March 13, 2000
This is the middle of the pagan year, which begins at Samhain and has already seen Yule and Imbolc celebrated.
The name Ostara itself is the German form of a name of the Goddess -- also called Eostar elsewhere in Europe. The oldest known form of this Goddess name is Astarte, and she was worshipped by this name in Palestine before -- and after -- the coming of the Jews. Significantly, the word "Easter" has no known derivation other than these pagan forms, and has nothing whatever to do with anything that the Christ did or said; the term simply does not exist in the Bible.
This holiday is the celebration of the Spring Equinox, the day when night and day are balanced. Where Candlemas (Imbolc) celebrates the noticeable return of the Sun to the world, Ostara celebrates the greening of the world under the Sun's loving embrace. The exact time of the equinox is March 20th at 07.35 GMT.
This holiday has had more bits and pieces of the old ways "borrowed" by Christianity than any other, although other than it being a time of resurrection, or rebirth, there is little in common with the teachings of Christianity found in it. The rebirth in question is that of the world after a long Winter.
In pre-"civilized" times, it was also the time that women were beginning to show their pregnancies, caused, as you might suspect, by staying warm against their husbands during the cold of Winter.
The colors associated with this festival are green, white, and silver; wildflowers and seeds are known to be exchanged at this time; even the coloring of eggs and giving them to friends and neighbors is of pagan origins, although duck eggs and the eggs of other wild birds were usually used rather than those of chickens. It has been pointed out that the rabbit is the totem animal of Astarte/Ostara, which may have been passed to European pagans or it may have just been the same for them.
Besides the gifts mentioned above, there are no specific elements to an Ostara ritual. It is more a meeting in joy with your friends and neighbors; in many areas of Europe, you may not have seen them for several months, or perhaps just for a short while at Imbolc. Remember that the concept of Hel comes from Scandinavia, not Greece, and signifies a place of eternal *cold*; this is a way of life in a significant portion of Europe, and the survival of another Winter season itself is cause for raucous celebration.
I myself will be celebrating by taking myself and my music to Dragon Tail Farm in Georgia (USA), where I will be joyfully met by somewhere around 1,000 other pagans from around the Southeast US. My your celebrations be as joyful.
- Mordewis ap Llys
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The above article is copyright ©2000, 2004 by Mordewis ap Llys and Gerald L. "Moss" Bliss, who are the same person.