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Ostara to Beltane: Touching Earth
by Judy Harrow and Mevlannen Beshderen
Whan that Aprille with his shores sote
The drought of March hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Sephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open eye,
(So pricketh hem nature in hir corages):
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages ...
At Ostara, light and dark come into balance, in what is nearly
everywhere a season of storms. It seems as if the Sun must fight
for a greater place in the sky. Then the storms subside as April
unfolds, and the returning sun warms the land and sky. Buds open.
Birds return. The Earth wakes into flower. People, from long before
Chaucer's time to our own, have taken any excuse -- definitely
including religious devotion -- to get themselves out of doors.
Since our spirituality centers on Mother Earth Herself, this is
not an excuse but an imperative: touch the Earth!
During the winter, we were housebound, literally insulated from
the Earth. Now, as Spring releases us, our very first priority
should be to renew our connection with Nature. There are many
ways of fulfilling this most pleasant need. Here are a few of
- First, and always, do no harm. Take a good hard look at your
own consumption patterns. Are you doing all you can to reduce,
reuse and recycle? And, hardest of all, have you rethought
your assumptions as a consumer?
- Then make an active contribution. Offer your love and energy
to the Earth through volunteer service. Some of us will participate
in environmental activist groups, tend community gardens or guide
nature walks in local parks as a long-term commitment. Even if
this is not feasible for you, or not where your own calling leads,
there are one-shot activities such as park and seashore cleanup
days. Or just carry a shopping bag when you go for a walk in Nature
and pick up the trash along your way. Such simple acts can be
done as devotions to the Land and the Gods; after all, we have
all of the Great Outdoors as our temple.
- If you are a gardener, you know the chores of Spring. As you
do them, hold the consciousness that you are lovingly grooming
the Earth. Take time to enjoy the smells, sounds and textures
that surround you.
- In a pinch, you can invite the outdoors inside. Consider a
window-box or kitchen-counter herb garden. Many herbs will grow
well by window-light, given some soil and water. Watch the changes
in your young plants, and see the marvel that is all life.
- If you live in an apartment, visit your local park at least
once a week. Observe the changes as the season advances. Photograph
or draw the same tree once or twice a week throughout the Spring.
Also pay attention to the more subtle, but very real, seasonal
changes in the ordinary city streets.
- In this season of returning light, watch the pattern of light
and shadow that comes through your window at sunset and sunrise.
How does it change as the days lengthen? (you can use this observation
as a daily meditation and repeat it in the Fall.)
- Take up a Nature study project. Pick a category: trees, grasses,
birds, etc. Get a good field guide and take it with you on your
walks. Try to identify one or two new species each time you go
- Try this Earth meditation: seat yourself comfortably on the
ground. A folded-up old blanket or sleeping bag will both cushion
your seat and insulate you against heat loss if the ground is
still cool. Look at the square foot or so of ground that is directly
in front of you. For an hour, quietly observe all the tiny, intricate
life activity in that one small patch.
- Hug a tree. Yes, really. Open your senses -- physical and
empathic -- as you do this. Hug the same tree every day from Ostara
to Beltane. Consider making your libations to this same tree every
time, watering it during dry spells, and generally establishing
a mutually nurturing relationship with one particular tree.
written by: Judy Harrow, HPs, Proteus Coven
updated: March 12, 2000; © 1998, 2000, by Judy Harrow
the address of this page is: proteuscoven.com/Season-4.htm
You may go on to:
You may go back to:
You may also go to:
Walking our Talk:
the Seasons between the Sabbats.
You might want to explore some environmental links
or go off site to visit Wychwood Temple, where you will find
Doug and Sandy Kopf's excellent essay on the
folklore of Beltane
or begin again at Proteus Home or Library