Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Understanding Ostara

Understanding Ostara

Ostara is the third sabbat of the Witch’s Wheel of the Year. It is a sacred, holy day (holiday) as it marks the first day of Spring. In about a month & a half we enter The Season of Beltane/Fertility. I love Ostara, though if I have to pick a favorite sabbat, it is Beltane (May 1) but Ostara comes in a close second because it really is an enlivening time for me personally.

Where I live Spring really explodes. Here on the South Shore of Long Island we experience all four seasons full blast. One day it is freezing cold & the next it is sunny & warm, regardless of Groundhog predictions. The Sun makes its way into the first degree of the Fire Sign Aries & all the internal prep work we’ve done since Yule (Dec 21) starts externalizing like Crocus & Daffodils breaking through the surface of the Earth. Everything gets really green really fast here & with the coming of the Lilacs, I am just thrilled to breathe it all in.

Truth be told, I am a Summer person. I don't love the cold. I love to go to the beach, though after Hurricane Sandy I’m not sure how many beaches will be open for awhile. But I can still hit the arboretums & spend some time getting myself steadily & continually into energetic balance. Balance is a key word here, because Ostara is the Vernal Equinox & equinox means equal-night (2 hours of daylight & 12 hours of darkness in balance.) Sabbats are symbolic windows of opportunity where we can match ourselves to what nature is doing. So Ostara, along with its polar opposite Mabon/Fall Equinox, is about balance.

In other words, this season is very personal for me in terms of finding balance. Maybe not more so than others, we always need to find the balance in our lives. But the balance of the internal transformation of Winter to the external focus of Spring is one I relish dearly. Manifestations tend to come quickly for me this time of year & continues this way through to Litha/Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year.

It is also a very personal sabbat in that it is the third, correlating to the Third Chakra, the Solar Plexus. The Solar Plexus manages Personal Power, where the previous 2 manage Tribal/Group Power (The Root) & 1 on 1 Relationship Power (The Sacrum.) So we have a natural progression of power starting at Yule/Winter Solstice which teaches us how to deal with tribes & families, then at Imbolc we focus on our relationships with individuals. This is how we learn about relationships in life. First we acclimate to the families we are born into, then we learn from the individuals in our lives, especially the Mother & Father Archetypes or lack thereof.

It makes sense then that Ostara provides us with opportunities to clarify our relationships with our selves & our personal power. It is easy to see what a 'headline' personal power has become over the decades. Countless books, workshops & articles focus on the subject, ranging from all forms of self help, weight loss, business & the ever elusive processes of personal empowerment. It is a lot to sort through.

So it is that I do my best to refocus myself every Ostara, leaning in the direction of being a bit more spiritually selfish or Higher Selfish, as I call it. This means listening to & acting upon the gut feelings (Solar Plexus) I receive a bit more than usual, though obviously I practice that as much as I can all year around.

I liken this to the idea of Persephone, The Goddess of Spring, emerging from her 6 month stay underground with her husband Hades, the God of the Underworld. It is as if our intuition / feminine energy is percolating under the surface throughout Fall & Winter. Now it can emerge into the upper or external world through more action. Mind you, we do our best to act on our intuition all year long. But Ostara is when we can more easily take the risk to do so, if it feels right. 

But let's be clear, this process of evolving personal power often contradicts what others would have us do. At core, Ostara is a very selfish time, leading us to follow our own guidance rather than the advice & guidance of others in our lives.

But even that word, selfish, has a habitual sting for me that I'm still healing day by day. I was told growing up not to be selfish, but rather to behave in a way that made others more comfortable. But how selfish is that? "Don't be selfish & follow your own path, follow mine so I feel better, safer & more secure." That is the definition of selfish, coming from others. 

It took me awhile to realize the truth that the spiritual path is always a selfish one, because our paths are individually tailored to each of us. At Ostara I take the time to shift my daily focus to being more Higher Selfish than usual. I then let the chips fall where they may in terms of how others perceive me. If you are a people-pleaser, how I was raised but grew out of, this is not so easy.

Ostara marks this aspect of personal power astrologically with the Sun moving into the first degree of the zodiac sign Aries. Aries is also the first sign of the zodiac which corresponds to 'The Self.' Makes sense doesn't it? We can begin fresh, spring clean both internally & externally & enjoy the warmer weather giving ‘legs’ to our desires & personal manifestation in our lives. We are spiritually urged to break from tribal influences & forge our own way.

Ostara is also when we see the literal rebirth of nature all around us. So it is also the continuation & empowering of The Season of Rebirth that started at Imbolc.  

If we can align ourselves with the sabbat of Ostara we can make a more graceful transition & balance our inner & outer worlds. When we do this, our lives tend to 'spring forward.' But before we just bound ahead, there are a few things I feels are worth sharing. In other words, as wonderful as personal power is, it really needs to be tempered with wisdom in order for it to manifest in healthy ways.

