The Spring Equinox, or Ostara, is that wonderful time of year when the energies of nature subtly shift
from the sluggishness of winter to the exuberant expansion of spring. It is time to shed our winter skins,
come out of hiding and put our plans into action. This is the time of beginnings, of planting seeds and
dreaming of the future…
Indeed, the Christians liked the celebration of Ostara so much that they lifted the whole idea to incorporate it into their own seasonal celebrations…Changing the name from Ostara to Easter and swapping the sacred hare for a rabbit, they did get one thing right – this is the time of year for resurrection, regrowth & rebirth.
The Mysterious Egg Stones of Glastonbury
Not much is known about the two large stone eggs in Glastonbury. No-one knows how old they are or how they came to be where they are.
The first egg stone is hidden at the back of the Abbot’s Kitchen in Glastonbury Abbey, almost forgotten. One theory says that it is pre-Christian and is a sacred oracle stone. Because it is egg-shaped it represents the goddess of life and birth. It has a depression in the top and the indentation is still stained red; probably from iron. It is believed that menstruating women would sit here to communicate with the Goddess and that blood collected would be used in healing, or as an offering to the earth. It is still a very powerful place to sit and is well worth a visit.
The second Egg Stone is halfway up the Tor on the right-hand side. In the Avalonian myths and legends it is believed to guard the entrance to the Otherworld of the faery kingdom. Again, it is a very powerful place and many believe that it will help grant your wishes. Friends of mine have been granted places to live and new relationships after visiting this Egg Stone on the Tor. It also boasts a wonderful view over the levels!
The Egg Stone in Glastonbury Abbey Mysterious Egg Stone on Glastonbury Tor
Simple Egg Magic at Ostara
Eggs are strong, yet breakable and contain the gift of new life. They need to be nurtured, cared for and kept warm for the birth to follow. And so it is with our dreams: we need to cherish them and give them time, energy and attention. What a marvellous image and idea to work with magically!
Hard boil some eggs and let them cool. Paint, draw and decorate with patterns, symbols to represent the deepest hopes and dreams that you wish to birth during the coming year. Eat the egg within three days or bury in the ground.
With blessings from Avalon for a wonderful Spring. May the Goddess Ostara help your hopes and dreams to flourish!
Bridget is one of my favourite Goddesses; she has helped me many times in my life with her healing and inspiration, and I wanted to make a cloak that would honour her.
This cloak has been a year in the making. I bought the fabric immediately when I saw it, just over a year ago. I just loved the pale green colour, how the fabric felt so divine and had a very slight sheen, and that it was a silk/linen mix, which means it drapes beautifully.
The Imbolc cloak – one year in the making!
I really wanted to make the cloak last year, in the energies of Imbolc and its promise of new beginings, but I was just too busy with other sewing projects. So although I cut out the fabric then, only now has it all been sewn together.
White fur around the hood was a must-have – to represent the snow that can still be on the ground at this time of year. The addition of the trim of pale green, earthy colours and silver sequins just seemed to finish it off nicely. To me they represent new shoots, bare earth and frost.
The Imbolc cloak is not completely finished yet. I still want to add some appliquéd snowdrops around the lower hem and maybe some swans’ wings (Bridget’s totem) on the back, but once again, I am too busy with orders so I will have to wait patiently.
In a way, I like the idea of this cloak being a blank canvas as we come into its season. I plan to journey with Bridget at Imbolc (this coming Tuesday, 2nd February) and ask her what images she would like to be sewn into her very special cloak. I will then set about finishing this project after I have blessed the space, lit my candle and incense and asked Bridget to be with me whilst I sew.
Will you be leaving out any offerings this Yule for a bearded, jolly old man? You probably grew out of all that years ago, but you might just reconsider if we look deeper at who that old man with the white beard really is…
Santa Claus is a figure of our childhoods, supposedly based on a 4th century Turkish Bishop by the name of St Nicholas of Myra who gave out gifts to the poor, but look deeper an consider this – do they have many reindeer in Turkey? And how come Santa is said to live at the North Pole or in Lapland? Why, if Santa is based on St Nicholas, does he not live in Turkey? Snow features heavily in the idea of Yule, yet a white Christmas is pretty elusive.
Perhaps the origins of Santa lie further North in Scandinavia, where reindeer and snow are far more commonplace. The ancient legends of the North feature Odin, god of Wisdom, Magick and War. Odin has only one eye, having exchanged the other for wisdom at the well of Mimir, and he traditionally has a long, grey beard. According to the ancient Skaldic poem Óðins Nöfn (Odin’s names) he was known as, amongst other things, “Langbarðr” (Longbeard) even “Jólnir” (Yuleman). Odin is a fascinating deity; He is interested in gaining as much wisdom as He possibly can, and wanders through the worlds as a traveller, sometimes on foot and sometimes riding out to lead the Wild Hunt.
Eight-legged Sleipnir and Santa’s reindeer
The Wild Hunt is known throughout Europe and led by many different gods, goddesses and heroes, depending on local lore. It is a spectral hunt featuring lost souls or monsters, and to see the Wild Hunt was considered a very ill omen indeed. The Wild Hunt is also said to ride out during the winter, most famously at Samhain and Yule. Odin’s steed for the Wild Hunt is the magickal, eight-legged horse Sleipnir, who, according to legend, could traverse great distances in very little or no time at all – exactly as Santa’s reindeer are said to do on Christmas Eve. Sleipnir’s eight legs eventually became the eight traditional reindeer, before Rudolph joined the team.
