Monday, March 20, 2017

Ostara - Spring Equinox

Ostara - Spring Equinox - March 20-21

The ancient mysteries of paganism and witchcraft have been used in many a gothic story. A lot of rituals, symbols, and folklore revolve around the pagan holidays, also called Sabbats.

Samhain or Halloween is the holiday typically focused on as being gothic. But, there is a treasure trove of elements, symbols, and themes from other Sabbats that could also be associated. So, I thought I would take you through the eight seasonal festivals of The Wheel of the Year (as they occur in the Northern Hemisphere). Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration.

Ostara is celebrated on the spring equinox and gets its name from the goddess Eostre, the goddess of dawn or light. You probably noticed it sounds very much like Easter, and that is because Easter was derived from this pagan festival, and therefore a lot of the symbols are same.

Here are some of the Ostara themes, symbols and story elements that I found to be gothic or felt may be useful in a gothic story.

v  The spring (vernal) equinox is a day of equal light and dark, one that represents balance.
Ø  light versus dark, good versus evil, feminine versus masculine. The woman in white and the woman in black also comes to mind.
v  The Church versus the Old ways.
v  Rebirth
Ø  Resurrection
Ø  Life over death
Ø  The soul
v  Fertility
Ø  Maiden vs. Old maid
Ø  Devil’s spawn
Ø  Pacts with the devil for the firstborn or an unborn child/soul
Ø  Conception used for deception
Ø  Virgins

v  Egg
Ø  Fertility
Ø  Metamorphis
§  I couldn’t help but think of these eggs; their opulence and wealth, the tragic end of the Romanov Dynasty, revolution, the Bolsheviks, Tsars and Empresses, Imperial Russia, Rasputin. They were also created during the Victorian-Edwardian era, so they definitely could be an element if you are writing a Victorian or Historical Gothic. It’s worth a look, anyway.
v  The Hare, which is related to the moon
v  Rabbits
Ø  Fertility
Ø  Prosperity
Ø  Their dying scream
Ø  Rabbit holes
§  Journey to the Underworld
§  To Wonderland
v  Spring flowers
Ø  the lily, a funeral favorite, symbolizing the departed soul
§  innocence
§  related to the Virgin Mary
Ø  the daffodil symbolizes rebirth
v  Lambs
Ø  Sacrifice
Ø  Innocence
v  Snakes (also dragons)
v  Milk and Honey
Ø  Prosperity
§  wealth and greed

v  Rural settings, meadows and fields.
v  Ancient ruins, Stonehenge comes to mind.

v  Rain

Mythology and Fairytales:
v  Persephone and Hades

I’d love to hear your thoughts on spring. Have you discovered any other gothic elements associated with this time of year?

Reading Recommendation: Ostara: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Spring Equinox by Kerri Connor

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