What is Ostara?
Ostara is a pagan tradition celebrating the spring equinox and is part of many celebrations that are carried out throughout the wheel of the year in Celtic tradition as a part of the holidays and festivals marked by the astrology of the sun/moon's movements around the earth. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre who represents spring, fertility, and new beginnings, but in Celtic traditions the goddess was named Ostara or Oestre. The celebration of spring and honoring the coming of new life and fertility isn’t only limited to pagan traditions there are many other religions and cultures across the world making time to celebrate as well. Ostara is represented by many names in many different cultures. Easter after the Eastern star or the morningstar, Venus that awakens the sun in the morning across the sky, just as she appears in the eastern sky, she awakens the spring from the dead of Winter. The Easternstar/morningstar has also been known as Aphrodite, Lucifer, Lucia, Prometheus and Ishtar. Ishtar, Inanna, Venus, Aphrodite, Ostara and Freyja are all represented as the same fertility goddess in different cultures. However, most of the symbolism related to the spring equinox celebrations comes from Pagan traditions following the Wheel of the year.
Ways To Celebrate Ostara
Ostara symbolizes new beginnings. It’s the perfect time to practice spells which focus on rebirth, fertility and love. It’s traditional to fill your home with seasonal food offerings, spring flowers and colorfully decorated eggs. The bright colors used on the eggs represent all the new colors appearing from the spring flowers and filling our gardens with new life.
Spend some time meditating and celebrating this season of change to manifest your new dreams into reality allowing them to grow into fruition as the sun's energy grows stronger.
If you enjoy gardening, then make time to plant your seedlings or prepare your soil for the new crops to come. Shower the soils with compost tea and new mulch, give nutrients and life to those who nurture and feed us in return. Spend time in nature appreciating it in all its glory, note the new life beginning to appear around you and in your own life and let it be a symbol to breathe in the fresh new spring air of ultimate possibilities.
The Symbolism of the Egg
Eggs symbolize birth and the beginning of something new, new life being formed. For centuries it has been believed that eggs hold magical properties within them. The first recorded example of humans painting eggs was in 580 BCE in the Persian Empire. The Persian people painted eggs as part of their Nowruz festivities also called the Zoroastrian New Year.
Pyskana Eggs date back as far as pre-Christian Ukraine. The eggs were traditionally covered in wax then decorated to honor Dazhboh, the sun god. There a representation and symbol of rebirth and new life in many cultures and religions around the world and a great way to provide homage and gratitude for the abundance of new opportunities and new life that is provided to us always.
How To Use Eggs During Ostara
Eggs can be used in a variety of different ways during Ostara. You can use them for magic and manifestation work with a focus on fertility, new life, and abundance. You can eat them, use them as decorations around your home or bury some eggshells in your garden to bring nutrients and new life to your plants and soil. If you are the artistic type you can draw symbols, sigils or runes onto the eggs with a wax crayon or colored pen to place on your altar as offerings and prayers. Just remember to be cautious about what you write on your eggs as the messages will infuse with the egg and all rituals and intentions should be for the highest good of all.
You can invoke your guides or deity of your choice and ask them to charge your egg with your set intention. Once charged eat the egg to release the magic within it. Save the shell and bury it in your garden to decompose and enrich new life into yours. One way we like to honor new life for Spring Equinox and Ostara is by dying and decorating Easter eggs using herbs from our garden to bring blessings of abundance in the harvest to come!
Why Use Herbs To Dye Eggs?
Most modern food colorings and easter egg dyes have a mixture of synthetic dyes and toxins in them that can penetrate the eggs, leaving them behind for us to eat. Herbs allow for a more eco-friendly and natural option to dye your eggs that brings the essence of life into them by using herbs from your own garden and doesn’t leave behind anything harmful. You can make natural dyes from a range of different items found in your kitchen including herbs, foods, and flowers. Although the natural dyes don’t produce as vivid colors as chemical dyes they’re great for creating a natural color that won’t harm as they’re made from natural elements that give back to the earth and us instead.
Historically plant-based dyes were always used to dye fabrics until the invention of synthetic dyes. The first ever synthetic dye was invented in August 1856 by 18 year old William Henry Perkin, an English chemist. After this the process of using natural dyes started to fade out and it became a lost art although it has slowly regained popularity over the last 30 years and herbal natural dyes are used in many cultures around the world to dye eggs for celebrating the Easter holiday.
Popular Herbs To Use To Dye Eggs
Here are some of the most popular herbs, foods, and plants to use, including the color they produce:
• Turmeric - yellow
• Paprika - yellow/orange
• Chamomile - yellow/green
• Rosemary - greenish/light brown
• Spinach - light green
• Nettle - greenish/light brown
• Lavender flowers - blue/green/brown
• Onion skins orange/red
• Red cabbage - turquoise
• Beetroot - light pink
• Grape juice - light purple
• Hibiscus/Butterfly Pea flowers - blue
• Chaga mushroom - brown
• Coffee grounds - golden color
How to Dye Eggs Using Herbs
There are two main ways that you can dye your eggs using herbs.
Egg Dying Method One:
The first is to fill a pan with water and add the herb, food or plant that you’re using. One tablespoon is enough. Then boil your egg in the water until it's hard boiled. The egg will change color as it’s boiling in the water. This is the fastest method and the color takes better when both the egg and dye are hot.
Egg Dying Method Two:
The other option is to boil your egg first then place the egg into cooled water which contains your dye of choice. You will need to leave it in the water for a few hours to allow the dye to take. This option is better if you want better control over how the color will turn out as you can remove the egg when it’s your preferred color.
For both methods once your eggs have reached the desired color remove them from the water and allow them to cool. If you have an excess of water on them you can dab them dry with a paper towel or cloth. Don’t wipe them.
Here are the methods broken down into steps:
1.) Fill your pan with water. Two cups should be enough to boil the eggs.
2.) Add a tablespoon of the dying herb of your choice and tsp of vinegar to help the dye adhere to the egg shell.
3.) Decorate eggs with different leaves or flowers, wax designs, be creative.
4.) Wrap your decorated eggs in cut pieces of pantyhose and tie off to hold the designs in place while dying.
5.) Place eggs in the water bath and bring the pan to boil if doing method one, place in jars of dye if doing method two with already hard boiled eggs.
6.) Once boiling reduce to a simmer and leave for 30 minutes (leave longer for a deeper color) for method one or leave in dye for several hours if using method two.
7.) Remove your egg from the water and allow it to cool in a water bath.
8.) Optional: Rub the egg with vegetable oil for a shiny finish.
Top Tip: To ensure the dye takes well to your egg it’s important to prepare the shell first. The shells are made of calcium carbonate and have a thin layer over them called the ‘bloom’. To ensure an even covering of your dye you need to remove this layer. You can do this with warm soapy water or vinegar. Simply wipe your egg with either the soapy water or the vinegar before you begin the dying process.
Using white eggs will produce the most vibrant colors although speckled, brown, or mottled eggs can add a nice unique touch to the final design and color.
We hope that you have a wonderful time celebrating Ostara and the Easter holiday by joining in on this age-old tradition of egg dying with herbs and have a family fun egg hunt! Celebrate the new beginnings in your life and honor all that is being reborn!
We would love to hear from you on what Ostara Spring celebrations you traditionally have or celebrate. Leave us a comment, thoughts, or upload photos of your herb dyed eggs/altars, and designs/tips that worked for you.
May your spring be filled with new beginnings, magic, flowers and love!
'Ohana Green Witches