The History and Astronomy of Ostara

Ostara is our Sabbat that falls on the Spring Equinox. It’s the second of the three fertility Sabbats, where we celebrate the Earth’s life-giving energy that is so pronounced in the growing season. I notice that in Austin this is the time of year when flowers really start to come out, however the equinox itself is an astronomical event that the whole planet experiences.  Many cultures and religions observe a holiday marking the equinox, so what makes this date so special?

Technically, the word equinox refers to an exact moment when the sun is positioned directly over the equator and the axis of the Earth is exactly perpendicular to the sun, tilted neither towards the sun nor away from it. But colloquially, we know this day to be the time when the daylight hours and nighttime hours are just about equal, marking the half-way point between our journey from solstice to solstice. Although we don’t celebrate it, the day and night that are precisely equal is called the equilux, and this day can subtly drift before or after the equinox depending on latitude. 

Equinoxes happen exactly twice per year, once in the range of March 19th-21st, and then again around the range of September 22nd-23rd. The equinox that happens in March is the spring equinox (Ostara) in the northern hemisphere and the autumn equinox (Mabon) in the southern hemisphere. It’s also the moment when the sun goes from the 30th degree of Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, into 0 degrees in Aries, beginning the cycle anew. 

Everyone loves an equinox! Some other holidays celebrated on this day include the Summers Finding of our Heathen Cousins, as well as The Equinox of The Gods, which is the Thelemic new year. Many other modern Pagans and eclectic witches also follow the same wheel of the year we Wiccans do, so they call the Sabbat Ostara, and celebrate it largely the same way we do.

One will notice that the name Ostara sounds awfully familiar to the name of the popular Christian holiday Easter (which some of you may have heard of.) This is because, in pre-Christian England and Germany, they venerated a Goddess of Spring named Ēastre in Old English and Ôstara in old high German, for whom the month of April was named. She was, not unlike our maiden Goddess, a Deity of light and joy and fertility, hence her association with eggs and rabbits. Once Christianity became a dominant faith, Her name survived as the name of a new holiday which took place within her month. This is also why the whole vibe of Easter is so similar to that of our Sabbat, Ostara!

Thank you for learning about Ostara with me! The equinox is very important for us who are Wiccan and care deeply for the Earth and her cycles, as well as to the secular world. I wish you a Blessed Ostara, or happy holidays no matter what you celebrate!

By Alice Quintanilla, AAW Member

The Truth about St. Patrick’s Day

In the middle of March, we adorn our green outfits, leprechaun hats and drink copious amounts of green beer while we cavort with our friends in the name of St. Patrick. However, how many of us know the history behind St. Patrick’s Day? 

St. Patrick was a Christian bishop in the 5th century who was credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. His death day has been celebrated as the Festival of Saint Patrick since the 17th century for its cultural and religious significance. As a zealous missionary, Saint Patrick struggled to introduce Catholicism to a heavily pagan Ireland. In order to “convert” people to Catholicism, he fused many Irish traditions with his Christian teachings. One of such is the shamrock, revered for its three leaves and representative of pagan trinities like mother-maiden-crone, birth-life-death, mind-body-spirit. Patrick used this sacred pagan symbol to illustrate the Christian trinity of the father-son-holy spirit and as such, it became a national symbol of Ireland. In modern times, this would be called cultural appropriation. While this fusing resulted in the Celtic cross and many other lovely Irish icons, the forced conversion also resulted in many deaths. 

Patrick is famous for ridding Ireland of snakes. Interestingly, fossils and historical naturalist studies have shown that at no time were snakes ever actually present in Ireland. The ‘ridding of snakes’ is a euphemism for the massacre of the druidic peoples who revered the serpent which represents the cycle of life and death. It is estimated that 800 Druids were murdered at the time. 

Patrick is also known for putting a stop to ‘baby sacrificing’ pagan practices at Killycluggin Stone upon which, purportedly, pagans smashed the heads of first borns and used the blood to draw a circle, ensuring a good crop for the upcoming year. Surprisingly, when St. Patrick stopped this practice by ‘smashing the stone and banishing the devil within it ,’ three quarters of Irish men, including two High Kings, were slaughtered while they knelt at their devotions. They were smitten down by their own Gods according to Christian observers. It is fascinating that such a large pagan population was decimated at an annual harvest festival and that the entirety of the events were only ever recorded by Christian observers. 

