Group Ritual And Playreading for Ostara

I wrote and performed this ritual in 2017 at my local moot, Gravesham Pagans. Although was a pretty simple, standard ritual in the main, it had one fairly unusual aspect; a dramatised adaptation of a short story by Andy Weir, whose most famous work is The Martian. The short story I used is called The Egg, and you can read it here, in several languages. It’s very brief, funny and surprising with a deep spiritual message, so I strongly recommend you read it!

I chose The Egg not only because the theme of eggs ties in with Ostara, but also because it deals with the theme of death as well as life. In the Shinto tradition, the Spring Equinox is a time for remembering the deceased so for me it is just as much a time to think about death as it is to celebrate new life.

For copyright reasons, I won’t include the dramatised version I wrote here but you can probably imagine how I adapted it for stage. But you don’t have to turn the story into a play, you can just read it as it is.

I also encourage people to use their own stories to read or perform at rituals, and sometimes try to look outside mythology and folklore for inspiration. Modern stories and poems can be every bit as meaningful as ancient texts.


Tools and offerings:

  • Altar (decorated as appropriate for Spring Equinox)
  • Food offering (Suitable offerings could be spring fruit, simnel cake, hot cross buns, or chocolate eggs)
  • Drink offering (Suitable drink could include wine or the usual ale)
  • Scripts for reading/play for all those taking part

Recommended but not essential: Chairs for audience to sit and watch the play, candles and incense for atmosphere, alternative food/drink offerings for those with special dietary requirements

Active Roles:

  • Leader
  • Readers/actors (you’ll need two if The Egg is to be performed as a play)

Layout:

For the ritual the congregation can simply stand around the altar in a circle. The playreading can take place within the circle, or you may wish to have a separate area with chairs for this part to make it feel more theatrical.

My home altar, decorated for Ostara

Ritual:

Leader may first wish to purify space and/or cast a circle before beginning

Leader: Tonight we celebrate the beginning of Spring, in the wake of Ostara, the Spring Equinox. All around us we see, day by day, the life and light returning to the land after winter’s chill. Each day, the mornings grow brighter, and the days longer. Each day, we see more and more colour bursting forth, as daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and violets emerge from underfoot, and the trees turn pink and white with fresh blossom. Each day, we hear the new voices of spring birds fill the air, and see animals of all kinds emerge from their winter sleep.

This rebirth of life from the sleep of winter is miraculous to us – a sacred gift to which we owe our very lives. It is therefore a time of great joy, hope, and gratitude. We hold this ritual to thank the Gods, Goddesses and spirits of nature for these most precious gifts, and to ask for their continued blessings upon our lands and our lives.

Let us begin our ritual by a calling of the quarters.

[All face North] We call upon the Spirits of the North, of the Earth from which the new plants of Spring are emerging in their full splendour. Hail and welcome!
ALL: Hail and welcome!

[All face East] We call upon the Spirits of the East, of the air that blows warmer and warmer as Spring arrives, the place where the new Sun of Spring rises. Hail and welcome!
ALL: Hail and welcome!

[All face South] We call upon the Spirits of the South, of the Fires of the Sun that warms our world. Hail and welcome!
ALL: Hail and welcome!

[All face West] We call upon the Spirits of the West, of the Water of the rain and morning dew, and where the Sun must eventually set. Hail and welcome!
ALL: Hail and welcome!

Leader: Spring is a time of the Goddess. She is both the fair Maiden of the flowers, and the Mother Earth from which all things are born. The beginning of Spring is a time when we remember and honour our own Mothers, and the symbols of Ostara – the Egg, the Hen, the Sheep, the Blossom – are symbols of the Goddess.
We thus honour Her by her many names in many traditions.

ALL:
Ostara and Eostre, Goddesses of the Dawn and Spring
Aphrodite and Venus, Goddesses of Beauty and Love
Chloris, Flora, Ladies of Flowers
Freyja, The Most Glorious
We honour you!

Leader: We also honour the God born of the Goddess – the Young Lord of Rebirth and Fertility. He is the Dying God who rises again, and His energy can be seen in the March Hare, the growing Trees, and the Sun itself.

ALL: Adonis and Attis, Lords of the Fruits of the Earth
Osiris, Lord of Love and Regeneration
Pan and Faunus, Gods of the Wild
Eros and Cupid, Gods of Love and Passion
We honour you!

Leader: Finally, we honour the Genii Loci, the Spirits of Place, upon whose territory we now stand and hold our ritual.

ALL: Genii Loci, Spirits of Place, we honour you!

Leader: Great Goddess, Great God, and all Spirits of Nature, we are gathered here to express our gratitude for your gifts of life that you bestow upon us each and every Springtime. We therefore now offer you a portion of your bounty back to you in thanks.

[Leader raises food and drink offerings]

ALL: Great Goddess, Great God, Spirits of Nature, please accept these offerings with your blessings.

Leader: We ask that you continue your blessings of life upon us. Just as farmers across the ages and countries have prayed for the fertility of their crops and animals at this time, so too do we pray for the health and prosperity of this land and all the plants, creatures and people within it.

May the natural world continue to flourish, and may we find ways to live in greater harmony with nature so that we no longer damage this precious world. So mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

May our community blossom and thrive, may our local businesses prosper and may all of us continue to live in peace and mutual respect. So mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

May our families, our loved ones and ourselves be blessed with health and happiness, and may all those suffering from illness, hardship or personal tragedy find the healing and support they need to find the light again. So mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

Leader: We now take a few moments to reflect on the blessings of Spring, and to send our personal prayers and wishes, no matter what they be, silently to the deities and spirits.

[Moment of silence]

Leader: Spring is a time to celebrate life. But in some cultures, it is also a time to remember death, life’s eternal partner in the cycle of existence. The beautiful blossoms we see now will soon fade and disappear. But this is no reason to lose hope, because we know that we will see them return once more next year.

Now we shall watch a playreading of “The Egg,” a short story by science fiction writer Andy Weir. We offer this performance to the deities in the Bardic tradition, and use this story to reflect upon the nature of life and death.

[Performance]

Leader: We now share the food and ale among us, in order to ground ourselves and share in the energies of the Goddesses and Gods. Take this time to reflect on your personal experience tonight, and what it means to you. May We Never Hunger, May We Never Thirst!

[The food and ale are shared]

Leader: Great Goddess, Great God, and Spirits of all Nature, thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

Leader:  Spirits of the West, of Water. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

Leader:  Spirits of the South, of Fire. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

Leader:  Spirits of the East, of Air. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!
ALL: Hail and Farewell!

Leader:  Spirits of the North, of Earth. Thank you for your blessings upon this circle. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and Farewell!

ALL: Hail and Farewell!

ALL: The Circle is Open, Never Broken
Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again

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