By Rebecca Robinson
As lockdown 3.0 gradually shows signs of lifting, we can see the first glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.
The slow and steady easing of restrictions coincides with the slow and steady return of the light.
Today is Ostara, the ancient festival that marks spring equinox – that moment of perfect balance in the wheel of the year, when day and night are of equal length.
The word ‘equinox’ comes from the Latin, meaning ‘equal night’, and the vernal equinox sets in motion a profound seasonal shift.
The natural world around us moves from its period of wintering – of surrendering its seeds to the embrace of the earth and being held for many cold, hard months in deepest fertile darkness – to a period that trusts in the promise of summer.
We, too, feel this shift within us because we, too, are nature. There is no separation between it and us.
Now, as the light gradually returns and daylight hours begin to lengthen languorously, it is as if the earth has taken a deep breath and is slowly awakening from its slumber.
We welcome this energy of gentle awakening and growth, noticing the first flowers to pop up from the thawing earth – milky snowdrops and purple crocuses, then later, sunshine-yellow daffodils. The same every year but always a sign of hope, always a bright surprise.
As the ground warms, the seeds that quickened at Imbolc – meaning ‘in the belly’ – begin to blossom.
Ostara is a Viking moon goddess of fertility and rebirth, called Eostre in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. The symbols most commonly associated with the goddess are the hare and the egg. Some say that ‘Easter’ take its name from this ancient seasonal festival and that our modern-day traditions of the Easter Bunny and the giving and receiving of chocolate Easter Eggs have their roots in this ancient feast day. It is believed that the female hormone oestrogen is named after the goddess, a profound symbol of fertility.
Whatever our beliefs, the signs of fertile abundance are all around us on this equinox as life slowly stirs underground then suddenly springs into action.
For us, too, we may notice this as a subtle shift in our energy, in our vim and vigour, and our drive to ‘do’ and create.
The energy of spring is not simply about the creation and manifestation of physical new life; it can be felt deeply within us as a call to create, an enlivening of our inspiration and imagination, and as a stirring within our soul to do the things we long to do.
Ostara is a reminder to us that if we can dream it, we can do it, that if we plant our seeds and nurture them, in time, we will see them come to life.
What ‘seeds’ did you plant in winter that you hope to see blossom come summer? What seeds have you yet to plant? What dreams have you yet to realise that you could now sow and nurture over the coming weeks and months?
As the year slowly circles through its endless wheel, may we remember this: there is still time to plant our seeds and watch them grow, whether this spring, next spring, or even the spring after that.