Ostara in the Pacific Northwest is always amazing. For us, this is the time of year when the world makes that dramatic wake up. Crocuses have been blooming in profusion for a couple of weeks now, and the first early daffodils have made their appearance. Forsythia is painting our suburban world in joyful yellows, and buds are starting to appear on the trees. In fact, some of the newly-planted fruit trees at V.’s already have a leaf or two. And the green! In Western Oregon and Washington, its so wet all fall and winter that everything stays pretty green. But something happens those two weeks before Ostara where you notice the green has become some amazing technicolor wonder. Biologically, the grasses and such have snapped out of their dormant period and we’re seeing the brighter shades of new growth–but it’s more than that. You open your front door, and you can practically taste this green. It’s unparalleled. And perfectly timed.
This year, I took part in two very different group rituals for the sabbat. The first was the Olympia CUUPS open circle this past Sunday, which was lovely. The attendees were largely a group of middle-aged women, one of their husbands, another gentleman in his mid-thirties, and me. Before I’d arrived, a couple of the ladies had decorated a central circular altar and arranged an outer circle of chairs a few feet away from it. It was a gorgeous altar, full of all sorts of eggs, bright spring colors, and a few stuffed animals and figurines of baby animals. They cast a sort of ‘genero-pagan’ circle, and the main working was to grab an egg-shaped shaker and dance around the outside of the chair circle three times to raise energy, then to re-enter the chair circle, grab a fresh white egg, and walk around the altar as we pushed all the energies we wanted to divest ourselves of this season into the egg. Then, we danced around the outside of the circle again before entering the circle and taking up a decorated egg, then walking around the altar as we envisioned pulling the energies we wanted to attract into the egg.
I had a great time. I was really able to grab onto the working energies more tangibly than I usually do, and I realized afterwards that I’d really “dropped some shields” during that ritual and had gone deeper into a trance state than I typically do. At a couple points during the meditation, I consciously noted that my scalp had been pleasurably tingling for sometime–something akin to what I might experience during a long massage. Afterwards, I felt happier and more energetic than I had in a long time, almost like I’d been completely washed clean inside and out.
On Tuesday, I trekked to Z.’s house for a spring circle with her and a new outer-court potential. Unlike the CUUPS ritual, which had taken place in a very sunny, very decorated space, we circled in the dark with much less ‘decoration’ than we had when Z. lived in Eugene. I did more ritual work than I am typically permitted to do as I called all the Ekos and called and dismissed all the quarters. As far as the magical working went, we basically just raised some energy and streamed it back into the world. After all was said and done, I was left far more sober than with the CUUPS ritual, but I also felt more integrated with my surroundings.
It occurs to me in retrospect that my first ritual with CUUPS was about recognizing and honoring the changing seasons, but the magical work done was more “selfish” in that we expelled what we did not want and drew in what we did. Hartwood’s was more “selfless” in a way, but I also feel like I could have done more.
I did no personal Ostara ritual yesterday on the actual day as I had intended. Instead, I spent the time taking notice of the day. In our periods of sun, I took walks about the neighborhood and took note of the different awakening vegetations. In our periods of torrential rain and hail, I sat in my room, cozied up in a robe and enjoying a cup of tea, while I reflected on the necessity of such weather and reveled in the return of storms. (Storms I adore. Permadrizzle I abhor.)