There is a story that Saint Patrick is known to have ‘baptized’ two Druid priestesses who then immediately died after consuming the eucharist, purportedly saying they ‘wished to see the face of Christ.’ His most holy site, Croagh Patrick formerly known as Cruchan Aigli (Eagle Mountain), was where he performed ‘miracles’ such as casting reptiles, snakes, and dragons over the side of the mountain. Cruachan Aigli, with its quartzite studded, gold-gleaming mountainside, was actually the destination of pagans to worship the God Lugh on Lughnasadh with the magical sunshine and picturesque views of the countryside. These miracles were attributed to Patrick after his death as a way to discourage paganism and the correlation of the holy site with the Sun God/Lugh

Patrick has never formally been recognized by the Pope and much of his miraculous fame stems from stories which revere Christianity and hide the atrocities committed on pagans. It’s important to remember that history is written by the victors and in this instance, the victors were the Catholic church who drove out the common practice of paganism and druidry which abounded at the time in Ireland. 

So if you really want to indulge this St. Patty’s day when you don your shimmery shamrock necklaces and slurp your extra stout Guinness, try drinking in honor of the Goddess Brigid, known to Catholics as the Irish Saint Brigid! She is associated with wisdom, poetry, healing, protection, blacksmithing and domesticated animals. Along with her two sisters, Brigid the Healer and Brigid the Smith, She represents the sacred trinity of Mother-Maiden-Crone. She is celebrated in her Maiden form with ritual and feast on Imbolc (Feb 1) and is correlated with the ushering in of Spring and fertility. You can light some white candles in Her name and perhaps sing a Druidic ballet or recite some poetry in Her honor. And don’t forget to pour one out for the massacred pagan souls in remembrance!

By Gita Nallapati, AAW Member

3.14 Pi Day

It’s March 14! AKA 3/14 AKA Pi Day!

To celebrate this delicious day, Aquarian Age Wicca has dug up the most tantalizing pie recipes for each sabbat for all you kitchen witches and hungry witches out there! Everything is vegan and cruelty free so you can eat to your heart’s content without any guilt! Note: Aquarian Age Wicca has been 100% vegan since 2019. 

Samhain

This coconut pomegranate pie from Use your Noodle is as delicious to look at as it is to eat. It’s a no bake pie, perfect for when the oven is tied up with all your other Samhain dishes baking! Samhain is when the veil is thinnest between our world and the void, the realm of the dead. Pomegranate is known as “the fruit of the dead,” as in Greek mythology, eating of pomegranate seeds is what ties Persephone to Hades as she is made to stay in the Underworld. 

Get the recipe here

Yule

Check out these witchy Wiccan masterpieces from Domestic Gothess! Pentacle topped vegan apple pies are perfect for Yule, the celebration of the birth of the God. Apples symbolize the sun, which in turn is associated with the God. Baked apple desserts are also traditional for wintertime and winter holidays!

Get the recipe here.

Imbolc

When winter’s cold still has a hold and spring is just barely beginning, this vegan shepherd’s pot pie from A Couple Cooks is perfect for Imbolc. This pie has potatoes, a favorite of Brigid, and root vegetables and earthy sage for a hearty Imbolc feast. 

Get the recipe here.

Ostara

Ostara is one of the three fertility festivals and often features eggs as a staple. For a veganized version, Bitter Sweet Blog has a vegan quiche pie with no animals harmed in the making!

Get the recipe here

Beltane

When the veil is the thinnest between our realm and the fae realm, we can honor the fae with a strawberry rhubarb pie from Bianca Zapatka. The bright red and pink of this pie pair well with the ribbons of the May Pole you’ll dance around this May Day celebration. 

Get the recipe here

Litha

Reward yourself from all the dancing and drumming you’ll do at Litha with a good, old fashioned vegan and gluten free cherry pie from Unconventional Baker. Nothing says the height of summer like cherries!

Get the recipe here

Lughnasadh

This late summer harvest festival is perfect for a Blackberry oat crumble pie from Moon and Spoon and Yum. The baked perfection of the in season fruit blackberries and the crunchy, heartwarming oats will comfort your soul as you celebrate the God Lugh. 

