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© Storm Genevieve Black 2015. All Rights Reserved

First published in The Alternative Spirit Magazine spring 2016

Whatever path you follow, whichever religion you believe, no matter where you live, it is hard to ignore the fact that the Spring brings with it new beginnings. Here at the Covenstead we are about to celebrate Ostara. This is the festival of flourishing spring and abundance. The time of new beginnings when we make the most of the daylight by throwing our doors and windows open to let in the light and air, and clear out the darkness and shadows of the winter months. This is the time to give everything a good spring clean, and we cleanse the covenstead from back to front to clear out any stale old energy we no longer need. There is always a good feeling once the spring clean is finished. Many covens will begin working on initiation ceremonies and taking on new initiates again at this time of year, if there is space for them in the coven. It is also time to begin using the new altar candles that we made and blessed at Imbolc. Obviously if you live anywhere south of middle Queensland the seasonal changes will just be starting to reach you now. In which case this is a great time for you to let the light and air into your home and blow the cobwebs away as well, especially since the equinox marks the time when days and nights are equal, when light and dark are in balance.  The Ostara Sabbat itself is a wonderful time. We are blessed with fresh eggs and lambs as well as new crops. This is after all a time of new beginnings. The wild hunt begins to ride higher across the sky again. This is the perfect time to take on one or more of those plans you made in the Autumn. So whether you choose to take your besom out to the fields and practice an ancient form of sympathetic magic, by jumping astride its shaft to show the crops how high to grow. Or choose to celebrate with a traditional decorated egg hunt, which incidentally is a great option if you are celebrating with children. Although the shops will be sparse with the chocolate eggs that many children enjoy, but you could always involve them in decorating their own eggs. Perhaps with natural dyes made from local seasonal produce. Maybe you will decide that now is the time to take on a new project using the winter fleece shorn from the sheep before the weather becomes too warm for them. You could learn to spin, and then knit or crochet something with your own yarn. Or if the idea of learning to spin and knit or crochet all in one go sounds a little daunting you could always try felting which is one of the easiest craft projects you can learn, and excellent for weaving your spell to the piece of fabric or finished item you make. Alternatively with so much fresh food around at this time of year you could always take a cookery course. Or work on new recipes that focus on seasonal produce like lamb dishes, leeks and fresh salads. You may even choose to try cooking with native plants rather than using those which were imported to these shores centuries ago. I know that it is difficult, in an age which depends on the artificial production of food stuffs by modern farming methods, and since the invention of the refrigerator, to imagine a time when winters grip on the land could mean life or death, but just try to imagine what winter would have been like when neither ewes, cows or goats could give milk until they had their own young to feed. The protein from eggs, milk, cream, butter, cheese and whey, not to mention the lambs themselves, would often have made the difference between life and death. In the spring however, as the winter looses his grip on the land, the ground becomes soft, and new life begins to push its way back to the surface of the earth. We celebrate Ostara not just because it is a festival of new life, but because it is a festival of all life. The crops are growing again the fresh spring vegetables are ready to be eaten, straight from the ground if you like, and what better way to celebrate the Spring in all its fruitful abundance. If you haven't planted any veggies yet, I am assured that early September is an excellent time to sow. You can even practice some Earth magic while you are doing so. Earth magic such as this is even better if you sow vegetables because you really get to enjoy the fruits of your labour once everything is ripe. What is even better is that absolutely anyone can practice Earth magic, even if you don't have a garden. All you need is a pot of earth, a piece of paper with your ideas or projects written onto it and some seeds. Then you simply plant your paper first under your seeds, and tend them together. Egg boxes make really good biodegradable pots for starting off your seedlings too. Whatever you choose to do at this time of year, make sure you enjoy it with all the youthful exuberance of the maiden Goddess of the young God respectively. For it's their energy we use in magic at this time of year.