The Goddesses of Spring:
Ashtoreth, (Ancient Isreal)
Astarte, (Ancient Greece)
Ostara, (Northern Europe)
Origins of Easter
Why is there such tradition at this time of the year regarding Easter eggs and the Easter rabbit ??
The name Easter seems to originate from `Eostre, Ostara, Oestre (Goddesses of spring). The Goddess in this form is known to be fertile and rich with a promise of new life.
In past times, festivities seemed to begin on the Spring Equinox around March 20th, the time when the light and darkness is equal all over the world. This time was a time of celebrating and respecting the Goddess... Ostara (Easter) in the North European lands. In other parts of Europe other Goddesses were honoured and respected at this same time... Astarte and Demeter in Greece and other local variants of the Goddess throughout all of Europe.
This is and always has been a time for the hopes of Spring to come into action. Its a delightful, energy filled time.
Lets now take a look at the Great Goddess Ostara (who it seems is the same waveband of energy as the other regional Goddesses around Europe going by the similar names... Ostera, Austro, Astrea, Eostre, Ishtar, Astarte..)
Ostara was and still is (to those who respect her) a fertility goddess connected with the dawn.
There are quite a few interesting legends about Ostara...
Ostara and the little bird.
Ostara arrived late one spring and felt a bit guilty, as the countryside was still under the cold spell. Her guilt turned into shock, when she saw a little bird, almost dead, wings all frozen over on the forest floor.
Ostara nursed the bird to health but its wings were altogether broken. The bird then became her lover. Ostara felt so sorry for the little bird that she transformed the bird into a hare, a hare that was so fast it could never be caught!.
Ostara honoured the last life of the hare (that little frozen bird), and gave the bird the ability to lay eggs in all colours of the rainbow. (thats where the colouring of eggs tradition originates).
Apparently the goddess Ostara found out the hare had one or two other lovers. Ostara became very jealous and wasn't happy at all with the hare, she picked him up and threw him high into the sky, then he ended up as the constellation Lepus (the hare).
There is another version of this Ostara myth, which has a different ending.. instead of the hare having a few different lovers, Ostara and the hare were very happy. Ostara gave the hare the ability to be seen in the Moon around this time of year (this is where the phrase `rabbit in the moon´originates) and every year the happy hare delivers coloured eggs all over the land!
Furthermore there is also stories about Ostara being linked with a dragon, although at this stage reports are vague and earth spirit is trying to find out more information on this particular myth.
The colours for Ostara are bright green, yellow and purple, and her favourite trees were Birch, Ash and Alder.
There are plenty of other pastimes still fashionable today around this time of year, one of them is the hot cross bun tradition. Signifying the Celtic Cross and the wheel of the year, two solstice's, two equinox's.
So Easter Sunday is always the Sunday following the full moon after the Spring Equinox.. in this years case its the 5th April.
Rabbit in The Moon.
The phrase `rabbit in the moon´ comes from the outline of a rabbit holding an egg caused by the shaded crators on the moons surface.
An Egg itself creates all the potential for life. It symbolises the rebirth of nature, the fertility of the earth and all creation.
So theres some brightness and enlightenment for Easter instead of the dull, morbid affair we may have been used to.
Its a time for giving and receiving, a time for feeling the growing year, the fertility and richness of the earth and feeling the deeper love for our friends and family.