Well it's getting close now to the Ostara celebration for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Since it's happening this week I wanted to do a post or two about all things Ostara.
Ok so Ostara is the celebration that lands on the spring equinox which happens on Wednesday, March 20 this year. The name Ostara is derived from the name of a Germanic goddess called Eostre, who is also the namesake of Easter (though that is a story for another day). Eostre is the goddess of springtime and flowers and much of what we know about Eostre comes from the Venerable Bede's Temporum Ratione which was written about thirteen hundred years ago. According to this April is known as Eostremonth and the goddess Eostre is honored as the patron goddess of the spring. Unfortunately no Germanic, or Norse, mythologies show any reference to Eostre so her existence is contested by some. Regardless she stands as a symbol of fertility and new life at this time.
Most of the dieties honored around Ostara are traditionally mother goddesses and horned gods since this is a time of fertility, life, and renewal. Examples are Cybelle and Flora from the Roman pantheon who are a mother goddess and the goddess of spring and flowers respectively. Freya from the Norse is also honored on this day because her return to the earth brings us out of the cold months of winter and restores life and beauty to the land. The Egyptian god Osiris is reporn at this time representing the continuous cycle of life and death.
Some of the traditional activities asssociated with Ostara are not very different from the activities done at Easter (which was placed at this time to correspond with the spring equinox festivals in order to convert pagans a little easier). One of the biggest is the tradition of decorating eggs. Eggs are seen in many cultures as symbols of new life and fertility. The oldest evidence of eggs used in spring celebrations come from the celebration of No Ruz, the Zoroastrian new year that happens around this time. However there are certain connections between ancient pagan rites and eggs.
Another symbol of the season are March Hares. This animal is seen as a major symbol of birth and fertility because they are nocturnal for nearly the entire year except around the spring equinox. During this time, their mating season, these hares come out in droves during both night and day. They are superbreeders and one female can concieve two litters simultaneously.
Until then, much love and Blessed Be!