will. This blessing/charge is meant to be used if the Lady doesn’t show up, but if the Lady wants to read it she’s more than welcome to. When we called Eostre last year during this ritual she asked to read my words.

Blessings of Eos/Charge of the Dawn High Priestess: “Ostara is the dawn of spring, the entry way to Summer. At the Spring Equinox the Earth stands fresh and renewed. Let us all be like the Earth, let us cast away the darkness of winter and embrace the wonder of green growing things. May we find delight in that which blooms around us and let us never forget our responsibility to this place we call home. This world is magical place, may the power of our Lady and the beauty of Nature remind us of that every day we draw breath.”

“Now come forward and receive my blessings. May my touch stir your heart and remind you of the magic and wonder inside us all. These blossoms represent the renewal of the spring, and the renewal we feel within our Spirit every spring. Put away your cynicism and doubt and embrace I who am the Mother of Us All. Wear this token as a reminder to rejoice in the small blessings we receive every day we walk this Earth.”

(All participants come forward and receive a gift from the goddess, we are using leis/garlands of flowers. After all have stepped forward the ritual proceeds.)

Bubbles! High Priest: “Every morning the sun rises over the horizon, it’s slowly growing light like the top half of a giant bubble expanding ever forward. Inside of that bubble is the promise of another new day. Sometimes in the mundania of our lives it’s easy to forget that every day is magical and an opportunity for something new. Each sunrise that bubble holds the possibility of a new friend, a great meal, renewal of Spirit, a shared kiss, a kind word, a song that touches the heart, knowledge, laughter, and all the things that make this life worth living.”

“As the sun rises ever higher in the sky that bubble bursts, spreading out all of those possibilities upon the Earth. The energies of the Lord and Lady touch the waking world blessing every rock, plant, fish, fowl, and beast. With Spring now ahead of us the time is ripe to give energy to our hopes and dreams, tonight we will do that by creating, and blowing, our own bubbles.”

(Bubble solution is passed out to everyone in the circle.)

“I want you to picture in your head all of the great and wondrous things that are dawning in your life. Picture summer vacations, projects that you are passionate about that never seem to get done, a world of love surrounded by thriving and growing things. Now as you see all of those things, feel them go from your head and heart into your breath. Breathe deeply and make your own bubbles, putting all of that energy and all of those intentions out there. When your bubble pops it represents the energy you put into them going out into the universe to make that which you wish for manifest. Join me in hailing the Spring and creating our dreams with life’s breath.”

Raising Energy High Priest: “A circle is kind of like our bubbles, it’s a sphere that contains energy, and it will only release energy when we let it ‘pop.’ The Spring sings its promises to us offering us new opportunities for growth and change. Today we take all of that energy bubbling up inside of us, place it on our circle bubble and then send it out into the universe.”

High Priestess: “Tonight we shall chant and welcome in the Spring and celebrate our love of the Earth. Our chant tonight is simple: ‘Spring is here, Love draws near.’ As we recite these words our chant shall grow ever louder culminating in a crescendo of energy.”

(All chant, and this is a great time for movement if you have enough room. Eventually the High Priestess raises one finger in the air signifying the end of the chanting. When the chant ends the energy is released.)

High Priest: “Hail the Spring! Hail the gods! Hail our Earth! Hail our fellowship tonight! So mote it be!”

Great Rite High Priest: “Life is more than a gift, it is a promise. All that dies shall be reborn.”

High Priestess: “We now celebrate the most ancient of magicks, the magick of joining.”

High Priest: “The athame is to the Lord.”

High Priestess: “As the cup is the Lady.”

Both: “United in life and abundance. Blessed Be!”

(Athame is plunged into the chalice.)

Blessing the Cakes & Ale High Priest: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this bread.”

(Touches athame to either the bread or the plate it is being served upon.)

High Priestess: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this drink.”

(Touches athame to the top of the cup.

Goodbyes to the Lord and Lady High Priestess: “We thank the Great Lady, Goddess of the skies and seas for joining us tonight in our rites. Look over us as the light grows and change manifests its self in our lives. With love and devotion we walk this road with you. Blessed Be.”

High Priest: “We thank the Eternal Lord, God of the earth and the wild places, for joining us tonight in our rites. We will feel your touch with our every step upon your world. With love and devotion we walk this road with you. Blessed Be.”

Dismissing the Quarters

North: “”Spirits of the North, element of earth and field, powers of harvest and home we summoned you to guard, protect, and to bless our rites. You have served us well and now we wish you hail and farewell!”

