Held on the Spring Equinox – when light and dark are of equal lengths – and taking its roots from pagan worship of Eostre, the goddess of spring, Ostara began as a way to welcome in the warmer months. Great feasts were held, offering sacrifices to Hecate to give thanks for her help in surviving the harsh winter months. Teams would compete to find and dig up mandrake roots, using dogs to sniff them out. The winning team would be crowned Lords and Ladies of Light and given symbolic charge of the rest of the day’s celebrations. The mandrake roots would be painted by children to symbolise Hecate’s army and then placed above doorways to protect the dwellings.
The whole community would join together in feasting and finishing the remains of the winter stores. One of the central components of this feast would be a wine distilled from the juice of the mandrake, which had mild hallucinogenic qualities.
In modern times, Ostara is mainly an excuse to eat and drink, but many Hycathic followers still paint mandrake roots and offer prayers to Hecate, whilst mandrake wine is popular, especially amongst young people.