Ostara: Rebirth and Renewal

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Let me start by saying that I love books.  Books of any kind….my favorites are books that stir the imagination or cause one to think or fantasize.  I love books that you can share with other adults…but more than that…with those witchlings that may be watching us as we practice the Craft.  I think that is why I love one book in particular, this time of year.  It is Edain McCoy’s Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring.  In this book, I was re-introduced to Ostara  just as one might see an old friend through new eyes.  It always helps me to go back at this time of year and see again what symbols and rites and other magick comes with this season of greening.

When I was a child, this time of year brought a renewed excitement for me.  My family was never overly religious, so springtime always meant the arrival of the Easter Bunny and colored eggs was imminent.  This, in my opinion was even more exciting than Santa.  I was taught by my granny at an early age to smell the air and to feel the earth.  She told me over and over again that I would always be able to smell the seasons changing and that I would know by the feeling of the Earth Mother’s belly when the birthing was going to happen.

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I learned early on to recognize the signs that spring was around the corner.  I remember dragging granny out of the house by her skirt-tails to see the tiny green leaves on the hydrangea or the necks of  the daffodils bent reverently…holding the heavy bloom that couldn’t wait to show itself.  I remember the heady smell of hyacinth that hadn’t quite bloomed yet, but was so anxious to show itself that its scent preceded it out of the sheath.

I finally finished putting my Ostara altar together yesterday.  There were a few things I was waiting on.  A friend had promised delivery of some blown out quail eggs and an antler.  I was so excited to see the box sitting inside the courtyard Friday that I could hardly contain myself.  I arranged some of the eggs carefully into a wooden bowl onto some lime green reindeer moss that I had and put the antler behind it.  I pulled out two of my favorite lavender-colored candles that are scented with jasmine, put some of my favorite amethysts and other crystals around…as well as my ‘keys to success.’  I lit the candles and just sat in front of the altar absorbing the peace and power that flooded the room.

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Growing up, I remember the feelings that Easter stirred in me.  Many times, we would go as a family to a local sunrise service given by one of the many churches in the area.  One service that remains vivid in my brain was one called the ‘God/ Goddess of Creation.’  The service was done in the midst of a field and during the prayer we were all encouraged to close our eyes and take in the sounds and smells of creation around us.  The service was presented by a female pastor who included the Goddess in all of her sermons….thinking back, I am quite amazed that my parents allowed us to stay and be a part of it…..and I also know that this was my first exposure to the thought that if, indeed, there is a God, that there must also be a Goddess.  Needless to say, I took that and ran with it.

I haven’t been feeling well this weekend.  It is just a cold brought on by the change in seasons.  I have lived the past few days hopped up on Alka Seltzer Plus Cold and Elderberry Tea.  More than anything, it is just an inconvenience….but I have been sleeping in in the mornings.  Last night around midnight, I felt the need to go to the woods.  I have found that when the woods call, I have to listen.  I sneaked out while everyone was just starting to doze off.  I carried my flashlight and necessities.  I could feel dampness moving in and knew that today would bring rainshowers.  As I walked, I listened.  I could hear a familiar crow caw.  I think that city living has left Mama Crow’s inner clock a little tightly wound.  Then again, one of the names of this full moon is the Full Crow Moon.  I love the different names that Mama Moon lives with.  Humans will fight all day long over those names….I guess she really doesn’t care as long as we do call on her.

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I got my altar ready….everything in its place.  I lay down with my cloak wrapped around me, shielding me from that heavy feeling of dampness.  I placed my hand tenderly against the earth.  I touched…I listened.  Oh yes….the Earth Mother’s belly is full to the point of bursting. The Lord of the Hunt started the preparation weeks ago.  I lift my head and sniff like a scent hound on the trail of a rabbit.  I can smell the earth ready to be reborn.  I can smell the seeds ready to show themselves.   The plants are excited about showing off their new spring collections.  My preparations seem small when I think about the grand party that the Earth Mother will give to usher in another season of renewal.

I close my eyes and listen.  I inhale.  It is as if I take in the breath of the Earth herself.  I have been stressed in the past week.  I have held onto things that need releasing.  As I listen and breathe, I realize that I am holding onto things that need to be released.  As  I breathe out, I can hear Mama Crow in the background…laughing.  She’s not laughing at me.  She is laughing with me…she wants to share the joy that comes with release and rebirth and renewal.

We, as humans, have become adept at hiding the things that make us vulnerable.  We can’t let anyone see us in our weakness.  The earth is so much more transparent.  You can’t hide when a tree has been uprooted or cut down.  That sparrow that died from falling during its fledging doesn’t just disappear.

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One thing that I have come to realize over the years is that when the root of the problem is hidden, so are the blooms from the solution….and yes there are definitely going to be thorns in between.  There is so much inside of each one of us…potential waiting to bloom forth, but we have forgotten to listen for the signs of the birthing.   We have stopped closing our eyes and just listening to what is moving around us.

In my own life, I have found that it is now time to stop pretending and time to bloom.  For me, that means no more letting myself get in the way of the power that is trying to show itself.  It is time to stop making excuses and just move forward.  It is time to let that which has been sleeping the winter away, wake up and lead me into darkness, light, dusk or dawn….wherever I will find the most wonderful, undefinable magick and utilize it.