For starters, the Solar Plexus has its own voice as all of the Chakras do. I hear/feel its voice like a camera aperture in that it has varying degrees of open or closed. When it is open it feels really good. Then it as it closes it slides down the scale to feeling rather icky when closed. This is how I make most decisions based on my personal gut. 

For example, let’s look at a quick hypothetical. If someone asks me to lie to cover something cool like a surprise party, my Solar Plexus is usually OK with this. It feels open, expansive & even excited if I feel like I can steward the secret for the good of the person, myself & the party. But if someone asks me to lie about something more … shadowed... well name it; financial gain, cheating regardless of situation or to cover a wrong done, my gut closes up & essentially says NOPE! Whether I listen to & act/choose accordingly is what Personal Solar Plexus Power is all about. This is the lesson of Ostara. Do I honor my own guidance?

This leads to the sacred Truth of the Solar Plexus, “Honor Thyself" the use of Thy indicating not just me as a person, but the divinity within me. The more I can do this A) the less stress & trouble I find myself in & B) the more personal creativity & fun I tend to have.

Another coordinate for the Solar Plexus is its Shadow & Grace powers. Each Chakra & hence sabbat, has a Shadow & Grace power association. For the Solar Plexus, the Shadow is Entitlement & the Grace Understanding. These shadows & graces can also be seen as the Seven Deadly Sins & the Seven Holy Virtues. Entitlement is running rampant on the planet as most often shown to me via reality TV & what is going on politically in the world.

Entitlement is toxic & can be described as an unhealthy sense of self, often using the word ‘deserve’ in a way demanding that which has not rightfully or vibrationally earned. In other words, I am entitled for you to treat me well no matter how I treat you. I am entitled to be happy, even if I don't work on myself. I am entitled to _____ regardless of my actions. You can probably guess the Gods don't go for that much. They are less so when we use past suffering as leverage in power plays to get what we want. It is very Diva/Prince/Princess Archetype oriented, though any of the Archetypal patterns can display this shadow in the blink of an eye.

The Grace of Understanding is the antidote to Entitlement. The more Understanding we have of who we truly are & who we may erroneously think we are, we see that Entitlement is unnecessary. As we uncover our true spiritual identity we discover we are already worthy of all the things we desire. Deserve just drops away in the light of our true worth

The Grace of Understanding is tricky though. It often involves us invoking the Grace when our guts are in knots over something we are personally involved in or attached to. Even watching something on TV can trigger it, like watching a national tragedy or a ‘celebrity’ behaving badly. We find ourselves personally agitated, even though we have no direct physical connection to these people, places & things.

The Solar Plexus bunches up, not because the 'person' is evil, wicked, mean & nasty, but because we perceive them in a way the divine within us does not (Honor Thyself.) The crunch is about our own individual misalignment. By invoking the Grace of Understanding, we can work on that, see where we have behaved that way ourselves, in essence if not in form, then move gradually toward self forgiveness. This usually clears the discomfort we feel.

So this isn’t about understanding why people behave in toxic ways. It is about understanding how we are all interconnected, essentially all one & that our own patterns are being reflected back to us constantly. Ostara gives us an opportunity to channel The Grace of Understanding in a way that empowers us individually. It strengthens our boundaries, promotes internal/external balance, clarifies our personal Honor Code & allows us a healthy sense & practice of the ever erroneously touted self esteem. 

We can learn that self esteem not as a noun that we can have or lose. It is a verb. We are always estimating ourselves. Are we in alignment or out of alignment? Are we being, judgmental or forgiving? We can sense this in a very visceral way in the body via the Solar Plexus.

Add to this the 2 powers associated with Ostara through the Kabbalistic Tree of Life are Endurance & Integrity. Yes, we will have to learn how to endure the people, places & lessons in this world with integrity. Thankfully, that twinge in the Solar Plexus tells us instantly when we aren't hitting that balance square on.

All in All I dedicate myself to being the best that I can be, reevaluating my desires & the feelings & actions that follow. It is a time of personal forgiveness for actions not taken, intuition ignored & what others mirror back to me. It makes, “If you spot it, you’ve got it” a bit more visible to me & allows me to do a bit more spring cleaning inside my own soul. 

Hopefully it will also give me the energy needed to literally spring clean my home. Beltane is a month & a half away. This year I have a gut feeling it is going to be the most powerful & 'loving' one ever. So I have to get my house in order & find the balance  by acting on my intuition as much as possible.There is so much good stuff stirring under the surface. I am really looking forward to it all, shadow & light, with optimism & a sens of personal power.

May this season treat you well & may you treat yourself well as we make our way through yet another season of change & personal empowerment through Understanding Ostara.

Blessed Be,

Rev. Mark A. Lyons, President
Drawing the Circle Productions INC.
631-968-8307 @ProfWitch on Twitter