Friday, April 8, 2011

easter and spring...

About Oestara

a guide to the Sabbat’s symbolism
by Arwynn MacFeylynnd
Date: March 21–23 (usually, the date of the calendar spring equinox).
Alternative names: Spring Equinox, Vernal Equinox, Alban Eiler, Mean Erraigh, Eostre.
Primary meanings: Oestara is light and dark balanced, with light gaining power. It’s the turning point from winter to spring. It is a beginning of the agricultural year, and its rites ensure fertility of crops and flocks; it is a time of planting, nurturing and growth. The God and Goddess begin their courtship now. Oestara was not originally a part of the Celtic year but was named for a Teutonic goddess of spring and new life, Eostre. The holiday was probably brought to prominence in the Celtic world by the Saxons.
Symbols: The hare or rabbit, eggs, seeds, potted plants, the New Moon, butterflies and cocoons.
Colors: Lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink, all pastels, robin’s-egg blue and white.
Gemstones: Aquamarine, rose quartz and moonstone.
Herbs: Crocuses, daffodils, ginger, jasmine, Irish moss and snowdrops.
Gods and goddesses: All youthful and virile gods and goddesses, sun gods, mother goddesses, love goddesses, moon gods and goddesses and all fertility deities. Goddesses include Persephone, Blodeuwedd, Eostre, Aphrodite, Athena, Cybele, Gaia, Hera, Isis, Ishtar, Minerva and Venus. Gods include Robin of the Woods, the Green Man, Cernunnos, the Dagda, Attis, Mithras, Odin, Thoth, Osiris and Pan.
Customs and myths: Spell-work for improving communication and group interaction is recommended, as well as for fertility and abundance. Oestara is a good time to start putting those plans and preparations you made at Imbolc into action. Plan a celebratory walk (or ride) through gardens, a park, woodlands, forest or other green places. A popular Oestara activity is decorating and coloring or dying hard-boiled eggs, or other eggs such as those made of wooden or papier-mâché. Use gold and silver paint pens to draw pagan designs and magickal symbols all over your eggs, or use other color combinations. Try interconnected triangles, symbolizing the Triple Goddess, pentagrams and other God and Goddess symbols, or words written in magickal scripts. Other traditional activities include gardening and practicing all forms of herbal work — magickal, artistic, medicinal, culinary and cosmetic.

Liebkuchen (Honey Cakes)

1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup honey
1 cup sour milk* (see below)
2 Tablespoons vinegar
6 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon mace**
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Prepare sour milk and mix dry ingredients. Set both aside. Cream margarine and sugar, add egg, beat until light. Add honey, sour milk and vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Chill one hour. Roll out to 1/4" thickness. Cut into 2"x3" rectangles and place on buttered cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 6 minutes. Frost with plain vanilla frosting.

* For sour milk, add 1 T. vinegar to 1 c. milk and let stand for 10 minutes.

** Ground Mace - Mace is a spice made from the membrane that covers the nutmeg seed. Tastes like a stronger, more aromatic version of nutmeg.

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