Get the recipe here.

Mabon

For Mabon, AKA Witches Thanksgiving, Vegan Kitchen Magic has a delicious classic: pumpkin pie! As we celebrate this harvest festival, no Thanksgiving or Mabon feast spread is complete without it!

Get the recipe here

This post is making me so hungry so I’m off to indulge in some deliciousness for Pi Day. Post what delectable dishes you got into on this 3.14 in the comments!

By Gita Nallapati, AAW Member

Finding My Voice and Then My Ears with Aquarian Age Wicca

I imagine there are a few of you out there. You know, control freaks. Needing to dictate this or that— how the room is set up, or the coffee is made, who lights which candle, how to answer a phone. All those important things. Don’t worry, no judgement here. I am one of you! Yes, siree, a total control freak here. No doubt about it. 

But in all seriousness. Control. So much of this need to control is rooted in trauma. When you have so little say over the violence that’s happening to you, you want to control anything and everything that you can. The need to be in charge. Whether from trauma or character flaw, being in charge, being in control has been the security blanket that kept me breathing for so long, but it didn’t keep me…alive. 

As a survivor of assault, being in charge, being in control has felt incredibly important to me. I needed it. I needed it like I needed air, like I needed justice, like I needed peace. I needed it because I couldn’t trust anyone else. Because I couldn’t trust myself. If I could just control how things happened, then I didn’t need to rely on my intuition. I wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. I would be safe. I would be safe. I would be so fucking safe… 

That’s a lot of energy. A lot of pain. I’m wondering if you’ve felt the same thing. 

It has almost been a year since I began this journey with Aquarian Age Wicca. And in this time I have gone through an extraordinary process of evolution; taking me to a place I didn’t think was possible— wholeness. 

When I began taking courses, I was scared all of the time. I couldn’t leave the house without having a panic attack. Being in public was only bearable if I was downing an exorbitant amount of alcohol and nicotine. I had just had my dream vocation ripped out from under me, had been hospitalized after an attempted suicide, waking from nightmare after violent nightmare, and was destroyed over the sense of injustice of it all. I was so…so broken. Shattered. Painfully fractured. And, again, I didn’t trust anyone, and I sure as hell didn’t trust me. Yet, the members and teachers of AAW sat there saying joyfully: Trust your intuition! Trust your intuition! Trust your intuition! 

Trust my intuition? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. And they were fucking cheerful. I mean CHEERFUL. Who are these granola eating, tree hugging, happy-loving, circle-dancing, instinct-trusting weirdos? That’s insane, right? That’s nonsense. That’s stupid. That’s a terrible idea. That’s…That’s so heart wrenchingly hard. My intuition was why I got hurt…right?

Over time though, through classes (both wonderful and frustrating) and whispered (and not so whispered) words of encouragement, that’s exactly what happened. I began to trust myself. I began to trust my gut, and it felt so empowering. Like that first shot of espresso, I was bursting 

full of energy that bordered on aggression. I found my mad. The shame was gone, and I was angry at EVERYTHING. It was exhilarating. 

I felt my power and I would exert the shit out of it. I knew what was right. I knew how things should happen. I am a strong independent person, now! And yet…. 

I still wasn’t happy. I was still grieving. I was still growing. I was still learning. I was still aching for something more. And I was still the most controlling control freak I knew. I could trust me now, but I still couldn’t trust you. 

Coming out of an oppressive religious system, the thought of listening or, God(dess) forbid, obeying a member of clergy literally brought vomit to my mouth. The sour feeling in my stomach wouldn’t go away. I would try to reason with myself, “but they are so nice,” and “this is different.” And, sure, they are so nice, and this is so different. But it felt hard, nonetheless, because it meant I had to trust them. And boy, did I push back. Because trusting felt so hard. Wiccan High Priestess and writer, Thorn Mooney explains in her recent work Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide, that traditional Wicca is a hierarchical tradition, but it isn’t about overpowering. Its structure is about creating a space for learning and growth. Our elders teach us, and from them we learn and rise, eventually to become the elders. 

Ah, fuck no. How can I trust these supposed elders? I can’t trust anyone! 

