By Ashley Pavlakis, Kelsie Radziski and Menka Suresh
Ostara, the pagan celebration of the spring season aligned with the spring equinox on March 20th, was celebrated by Long Islanders who embrace the tradition.
“Ostara, or the spring equinox, represents a time of rebirth,” Julia Bremer, a spiritual practitioner celebrating Ostara, explained. “This is when farmers start to plant their crops again, flowers start to grow, [and] greenery comes back into the world.”
The holiday embraces natural themes of balance and renewal, as explained in an article from the Canton Public Library. Celebrations for this holiday are typically held outdoors as a way to connect with the earth.
The Paumanok Island Protogrove ADF, an international spiritual fellowship, held a public Ostara ritual at West Hills Nature Preserve in Melville.
“We make offerings to a number of different gods and spirits,” Tess Robertson, a member of the group, explained. “We also leave space for people attending to offer to any gods of their choosing. After inviting several gods and spirits, we ask for their blessing to come into what we call the Water of Life [which is] generally a pitcher of actual water. Then we pass around the water for everyone to partake of the blessings, thank all the various beings, and close the gates.”
Medwell Yoga Studio in Bellmore held a workshop centered around yoga, reiki healing, and sound baths to welcome in positive energy for the springtime.
“It’s a complete energy enhancement and energetic spring cleaning for your mind, body, and soul,” Marilyn Skyflower, the yoga instructor co-facilitating the workshop, said.
While Ostara is heavily centered around the earth’s reawakening, it also encompasses individual growth and rebirth. Practitioners use this holiday to build their personal connections with nature.
“I will spend a lot of time in my garden…I will plant my plants [and] put intentions into my garden,” Bremer described her Ostara practices. “While my garden is growing, so are my intentions.”
Other ways to celebrate the holiday include completing herbal and sachet rituals.
“You can craft a sachet for any intention really, but for this one I used ingredients specific to purifying and cleansing negative and stagnant energy,” Sarah, owner of Folkcraft and Flora Apothecary, said. “I hang it from my shower head and use it just like I would a bath soak. Let the water run over me and allow it to cleanse my personal energy. You can also just hang them in a space for warding purposes or to calm a space that feels overwhelming.”
The spring equinox is celebrated by many different cultures, including indigenous groups. The arrival of spring was their sign to begin planting crops and reintroducing animals. They had traditions and beliefs about the springtime, similar to pagans.
Ostara was named after Eostre, the pagan fertility goddess of humans and crops who was honored in the springtime. Her worship evolved into the Ostara celebration, and it is speculated that she was also a source of inspiration for Easter traditions.
“There is some speculation that the Christian celebration of Easter may have incorporated some elements from earlier pagan traditions, such as Ostara,” Barbi Gardiner, a blogger for Outdoor Apothecary, said. “The idea of celebrating rebirth and new life in the spring is a common theme across many cultures and religions [and] it is a testament to the enduring power of symbols and the ways in which they can be used to connect us to our shared human experience.”
Long Island’s celebration of Ostara welcomes blessings and positivity for the upcoming spring season.