One gift always calls for another
According to Phyllis Siefker in her book Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, Spanning 50,000 Years, the practice of children leaving out offerings of food and drink for Santa and his reindeer is a leftover from the Norse practice of leaving out gifts for Odin and Sleipnir. In the Havamal (‘Sayings of the High One’ – in other words: Odin) there is the line “one gift always calls for another”, so Odin was said to leave behind gifts of sweets and blessings in exchange for the offerings. In this Odin was given the name Oski (Wish-giver).
The origins of Lapland’s flying reindeer
Norse children would put carrots or straw into their shoes as food for Sleipnir and this is reminiscent of the custom of leaving out stockings. The Sámi peoples of Sápmi, better known as Lapland, traditionally used straw instead of stockings in their boots, which were often made of reindeer skin. The Sámi peoples are most famously linked in our imaginations with reindeer herding and brightly coloured clothing. They have a custom of feeding the red and white Fly-Agaric mushroom to their reindeer and collecting the urine to drink. The reindeer’s digestive system gets rid of the more harmful toxins, and leaves much of the hallucinogenic substances behind. Could this be the origin of flying reindeer?
Odin could travel great distances at speed
When Odin travelled in the world of Men, he was often elusive, transitory and disguised. He wore a pointed hat, with a wide brim and long flowing robes and carried a special spear, his equivalent of St Nick’s Crosier. Odin is a shapeshifter and magician, two characteristics that Santa also shares – after all, Santa can allegedly stop time, not to mention get down the chimney.
Odin’s little helpers
Like Santa, Odin was also acquainted with Elves. The word Elf comes from the Germanic Alf, and the Svartalfs (Dwarves) created gifts for the Gods such as Odin’s spear and a special ring that could magically duplicate itself.
Odin sits on a High Seat from which he can see all the Nine Worlds. Two black ravens called Huginn and Muginn tell him all that has happened in the Worlds. Could these be the origins of the Black Jacks or Black Peter who spy on us all throughout the year? Yet another of Odin’s names was Sanngetal (Truth-finder).
The true meaning of Yule
Odin’s real gift is not sweets or other transient blessings, but wisdom. He discovered the Runes, and in some accounts, gave them to mankind. So this Yule, think about sharing the old stories with their wisdom. It may be time to reinvigorate the tradition of leaving a little something out for Odin and Sleipnir, too.
Have a magical Yule!
Ceri is a Priestess of Brighid and perpetual student of the earth’s mysteries. She is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and her fourth thriller is out now. Ceri also makes Pagan jewellery and prayer beads for her online shop, Land Sea Sky Treasures.
Imbolc comes six weeks after Midwinter on the 1st February and is known as the festival of the returning light. It is also the start of the farming season when lambs are born and spring is round the corner. Indeed, its name derives from the Gaelic oimelc which translates as “ewe’s milk”.
Bridget at Imbolc
I love Imbolc! What a relief to have the wonderful returning light after the dark, cold, dampness of winter.
In the pagan tradition, Bridget is the young maiden who sweeps away the dross of winter. She takes what was the old Crone’s walking stick and strikes it on the ground, waking up the seeds, bulbs and plants from their winter sleep.
Much has been written about Bridget for she truly is an amazing goddess and one that is very close to our hearts here in Britain.
The Irish honoured Bridget as a saint, and she was often known as Brigit-Ana – this is where the British Isles get their name – Brittania.
She is a triple goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. This is her link with fire – just as the Smith strikes metal to purify and therefore strengthen it, so we can purify our souls through life’s lessons. Bridget helps us to release anything we no longer need, revealing our bright, shining essence.
Celebrate Bridget and work with her energies to transform your life with these five fabulous steps:
Imbolc: How to get your fire back
On Imbolc Eve, simply light candles in every window of your home and leave overnight to welcome and honour the returning light (this year, Imbolc falls on Monday 2nd February, so light your candles this Sunday evening!)
Clear out the cupboards, closets, garden shed, paperwork pile etc. – all those things that have been hanging around for far too long! Give your unwanted items to charity, or simply dispose of what you no longer need. These old things that hang around not only take up space but also your energy as well.
Sweep and clean the path up to your front door, mentally clearing away any old, stagnant energy and welcoming new opportunities to come your way.
Bridget, as the maiden, likes new things, new ideas and looking to the future. Plan to do something you have never done before, or go somewhere you have never gone, for later on in the year. This will move your mind to the future, to excitement, planning and hope.
Place a picture of Bridget on your altar and invite her energies into your life. I particularly like this evocation that is at the White Spring in Glastonbury:
“Dearest Bridget please connect with me now. I invite you into my life to help energise and revitalise my mind, body and emotions. Help me connect with my creativity and enthusiasm.”
Connect with Bridget in our FREE guided meditation – included in our monthly newsletter. You will also learn about the uses of fire agate and receive a positive affirmation for February.