Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eostre's Eggs and the Legend of the Easter Bunny

From the author, Edain McCoy, and her book~>
Ostara: Customs Spells, and Rituals for the Rites of Spring

The Anglo-Saxons hailed Eostre as the Goddess of Spring, The Greening Earth, and Fertility. Her name means "moving with the waxing sun." Around the time of her festival, on the day when light and dark are equal, the local animals began giving birth or going into their sexually receptive cycles, named "estrus periods" after the goddess. From the fiercest to the most humble, the woodland animals--who also worshipped and loved Eostre--would play in the warmth of spring light and feast on the new vegetation Eostre provided.

One of Eostre's devotees was a small hare who wished very much to give a gift to his goddess, but he didn't know what he could possibly offer that would be of any value to her. Then one day while foraging, the hare came across a fresh egg, a very prized commodity indeed. The little hare wanted very badly to eat the egg, as it had been a long time since he'd feasted on anything finer than dry grasses. Before he could take a bite of his prized, he realized this egg might make the perfect gift for Eostre. But, he pondered, Eostre could have all the eggs she wanted, anytime she wanted them. She was a goddess, a creator, the embodiment of life itself. Giving her just any egg would never do. How, he wondered, could he make this egg a fit offering for his goddess?

The little hare took the egg home and pondered how to make it as beautiful and new as Eostre made the world each spring. He began to decorate the egg. He painted it in the hues of Eostre's spring woods and placed upon the shell symbols sacred to Eostre. When he felt he could not make the egg any more beautiful, he took it to Eostre and offered it to her.

Eostre was so pleased by the little hare's sacrifice of his egg to her, and by the manner in which he decorated it for her, that he wanted everyone--especially children, who are themselves symbols of new life--to enjoy these representations of her bounty. Since that Ostara day long ago, the descendants of that hare have taken up the task of delivering decorated eggs tot he world's children at spring. They are called Eostre's bunnies or, more commonly, the Easter Bunny.

Rebirthing Spell

Gently place one egg in a pan that is half-filled with boiling water. As you watch the egg boil in the steaming pot, concentrate on something you feel is gone from your life that you wish to have manifest back into it. Conceptualize this desire as living within the egg, a need that will be birthed into being with the egg's assistance. Visualize this miracle happening with as much clarity and detail as you are able. Do this for at least five minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to coo.

When the egg is able to be handled, take crayons or felt markers in any color or colors you feel best represents your desire and draw a symbol or some other representation of your wish on the egg.

Bury the egg near your front door, as deep as is reasonable. Each time you walk past the place where the egg is buried, be sure to remind yourself of its purpose by restating to yourself an affirmation of your desire.

In a short time the egg will break down, the shell cracking open and the yolk decomposing. This symbolic life, death and rebirth of your wishing egg is linked by magic to your life, and it will help your desire to be rebirthed soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Celebrating the Spring Equinox (Ostara)

The Spring Equinox is the traditional celebration of the new life that bursts forth with spring.
It has given us the modern celebration of Easter.

Spring Equinox traditionally falls on March 20-21, and is the exact midpoint between the winter and summer solstices. Starting at sundown on March 20, there are exactly 12 hours of night and 12 hours of daylight.

This is a time of huge energy. Nature is waking up after its long winter sleep and everywhere you look there is evidence of new life: trees are in bud, seeds are germinating and animals are preparing to bear their young.

Celebrating New Life

In Wiccan lore, the Oak King, the god of light, wins a victory over the Holly King, god of darkness. As light conquers dark, the great mother Goddess conceives a child. Nine months later, at Winter Solstice, the child will be born and the cycle begins again.

Easter: Spring Equinox in the World

The Easter festival we think of as a Christian celebration is the church's appropriation of this traditional Pagan festival. The resurrection is a tale of new life, but where do the Easter eggs and rabbits feature in the Bible?

Even the name, Easter, has Pagan roots--Eoestre is the goddess of light, who brings the spring. The root of the work comes from "estrus"--the time in an animal's sexual cycle when it is fertile. Eoestre's festival was held on the Spring Equinox full Moon; thus Easter is on the first Sunday after the first full Moon following the Spring Equinox.

Fertility and Rebirth

The Spring Equinox is often represented by a Spring maiden carrying a basket of eggs, the symbol of rebirth. The maiden is accompanied by a hare or rabbit, representing abundant fertility, from which comes our modern symbol, the Easter Bunny.

How to Celebrate the Spring Equinox

There are many simple ways to celebrate the season of rebirth--from spring cleaning your body and your home to cooking up traditional Easter treats for family and friends.

1. Spring Clean Your Home

In springtime, gardeners clear away the debris of winter from the base of plants, allowing room for new growth. So we, too, can make space in our homes for fresh ideas and projects to emerge.

Renew your Home

As the growing light shows up the accumulated dirt of winter, remove it.

*Go into those hidden places, under the sofa and behind the refrigerator, letting in the light and leaving everything fresh and new.

*Clear out any clothes you no longer wear from your closets.

*Wear green to symbolize the shoots of spring;this will remind you of the new beginnings spring represents.