West: “Spirits of the West, element of water and rain, powers of death and initiation we summoned you to guard, protect, and bless our rites. You have served us well and now we wish you hail and farewell!”

South: “”Spirits of the South, element of fire and sun, powers of illumination and desire we summoned you to guard, protect, and bless our rites. You have served us well and now we wish you hail and farewell!”

East: “Spirits of the East, element of air and wind, powers of clear will and knowledge we summoned you to guard, protect, and bless our rites. You have served us well and now we now wish you hail and farewell!”

Taking Down the Circle “With sword in hand I now undo this circle round. First pass to return the sacred to mundane ground. Second pass to release all that kept us safe from harm. Third pass to release our spells, magic, and charm. In the names of the Lord and Lady all has been dismissed and all is now as it once was. The circle is open, but never truly broken. So mote it be!”

Closing Statement “We have welcomed in the Spring and shared our energies with the universe. May we reap all that we have planted in the world tonight. And now we say Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again and May the gods preserve the Craft!”

Ostara: Spring Equinox (Ostara) - March 21st/22nd

Incense: Jasmine, Rose Decorations: Yellow Disk or Wheel, Coloured Egg's, Hare Decorations, Spring Flowers Colours: Yellow

This marks the Spring Equinox. This is the Pagan "Easter" - or rather, this is the day that Christians borrowed to be their Easter. It is traditionally the day of equilibrium, neither harsh winter or the merciless summer, and is a time of childish wonder. Painted eggs, baskets of flowers and the like are generally used to decorate the house. It is common to use this time to free yourself from things which hinder progress. As a day of equilibrium, it is a good time to perform self banishing and also perform workings to gain things we have lost, or to gain qualities we wish to have.

The second of the 3 spring festivals, this Sabbat occurs in mid march when day and night are of equal length. This festival is also of fertility where seeds are blessed for planting soon after. Traditional colours for this holiday are light green, lemon yellow and pale pink.

Burn during Wiccan rituals on Ostara (the Spring Equinox, which falls on Tuesday, March 20th this year), or to welcome spring and to refresh your life.

The materials needed are the following: *2 parts Frankincense *1 part Benzoin *1 part Dragon's Blood *half part Nutmeg *half part Violet Flowers (or a few drops - like 3 - of Violet Oil) *half part Orange Peel *half part Rose Petals *charcoal block/briquette *fire-safe incense burner, censer or pot.

For best results, grind the materials in a mortar and pestle. Take a small amount and place on a burning charcoal block in a fire-safe censer or burner.

Ritual for Ostara/Spring Equinox

Flowers should be laid on the altar, placed around the circle and strewn on the ground. The cauldron can be filled with spring water and flowers, and buds and blossoms may be worn as well. A small potted plant should be placed on the altar. Arrange the altar, light the candles and incense, and cast the circle. Invoke the Goddess and God in whatever words please you. Stand before the altar and gaze upon the plant as you say:

"O Great Goddess, you have freed yourself from the icy prison of winter. Now is the greening, when the fragrance of flowers drifts on the breeze. This is the beginning. Life renews itself by Your magick, Earth Goddess. The God stretches and rises, eager in His youth, and bursting with the promise of summer."

Touch the plant. Connect with its energies and, through it, all nature. Travel inside its leaves and stems through your visualization - from the center of your consciousness out through your arm and fingers and into the plant itself. Explore its inner nature; sense the miraculous processes of life at work within it.

After a time, still touching the plant, say:

"I walk the earth in friendship, not in dominance. Mother Goddess and Father God, instil within me through this plant a warmth for all living things. Teach me to revere the Earth and all its treasures. May I never forget."

Meditate upon the changing of the seasons. Feel the rousing of energies around you in the Earth. Works of magic, if necessary, may follow. Celebrate the Simple Feast. The circle is released.

This spell will help to renew your spiritual self as the Earth does every Spring. You will need the following materials:

*a small black candle and a small white candle *medium sized yellow or green candle - if you can find one shaped like an egg, even better! *a spring wreath to fit around the candle, either hand-made or bought at a craft store *sandalwood incense *your favourite essential oil - a scent that reminds you of Spring *parchment paper *a black pen and a gold-ink pen (you can find them at your local discount or crafts store like Micheal's) *an ashpot, cauldron, fire-proof container

First, break the parchment paper in half. Use the black pen to write on one sheet and title the page "BE GONE." With the black pen, write all the habits, feelings, situations, etc. that you want to get rid off. Use the back if you need more space. Place this negative list under the candleholder or votive of the black candle.

