Monday, March 20, 2017

I Got them Old Ostara Blues, again, Mama!

I Got them Old Ostara Blues, again, Mama!

            That isn’t really a song, so maybe I should write one. We are told that Ostara, aka Eostre, the word from which the name Esther and the words estrus and estrogen derive, was a Germanic goddess of fertility, and as we all know, Spring with its new life is a big deal in cold climates such as northern Europe, so I get why this is important. But it’s never much worked for me.
            For one thing, here in Cali March and April truly are the cruelest months, often being colder and stormier than the winter months. One year we had to cancel our Ostara ritual when it rained and the wind was blowing so hard that the rain came down sideways, and a large portion of our area lost power, literally and figuratively. The winds of April yet to come are always freezing here at the coast and in the desert Southwest; Las Vegas can be a horror in April, with cold winds so fierce that you can’t stand outside long enough to get a taxi.
            On tap for tomorrow in Los Angeles, the second day of spring: rain. Of course. So while the northern climes are celebrating the sun and the little crocus shoots, we’re in seasonal affective disorder mode again on the West Coast.
            Now, what they do in parts of the Middle East and Central Asia make more sense to me: Nowruz, Newroz, or what have you means “New Day” and on the surface it’s the same old Spring stuff. But wait! It’s not just spring, it’s New Year’s! That makes a whole lot more sense to me. Singing! Dancing! Yummy foods! Jumping over fire pits! Wearing new outfits! And it goes on for two weeks! Apparently the “spring cleaning” idea came from these cultures as well, although their spring cleaning means a really heavy duty cleaning of the house and the cleansing of the soul as well. Ok. Now we’re getting somewhere. My soul could use a little cleansing.
            Edain McCoy has a lovely book on Ostara customs and the spring rites in general. If you are moved by pastel colors, little lambs and bunnies, eggy dishes and those flower crowns, then this is for you. I love Edain and her work, but I wish I could get more excited about Ostara. I’m just not feeling it, but it isn’t her fault by a long shot.
I suppose now is also a good time to mention The Rite of Spring. It was meant to cause riots, really, not just because of an overly dramatic Ballets Russes performance, but because it was supposed to evoke an ancient Eastern European pagan rite of spring which allegedly included a human sacrifice. Quelle horreur!
            As I’ve said, I’ve never related to Ostara. Crocuses don’t grow in Cali. The stuff we do at Easter and St. Patrick’s day—the lamb stew, the colored eggs, etc.—all that comes from the olden times. But Easter’s another topic for another column. Today I’m celebrating New Year’s!

Harvey, Olivia. the Vernal Equinox is Monday and we’re ready to break out our floral crowns!
Kurdish Newroz.
Lidgett, Adam. Spring Equinox Facts 2016: History of the Pagan Ostara Festival.
McCoy, Edain. Ostara: Customs, Spells, and Rituals for the Rites of Spring
Nowruz 2017:  The Persian New Year Festival. th
Stravinsky, Igor. The Rite Of Spring.

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