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. ❤

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

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


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. 

A Letter To Anyone Going To an Unsupportive Family This Easter:

Dear darling,

 Momma heard that you might have a hard time for the next couple of days. You’re strong, and entitled to your opinion. no matter what they say, know that at least we love you.

 You and M.O.D. can get through this fight together. He’s a pagan that’s going to sit through dinner with his relatives that have ties in the church, He wishes you a happy Eostre. 

 Try your best to stay calm in the face of adversity. It is a holiday, and should be pleasant for everyone. We are sorry that it may not be pleasant for you. If anything, you have the chocolate on sale to look forward to next week.

 Stay strong. Stay kind. Love yourself, and be gentle. This is the beginning of spring. It is a new dawn, and a new beginning for all. Momma hopes that you will feel refreshed and clean in the coming season. We’re so, so proud of you.