Second, take a nice bath or shower and cleanse yourself of any negative vibrations. Visualize the water washing over your body and taking away the black cloudy grime that surrounds you to reveal a brilliant white glow. After the bath or shower, anoint yourself with the essential oil and dress yourself in white comfy garments or skyclad if you prefer.

Third, return to your work space and now take the other sheet of parchment paper and with the gold pen title it "REBIRTH." With the gold pen, write all of those things you want to better in yourself, change for the positive, goals you desire to accomplish, etc. Make positive, active statements and void comments like I should, would, wish, hope or anything with negative connotations. This is your positive list so fill it with vibrant positive energy. When your list is complete, place the list under the candleholder or votive of the white candle.

Fourth, light the black and white candle and the incense. Take the incense holder and walk around your space three times clockwise. Situate the incense holder. Take the negative list from under the black candle and use its flame to set it afire and throw it in the ashpot, etc. As you do this say:

What once was will never be. I'm making room for the new me. Be gone, Be gone! So mote it be!

Fifth, after the negative list is burnt to a crisp, take the positive list from under the white candle. Now here is where you need to be quick and steady. (If you feel you can't do this that is fine and work your way around it.) Set the positive list aflame with the white candle and immediately use the burning list to light your egg (or yellow, green, etc.) candle and throw the burning paper in to the ashpost, etc.

Sixth, after this invigorating event, look at your egg candle and say the following words:

Let me feel, let me see, Now reborn in positivity. As I hatch into Spring, Let all good things now come in.

In perfect love and perfect trust, With harm to none, So mote it be!

Lastly, gaze at your candle for a moment and meditate if you wish. When your ready, take the ashpot outside and throw the ashes to the wind, making sure it doesn't come back into your house!. After that, make sure to snuff out the candles when appropriate. Go get something to eat and begin to enjoy your renewed self!

Ostara, the spring equinox, falls around March 21 in the northern hemisphere. It is a season of balance, when the light is equal to the darkness. This is a great time to celebrate the rebirth of the soil and the land. Ostara is known as a time of fertility and abundance, a season to welcome back life after the cold, dark winter. If you're trying to figure out what sort of ritual to incorporate into your Ostara celebrations, try one of these, and adjust it as needed to suit your particular tradition and practice.

It's Ostara, and it's a time of year in which many Pagans to choose celebrate the balance of light and dark that heralds the beginning of spring. It's a time to celebrate new life and rebirth -- not only the physical embodiment of renewal, but the spiritual as well. Try some -- or all -- of these ideas to ready your altar for Ostara.

Colors

To get an idea of what colors are appropriate for spring, all you really have to do is look outside. Notice the yellows of the forsythia blooming behind your house, the pale purples of lilacs, the green of new leaves appearing in the melting snow. Pastels are often considered spring colors as well, so feel free to add some pinks and blues into the mix if the idea strikes you. Decorate your altar in any of these colors -- try a pale green altar cloth with some purples and blues draped across it, and add some yellow or pink candles to carry the color up.

The Balance of the Equinox

Ostara is a time of balance between light and dark, so symbols of this polarity can be used. Use a god and goddess statue, a white candle and a black one, a sun and moon, even a yin/yang symbol.

New Life

Ostara is also a time of new growth and life -- add potted plants such as new crocuses, daffodils, lilies, and other magical spring flowers. This is the time of year when animals are bringing forth new life too -- put a basket of eggs on your altar, or figures of new lambs, rabbits, calves, etc. Add a chalice of milk or honey -- milk represents the lactating animals who have just given birth, and honey is long known as a symbol of abundance.

For this ritual, you'll want to decorate your altar with symbols of the season. Think about all the colors you see in nature at this time of year -- bright daffodils, crocuses, plump tulips, green shoots -- and incorporate them into your altar. This is also a time of fertility in the natural world -- the egg is the perfect representation of this aspect of the season. Symbols of young animals such as lambs, chicks, and calves are also great altar adornments for Ostara.

