Who else is excited for Spring?! Part II

The birds have seemed to return, days are getting longer, temperatures are rising (more or less), allergies are kicking in… I believe it’s nearly Spring. It’s also time to unveil the answers to my Ostara contest!

Image

Ostara, simply put, is the Spring Equinox. “The March equinox signals the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. It marks… when the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north.” [1] Of course, to many others it can mean more. I’d like to take this opportunity to stress that in Pagan “faiths”, each person walks their own path, and believes whatever each individual feels to right to them. For example, it is not uncommon for Pagans to associate themselves with the Christian God, or on the other end of the spectrum, with no god at all. Some Pagans believe in the horned god and the maiden, mother, and crone as their only deities, and some Pagans collect, if you will, all sorts of gods from mythology.

That being said, it’s only natural that with so many beliefs not everyone celebrates Pagan holy days the same way, nor do they all celebrate the same holy days. Some Pagans will celebrate holy days by acknowledging the god(s) they worship, some will simply celebrate by rejoicing that the wheel of the year is turning and Spring, in this case, is returning once again. “For Wiccans and some other Pagans, Ostara is the day when the Goddess and God… join in sacred marriage. The Goddess will conceive, and give birth in nine months. The increased growth and strength of nature in the spring is due to the rising power of the Goddess and God.” [2]

However, it is believed that the Anglo-saxon Pagans of the past observed Ostara and the goddess of dawn, Ostara, or Eostre. Ostara was the goddess responsible for bringing spring each year in Anglo-saxon mythology. Mythology says one year Ostara “was feeling guilty about arriving so late. To make matters worse, she arrived to find a pitiful little bird who lay dying, his wings frozen by the snow. Lovingly, Ostara cradled the shivering creature and saved his life.” [3] “She then made him her pet or, in the X-rated versions, her lover. Filled with compassion for him since he could no longer fly because of his frost-damaged wings, the goddess Ostara turned him into a rabbit… She also gave him the gift of being able to run with astonishing speed so he could easily evade all the hunters. To honor his earlier form as a bird, she also gave him the ability to lay eggs (in all the colors of the rainbow, no less), but he was only allowed to lay eggs on one day out of each year.” [3] “Ostara’s magical companion… accompanied her as she brought new life to dying plants and flowers by hiding the eggs in the fields.” [4]

Credit to A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery and Thalia Took [8]

This is, again, a myth and a legend, and with any myth or legend, whether it’s Homer’s the Iliad, the Bible, or the Anglo-saxon myth of Ostara, it must be taken with a grain of salt. With nearly all legends, oral traditions carried these stories from generation to generation. The problem with the legend of Ostara is the lack of physical evidence in Anglo-saxon history that Pagans actually observed her. The only piece of proof we have that Ostara was observed is relatively new, and it’s called “Temporum Ratione orThe Reckoning of Time by the Northumbrian monk and scholar the Venerable Bede”. [5] However, Germanic and Celtic tribes really didn’t record much of their history at all. There are more accepted Pagan Ostara practices, though.

“All the fun things about Easter are Pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre.” [6] The Easter bunny “links to the fertility, rebirth, and the abundance of life that is evident in Spring.” [4] “Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures.” [6] “From the earliest of times, the egg has represented immortality.” [4] “As Spring is the season of nature’s rebirth, the symbol of the egg was of course particularly significant at this time.” [4] “Spring also symbolized new life and rebirth; eggs were an ancient symbol of fertility… Easter eggs represent Jesus’ resurrection. However, this association came much later when Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in Germany in the 15th century and merged with already ingrained pagan beliefs.” [7]  “The Druids dyed eggs scarlet to honour the Sun, and Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings of their coloured eggs to the Goddess Eostre.” [4] “Hot cross buns are very ancient too. In the Old Testament we see the Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, and religious leaders trying to put a stop to it. The early church clergy also tried to put a stop to sacred cakes being baked at Easter. In the end, in the face of defiant cake-baking pagan women, they gave up and blessed the cake instead. Easter is essentially a pagan festival which is celebrated with cards, gifts and novelty Easter products, because it’s fun and the ancient symbolism still works.” [6]

This year, Ostara falls on 20 March at 7:03 am, and Easter falls on the Sunday after the full moon, being 31 March this year. Whether you celebrate Easter, Ostara, Passover, or any other spring festival, may it be a blessed one, and I hope you learned something from my little Ostara “term paper”. Merry meet, and merry part.

1. Everything you need to know: Vernal or spring equinox 2013
2. Ostara (Spring Equinox)
3. The Goddess Ostara and the Easter Bunny: The Art of Renewal
4. Ostara – Eostre
5. Eostre and Easter Customs
6. The Pagan roots of Easter
7. What Does the Easter Bunny Have To Do With Easter?
8. Eostre

Advertisements

One thought on “Who else is excited for Spring?! Part II

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s