eostre

Of Myth and Legend →   Eostre

Eostre is the Germanic Goddess of Spring. Also called Ostara or Eastre, She gave Her name to the Christian festival of Easter (which is an older Pagan festival appropriated by the Church), whose timing is still dictated by the Moon. Modern pagans celebrate Her festival on the Vernal Equinox, usually around March 21, the first day of Spring. Eostre is connected with renewal and fertility. Eggs and rabbits are sacred to Her, as is the full moon, since the ancients saw in its markings the image of a rabbit or hare. She is also a dawn goddess, and may be related to the Greek Goddess of the dawn Eos. (x)

With the hatcheries now taking orders for the season, I wanted to ask you to please, please think twice about giving chicks (or bunnies) as gifts for Easter.

Both are a decade-long commitment, and don’t stay small for long. Chickens can be noisy (especially if you end up with roosters), and they need a fenced yard and outdoor living space to keep them safe. The novelty *will* wear off, and children *will* lose interest.

So, instead of giving a chick as a gift, take your family to visit a local chicken-keeper who has them. Perhaps you can visit for an hour or two per week, helping with chores associated with caring for a flock (including the dirty ones). You may even get a dozen eggs for your effort. The quality time spent as a family will be a greater gift, and you may just spark a life-long love and appreciation for chickens and their guardians. ❤

T E E N A G E  G I R L S  +  M Y T H O L O G Y: Ēostre

She sits beneath a cherry blossom, pink petals in her hair, watching dawn spread across the sky. There is something nervous about her, though, the way she twitches at the slightest of sounds. Caught in the gaze of another, she stills completely, seems unable to decide whether to flee or fight. Eventually, a sweet smile plays across her lips, a smear of chocolate on one cheek. Happy Easter, they all say, dismissing another other emotions.

Things to do for Ostara

Ostara is the spring festival, and the pagan pre-cursor to Easter, falling between the 20th and 22nd of March. Here are a list of easy things you can do to celebrate the festival at home!

  • Paint and decorate eggs! Hard boil them first and use vegetables to stain them or simply paint your designs onto them, they look lovely in a decorative bowl.
  • Collect a bunch of spring flowers, go outside with friends or while walking your dog and hunt for some pretty spring blooms. These might include daffodils, lesser celendines, dandelions, snow drops, primroses or blackthorn blossom. Be sure to be considerate with what you take, don’t take too much, and ensure to do your research first to make sure that none of the flowers you’re picking are endangered (such as bee orchids or cowslips). Place them in a pretty jug or vase with plenty of water to invite some life and spring freshness into your home. 
  • Bake bread! Any type of bread is good, but hot-cross-buns are traditional, the cross on representing the crucifixion to Christians, or the wheel of the year to pagans!
  • Do an Ostara-egg hunt, or an egg rolling competition. Simply line up your eggs with your fellow competitors at the top of a hill, and the first egg to reach the bottom wins! A great game for kids at this time of year, and a little different from the traditional egg-hunt. 
  • Light candles, place them in your window on Ostara Eve to symbolize your hope for the new season. 
  • Invite friends around and have an Ostara feast. Traditional seasonal foods include; lamb, rabbit, eggs, honey, bread, onions and leeks, potatoes, cakes, lemon, oranges, stews, soups and salads. 
  • Make an Ostara alter, dedicated to the goddess, or just the season itself. Decorate with painted eggs, rabbit/hare ornaments, candles, incense, fresh flowers and green and yellow cloth.

Have a blessed and safe Ostara everyone! <3

“Ostara, Goddess of Spring”

Today is the first Sunday following the full moon after the March Equinox. On this day, we celebrate fertility and rebirth and give thanks to Ostara, the goddess of Spring…
“Easter was originally a celebration of Eostre, goddess of Spring, otherwise known as Ostara, Austra, and Eastre. One of the most revered aspects of Ostara for both ancient and modern observers is a spirit of renewal.
Celebrated at Spring Equinox on March 21, Ostara marks the day when light is equal to darkness, and will continue to grow. As the bringer of light after a long dark winter, the goddess was often depicted with the hare, an animal that represents the arrival of spring as well as the fertility of the season.
According to Jacob Grimm’s Deutsche Mythologie, the idea of resurrection was ingrained within the celebration of Ostara: “Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the christian’s God.”
Most analyses of the origin of the word ‘Easter’ maintain that it was named after a goddess mentioned by the 7th to 8th-century English monk Bede, who wrote that Ēosturmōnaþ (Old English ‘Month of Ēostre’, translated in Bede’s time as "Paschal month”) was an English month, corresponding to April, which he says “was once called after a goddess of theirs named Ēostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month”.“

Photography by Suicide & Redemption Studios
Model: Jenovax Lilith LaVey
Tallulah, GA 2014

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Ostara or Eostre is a Germanic goddess of dawn and fertility. She was traditionally honoured in the month of April with festivals to celebrate fertility, renewal and re-birth. It was from Eostre that the Christian celebration of Easter evolved, and indeed the naming of the hormone Eostrogen, essential to women’s fertility. Her symbols are the hare and the eggs.

The date of the Christian Easter is determined by the phase of the moon.  The nocturnal hare, so closely associated with the moon which dies every morning and is resurrected every evening, also represents the rebirth of nature in Spring.  Both the moon and the hare were believed to die daily in order to be reborn - therefore the hare is a symbol of immortality.  It is also a major symbol for fertility and abundance as the hare can conceive while pregnant.

