Ostara Redux

This weekend I was a presenter and vendor at the Florida Young Naturists Third Annual Spring Bash at Sunsport Gardens.

Ostara is the Celtic holiday of Rebirth, celebrating the Vernal Equinox
Ostara is the Celtic holiday of Rebirth, celebrating the Vernal Equinox

One of my duties was to lead a Pagan ritual around the fire Saturday evening.

Being equidistant between Ostara and Beltaine, I had a choice of which turn of the Wheel to celebrate.  I felt inspired to honor Ostara one more time this year.

I’m not sure why I made that choice.  A Maypole with forty naturist youth could be amazing.  But perhaps the Young Naturists really don’t need any additional fertility magick.

I always really enjoy these kids.  Cliché though it sounds, they remind me of how I was when I was their age.  I tell them that, when they let me, as a cautionary tale.  As in “Yes,  you can travel the world, tour with Furthur, go to Bonnaroo, explore your spirituality, look for a great commune, try your hand at organic farming. . .you can reject 9-5 slavery and follow your spirit and your heart.  If you do, you may end up like me- middle aged, driving an economy car, enjoying my partner and our grown kids, reading tarot cards professionally and living in a trailer in a naturist park.”

That only seems to encourage them.

Sometimes I put a lot of time and creativity into planning public ritual.  Sometimes I let the Universe do it for me.  The only real prep I did for this one was to talk with a few of the kids about taking part in the ritual.  I spoke first with Mark.  He knew a way of calling the quarters in Spanish.  At first, I rejected this, but then immediately reconsidered.  After all, I still hadn’t a clue where the ritual was going- and he had a clear idea what he wanted to do.  I told him he was in charge of the four quarters- any way he wanted to do it.  He was thrilled.

I asked a fellow vendor to help me with drumming and chanting.  He showed me a Goddess chant he liked.  Perfect.  He would do the chant to invoke the Goddess.

I still needed to figure out what Ostara magick to do.  There were so many possibilities.  Once I made a big paper Ostara egg on which everyone wrote what they wanted to “hatch” in their lives.  Another time we broke uncooked eggs into a cauldron.  That was messier than expected.  Some years I like to give each person seeds to enchant and plant.  Last year at Sunsport Gardens we had an Ostara egg “hunt” within the circle.

As ritual time approached, I kept thinking about the eggshell, and the seedpod.  Rarely when we talk about Ostara do we speak about what is cast off in the process of growth.  As the chick hatches, the shells are cast aside.  As the seed sprouts, the pod returns to the earth.

I decided that first we would raise energy to manifest what we wanted to “hatch” and “sprout” in our lives.  Then, we would do magick to let go of whatever we no longer needed- the shells and pods.

One of my favorite young couples, Rebekah and Jeremiah, are getting ready to make a huge life change.  I gave them a chalice filled with resin, and asked them to act as priest and priest.  They would take the chalice to each person in the circle.  People would release what they no longer needed into the chalice.  Then, the resin would be committed to the fire.

As we gathered to prepare for the ritual,  Mark brought  three friends.  The four men sat in the four quarters, around the fire in the inner circle.  Mark was teaching them about the four elements. 

One of the young men had crystals.  He placed them in the East corner of the circle.  I gave salt to a girl, and sage to a boy.  As the drumming and chanting began, they began to clear and cast the circle.

I had completely forgotten about the tiki torches around the fire area.  I like to have them lit as part of the circle casting process.  As I watched the circle take shape, a young man spontaneously walked around and lit the torches.  It was beautiful.

I was thrilled that Mike iLL and Rivka of Mad haPPy had joined us in circle.  Their beautiful voices and energy made the chanting more powerful.  As the drumbeat and the chanting rose, more people joined the circle, chanting with us.

We are a circle, within a circle, with no beginning, and never ending

Earth, my body- Water, my blood-, Air, my breathe and Fire, my spirit!

Mark and his friends did an amazing job calling the quarters, and holding the energy.  It was tribal, earthy, exuberant and reverent.

For the manifestation part of the magick, each person took a piece of paper and colored pen from a basket.  On it, they wrote what they wanted to hatch.  I led them in simple visualize-and-release magick, asking them to fold or crumple the paper as a way of sealing the magick.

Then it was time for Rebekah and Jeremiah to make their journey around the circle with the chalice.  They embodied the maiden goddess and her young king, or a priest and priest bringing healing. 

When the chalice was heavy with discarded energy, they approached the fire, stepping into the stone ring.  They spoke beautiful words they had crafted for the magick.

When the resin hit the fire, it sparkled.

This was the third ritual I had led for this group.  The first two were pretty much about me performing the ritual.  This one sprung, like the flowers of Ostara, from the group- organically, creatively, magickally.

Modern Paganism is a clergy-based religion.  That means that everyone brings his or her skills to the circle, and everyone gets to be a leader.  So often, though, experienced Pagan leaders, out of some combination of habit, ego, or talent, have a hard time turning over the reins.

At this ritual, I was a better teacher because I allowed someone else to teach.  I was a better priestess because I allowed the Goddess herself to inspire the ritual.  The ritual was creative because I didn’t create it.  The creative energy of Ostara, and of youth, did it all.