Ostara arrives between Imbolc and Beltane and marks the second of three spring festivals in the pagan tradition. Ostara marks the Spring Equinox when the Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun and flowers and leaves begin to sprout as sunlight increasingly bathes the world in magic.
We can imagine our relationship with the stars, moon, mountains, animals, trees, and plants during Ostara. Imagination is important because we’re trapped behind a mediation of commodities that constantly pours into our senses and orients us to having instead of resting in a loving relationship with the natural world. Ostara calls us to approach the natural world like indigenous peoples with a depth of subject-subject consciousness.
How do we open space for the natural world to live, breath and speak to us?
Living inside our soul
Wild Men Rising is rooted in the incredible reality that we live inside an encompassing soul.
Around every flower is the sweet fragrance of scented air. This field of fragrance is the flower’s soul. The soul is not just inside the flower. The flower lives inside its soul. We also live inside our soul. Imagine going on a favorite hike along trails, up cliffs, down to the river, to the far mountains, to the setting sun, beyond the wisps of cloud turning pink in the west. This is the stuff of soul and it carries us. The soul is not in our body, our body is in the soul. Our soul is air, fire, water, earth, mist, flowers, and southerly wind. This is the field of power around us that we call soul.1
Tethering our lives to the phases of the moon and the rhythms of the Sabbats awakens the power of our encompassing soul to guide, nurture and sustain us. This year’s Spring Equinox constitutes a special moment in our soul as the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north. For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Spring Equinox will occur on the same day as the full moon. March’s full moon will also be a supermoon, meaning that it will be slightly larger and brighter than most of the other full moons this year.
Inhabiting the natural world as our soul
There is a twelfth-century Herbal that begins: “Earth, divine goddess, Mother Nature, who dost generate all things and bringest forth ever anew the sun…” You can hunt down the Herbal with British Library reference BMs.MS.Harley, 1585 ff12v-13r. In this Herbal, Precatio Terrae prays to the earth goddess and herbs. Druid Philip Carr-Gomm has taken this twelfth-century Herbal and put it into a sacred nature meditation.
Earth, divine goddess, Mother Nature, who generates all things and bringest forth ever anew the sun which you have given to all lands. Guardian of sky and sea and all gods and powers through your influence all nature is hushed and sinks to sleep. Again when it pleases you, you send forth the glad daylight and nurture life within your eternal being…
Faerie flowers of primrose, primarosa first flower of hillside and garden, bring me love, bring me peace, bring me the blessings of Ceridwen’s Cauldron…
Artemisia, mugwort, motherwart, sacred to Venus, help me to see beyond the world of effects, to the world of causes and meaning, of beauty and power. May fatigue be banished, protection be always about me…
Reawakening animistic perception
We’ve lost the unique perception that comes with living inside our souls. David Abram, an American philosopher and cultural ecologist, attempts to reawaken our ability to sense the natural world in his book The Spell of the Sensuous (pdf). Our eyes, skin, tongue, ears, and nostrils can be in loving relationship with our sensuous surroundings. We can exchange possibilities with every flapping form, with each textured surface and every shivering entity.
We can also learn from people like Dylan Pierce, a queer Appalachian witch who writes at Bane & Beauty. There is much to learn from his loving and magical relationship with the natural world, and from his intimate friendship with plants like Dittany of Crete, Mandragora and others.
With its Venusian nature and associations, Dittany is a good plant for love spells. Compared to the flowers of a lot of other Venusian plants, Dittany really does not try to impress all that much with extravagant gestures. Instead it is a deeply devoted type of love, flourishing in rocky mountains. Its tiny flowers and small, soft, furry leaves make it look delicate, but do not be fooled into missing its strengths and ability to protect itself. From growing it, I notice the thick layer of hair on its leaves have made it amongst the least prone to insects of my any of my plants, and I imagine if it were growing in rocky mountains, that fur would also provide a barrier against other offenses and terrain as well. Take into consideration such indicators to a plant’s personality when calling its spirit into a magical working. Perhaps this plant spirit may help protect or heal the heart as easily as it may help with obtaining love.
Living inside our soul
Blessed Spring Equinox!
1 Adapted from Yearning for the Wind: Celtic Reflections on Nature and the Soul by Tom Cowan, pgs. 4-5