House Sankofa had its spring equinox ritual this past weekend. It actually wasn't a spring equinox thing so much as a celebration of the Orisha Oshun. You see, being a mixed House, we try to honor all of our respective lines equally and since we'd just done a powerful Mani ritual and since Oshun's feast day is March 25, I decided that instead of a traditional Ostara rite, we'd have a ritual to celebrate this amazing, generous, and gracious Orisha.
We laid out a lush altar, all in Her sacred color (yellow). There were several different kinds of flowers and offerings of various food stuffs, honey (all tasted before it was offered---in one of Her sacred stories, Oshun was poisoned by Her favorite food: honey, so now it must be tasted in Her presence before being offered), candles and as part of the offerings made *during* the ritual, along with carefully written petitions and prayers of thanks, She was given jewelry, amber, perfume, and many other good things. I have a river running out behind my home and the end of the ritual, all the offerings were taken down to the riverbank, where a small shrine was made to Oshun. The offerings were then consigned to the waters.
Oshun has been so incredibly good to so many of us in the House and indeed to the House itself; it was a real joy to celebrate Her blessings in this way. She is very well loved in House Sankofa.
After honoring Ellegua as Opener of the Way, making offerings to the ancestors, we prayed and sang to Oshun. then everyone came forward offering their own prayers of thanks, their petitions, making offerings, etc. We made a traditional offering to Her: squash cut in half, hollowed out, filled with honey into which petitions and five shiny new pennies were placed by everyone making an offering. Usually we'd have used a pumpkin for this, but it's out of season for pumpkins so we went with the next best thing.
here is part of the prayer we offered (first in Yoruba and then English. I'm only typing the English here. This is actually a compilation of three prayers):
Hail the benevolent Mother Oshun,
She Who digs up sand, digs up sand
and keeps money (resources) there for Her own people.
help me accomplish mine.
The One Who resides in the deep,
and yet performs various occupations,
the Goddess of the river,
Oshun alters bad destinies.
Ladekoju, the One Who defends somebody's cause
the untiring defender,
the unseen defender,
the unfailing defender.
Hail the benevolent Mother Oshun.
Then, before we ended the ritual, I talked about the young Syrian girl Yana who was denounced by her own brother for being a polytheist, dragged from her home to be beaten, raped, and killed because of her devotion to her gods. I asked that Oshun help make the girl's passage to her ancestors sweet, that she strengthen her, and protect her and all those who are killed in this struggle to restore our polytheisms. We asked her blessings on our martyred dead and that She strengthen those of us who continue the fight.
Then final prayers and offerings were made, Oshun reverenced again and we ended the ritual.
At that point, everyone got to enjoy Wyrd Dottir's workshop on "Eostre/Ostara and Olvir of Egg". We always try to have good workshops after our rituals, because it's so seldom that everyone can get together in one place. Anyway, the day was successful. Ashe and may Her blessings flow.
By happy coincidence, just as we’re coming to the letter ‘E’ in the Pagan Blog Project, we’re also drawing close to Eostre. This is the Pagan and Heathen celebration A) of the spring equinox and the coming of warm weather and lighter days and B) the Goddesses of spring and renewal, among them Eostre who gave Her name not only to our celebration (also sometimes called Ostara after another Goddess of spring, Who might be the same Goddess as Eostre but with a different regional name or Who might be a completely separate Deity) but to the Christian Easter as well. (Come on folks, did you really think the eggs and bunnies had anything to do with Jesus?). Moreover, spring equinox is one of the three holy tides that we know for sure were celebrated throughout Northern Europe. Other holidays might vary from region to region, tribe to tribe, but these three remained consistent (the other two being the Solstices).
Until very recently, I never gave much though to Eostre. I considered it a “lesser” holiday and would often allow it to pass with the most minimal of observance. I far preferred the cold season, the time from Winternights in October through Yule, the time when the Wild Hunt was said to ride, the time given over the ancestors, the Mothers, and Odin. All of that changed, however, when I moved out of New York City. Suddenly, I found myself ensconced in the seasonal rhythms. I found myself unable to ignore the cycles of the land, the feel of the soil as it prepared for winter slumber, and moreover as it began to awaken in the spring. It was all around me and as I now had a parcel of land for which I was responsible, I began to sit up and take notice. With that miniature epiphany, I found myself coming to crave Eostre with a deep physical and spiritual ache. I began to long for this holy tide and suddenly it didn’t seem ‘lesser’ at all. Suddenly it seemed crucial, valuable, a doorway marking the transition between death and rebirth, winter and summer, darkness and light, fallow and fertile. Suddenly my entire relationship to this Goddess, this celebration, and this time of year was transformed.
Eostre really is a magical time. Its power lies in part in its liminality. The equinoxes are liminal times: the earth is neither fully awakened nor still fully asleep. They mark periods of transition, of awakening, of initiation. They mark the passage through a place, a time, a state of being that is neither one thing nor the other and such places are tremendously important for us spiritually and emotionally. They are the places wherein we are given the opportunity to open up and grow a little ourselves, to move beyond our baggage, to reach out and, since we are speaking of things associated with the spring equinox, to embrace the light. They give us a chance to reawaken our passions and reorder our priorities. Liminal times and places not only provide a chance to drink deeply of the sacred, but they allow us the opportunity to remake ourselves: our hearts, our minds, our spirits, in the wake of that sacred drink as we go forth, through the passage of the holy tide, into new life, new birth, new growth and hopefully, greater awareness. Moreover, Eostre being what it is, we can do so with joy because over and above anything else, this is a holy tide resplendent with joy.
