Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ostara Correspondences

The other day I posted the History and Lore behind the sabbat Ostara. To add to the ever-growing list of correspondences, I have put together a list of correspondences as well.

Ostara Correspondences

Symbolism: rebirth, new life, new beginnings, resurrection, fertility, balance, youth

Symbols: rabbits, bunnies, eggs, chicks, daffodils, tulips, baskets, sprouts, lambs, ribbons, butterflies, bees

Colors: pastel green, yellow, and pink, gold, grass green, robin's egg blue, red

Food and Drink: hard-boiled eggs, deviled eggs, honey cakes, dairy, leafy green vegetables, flower dishes, sprouts, fish, hot cross buns, sweet bread, milk, chocolate, jelly beans/eggs, lemonade, fresh fruit

Herbs: acorn, celandine, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, Easter lily, ginger, hyssop, linden, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, narcissus, peony, rose, violets, woodruff, forsythia, spring flowers

Deities: Eostre, Ostara, Aphrodite, Athena, Cybele, Gaia, Isis, Persephone, Venus, Maiden,  Pan, Cernunnos, Green Man, Adonis, Mars, Osiris, Thoth

Crystals and Gemstones: amethyst, aquamarine, rose quartz, moonstone, bloodstone, red jasper

Animals: rabbits, hares, chicks, robins, lambs, snakes, unicorns, dragons

Magic: Ostara is the sabbat of new beginnings and life. Fertility magic (especially through the use of eggs) and garden and seed blessings are commonly performed during this time. Use this Sabbat to perform magic to break away barriers, start new projects or inventions, and breathe new life into your home and garden. This is also a great time to celebrate balance as day and night are equal on this day. Color eggs to attract different things such as love, fertility, wealth, and prosperity.

Please note this is not a complete list but a brief overview of symbols, colors, herbs, deities, and the like. If I have missed something that you feel should make the list, please feel free to contact me via the comments or through email.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ostara, History and Lore

Ostara, History and Lore

Oh, how spring is quickly approaching! Here in Georgia we skipped spring weather and jumped straight into the summer heat. I am so happy to see life come popping out of the ground at our new house. This is the first spring we will be spending in it, and I have found out about some plants I didn't know I had! Unfortunately, it looks like I won't be getting around to my garden this year and modifying the existing yard, but more of that in another post. I'm here to talk about the history and lore of Ostara, the wonderful spring equinox!

Ostara is the sabbat of new beginnings. It gets its name from Eostre, the Germanic goddess of spring. Looks a lot like the word Easter doesn't it? That's because the Christian Easter is based on this sabbat. Originally Ostara was celebrated by Germanic pagans, from which the name derives, not Celtic pagans and druids. Today, however, most pagans celebrate the coming of spring with a variety of rituals and festivities.

Some of the earliest records of Ostara date back to the Persian kings, known as Achaemenians, who celebrated the spring equinox with a festival known as No Ruz which means new day. This festival was a celebration of hope and renewal, much like the Christian resurrection of Jesus and the earlier version of this myth regarding the resurrection of the Roman god Mithras. Like Jesus, Mithras is born on the winter solstice, dies, and is resurrected on the spring equinox. Ancient Mayans celebrated the equinox with a great ceremony taking place at a pyramid in El Castillo, Mexico. As the sun sets on this pyramid, the light gives the illusion of a giant serpent making its descent. This phenomenon is known as "The Return of the Sun Serpent" and symbolizes the coming of spring and life.

Many of our modern-day symbols for Ostara such as eggs and rabbits come from both medieval Europe and Persia. The March hare became the symbol of spring and fertility due to their spring behavior. This species of rabbit is largely nocturnal, but during March their mating season begins, and they can be seen all day long. In fact, these rabbits are able to super-fecund meaning the females can be pregnant with more than one litter at a time, making them extremely abundant during this period of time. "Easter" Eggs, which are universally regarded as a symbol for new life, originate from Persia's No Ruz festival. For thousands of years, eggs have been painted as part of the celebration and placed on the dinner table. The mother of the family eats one egg for each child she has.

So where does the Easter bunny come from? Well, the character first appeared in 16th-century German writings stating that well-behaved children would be visited by a rabbit who would give them colored eggs on Easter. This tradition was picked up in the 1900s in America with the settlement of German immigrants. The association of rabbits with eggs, however, is based on the confusion of our ancestors. Rabbits create a nest on the ground and when the babies are grown and the nest is abandoned, plovers, a type of bird, often come in and use the nest as their own. Therefore when locals would find a rabbit nest (known as a form) they would find eggs inside. Thinking the rabbits had laid the eggs, the folklore we hear today was born.

Today, many pagans celebrate Ostara by sowing seeds, tilling gardens for late spring planting, and celebrating the balance of light and dark as the sun begins to tip the scales toward summer. This is the time of renewal, rebirth, resurrections, and new beginnings. Celebrate the coming of spring and life returning to our beautiful Mother Earth.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Magic vs Magick: Why I Don't Use the K

Magic vs Magick: Why I Don't Use the K

This is a very heated topic in some circles, and I may receive some backlash, but I felt it was an important topic to discuss. Is there a difference between magic and magick? Does adding the "k" really make a difference in the meaning? Should we even be using the "k?" Today I want to discuss these questions and explain why I do not use the "k" when talking about my magical workings.

According to some sources, the word "magick" is quite old, showing up in translations as early as 1651. However, as with most words in the English language, letters were later dropped with words such as shoppe becoming shop, olde becoming old, and magick becoming magic. It wasn't until the Victorian Period that the k was brought back by Aleister Crowley. During this period, mesmerism and spiritualism were captivating audiences across Europe, especially in England. Crowley added the k to differentiate between stage magic and magic used in witchcraft.Today, many witches still follow this practice, using magick to describe their craft and rituals while using magic to describe illusions and tricks. However, not everyone uses the k, and I am one of those witches, and for a good reason.

First off, say magic and magick aloud. Do you hear a difference? No, because they are pronounced the exact same way. In a conversation, how do you distinguish between the two? If you are talking to another pagan, they will use context clues to decipher which word you mean, but for those who are not practicing witches, the distinction isn't clear. You're not going to walk around saying "I practice magick with a 'k!'" either because, well, you'd sound pretentious and artificial. The distinction is only noticeable in written text like a book or blog, but is completely useless in conversation. Furthermore, by adding the k you run into linguistic issues with words such as magickian. Not an easily pronounceable word and the g would become a hard g like in the word ghost or goat.Try saying that aloud.

To add to this, the origins of the word "magick" are shady at best.While it has shown up in old English texts, words change over time. As I mentioned we don't spell shop with two p's and an e anymore. There is no reason to spell magic with a k. The fact that Crowley is the one who brought it back into use is a red flag for me and many others. The man made stuff up all the time and changed words without any regard to the rules of language construction or grammar. His works are filled with controversial material, a lot of which is untrue. I take everything he said with a grain of salt, including the use of the word magick.

I don't use the k for these reasons, and I believe it is time for us to reclaim a word that was already ours as we did with the word witch. Call stage magic illusions, but keep magic for what we do in the craft. If you are more comfortable using the k, that is perfectly fine. Use what you are most comfortable with. I know for some people, seeing the k is a mental queue to switch from the mundane to the spiritual. I personally do not use the k and will never use it.