But, then I asked myself: Does that really compute? In all the months I have worked with AAW, has the clergy or have my classmates ever led me astray? Have they ever hurt me, or lied to me, or assaulted me? No. 

And have they always kept their word? Yes. Have they always received me gently, meeting me where I am, while also pushing me to strive for healing? Yes! I’ll say it again for all you other control freaks and sceptics in the back: Yes. Yes. Yes. 

In AAW, I’ve learned about and harvested my own power. And I’ve learned to trust the process, to trust my community, my teachers, my High Priestess. I’ve learned that following doesn’t have to mean victimization. Following doesn’t mean giving up power. Following means learning to let 

go of that control just enough. So that I may remain present and create the much-needed space for my roots to stretch deep, deep, deep within this earth-based tradition, and to allow my crown to reach, up, up, up into the clouded firmament. In AAW I’ve found my voice, and…my ears.

I’ve found the gift of apprenticeship; leaning into the wisdom of my teachers and learning to truly listen. 

Am I still a control freak? Perhaps. But, these days, when I find myself anxiously wringing my hands, I pause, breathe, center and ground, and lean in to listen. It’s all going to be okay. I am going to be okay. I am safe. I am powerful. I am enough. I am whole.

By CJBC

The missing health factor in my life: Spirituality

In my mid twenties, I experienced a debilitating streak of migraines just after accepting my new job at a big tech company. I was ecstatic to have a job which would make me financially independent from my parents and would allow me to live the life I had dreamt of since childhood. Everything seemed to be going well, except for the daily presence of migraines which slowly took over my livelihood. No longer could I get in my morning workouts, nor could I lounge in the fluorescent lighted coworking space. My evening hours after work went from exercise, art classes and socializing to laying in bed with no light nor sound and an icepack on my forehead. Every approach I tried from prescription migraine meditation to various diets to essential oils and antihistamine and xanax did nothing to banish the ever present threat of immense pain in my head. 

Then someone suggested I enroll in the free meditation classes offered at my workplace. Being raised a Hindu, I had grown up with the praises of meditation and its healing values but I had never actually bothered to formally learn the methods. Through my meditation studies, I discovered that of the formula for health, I was addressing exercise and healthy diet but forgoing an essential element. The holy trinity of health, composed of mind, body and spirit, I was in severe need of developing my spiritual practice. There was only so much I could do with regulating my emotions and cognitive behavioural therapy. In order to keep making progress and advance my studies, I had to open myself up to a Path which allowed my spirit to grow and a way to connect to the greater Oneness of the universe and all of its inhabitants. 

Once this realization took place, I fervently engaged in theosophical studies in order to find a Path that would be most in line with what I was searching for: Spirituality. I considered my upbringing of Hinduism, and while I live my life by many of its religious tenets, the intertwining of the caste system and patriarchy based misogyny made immersing myself in Hinduism less tantalizing. I read about many other faiths, still coming across the lack of gendered egalitarianism which prevented me from a wholehearted embrace until I came across Wicca. As a child of seven, I had flirted with the Wiccan Path and its alluring aspects of witchcraft, spells and strong female figures whose power stemmed from within rather than a male counterpart. As had happened then, I was again drawn to the way in which all genders are celebrated and revered and the empowering nature of directly communing with the God and Goddess. I found that my desire for spirituality was finally sated with the knowledge that Wicca could fill the hole I had had for far too long in my life. 

As a practicing Wiccan, my daily meditations were complemented with offerings to the God and Goddess, a healthy and kind community, and a teacher in the form of my High Priestess. Through regular classes, I learned cognitive behavioural therapy and how to truly feel the connection between my energy and that of the surrounding world. I was taught that in order to truly serve the God and Goddess, I must exude kindness and mindfulness in all aspects of life-including myself! I had been struggling with self doubt and crippling anxiety which led to tension migraines but with the realization that self work included spirituality, I began to make headway to a healthier life. I acknowledge that just finding spirituality does not instantly solve all my issues, but it provides a well trodden path to finding the cure for my ailments. As I continue this journey to better my health through spirituality, I am grateful for finding Wicca and I encourage you to find the Path that is right for you!

By Gita Nallapati, AAW Member

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