Deity of the Month - Eostre
- by Toni Wilson
Hi guys I will be writing about Ostara this month. Both the Goddess and the festival.
Ēostre /Ostara is a Germanic Goddess who is typically honoured around the time of the spring equinox (March/April time) and so represents fertility, light rebirth and nature.
The traditional Christian festival of Easter is thought to have connections with Ostara both etymologically and through common themes which I will discuss bellow.
Hares : The hare (or sometimes rabbits) is closely associated with Easter/Ostara in modern times. In this extract from “Heathen Garb and Gear” by the Troth, the history of this association is explained “The notion of a hare laying or bringing eggs at Easter originated in southern Germany can be traced at least to 1682; how much older it might be, we do not know, although in some parts of Germany, Easter eggs were brought by a bird or even a fox, not a hare.” It also mentions in the book that Nineteenth century folklorists believed a hare would have been sacrificed at the feast for Ostara in pre-christian times. The Animal’s almost unnatural fertility is the reason the it is revered and associated with Ostara. According to “Heathen Garb and Gear” “Because of their remarkable reproductive ability-a second batch of embryos can begin developing before the first batch is born.”
Eggs : Another extremely prominent symbol of spring, rebirth and fertility, eggs are prominent in modern incarnations of Easter/Ostara. In the UK in particular the eating of chocolate eggs is largely secular affair. This tradition is thought to have evolved from the fact that chickens slowed down their egg production in winter. The reason for this is due the days being shorter. In modern times we don’t experience the shortage of eggs that our ancestors would have, due to the use of artificial light. As the days grew longer and the spring equinox arrived, eggs (which would have been an Important staple, especially as winter supplies of food would be running out.) where available and as such would have been cause for celebration. At this time of year eggs are also painted, a tradition which evolved from a practice in England called “pace-egging”.Heathens of Yorkshire around this time of year will honour Ostara at our spring moots around the equinox in a blot.
These words taken from our prayer book “The Gods’ Own Country”.
Bringer of the dawn, bringer of life, Friend of the hare, and all that is new. As we bid farewell to Old Man Winter, We welcome you back to the world once more. From the east you come, bringing life, To replenish that taken by harsh winter cold. Whilst many have forgotten your roots, Your traditions have lived on, Even amongst those who seek to destroy the old ways. And we here know you, and we here honour you, Oh shining lady of the dawn. Hail Ēostre!