The spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere falls on Sunday March 20, this year, marking the time when the sun passes over the celestial equator. It's a day many pagans observe as Ostara, a holiday of renewal and rebirth that celebrates the transition from winter to spring.
Paganism and its many permutations, including Wicca, are nature religions that honor the sacred power of the earth, in addition to a pantheon of gods and goddesses. The shifts from season to season are important to pagans because they represent not only the changes occurring in nature, but they also offer wisdom for how we might best direct our efforts throughout the year.
If you've ever done a spring cleaning, then you may know how good it feels to give your home a makeover. But if you're interested in a deeper cleanse, here are seven tips for a spiritual spring cleaning from pagan leaders to try this year:
Get of your comfort zone.
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Pagan author and teacher Courtney Weber says her winter spiritual practice entails lots of meditation and reflection. Come spring, it's time to get outside and gear into action. "After months of worshipping the earth from the comfort of my living room, sometimes it takes some serious willpower to put on a coat and shoes and get outdoors because it's frankly just more comfortable to meditate on the couch," Weber told The Huffington Post. "But the move to the outdoor environment, even if it's cold and damp, fuels me to do more. Like lifting weights or getting into a yoga position, the push against healthy discomfort is what makes us stronger. It asks me to consider what other areas of my life seem stuck and ask if it's an actual a block or some personal inertia that needs a push of movement."
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"The seed is a powerful symbol of Ostara. It reminds us that small things can become beautiful and bountiful," Weber told HuffPost.
Plant some actual seeds in your backyard or in a local garden. Set an intention for the things you'd like to bring forth in your life and in the world.
This is a great way to celebrate the season with kids, too, said Mary Hudson, pagan chaplain at Syracuse University. Through planting seeds, kids can "learn the cycle [of the seasons] and that life is always renewed as long as we tend to the important things -- each other and the earth," Hudson told HuffPost.
Clear out emotional cobwebs.
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To celebrate Ostara, Hudson said she and her family invite their friends over for a spring celebration and bonfire. "We let them know that this is a 'Spring Cleaning Ritual Fire' and to bring what they need to remove from their lives. Legal papers, furniture from past relationship, letters to the universe with attitudes and emotions that need to go have all been burned in our 'ritual fire," Hudson told HuffPost. "It is a celebration of life and the removal of the emotional cobwebs that so often hold us back."
Engage in acts of kindness.
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Reflect on the ways in which you are personally significant, Weber suggested. Say you have a knack for cooking. "Maybe Ostara is a time to make a meal for a friend who needs one," Weber said. "That act of kindness is contagious. That friend may just turn around and do something kind for someone else. There is nothing more magical than a small act of kindness and our world needs kindness right now in a very deep way." Whatever your gift is, don't be shy about sharing it with the world this season.
Purge and revive your space.
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How are we expected to meditate or set intentions when we're surrounded by clutter? Pagan teacher Laurie Lovekraft suggests doing some physical cleaning to promote spiritual wellness this spring. "Clean off your altar (or make a new one), toss old candle stubs, dust your statues and magical books, add daffodils to your altar," she suggested in an email to HuffPost. "It can also be helpful to purge items that no longer hold your interest, such as crystals, a magical tool you no longer use, even an old drum. These can be gifted to others to make way for something new -- or just enjoy the vacancy they create."
Treat your body like a temple.
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The spring equinox is a great opportunity to take a bath or jump in some healing water to cleanse the body and spirit, Lovekraft said. "Imagine the water removing the gunk and grime that has accumulated over the winter to reveal a golden glow -- your true self. After cleansing, anoint yourself in your favorite oils and put on comfortable clothes -- or go naked," she suggested.
Renew your routine.
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Again, pagans believe Ostara to offer us a chance for renewal and rebirth. What's really important to us? What do we want to be doing more of or less of? Pagan leader Selena Fox suggests finding ways to innovate in our lives and fill our days with activities that reflect our values. Where do we start? “Try something new," she suggested to HuffPost. "Add something to your daily routine. Make a new friend."