*Matronalia ~ the Roman Festival of Motherhood*

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In ancient Rome, the holiday of Matronalia was celebrated each year at the beginning of March. This annual “festival of women” was held in honor of Juno Luciana, a goddess who watched over married women and those in childbirth. She was in charge of newborn infants, and a woman in labor might make offerings to her so that she would have a safe delivery of a healthy child. Gifts were exchanged, and everyone treated the ladies exceptionally well on this day — it was a bit like a women’s version of Saturnalia.

Later on, Matronalia evolved into Mother’s Day in Europe, and was shifted to the fourth Sunday of Lent. During the Middle Ages, those who had moved away from home would return on this day to their “mother” church, visiting their families who still remained in the village. Servants were allowed to pick flowers from their masters’ gardens, and given the day off to return home; hence, the custom of bringing one’s mother some flowers on Mother’s Day.

In the United States, Mother’s Day actually falls in May, and is held in honor of humanitarian work carried out by women during the Civil War.

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*Get ready for Ostara*

No Sabbat celebration is complete without feasting and friends, and Ostara is no exception. Invite a group of your favourite people over to welcome the beginnings of Spring. Serve potluck style, or have an elaborate formal spread, whichever appeals to you most. No matter how you do it, choose a menu the welcomes all the symbols of the season.

Surprise Lemon Bread

At Ostara, the earth is waking up in anticipation of Spring… and it’s not uncommon to find small treasures peeking out of the ground at us. Green shoots appear from the mud, and bright flowers appear where there was nothing the day before. This easy “surprise bread” reflects the theme of re-emergence, and you can put it together easily by using a pre-packaged lemon poppy seed bread mix. Add small treasures to the mix, as well as a few edible additions, and you’ll have a real treat on your hands for your Ostara celebration.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Lemon Poppy Seed Bread mix
  • Ingredients to prepare mix as directed
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries
  • Non-meltable goodies to add into the bread, such as:
  • A shiny coin
  • A piece of gold or silver jewelry
  • A ring
  • A polished crystal
  • Vanilla ice cream

Preparation:

Prepare the bread mix as directed. Once it’s all mixed together, add in the golden raisins, the orange zest, and the cranberries. Finally, fold in a few small treasures, such as a ring, a cleaned coin, or a polished crystal. Be sure you select items that won’t melt when you bake it in the oven!

Bake as directed on the package, and then remove from oven. Allow to cool. To serve, slice off pieces, keeping an eye out for the hidden treasures. Top each slice off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This dessert bread can be used as a snack or appetizer, or you can incorporate it into your Cakes and Ale ceremony, if you include that as part of your Ostara rituals.

Spring Sprout Salad with HomemadeHoney Mustard Dressing

Spring is here, and with it comes bright green gifts from the garden. What better way to welcome Ostara than with a plate of fresh sprouts and leaves? This is easy to make, and the honey mustard dressing is delicious. If you’re not a fan of mustard, use your favorite dressing on here instead.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 C Mung bean sprouts
  • 1 C alfalfa sprouts
  • 2 C baby spinach
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 C slivered almonds
  • 1/2 C dried cherries or craisins
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • A dash of lemon juice

Preparation:

To make the salad, place the baby spinach at the bottom of the plate or bowl, and then add the sprouts. Spread them out so they’re not all clumped together. Sprinkle the top with the chopped green onions, the almonds, and the craisins.

To make the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, honey and lemon juice and mix well. Drizzle over the salad to serve.

* Cook’s tip: if you’re not crazy about the flavor of mayonnaise, you can reduce the amount you use by a couple of tablespoons.For a healthier and sweeter choice, you can substitute plain white yogurt for the mayo.

** For those of you who have kids – this dressing makes a great dip!

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are supremely easy to make, and you can make them sweet or spicy. This recipe is for a tangy, spicy version of the classic spring dish. Make these delicious eggs for your Ostara get-togethers and celebrations.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Paprika
  • Parsley, for garnish

Preparation:

Hard-boil the eggs and allow them to cool before peeling. Peel the eggs and slice each one in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them in a bowl.

