On Sunday, March 29th, Líithi Lushede Coven held their public Ostara ritual at Aquarius in downtown Kansas City, MO. While held a week later than usual, the 29th of March is far more seasonally spring in Kansas City than the 20th. Weather prior to this weekend had been chilly with a touch of rain, but Sunday's clear skies and warm sun created the perfect setting for a spring equinox celebration.
Upon entering the room, Liithi Lushede's altar was decorated for spring, but shrouded in a translucent black cloth. While the tools of the ritual were easily accessible, such as the athame, incense and purified water, as well as some jewelry and articles of clothing, the rest of the decorations were covered. The shrouded altar would become a major part of the ritual.
By the way, the athame used during ritual is absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't stop taking pictures of it!
This tool was of central use to High Priestess Gwenhwyfar Wyrrd as she opens each ritual. After tracing the circle with a staff as the group chants, she always returns to the center to bless the purified water and incense. She does that by using the athame to direct the energy, then passes said incense and purified water to covenmates who use it to create a purified boundary around the circle's edge.
Liithi Lushede's Ostara ritual began with a discussion of Inanna's descent to the Underworld, aided by Jason.
According to the High Priestess, Inanna is a Sumerian goddess of love and fertility, properly associated with the fertility of the earth for Ostara. The legend of her descent to the Underworld is one of this goddess's most popular stories that defines the creation of seasons. While the reason for her wanting to visit the underworld is relatively unclear, what is clear is that the Sumerian Underworld isn't exactly a happy place. Struggle and turmoil awaited all who entered, and certain acts in life could only somewhat alleviate those conditions. More so, once you entered the Underworld, you could never return. Inanna, in attempt to outwit that rule, did two things in hopes of protecting herself: She first requested her servant to seek the help of certain deities if she did not return.
Second, the High Priestess explained, she dressed herself in certain items said to help protect her from any potential dangers in the Underworld.
As Gwenhwyfar adorned herself in each item, she explained both what they represented and which chakra they corresponded with.
Dressed as Inanna did for the Underworld, the High Priestess then called upon the Goddess to join us in the circle.
She then continues her story of Inanna's venture to the Underworld. Unfortunately, it is the Goddess's unusual manner of dress that causes her misfortune.
When she arrives at the Underworld, she is first asked to hand over her necklace to pass through a gate. At the following gate, she's asked to hand over yet another piece of her clothing or jewelry.
Inanna eventually passes through seven gates on her way into the Underworld as a ruse meant for her to remove all of her worldly possessions, leaving her naked and unprotected. As a punishment for her audacity to enter the Underworld with intent to leave, she is held captive in a gruesome manner.
When she doesn't return from the Underworld, her servant petitions three deities to save Inanna. Two refuse, blaming the goddess for her own mess, but one takes pity on her. With the help of beings this deity creates, Inanna is lifted from the Underworld. However, the Sumerian Underworld has even more rules: If Inanna is to leave, someone must take her place. After several suggestions, all of which the goddess turns down, she finally allows her husband, Dumuzi, to replace her in the Underworld because he is not mourning her death. However, Dumuzi's sister desperately pleas to take her beloved brother's place. Instead of fully allowing it, Dumuzi's sister only spends six months a year in the Underworld and Dumuzi himself replaces her for the other six months. Inanna mourns her husband's absence while he's in the Underworld and, because she is the goddess of fertility, the earth mourns with her. This is the Sumerian explanation for the seasons!
And with Dumuzi's return, High Priestess Gwenhwyfar, acting as Inanna, removed the black shroud of the altar to reveal a beautiful yellow cloth and spring-appropriate decorations!
She then raised infused water and a plate of bread for blessing so that we could partake in food, drink and song as celebration of the fertility of the earth.
All songs in the ritual, of course, are courtesy of the bard John Mitchell and his guitar!
Additionally, one of the coven members began seedlings in eggshells for each person who attended ritual. There were about four or five different types of seedlings handed out, and each plant represented something you'd attract or "grow" in the upcoming months!
And with that, the High Priestess circled widdershins about the circle and we said our fair wells.
However, though ritual had ended, there's still plenty of celebration! Liithi Lushede public rituals are always followed by a potluck dinner and a raffle. While socializing, you can sign the guestbook or even shop in Aquarius. There's never a dull moment!
As always, Liithi Lushede Coven goes to such great strides to provide amazing public rituals for the Kansas City area. They are the cornerstone for the KC pagan community and such an amazing experience. If you're near the Kansas City area, I implore you to come to one. You won't regret it! And if you're not near KCMO, try looking up your nearest metaphysical store, Facebook or Meetup.com for a pagan event calendar!
Here's wishing you a bright and beautiful Ostara!