Who is Ostara?

What we know from myth, history, and inspiration

Ostara, or Eostre or Eastre, is the Germanic Goddess of spring and dawn.

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She is only mentioned once in scholarly writings of the period - Bede the monk states that during Eostremonath (the old Anglo-Saxon names for April), the pagan Anglo-Saxons help festivals in her honor. (Two hundred years later in Germany, in his Life of Charlemagne, a monk named Einhard gives the old name for April as Ostaramonath.) She is also mentioned in a number of inscriptions in Germany, & the modern holiday of Easter - originally the name for the spring Equinox, but later subsumed to lớn the Paschal calendar for the Christian resurrection holiday - is named for her. The name "Eostre" (Old Germanic "Ostara"), is related lớn that of Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn, & both can be traced back lớn a Proto-Indo-European goddess of dawn.

Her material is so scant that some scholars have sầu speculated that she was not a goddess at all, but simply an invention of Bede, but it is unlikely that someone as heathen-phobic as Bede would have sầu gone about inventing goddesses; he seems lớn have preferred lớn keep all things pagan at arm"s length. Some scholars have sầu also decided, rather randomly & on scant information, that Ostara is a form of Freya. Others believe sầu that she is actually Iduna, or Walburga. Some modern Heathens and Norse Pagans have experienced personal gnosis of Ostara/Eostre being a Vanic goddess, or at least very cthua thảm to lớn the Vanir, which is why we menu her in this section ... but again, there is no evidence and Ostara"s origins continue to remain a mystery.

Her true mystery, however, is evident every year. She is the first warm spring winds, the birds that return, the trees that bud and curl forth leaves and flowers.

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She is the awakening earth, rabbits & hares, the eggs that appear after a winter of no light. City folk may not know that chickens who are kept in natural lighting quit laying in the winter, when the days are short, & begin again as the days lengthen. March/April is their peak time of year, & those eggs were a valued and welcome protein source for our winter-starved ancestors. Ostara"s legacy is all those colored eggs which many of us still hang on trees every year.

Jakob Grimilimet, in his Teutonic Mythology, maintained that "Ostara,Eástre, was goddess of the growing light of spring." Holy water in the form of the dew, orwater collected from brooks, was gathered at this time; washing with it was saidkhổng lồ restore youth. Beautiful maidens in sheer white were said to seen frolickingin the country side. Also according khổng lồ Grimilimet, the White maiden of Osterrode wassaid to appear with a large batch of keys at her belt, & stride to lớn the brookto lớn collect water on Easter morning.

Ostara is usually experienced as a young maiden - as Ember Cooke writes, "...old enough to bear children, but not a mother." She is wreathed in flowers or new greenery, và often dances. She is often joyous, but can just as easily turn suddenly solemn, like the spring weather that can quickly turn to rain. Like Spring itself, she is capricious, innocent and knowing by turns.

Hail to the Maiden of Spring, the dawning of the year! Bring freshness into lớn all our lives.

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