In addition, you'll need the following:

Perform this ritual outside if at all possible, in the early morning as the sun rises. It's spring, so it may be a bit chilly, but it's a good time to reconnect with the earth. If your tradition normally requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

  • Three candles -- one yellow, one green, and one purple

  • A bowl of milk

  • A small bowl of honey or sugar

Begin by taking a moment to focus on the air around you. Inhale deeply, and see if you can smell the change in the seasons. Depending on where you live, the air may have an earthy aroma, or a rainy one, or even smell like green grass. Sense the shift in energy as the Wheel of the Year has turned. Light the green candle, to symbolize the blossoming earth. As you light it, say:

The Wheel of the Year turns once more, and the vernal equinox arrives. Light and dark are equal, and the soil begins to change. The earth awakes from its slumber, and new life springs forth once more.

Next, light the yellow candle, representing the sun. As you do so, say:

The sun draws ever closer to us, greeting the earth with its welcoming rays. Light and dark are equal, and the sky fills with light and warmth. The sun warms the land beneath our feet, and gives life to all in its path.

Finally, light the purple candle. This one represents the Divine in our lives -- whether you call it a god or a goddess, whether you identify it by name or simply as a universal life force, this is the candle which stands for all the things we do not know, all those things we cannot understand, but that are the sacred in our daily lives. As you light this candle, focus on the Divine around and within you. Say:

Spring has come! For this, we are thankful! The Divine is present all around, in the cool fall of a rain storm, in the tiny buds of a flower, in the down of a newborn chick, in the fertile fields waiting to be planted, in the sky above us, and in the earth below us. We thank the universe* for all it has to offer us, and are so blessed to be alive on this day. Welcome, life! Welcome, light! Welcome, spring!

Take a moment and meditate on the three flames before you and what they symbolize. Consider your own place within these three things -- the earth, the sun, and the Divine. How do you fit into the grand scheme of things? How do you find balance between light and dark in your own life?

Finally, blend the milk and honey together, mixing gently. Pour it onto the ground around your altar space as an offering to the earth**. As you do, you may wish to say something like:

I make this offering to the earth, As thanks for the many blessings I have received, And those I shall some day receive.

Once you have made your offering, stand for a minute facing your altar. Feel the cool earth beneath your feet, and the sun on your face. Take in every sensation of this moment, and know that you are in a perfect place of balance between light and dark, winter and summer, warmth and cold -- a time of polarity and harmony.

When you are ready, end the ritual.

Tips:

  • Instead of "the Universe", feel free to insert the name of your patron deity or the gods of your tradition here.

  • If you're doing this rite indoors, take your bowl of milk and honey and pour it in your garden, or around your yard.

What is a Labyrinth?

The labyrinth has long been considered a place of magic and introspection. Labyrinthine designs have been found in nearly every major religion, and are an integral part of many ancient cultures. Labyrinths have been found all over the world. They are, in essence, a magical geometric shape which helps define sacred space. A labyrinth is not the same as a maze -- there is only one path in, and one path out.

During the period of the Crusades, wealthy families often built a labyrinth as a way to represent the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Today, they can be built and used by anyone as a tool of reflection and prayer. You can make a labyrinth out of just about anything -- planted flowers, shrubs, or stones for a permanent structure, string or sand or cornmeal for a more temporary one.

When walking through a labyrinth, your body tends to turn back and forth - first you're moving right, next you're going to the left, with a 180 degree turn each time.

This causes you to shift your awareness from the right side of the brain to the left, and then back again. It is believed that this is one of the reasons why a labyrinth walk can induce varied states of consciousness.

The Labyrinth as Problem-Solving Tool

To do this meditation, if you don't have access to a labyrinth, you'll need to construct a simple one of your own. You can mark out your labyrinth with tape, string, or paint on the ground. If you're doing it outside, consider using a trail of birdseed -- it doesn't damage the grass, and the local wildlife cleans up for you afterwards.

Once you've marked out your path, take a moment to meditate on what sort of issues you would like to resolve in your life. Ostara is a time of balance, so one of the great uses for this meditation is that of finding polarity and solving problems. Consider for a moment what problems -- either physical, spiritual, external, or emotional -- you would like to find a resolution for at this time. As you walk towards the center, you will begin working out solutions for your problem.

Take your first step into the labyrinth, walking slowly. Stop after each step, and think. Become aware of your surroundings, and what lies before you, and what lies behind you. Begin by thinking about not only your problem, but what you think of it on an intellectual level. Explore how the problem has come to exist, from a non-emotional standpoint.

As you continue to walk, move on to how the problem makes you feel. What emotions does it bring about in you? Do you find yourself unable to make rational decisions when you're dealing with your problem? What is it about this problem that brings about such an emotional response within you, and WHY does it effect you so much?