You can feel the potentiality bubbling up in the land, like laughter too long impishly suppressed. You can feel it in the life that is bursting into flower everywhere at this time. It’s palpable if one stops long enough to listen; and to feel. Eostre is all about sensation—a riotous exaltation of the senses and our capacity to enjoy them. It’s about taking that pause, that breath, and it’s also about blessing the creativity – the fertility not necessarily of body, though that is certainly part of this season, but of mind, heart, and spirit. This holy tide is about opening up and stretching our wings after the enforced constraint of winter. It’s about the grace of being alive, awake, and capable of feeling joy. It’s about sensuality---however one chooses to express or embrace it, Eostre is, in some very deep way, about sensuality, a glorious celebration of the sensorium which, after the fallow time of winter, has the chance to glory in the gifts brought in the wake of the brightening land.
The spring equinox also knits together two very disparate seasonal experiences. It stands holding a place between the fallow, resting cold of winter and the burgeoning heat of summer. It’s a doorway between barrenness and fertility, always leaning toward the latter as the fall equinox leans toward the quiet pause of the former. Here, the elegance of autumn is replaced by unbounded delight of spring. There’s a momentum awakened and unleashed here that reaches its apex at midsummer. There’s a drive, a joyous exuberance.
We have several Deities traditionally associated with this time. The first, of course is Eostre and Her continental cousin Ostara. Then of course there is Hreðe, of Whom I’ve written of quite recently on my blog
(http://krasskova.weebly.com/1/post/2012/02/adorations-to-hree.html ), and finally we have the moon God Mani and the Sun Goddess Sunna. Given that Eostre proper is a day when light and darkness are equally balanced, it’s quite appropriate to give special honors to our celestial Deities too. Folks wanting to learn more about these two Deities can look here: http://krasskova.weebly.com/the-house-of-the-moon.html or check out my book “Day Star and Whirling Wheel,” available here: http://www.asphodelpress.com/devotionals.html
. I’m afraid, other than a few sparse references in the surviving sources, there’s not much else out there about these Deities. Still, that shouldn’t stop us from honoring Them. In fact, it provides a great impetus to throwing ourselves into celebration of these Holy Powers unburdened as we are by any artificial constraints of ‘lore.’
I’ve also written about Ostara/Eostre before. Those articles can be found, in no particular order here: http://krasskova.weebly.com/1/post/2011/03/ostara-time.html http://krasskova.weebly.com/1/post/2011/03/part-iii-of-my-ostara-series-is-now-up.html
(links to parts I and II may be found here as well). http://krasskova.weebly.com/1/post/2011/02/the-equinox-is-coming.html In the meantime, with Eostre less than two weeks away, I leave you with a series of Adorations to this most delightful of Goddesses.
28 Adorations to Eostre
I adore You, Goddess of spring.
I adore You, Goddess of the wet and fertile field.
I adore You, Ever-brightening Dawn.
I adore You, Who hides Your mysteries in liminal places.
I adore You, Rebirth.
I adore You, Renewal.
I adore You, aching tug of awakening hungers.
I adore You, Goddess of adolescence.
I adore You, Goddess of bursting bloom.
I adore You, Goddess of the new season.
I adore You, Goddess of New Growth.
I adore You, Who awakens the womb of the earth.
I adore You, Who brings fertility.
I adore You, laughing dawnlight.
I adore You, who looses the hare.
I adore You, Who quickens the belly.
I adore you. Who fills the egg with life.
I adore You, Holder of all potentiality.
I adore You, Who opens the passage from winter to summer.
I adore You, Whose gentle caress causes winter to yield its sway.
I adore You, Who sweeps away the cold with a kiss of light.
I adore You, Alluring One.
I adore You, Who delights in the rising cock.
I adore You, Who delights in the wet cunt.
I adore You, Goddess of playful delight.
I adore You, friend of Mani.
I adore You, friend of Sunna.
I adore You, Eostre.
May You be hailed at this time, as cold turns to warmth, darkness to light, winter to summer, fallow land to fertile growth.
And to all my readers, may this coming holy tide, Eostre, Ostara, the Spring Equinox, be kind to you all. May it fill your homes and hearts with joy and may the works of your hands prosper. Happy Eostre. (the picture below is by Mary Ann Glass. The eggs were painted by her mother, Evelyn Tron Glass. Holiday cards with this image are available. The photographer may be contacted at http://maryannglassphotos.blogspot.com/).
Happy Ostara (Eostre), to all my readers.
For those who may not know much about Ostara, my sister wrote a wonderful article that you can find here: http://lokis-dottir.livejournal.com/131413.htmlIt’s definitely worth the read.
In the meantime, I give you this: We hail the Goddess of spring, of vibrancy, of stirring bounty, of the waking earth, that readies itself for the seed. We hail the Goddess of sunshine, and cycles, and changes, and all good and terrifying things. We pray for fertility in our works, of minds, and hearts, and hands. We pray for blessings,and the giftof hope’s manifestation. We hail the Goddess of spring, as Her bounty covers the land. Eostre, be Thou praised.