Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Ostara

Background: As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals.
The next full moon (a time of increased births) is called the Ostara and is sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility (from whence we get the word estrogen, whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit.
The Christian religion adopted these emblems for Easter which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venus and Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time (link).

There are deities from many cultures associated with celebrations at this time of year (you can read more about them here and here), but what they all have in common are the themes of fertility, rebirth, growth, love, and balance. Matronalia (a celebration of women and mothers) was celebrated at this time, and appears in our modern holidays as Mother's Day.
"Ostara" by Helena Nelson-Reed

Sumbolism: fertility, rebirth, balance (the balance of light and dark on equinox)

Symbols: eggs, flowers and plants, strawberries, lambs, honey, circles, triangles and tripods, birds, and fish (see here for more details).
Here is a fun little story about the origins of the egg-bringing bunny:
The modern belief that eggs are delivered by a rabbit, comes from the legend of the Goddess Eostre. Eostre was walking one fine Spring day and came upon a beautiful little bird. The poor bird's wing was badly injured and Eostre, feeling great compassion for the little creature, wanted to heal it. But the little bird' wing was so badly damaged that Eostre knew it would never be able to fly again even after She healed it. So, Eostre decided to help the bird by healing it in a way that would give it mobility and a little something more… She turned it into a rabbit!
During the transformation, the rabbit retained the ability to lay eggs. The rabbit was so grateful to Eostre for saving its life that it laid a sacred egg in Her honor, joyously decorated it and then humbly presented it to the Goddess. She was so pleased and so touched by the rabbit's thoughtful gift that She wished all humankind to share in her joy. In honoring her wishes, the rabbit went all over the world distributing these beautifully decorated little gifts of life and continues to do so even today.

  • Egg drop bread
  • Eggnog
  • Eggs (such as deviled eggs)
  • Honey
  • Spring greens (perhaps with honey-mustard dressing!)
  • Sprouts
  • Poultry
  • Rabbit
  • Lamb
  • Mint (mint jelly is popular with lamb)

  • Plant seeds and/or work in the garden
  • Take a long walk in nature to observe the growing things and the magic all around
  • Bring flowers into the house
  • Make potpourri
  • Dye eggs
  • Play egg games (egg rolls, egg hunts, etc)
  • Make cookies in the shapes of eggs, bunnies, lambs, birds, etc
  • Create with herbs (make foods or medicines)
  • For the married, have a fertility celebration ☺
  • Spring cleaning (open up windows and air out the house, beat rugs, wash bedding, do deep cleaning, etc)
  • Repair or get rid of broken items. Make fresh starts in your home.
  • Make a growth or rebirth charm out of a hard boiled egg (decorate it with symbols or words representing the desired growth or change, then eat it)



Brooke said...

A good friend of mine teaches religious studies at Iowa State, and he posted this link yesterday and it made me think of you.

Katrina said...

Thanks for sharing your ideas! Tomorrow we are going to have a mini celebration. I got some flower seeds and little pots for the kids. And some bunny ears in the dollar bin at Target. :-) This year we'll still do the easter baskets either on easter or the day before or after, but next year I think we may switch that over to Ostara. Good stuff!

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