As you begin the third part of the journey, move on to how your problem effects you in your physical world. Are you running out of money because of a bad job? Do you have someone in your life who is hurting you? Have you become ill because of your problem?

Continue walking slowly, and examine how the problem has effected your spiritual needs. Do you feel as though you are at a loss in your spiritual path? Does it inhibit your growth as a spiritual person?

As you approach the center of the labyrinth, it is time to begin looking for solutions. If you have a patron deity, you can ask them to take the problem into their hands. You can ask the universe to help with a solution. You can ask for a vision to guide you -- whatever choice works best with you and your faith. As you reach the center, ideas will begin to come to you that will help resolve your issue at hand. When these visions arrive, accept them without questioning or judgment -- even if they don't make sense right now, you can analyze them later on. Meanwhile, accept that a solution has been given to you by a higher power.

Stand in the center of the labyrinth. Ask yourself, "What is the first step? How may I make this solution come to be?" Take some time to just stand -- or sit -- there, and let your solution sink in. You have completed the first part of your journey -- the reaching of a resolution. When you are ready, start making your way back out of the labyrinth.

The Return Path

As you take your first few steps from the center, consider the solution you were given. Look at it in a non-judgmental way, and think of it logically. Is it something you can make happen? Even if it seems difficult or hard to achieve, if you set yourself a goal, it IS obtainable.

Continue walking towards the exit, and keep thinking about the answer to your problem. Consider the deities or other higher power which provided you with this answer. Do you believe they have your best interest in mind? Of course they do -- so be sure to thank them for taking the time to pay attention to you and your needs, and for helping you reach this state of awareness.

As you continue to walk, consider once more your spiritual life. Will this solution allow you to grow or learn spiritually? Will you feel more whole spiritually after the solution has been implemented? What about physically? Will your body and health be affected in a positive way once you begin working towards this resolution? How does the solution make you feel on an emotional level, and how will it effect the negative emotions you felt about your problem in the first place?

As you approach the end of your journey, try to look at your solution from a logical, non-emotional perspective. If you work towards this solution, will it resolve your problem? While it may create more work for you, and be difficult to obtain, will the end result ultimately be worth the effort of making it happen?

Once you step out of your labyrinth's path, take a moment to once again thank the deities or higher power that assisted you. Think, as well, about how you feel as you emerge from the labyrinth. Do you feel lighter, as though you have truly found a way to resolve your issue? Take a deep breath, recognize the new power that you have, and get to work on making the necessary changes in your life!

Try this simple meditation to help you attune to the element of Earth. To do this meditation, find a place where you can sit quietly, undisturbed, on a day when the sun is shining. Ideally, it should be in a place where you can really connect with everything that Earth represents. Perhaps it's a hillside outside of town, or a shady grove in your local park. Maybe it's somewhere deep in the woods, under a tree, or even your own back yard. Find your spot, and make yourself comfortable. If you haven't read Meditation 101 yet, go ahead and do so before you begin.

Sit or lie on the ground, so that as much of your body as possible is in direct contact with the ground. Use all of your senses to attune to Earth. Relax your body and breathe slowly, through your nose, and taking in the scents around you. You may smell freshly cut grass, or damp earth, or flowers and leaves. Close your eyes, and become aware of the earth beneath your body. Feel the cool breeze blowing by, and allow yourself to become in tune to the rhythms of nature.

Once you are completely relaxed, focus on the warmth of the sun on your face. Imagine that warm golden light being absorbed into your body, through your third eye. Feel the light of the sun warming your head and face, a little at a time, just as the earth is being warmed back up. Imagine this light working its way along your body, traveling through your neck, down into your chest, where your heart chakra is located. Allow it to warm your heart, then traveling slowly down through your abdomen and down to your root chakra.

As this light warms your body, feel it connecting you to the ground beneath your body as well. Imagine this warmth spreading, a golden glow journeying along your legs, your knees, and finally to your feet. By the time the sensation reaches your feet, you should feel as though your entire body has been infused with the warmth and light of the returning sun.

Feel your connection to the earth. Imagine that warmth growing and spreading from your body into the ground. Visualize the awakening roots, seeds, and other life that is just below the surface. Share your warmth and light with them, and feel your own roots growing into the soil. Feel the stability and security of the earth beneath you. Keep your breathing even and regular, and enjoy the sensation of being one with the soil, the grass, and even the rocks below.

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