Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Eostre, Ostara, Eostra - The Goddess of Spring?

        With the spring equinox just around the corner, I felt that it was time to do some exploration into the celebration of Eostre, especially considering this will be my first year officially celebrating Ostara. Here's what I've learned from my research so far...

  • There are a lot of different spellings for this celebration! Eostre, Ostrar and Eostra are all different spellings for the same pagan celebration of spring.
  • According to the Wheel of the Year Ostara falls and is annually celebrated on the Spring Equinox which is March 20 (or 21st). 
    Photo Credit: Gwendaviesart
  • In addition to Ostara some other gods and goddesses of spring that are celebrated during this Sabbat include: Brighid (Celtic goddess), Olwen (Celtic goddess of sunshine), Idun/Idunna, Cernunnos (Celtic God, celebrated as the Green Man in spring.
  • Both the Hare and Egg... think the Easter Bunny, think Easter Eggs... are symbols of Ostara. Both the rabbit and egg represent the earth's fertility during spring.
  • Ostara is also, as a goddess of spring, considered to be a goddess of fertility.
  • Though Ostara is recognized as a goddess of spring today she may not been worshipped in ancient times. 

Ostara the Goddess?



  • The first mention of Ostara as a goddess Ostara appears between 673 and 735 in Bede the Venerable's historical writings. 
  • Prior to Bede's works there is no recorded evidence that the Anglo-Saxons or Germanic peoples worshipped the goddess Ostara.
  • Bede asserted that the Anglo-Saxons named March, known to the Anglo-Saxons as Esturmonath after the goddess Eostre and April, known as Rhedmonath after the Germanic goddess Rheda.
  • Ostara's name is also connected with the Eastern sunrise, the dawn of the day.
  • Many historians discount Bede's assertion as mere invention, however due to the lack of records of Ostara during this time period, it can't be proven that she was not worshipped by Germanic peoples.
  • Regardless of whether today's historians or Bede are in the right, Ostara is certainly worshipped as the goddess of spring by many, pagans, witches and wiccans today. 

        Whether you worship Ostara as a goddess or not the Ostara as a celebration of the Spring Equinox is certainly reason for delight. Spring is the end of the frigid winter and a sign of new life, it is the time of the earth's renewal and that, in my opinion, is more than enough reason to celebrate.



A special thanks to Gwendaviesart for the Wheel of the Year artwork featured in this post!


Background Reading

Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons (Studies in Early Medieval History) by: Phillip A. Shaw
http://www.englatheod.org/eostre.html
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/ostara.html
http://www.druidschool.com/site/1030100/page/765341
http://thegoddesshouse.blogspot.ca/2012/08/arise-goddess-of-spring.html
http://www.druidry.org/library/gods-goddesses/cernnunos-ancient-celtic-god

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