Ostara: Spring Equinox

"Ostara by Johannes Gehrts" by Eduard Ade - Felix Dahn, Therese Dahn, Therese (von Droste-Hülshoff) Dahn, Frau, Therese von Droste-Hülshoff Dahn (1901). Walhall: Germanische Götter- und Heldensagen. Für Alt und Jung am deutschen Herd. Breitkopf und Härtel.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ostara_by_Johannes_Gehrts.jpg#/media/File:Ostara_by_Johannes_Gehrts.jpg

“Ostara by Johannes Gehrts” by Eduard Ade

Ēostre or Ostara (Old English: Ēastre, Northumbrian dialect Ēostre; Old High German: *Ôstara) is a Germanic divinity who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon:Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter.

Ostara festivals mark the Spring Equinox, traditionally the day of equilibrium, neither harsh winter or the merciless summer, and is a time of childish wonder. Painted eggs, baskets of flowers and the like are generally used to decorate the house. It is common to use this time to free yourself from things which hinder progress. As a day of equilibrium, it is a good time to perform self banishings and also perform workings to gain things we have lost, or to gain qualities we wish to have.

The second of the three spring festivals, this Sabbat occurs in mid March when day and night are of equal length. This festival is also of fertility where seeds are blessed for planting soon after. Traditional colors for this holiday are light green, lemon yellow and pale pink.

"A Young Hare, Albrect Durer" by Albrecht Dürer

“A Young Hare, Albrect Durer” by Albrecht Dürer

In Northern Europe, Easter imagery often involves hares and rabbits. Citing folk Eastercustoms in Leicestershire, England where “the profits of the land called Harecrop Leys were applied to providing a meal which was thrown on the ground at the ‘Hare-pie Bank'”, late 19th-century scholar Charles Isaac Elton theorizes a connection between these customs and the worship of Ēostre. In his late 19th-century study of the hare in folk custom and mythology, Charles J. Billson cites numerous incidents of folk custom involving the hare around the period of Easter in Northern Europe. Billson says that “whether there was a goddess named Eostre, or not, and whatever connection the hare may have had with the ritual of Saxon or British worship, there are good grounds for believing that the sacredness of this animal reaches back into an age still more remote, where it is probably a very important part of the great Spring Festival of the prehistoric inhabitants of this island.”

Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol — this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long. The female of the species is superfecund and can conceive a second litter while still pregnant with a first. As if that wasn’t enough, the males tend to get frustrated when rebuffed by their mates, and bounce around erratically when discouraged.

Incense: Jasmine, Rose
Decorations: Yellow Disk or Wheel, Colored Eggs, Hare Decorations, Spring Flowers
Color: Yellow

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