Mash the yolks up with a fork, and add the Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, curry powder, vinegar and salt and pepper. Blend it all together. Gently spoon the yolk mixture into the white halves, and sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with parsley sprigs for serving.

*Spring Equinox Ritual*

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Spring Equinox Ritual

The focus of spring is of the giving and sustaining of life. The ritual of the spring equinox has a focus of love, life, and hope. It is a celebration of being alive and opportunity and possibility of growth, change, and improvement.

Rituals in the spring time usually include music, or dance, or drumming, or sex along with meditations of expansion. And with the activities that area associated with the celebration of life, is usually taking seeds and blessing them, and then scattering the blessed seeds with the wind or planting the seeds in the earth. .

Example of a Spring Ritual (may be done Alone or with a Partner)

Preparations

Prepare a ritual cloth, such as a square cloth, sheet, or blanket. Lay the ritual cloth on the ground and place an object in the north corner that represents the earth to you (such as rock, seeds for example). In the south corner place something that represents fire (a candle, or charcoal, or a match, for example). In the corner facing the east, place something that represents the wind to you (such as a feather or an arrow, or something that flies in the air, for example). In the corner facing west, place an object that represents water (such as a shell, or water). Take a glass, goblet, or container that can hold seeds and place the seeds in the glass. Change your attire to something comfortable and that you only wear during a ritual. This may be a robe, for example. You are now ready to begin your ritual.

The Ritual Event

Take the goblet of seeds and stand in the center of the ritual cloth. Present the goblet of seeds to the earth corner and give thanks and honor to the earth for life, for love, for hope, and whatever comes to mind. Turn your body and present the goblet of seeds to the fire corner and again give thanks and honor to fire for life, love, hope, and whatever else comes to your mind. Now turn and face the wind corner and again give thanks and honor to the wind for life, love, hope, etc. And now turn and face the water corner and give thanks and honor to the water for life, for love, for hope, and whatever else comes to your mind. Turn and face the earth corner again and sit in the center of the ritual cloth and give the goblet and seeds to the earth corner. Say a blessing on the earth, on humanity, your family, your friends, and yourself.

You may continue to sit in the center of the circle and do a meditation or you may want to just sit and “be” . You may even feel a connection to others who may be conducting a ritual on the spring equinox, or you may feel a connection to the mother earth and or to someone else, such as your guide or your higher self.

You can conclude the event when you feel you want to. There is no set time needed.

You can now either plant or scatter the seeds, or you can keep the seeds in the goblet until you have an opportunity to plant them (sometime later in the week, for example).

You do what you feel is appropriate and what action and words may help you connect with the earth, to life, to love, and to your spiritual self.

And that is an example of a type of spring ritual.

*Ostara ~ Spring Equinox*


March 21 — Ostara — Spring or Vernal Equinox
Also known as: Lady Day or Alban Eiler (Druidic)


As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals.

The next full moon (a time of increased births) is called the Ostara or Worm Moon and is sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility (from whence we get the word estrogen), whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit.

The Christian religion adopted these emblems for Easter which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venus and Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time.

Traditional Foods:
Leafy green vegetables, Dairy foods, Nuts such as Pumpkin, Sunflower and Pine. Flower Dishes and Sprouts.

Herbs and Flowers:
Daffodil, Jonquils, Woodruff, Violet, Gorse, Olive, Peony, Iris, Narcissus and all spring flowers.

Incense:
Jasmine, Rose, Strawberry, Floral of any type.

Sacred Gemstone:
Jasper

Special Activities:
Planting seeds or starting a Magickal Herb Garden. Taking a long walk in nature with no intent other than reflecting on the Magick of nature and our Great Mother and her bounty.

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