Monday, March 18, 2013

Ostara Lore and Legend

Hey everyone!

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.
The concept of the Easter bunny can also be attributed to this pagan celebration. Even though there is little concrete evidence of a Germanic springtime goddess called Eostre, there is one story involving her that also explains the origins of this wacky bunny. The story goes that Eostre found an injured bird arond the time of the spring equinox. In order to safe the animal, she transformed it into a rabbit. However, the transformation was not perfect and the animal retained the ability to lay eggs. As a way to honor the goddesses compassion, the hare would return each year on the day that Eostre saved it and would present her with offerings of decorated eggs. Another explination for the Easter bunny, though not as magickal as that of Eostre and the hare, is that March hares nest in a form, or nest, and when they abondon these nests they are inhabited by plover birds and therefore locals would fine birds eggs in rabbit forms.
The last thing I'm going to talk about today is setting up an Ostara altar. As far as colors go, look outside for inspiration. The green of the new leaves, the yellow of forsythia and daffodils, the purple of the lilacs. Pretty much any pale, pastel color will work. Representing the balance of the season is paramount to an Ostara alter. The spring equinox is the first time in the year where day and night are equal, show honor that. Use a god and goddess statue, a white and black candle, an image of the sun and moon, or even a ying/yang symbol. A creative, non-traditional representation could be a scale with boths sides equally balanced. Look for anything that represents balance and equality. Another major thing to show is that this is the time of life and new begginins. Include potted spring plants liked daffodils and lilies. Represent those animals that are giving birth at this time: put a basket of eggs or figures of lambs, rabbits, or calves. Include a bowl of milk and honey. Another good way is to have a small ritual fire, whether in a cauldron or brazier or in the shape of a candle, to represent the spark of new life that is in us all.
Okay so that's all I'm going to do today. I'm gonna try and get back on tomorrow to talk about different craft, recipes, and rituals to do.

Until then, much love and Blessed Be!


  1. I can i plaese have that rabbit?


  2. Do you want the picture or the actual rabbit? Either way neither one belongs to me, that is a picture I pulled offline.