The egg (and all seeds) contains ‘all potential’, full of promise and new life.  It symbolises the rebirth of nature, the fertility of the Earth and all creation.

Happy Ostara Day!

Okay, so, I saw this on Facebook a few minutes ago, and I almost went off on the person who posted it, before deciding… Facebook does not get that much of my energy.

Tumblr, though…

I Googled it and noticed that this bizarre notion is apparently spreading across the internet – in almost the same language, proving that this is all just a self-referential circle jerk of misinformation. And with Ishtar being one of my ladies, I can’t stand for this nonsense. Plus, poor understanding of the historical context of pagan cultures pisses me off.

So. This graphic is conflating a few things. Ishtar/Inanna was a goddess who had a symbolic journey to the Underworld, essentially dying and being reborn (a trait she shares not only with Jesus of Nazareth but with at least one deity in just about every culture since the dawn of time). Her worship was no longer anywhere near common enough to influence the start of Christianity, though – aspects of her had been folded into Hera/Juno and Aphrodite/Venus, but that’s as close as you’ll get.

The eggs and bunnies come from another deity – the Germanic Eostre. Linguists do believe that connection between the names Eostre and Easter/Ostern is sound and not just coincidence – but only in Germanic-derived languages. In Latin-derived languages, it remains a variation of Pasca/Pascha.

Constantine had nothing to do with any of it. The Eostre/Easter collision happened a few centuries later, with the conquest of the Teutonic and Baltic territories, largely under the Frankish Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties.

Oh and it’s definitely pronounced ISH-tar. Vowels might have some variation, and of course this is all transliterated out of Sumerian/Akkadian/Babylonian anyway, but that “H”-sound is definitely there.

Just so we’re all clear.

Happy Ostara!

It’s the Spring Equinox today, where day and night are roughly equal. From now on in, the days will get lighter, the flowers will start to bud in earnest, and we move towards the light after the long sleep of winter.

Ostara is the pagan festival that celebrates the vernal equinox, part of the Wiccan ‘Wheel of the Year’. The name is a modern variation of the Old English Eostre/ Eostra, the Saxon goddess whose name means ‘East’ or ‘Shining’.

Up until the 7thC, Eostre was venerated at this time of year and her name was later borrowed in English for the Christian festival of ‘Easter’, so she’s gone through a few transformations.

Hardly anything is known about her as she only has one mention in old literature, in Medieval English scholar Bede’s Reckoning of Time’. The famed German folklorist Jacob Grimm was the first to assert the goddess’ name was, in fact, ‘Ostara’.

There’s a little more ‘hare’ imagery for today’s celebration, following my recent set of posts, which may or may not be directly linked to our tradition of the Easter bunny…

“ It has been suggested that her lights, as goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares. And she certainly represented spring fecundity, and love and carnal pleasure that leads to fecundity.”

- An Etymological Latin Dictionary, A. Ernout and A. Meillet

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Image: Dance of the March Hares by ssantara on DEviant Art

Ostara Celebrations

 Ostara has a special place in my heart as the first “witch holiday” I celebrated as a youngun, and I’ve repeated that same celebration nearly every year since. There are a lot of “traditional” ways to observe Ostara–things with eggs, pastels, seeds and flowers–and this isn’t really any of those, I was originally “inspired” by what I (mis)understood from mid-2000s neowiccan Livejournals. 

What I’m saying is: this is a part of my heart, and I invite any of you to join in my homey, nontraditional Ostara celebrations. 

FIRST: You’re going to wake up early in the morning. Dawn if you can manage it, no later than 8am. The clocks are also turning forward, so it should be a little bit easier to wake up while the sun is still low in the sky, no matter what time it actually is. 

THEN: You’re gonna go outside, somewhere where there’s nature. I’m normally a prairie gal (had you noticed?), but I usually go to the woods for Ostara instead. The forest seems to wake up a little earlier: there are snowdrops, trilliums, sorrel, buttercups, violets. It’s beautiful. Take your family, your partner, your friends or dogs–you don’t have to tell them why. Go even if it’s raining. It’s the first day of spring, and you should be in it. 

AFTER THAT: You need to stop at the store. It should be lunch-ish time now, or early afternoon. You might be hungry–don’t eat. Pick up what looks good. Fresh vegetables? Great. A cornish hen? Unusual, but I’ve grabbed one every spring for the last however many years. Potatoes? I’m sure there’s something you can do with that. You’re gonna overbuy out of hunger, and that’s ideal. You’re gonna be making a feast. The only rule is no prepared or premade foods–not even pasta or ketchup. You’re gonna make every damn thing from scratch.

THEN: Go home. Cook all afternoon, make way too many dishes. They don’t have to go together. My menu nearly always consists of pierogis, honey-mustard cornish hen, a spicy salad, roasted vegetables, pull-apart sweetbread. If being in nature all morning didn’t alienate your family/friends, invite them to stay with you and cook. Gossip in the kitchen. Talk about your feelings. 

WHEN ALL THE FOOD IS DONE: Eat what you want. Offer a portion of each dish to the earth by burying it in your garden, under a tree, or just leaving it in the grass. (Obviously not if the food is somehow exclusively salt, or capsaicin, or somehow poisonous. Be reasonable). The crows and field mice will thank you. Experience gratitude. It’s spring.