2. Special Spring Food and Drink

Make a celebratory meal to share with your friends--perhaps a picnic outdoors, or inside, if the weather is bad.

Dishes for Spring

Create the following dishes for a symbolic spring meal:

-> Nettle Tea--The first edible green leaves of spring, nettles are rich in minerals such as iron

-> Quiche, the eggs in which are reminiscent of new life.

-> Hot cross buns are reminiscent of the Sacred Marriage. The arms of the cross are of equal length, which in some cosmologies represents the union of male and female.

3. Make Your Own Easter Egg

Traditionally, eggs were painted bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, or colored scarlet to represent life blood.

Spring Resolutions

As part of your ceremonies, you can paint an egg:

+ Decorate a hard-boiled egg with bright colors, symbols, or affirmations.

+ Write about a new project on the shell. If you are with friends, you can take turns to talk about what your eggs symbolize. Passing the eggs around the group will help to energize them and fill them with positive intent.

+ Absorb the energy you have invested in the egg by ceremonially shelling it and eating the contents.

+ Crush the painted eggshell and bury it--to sow you new hopes into the earth.

4. Spring Clean Your Body

After you have spring cleaned your home and it is clear of the previous season's old, stale energies, you can then cleanse yourself. Spring clean your body's systems by drinking a purifying tea of dandelion leaves and nettle tops.

New Beginnings

then make a spring altar, preferably in your garden to fully benefit from the new air of the season. On it, place spring flowers and fresh greens . Prepare an incense of purification herbs and spices, such as hyssop and juniper. As these offerings burn, meditate on the new projects you are ready to start--the seeds of new plans you wish to sow.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Making your own Sleep Charm

A couple of years ago, I found myself tormented by horrifying nightmares. I would avoid going to sleep at night because they terrified me so much. And, it was always the same theme, the same feeling of doom and no escape, leading into a terrifying leap from a building or falling from a ledge just to get away from the demons. I started sleeping with a very large amethyst geode on my headboard, and positioned it so my hand could rest on it. Then, I placed various gemstones in bed with me, touching my skin. I chose Tiger Eye, Amethyst, Sodalite, Moonstone, Hematite, and Rose Quartz. It was a strange site to be sleeping on purpose with rocks in my bed, but it worked for me. I fashioned a bracelet out of amethyst and moonstone to wear whenever I have bad dreams, and I have lavender scented air fresheners in my bedroom. (Can't do the candles as much anymore, now that I have cats). I found this Sleep Charm in my Book, and I am posting it with the hopes of helping others get through these times of unrest and fear.

Sleep charms offer you magical protection through the night, warding off demons--psychological ones as much as any other kind-- and stimulating your mind to produce peaceful dreams. Even the act of making your own sleep charm can help you to feel relaxed.

An inability to sleep well is often caused by daytime worries and anxiety that we fail to shake off before bedtime By making a charm and reactivating it every night, we make a clean break between waking and sleeping hours--a psychological change that will help us to relax.

Natural Aids to Sleep

There are many natural aids to help us sleep. Soft colors, such as pale blues and lilacs, help to soothe our mind and spirit, as do gentle aromas, such as lavender. By including these in our sleep charms, we can help to soothe ourselves to sleep and awake in the morning feeling spiritually and physically refreshed.

Your Sleep Charm Equipment:

*Sprigs of rosemary, thyme and lavender
*A white feather
*A blue ribbon
*A white candle
*A blue pen
*A sheet of white paper

Blue Magic

Blue, used for the ribbon and pen, is the color of a spring or summer sky. It is the gentle color of spiritual harmony and symbolizes peace.

White Magic

White, used in the feather, the candle and the sheet of paper, is the color of purification and cleansing. This significance means it is a good color to include in many spells and rituals.

Herb Lore

Rosemary, thyme and lavender can encourage restful sleep. Rosemary is thought to prevent nightmares, thyme can help to relieve disturbing dreams, and lavender can be used for protection.

Making your Sleep Charm

This step-by-step ritual of making a sleep charm can help, psychologically, to prepare you for sleep. Climb into bed ready for a tranquil slumber.

1. Sleep Visualization
Holding the white candle, imagine yourself sleeping easily and peacefully.

2. Light the Candle
Light it while saying out loud, "I light this candle in honor of the spirit of peace."

3. Make your Wish
Using the blue pen, write your wish on the paper--for instance, "I will fall asleep easily."

4. Parcel of Herbs
Place the herbs and the white feather on the paper and roll up these
ingredients so that they are contained inside the tube of paper.

5. Bind your Wish
Knot the ribbon three times around the roll while saying,
"By the power of three, so let it be.
Bring healing deep sleep here to me."

6. Seal you Wish
To secure your wish safely within the charm,
drip some candle wax over the ribbon knot to seal it.
Once you have done so, blow out the candle.

7. Place your Charm
Place the magic charm under your bed to encourage restful sleep.

8. Activate your Spell
Relight the candle as you prepare for bed each night. This will help to charge the charm.
After a week or so, when the candle has expired,
the charm will be fully activated and your sleep will be sound.