I have finally realized…Life is not about the “Once Upon A Time’s” and the “Happy Endings.”  It is about the adventure in between.  The alarm has gone off….it is time to wake up and be about the business of magick.  I am not hitting ‘Snooze’ anymore.

Blessed Be!

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Where Did ‘Once Upon A Time’ and ‘Happily Ever After’ Go?

Once upon a time, long ago in a land far away…….It is amazing where my brain takes me sometimes when it has the opportunity to slow down and just think. It goes to far away places with dragons and sword fights and castles.

Most people dont know one of my favorite indulgences. It isn’t candies or sweets or bucket loads of ice cream. I love to read fairy tales. I have a book of Grimm’s fairytales that I love to take with me whenever I have time to read. It accompanies me to the pond quite a lot. I am one who can, quite literally, lose myself in a book. When I am reading a story, whether it be one of the Grimm’s tales or “Harry Potter,” I am lost in that world.

As I sat by the pond this morning, I contemplated all the ‘Once Upon a Times’ and ‘Happily Ever Afters’ that I have read in my lifetime. I started to wonder about Snow White and her Prince Charming. In the time between ‘Once Upon a Time’ and ‘Happily Ever After’ did they have to clean up hairballs that the forest animals had left around the castle? Were the seven dwarves constantly under foot with non-stop whistling? And talk about mother-in-law issues……how many of us would be able to stand a mother-in-law who you just couldn’t trust when it came to fresh-baked apple pie? I told you….the places my mind can go can be quite scary sometimes.

Over the past few months, I have become quite addicted to the show, “Once Upon A Time” on ABC. I love the fact that the cast of characters have all been magickally transported to a small town in Maine named Storybrooke. For a while, magick did not exist there and no one remembered their past identities….and then magick was brought back to them. So here they were stuck in this world…knowing who they were and forced back into an unremarkable life.

Again, my brain was just reeling over all the possibilities and how this could apply to my life. I asked myself, “When did my ‘Once Upon A Time’ start?” Truth be told, it started the day I was born. My life is by no means a fairy tale. I haven’t been poisoned by apples, slept for 100 years, or even worn a glass slipper. I didn’t have a fairy godmother to get me ready for my proms in high school….and alas there were no castles.

My ‘Once Upon A Time’ starts in a small town in North Carolina and then the roads curve into the different adventures that my life has taken me through. My life is not one of heart-wrenching tragedy, but it is also not one of stupendous conquests and beanstalks.

One thing that I have learned in my years as a witch is that everything is about intent. If I desire adventure, then it is up to me to make that happen. If I sit on my broad part all day long and never try anything new then there is an issue. I have made a decision in the past two weeks to take an archery class. I have always wanted to do it…..and now my intent has matched my desire. Atlanta…..watch out for flying arrows!

If you think about it, the content between Snow White and Prince Charming’s ‘Once Upon A Time’ and ‘Happily Ever After’ was survival and to eventually have the life that they knew was out there somewhere. Ours is the same. Every day of our lives, we fight traffic ( that alone is Atlanta’s own Dragon), we work diligently at our jobs ( Hi Ho, Hi Ho), and we clean. If you are like me, you constantly have a broom in your hand.

Like Snow White, we have to find our safe place. Hers was the forest with the seven dwarves. Mine started out as my courtyard….then it became the pond. I was seeking a place of refuge where I could get away from the day to day world….from the responsibilities that seem to constantly bombard me. A place where magick once again exists in a strong way and nothing can make me forget who I am. Think about it. How many times during a day have you been so beat down and walked over that you forget the power that actually lies within you? How magickal do you feel in the midst of that 13 hour shift? How magickal do you feel wiping puke and hairballs out of the floor at 3am? How magickal do you feel before that first cup of coffee in the morning? It is important to remind yourself of who you are and what you are capable of.

I am not talking here about living forever in a fantasy. Goddess has given you power…..don’t forget to access that at all times. I realize that Prince Charming is not always 6’3 with shiny brown hair and perfect teeth. Sometimes he is 5’5 with glasses….but he is everything you ever dreamed of. Your trusty steed is a 2007 Toyota and the sharpest sword you will ever draw is a ballpoint pen, but you are still strong and powerful. You have within you more power than any evil queen dared to dream of. Stop looking in the mirror and seeing all the faults and blemishes. It is time to see yourself for who you are….you are a god. You are a goddess. You have a universe of power right there at your fingertips.

It is time to realize that ‘Happily Ever After’ is just around the corner. You have the ability to make it happen. Contentment is such a hard thing to realize. We are always so conscious anymore about ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’

I am not a rich man, but I am perfectly happy with what I have and who I am. I may not be able to afford too many luxuries, but I am able to make many of the things I need or buy cheap knockoffs. I think the key, for me, is that I have learned that I don’t need to compare myself to anyone. I am me. I am the most magickal me that I can possibly be. I have my courtyard, my pond, my herd of cats, a little blue chihuahua, a little black doxy, and my own Prince Charming. That, in itself, is a whole lot of magick.

As I thought of all these things, I felt a smile play across my face. That feeling is magick in its purest form….without ritual….without ceremony.

Think about the things that make you happiest……