A Feast of Life - by Millie Gounder-Flynn

Newmother Millie Gounder-Flynn awakens to the season ofbirth and promise heralded by Ostara, the Spring Equinox.

A cool breeze dances past my face,sunlight kisses my forehead as I gently embrace thefortifying touch of the Sun Father. A feeling of unfetteredjoy pulses through my body. The ground is alive as theradiant fertile body of Mother Earth exudes the sublimescent of life. As I peer across the land with my heart'seye, I see her, resplendent and fertile. The trees quiverwith excitement as new leaves clothe their bodies, asymphony of flowers opens, cascading aroma, colour andlife upon the world. It's a sumptuous feast of lifeat a time when I myself awaken to the birth of my firstchild.Maiden Spring has laid her fertile signature upon theland and we are all transfixed under her spell. SpringEquinox or Ostara, is one of the eight yearly celebrations,or Sabbats, of the Pagan Wheel of Life. Ostara is a celebrationbased on an astrological activity, in this case when nightand day become equal. From this point onwards, daylightwill dominate as we all bask in the longer days of sunlightthat will remain with us until Midsummer. Ostara is awonderful celebration of new life in the Pagan calendarthat falls between the 20th and 23rd of September eachyear in the Southern Hemisphere, and marks the beginningof the vibrant Spring season. In the Northern Hemisphere,Spring Equinox coincides with the celebration of the ChristianEaster festival, and it is no coincidence that their messagesare very similar. Many Easter traditions are founded uponancient pagan folklore.

Spring Equinox is named after the Goddess Eostre (sometimesalso known as Ostara), whose fertile nature is still heldsacred by Germanic tribes today. It is widely believedthat Christian Easter derived its modern name from thisfertility Goddess, as well as the corresponding symbolsof fertility - colourful eggs and bunny rabbits. Coincidentally,Ostara also denotes a connection to the Germanic word"Ost" or "East", again a referenceto dawn and this season as a marker of renewed life. Thisvital time of the year oozes potential and abundance;the land will yield again whatever we need to sustainus. These ancient celebrations connect us in many waysto the daily reality of the old world, when agricultureand living in harmony with the land were an issue of survivalas much as a system of belief.

Ostara celebrates that life has triumphed once again acrossthe land, that the dance of fertility between Mother Earthand Father Sky is still potent. Internally, many peoplealso feel this inner renewal within their own life's journey.Many will feel reinvigorated and inspired to create orpick up projects long left fallow, waiting on the righttime to take form. This season and celebration sings agreat song of potential and our ability to plant and tendto wonderful creative pursuits in our life. As we honourthese instincts internally, nature offers Her supportas this very same energy is mimicked all around us inthe fertile dance of growth occurring across the land.Just as Winter offered a wonderful time to honour releasingthose thoughts and feelings that don't support our highergood, Spring is a fantastic time to plant deep withinthe ground - and deep within our hearts - seeds of happiness,fertility and abundance, seeds that will bloom light andlove into all aspects of life and not just in our ownlife. It is a wonderful time to acknowledge how profoundlyinterdependent we all are. As we plant seeds of happythoughts for our friends, family, workmates and the Earthso, too, do we set our own path towards greater peaceand contentment as we honour an energy of harmonisingwith the greater good.

As Spring dawns upon us, there are many ways to celebratethis rush of sublime youthful energy. Physically, we canhonour our bodies, empowering this energy by allowingit to function at its peak. We can do this by nurturingall aspects of our body with vibrant and clean energy,by honouring our primal instincts, replenishing our corewith vital fresh fruits and vegetables, cleansing waterand herbal teas and refraining from processed foods thatseem to slow down a system that is trying to spark up.Skin brushing, gentle exercise, and regular meditationare all wondrous tools to help our innate creative abilitiesbloom and shine forth. A healthy system generally manifestsas a happy demeanour, so honour your new growth with lushand organic delights.

There are many beautiful ways to harmonise your spiritby celebrating new life at this wondrous time of year.Decorate your home with bunches of beautiful and colourfulflowers, allowing the aromas to drift delightfully throughyour sacred space. Pick your own garden flowers - vibrantwattles, for instance, offer a distinctly Australian energy.

Green is often cited as a wonderful colour that representsOstara, symbolising the vibrant growth issuing forth innature all around us. Hence, decorating the house in greencandles and wearing green will symbolically connect youwith the Spring energy. Eat seeds like sunflower, sesameor pepitas, acknowledging that you are fertile groundfor change, renewal and new creative endeavours.

Eggs are wonderfully symbolic of this time of the year,and of life, which is why they are used in both Paganand now Easter celebrations. In the Southern Hemisphere,our Equinox does not coincide with Easter, but that doesn'tmean we cannot still use the symbolic eggs in our rituals.Painting eggs with symbols of fertility, growth, strength,unity, love, prosperity, protection and wisdom is a wonderfulritual. Or empower an egg with a quality you desire tofoster in your life, then cook and eat it on the Equinox.Afterwards, use some of the eggshell crushed up and sprinkledin your garden, invoking the fertile qualities to passinto your crops, and even into the elemental creaturesthat might live there, like the magical fairies!

Make some time in your day on the Equinox to be outsidein nature and spend some quiet time absorbing and reflectingon this truly awesome natural spectacular. A lovely sunsoakedritual can be as simple as taking some paper and colourfulpens and writing in a circle all the "seeds"you are planting into your life right now, all you aregrateful for and all you will support with conscious energy.Then, let this circle sit in the sunlight, absorbing itsnurturing and life-giving rays. Always offer thanks tothe Divine that all outcomes come in positive, perfect,and grace-filled ways. Finally, plant this sacred pieceof paper in the bottom of a new pot, placing some soiland seeds above it. As the seeds grow, you can visualiseall those prayers and ideas growing, too. Alternatively,you can ritualistically burn the circle, releasing theoutcome to Spirit. A great way to develop this idea isto sing your dreams into nature. Simply close your eyes,allow the sun to soak into your senses, feel Mother Earthpulsing up beneath you. Breathe in this sacred moment,connecting with the pulse of life both inside and outside,and then just start singing.

Celebrate Ostara by visualising your connection to theland, that you, too, are going through your own internalSpring Equinox. A beautiful visualisation can be as simpleas going into a quiet and safe place after a lovely refreshingritualistic bath.

Light a candle and focus on the light. Close your eyes,and visualise that you are that light, and that you arenow roaming the land as this transient light. Take a momentand just breathe in the beauty of the land which you seeas a vast and unending vista of radiant beauty and breathtakingmagick. Look around at your sacred space - is it fulland vibrant, or does it need some maintenance? Take sometime here, and help your garden evolve. This is your specialplace so let your imagination run wild, free and joyful.See seeds falling into the fertile ground and wrigglingin, and then instantaneously budding. Each seed carriesa new positive quality that you endeavour to embrace.Anchor this energy with breath, breathing gently in andout the blessings of these new qualities. Most of all,this is a time of exquisite fertility, so if you are tryingto conceive, visualise that you are the land - radiant,sublime, ever fertile, your body yearns to be full oflife, and thus it is. Visualise your most sacred dreamsevolving within this magical world, thanking the Universefor all the gifts and abundance of this special time ofthe year. When you are finished, simply open your eyesand you will back in the present.

In the yearly sojourn, the season of Spring is symbolicof the new, of beginnings and awakenings. I surrenderinto this moment and, instinctively, my body softens.I surrender into this rite of passage - birth is hereand shining upon my own personal journey, for soon ourown first child will breathe the blessed vitality of MotherEarth, too. I close my eyes and smile. Life is such Divinebliss.

Blessed be.